A spot of tea turned into a cup of coffee. And a tearoom has turned into a cafe.
That’s because Heather Kirk’s vision of the Pushchair Club — the kid-friendly time for parents to get out and meet other parents while their children play — has become the Playdate Café at First United Methodist Church of Lutz.
“Pushchair — that’s what they call a stroller in England, and that club was everywhere,” said Kirk, who is British and is married to Chris, the church pastor.
“So when I came to Florida and had younger kids, I was like, where can you go that isn’t a boiling park or pouring rain, where it’s not a day care — it’s about parents getting to know other parents while the children play and have fun.”
Playdate Café, which began its second year on Aug. 17, is slightly different from Pushchair Club. It’s held in the morning and serves coffee and snacks, instead of being in the afternoon and with tea.
“It has more of a coffee-shop atmosphere,” Heather added. “Plus, they tend to nap in the afternoon.”
For 2 ½-hours, kids can run around, play with and climb on toys, and enjoy meeting other children, while parents have the chance to chat with parents.
Playdate Café is open every Wednesday during the Hillsborough County school year. It is free and open to anyone in the community, not just members of the church, , which is located at 960 W. Lutz Lake Fern Road, in Lutz.
“If fact, we don’t know any of these parents or kids,” said Janell Lockhart, the church’s director of children and family. “Even right now, I think I’ve only seen two of our kids here. This is for the community — the parents looking to have something to do indoors with their children.”
“This is our gift to the community where we felt there was a need,” Heather added. “There is no obligation to be a part of the church or even have the same faith. We want it available to anyone who wants to come as a way to meet people and have something to do outside the house.”
Heather said when the weekly outing first started, there were just four children, but by Christmastime last year, it grew to 50. That was helped by Facebook groups and word of mouth.
“Oh, and us ‘accosting’ moms at Target to give them an invite and let them know about it,” Heather said with a laugh.
Playdate Café also does some themed weeks, such as a Mother’s Day photo op or a Halloween event where kids can get candy. Additionally, Pastor Chris has added Story Time in the Book Nook to read short stories to kids.
Parents seem to be glad to have this option, as the Playdate Café is well-attended, with new parents and kids arriving each week.
“This was our first time and not our last time we’ll be coming,” said Lutz mother Stephanie Meyer, who brought her twin girls to the church. “I found out about it from my Tampa Bay Twin Mom group, and it’s just amazing, especially meeting parents that know what you’re going through and have something in common with.
“And then hearing from the pastor’s wife, who is from the UK, tell us how there are hundreds of these over there — that’s amazing, and this is amazing because we need more of these!”
When: Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., following the Hillsborough County school year calendar
Where: First United Methodist Church of Lutz, 960 W. Lutz Lake Fern Road, Lutz
Details: A kid-friendly playtime environment with toys and more for preschoolers. There’s a story time and refreshments, and volunteers are on hand to help with kids, so parents and grandparents can have a chance to relax. Parents and children are not required to be church members.
Info: Call 813-949-1751, or visit FantasticFirst.org.
Published August 31, 2022