Tot group fills a niche for those seeking unstructured play

Parent and Tot Cafe a chance for both parents and kids to kick back and relax

Moms Tara Kelk

It was an idea that came to Julita Traylen last spring when she was searching for a free play group in Oak Bay for her two year old daughter, Tess. She didn’t have much luck in that quest.

“There was a reading program at the library that was great, but really wasn’t what I was looking for,” said Traylen. “And other programs all had a fee attached to them.”

What Traylen wanted was a place where toddlers and their parents could drop by and enjoy one another’s company in an informal and very lightly structured program.

“The kids really just needed a place to play and interact,” said Traylen. “And as for the parents – well I thought that other  sleep-deprived parents like myself might want a place where we could enjoy a chat and a cup of coffee with other adults while the children played.”

Undaunted by the seeming lack of a program that fit her needs, Traylen cast about the neighbourhood and discovered that a perfect space for a play group existed in the Community Hall of the Oak Bay United Church (1355 Mitchell St.).

She approached the Church’s Minister, Rev. Keith Howard, with the idea that the church might be used for a non-denominational program for pre-school children. He was immediately enthusiastic about the concept.

“We’re very interested in families,” said Howard. “So this was a natural fit.” He said that the church is always supportive of initiatives that speak to the needs of families.

“Young families, and particularly young mothers, are often under a lot of stress and need to have the support of the community,” he said. “The church is a part of the community and if we can provide the space for a worthwhile program … why not do it?”

In fact, the church provided not only the space but also gave Traylen’s program access to a supply of toys and equipment that they already had on hand for other programs.

But it was still up to Traylen to bring the program to fruition.

“I created a Facebook page and made up a lot of posters,” she said. “Tess and I did a lot of walking last spring as we put posters up all over the neighbourhood.”

Traylen says that she had no idea if anyone would actually come to the program she had planned. “It was really a bit of an experiment on my part,” she said. “But it turned out very well.”

When the program started in April, Traylen said that a few parents and their children showed up. Over time, that number grew. “We had coffee and the kids just had a great time running around and playing. Sometimes we’d do some directed play, but mostly we let them use their imagination. They have a great time.”

The program took a hiatus over the summer but is set to start up again on Oct. 1. It will operate every Monday between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

Details and updates regarding the program are available at facebook.com/oakbay.parent.and.tot.cafe.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rain Walk returns Saturday to raise funds for cancer support

Rain Walk group Team Teal indebted to Inspire Health

Motion for Saanich to stand with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in pipeline debate postponed

One week delay provides more time to build community support, councillor says

UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway blockade ends three hours later

About 80 people from four major Peninsula First Nations blocking major highway

Central Saanich Police prepared for afternoon shut-down of Highway 17

Sgt. Paul Brailey questions efficacy of protest

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

UPDATE: Boy, 5, will donate organs after crash that killed father, son on B.C. highway

Mike Cochlin and sons Liam and Quinn were travelling on Highway 5A

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to meet today with federal and B.C. governments

Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks

Chinatowns across Canada report drop in business due to new coronavirus fears

Around the world, about 81,000 people have become ill with the virus

Endangered butterfly species to be reintroduced to Hornby Island

Hornby Island is about to play a major role in the saving… Continue reading

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

Most Read