THE NEW SANCTUARY : Mom and Baby Concept SpacesBy Angelique Villaraza Dominici
Happiness and wellbeing depend on constant human interaction. Any good urban planner will tell you this, which is why cities are designed to encourage spontaneous contact in public spaces like parks, libraries, waiting areas, promenades, benches and other outdoor living rooms. The problem is: a majority of public meeting points do not take into account the needs of new mothers and their infants, who are then forced to stay home.
Most children’s playspots are appealing to kids, but are an eyesore and bore for parents, offering them nothing much in terms of adult entertainment.
The first few weeks after birth can be a lonely, isolating experience. Days of repetitive childcare, craziness from lack of sleep with no one but a helpless and demanding infant. This is especially true for single moms, those who don’t have live-in nannies or hired help, whose husbands are constantly away, or who live far from family.
You may have heard of the third space … it’s that place outside the home and office, where people gather to simply get away or relax. For non-parents, these come in the form of bars, cafés, bookshops, gyms, clubs and spas … many of which exclude the needs of children.
Isolation and the lack of options launched a demand for mom-and-baby concept spaces, where women can gather in a beautiful, relaxing place and share the experience of new motherhood while their children play together. If you are stuck in maternity leave, are a single mom or stay-at-home dad, make the effort to step out of the house and stay in the company of other adults at:
YUMMY MUMMY MEMBER’S CLUBS
Launched in 2008 by Karen Hastings, Cupcake Mum is a private member’s club for moms, pregnant women and their families. They believe in ‘Fun And Wellbeing For Families’ and offer pregancy and post natal spa treatments, seminars for parents, workshops for children, an organic café with a healthy children’s menu, special events and a daycare center with childcare experts.
The founder created this space when she saw many new moms in high-powered office jobs and glamorous parties, suddenly on maternity leave with nowhere to go but parks and generic gyms. She felt there was a need to for a place where they could be pampered and have adult conversation.
Today, there are three Cupcake Mum clubs in London and they are open to franchise opportunities, in case you want to bring their concept to your city.
I especially like their seminars which go beyond just baby-related topics : such as wine-tasting and writing salons for those of you who finally want to get that book published. They also have date nights, where you can have a romantic moment with your husband while the kids are expertly cared for by their trained child minders.
10 Point Pleasant London SW18 1GG
TEL 020 8875 1065
18 Earlsfield Road London SW18 3DW
TEL 020 3370 4999
Cupcake Parsons Green
11 Heathmans Road London SW6 4TJ
TEL 020 3326 4986
Recently opened is Purple Dragon, an extraordinary family member’s club conceptualized by Sharai Meyers, mother-of-two, former business partner and muse of Roland Mouret.
When pregnant, Sharai found that there was no where in London to hang out indoors with the kids, beyond ‘dusty church halls’. She first opened the club in Battersea, the idea being a luxury sanctuary where the kids can be entertained with state-of-the-art gadgets while mums relax. “I wanted to create a space where you could drop in and there would always be something fun happening, which worked around your schedule,” she says. “Somewhere relaxed, effortless, clean, light and bright, where you didn’t have to bring a whole load of stuff with you.” Their slogan is : Effortless Family Time, All The Time.
The first club in Battersea was such a resounding success, that it’s turned into a full-time kindergarden and nursery. The new flagship Purple Dragon in Chelsea covers 13,000 sq ft in an innovative, creative, safe and flexible environment where members can explore, learn, create, develop, discover, relax and have fun. It’s a place to share with old friends, discover new friends, or simply grab some me time.
There’s a custom built swimming pool and wet play zone with activities like water polo, a scuba club, lifesaving to PADI diving ; its all about improving children’s water confidence and ability. Here one can set off the water volcano, slide through the water tunnel, navigate the storm generator or race the lap lights.
The active zone has a pro-golf simulator, a butterfly chase, an interactive wall for navigating the galaxy. There’s a soft play assault course, trampolines and a gaming zone. The Adventures & Experiences learning through play is a class designed to bolster confidence, communication, co-ordination and creativity with teacher led, age appropriate fun and discovery utilising art, crafts, science, language, design, cooking, messy play, music & movement.
Superheroes and modern maidens can create their perfect world in a fantasy play arena complete with a dinosaur volcano, a Heroes Headquarters, 1950’s playhouse, a scalectrix, a baby zone, activity tables, and a construction zone.
After school, members aged 4 years and over can get creative, join a team and make friends (without parents having to supervise) at the after school club. These 2 hour drop off sessions run between 3.30 and 6.30 pm.
Join the Supper Club and dine with friends at the children’s table daily at 5.30pm. Nutritionally balanced meals are served in a fun and comforting environment designed to encourage children to taste and share while socialising with their peers. Games include Take The Taste Test, Spot The Vegetable and Understand The Life Cycle Of Food combine dining and learning.
Adults can slip into escape pods to unwind, catch up on work, surf the net, pamper with a manicure / pedicure, take a power nap, enjoy a selection of iPads, newspapers and magazines. The pro golf simulator is available for adults and features many of the world’s most challenging golf courses including Wentworth and Pebble Beach.
The club features a stylish library and restaurant which offers seasonal and freshly prepared dishes from Purple Dragon’s resident chef. For family weekends, there’s traditional Sunday roasts in the main restaurant. Members receive a package of benefits from carefully selected partners.
There are plans to open Purple Dragon in New York, LA, Moscow ; and in London … a waiting list in Hampstead, St John’s Wood and Primrose Hill as parents clamor for Purple Dragon to open in their neighborhood.
Purple Dragon Chelsea
Grosvenor Waterside, SW1W 8QN
TEL 020 7801 8688
BABY DELI, MADRID
Carolina Herrera’s daughter is one of the business partners behind the Baby Deli which first opened in 2008. Heading operations is super chic mom and interior designer Tatiana Arelle who ensured that the space is well-lit, in white wood with a country home feel. Two other fashionable moms round off the group.
Their slogan is Bueno para tus niños, bueno para su mundo which means ‘Good for your kids, good for the world’.
They consider themselves a unique and innovative space, designed for children and adults to share, with the ecology in mind ; through healthy, organic products and responsible consumption. They offer a comprehensive solution for children and parents, including:
A shop with a well-selected range of organic products, natural skincare, handmade wooden toys, biodegradable and fair trade products, gift ideas, furniture, relaxing music for children and books in English and Spanish. Not in Spain ? Visit their online shop.
Workshops and educational play activities for children from ages 0 to 8 years, and their parents, with an extensive program of activities designed by experts in pedagogy. There’s music and movement, art, yoga for children, acting, cooking and something called princess ballet. For parents there’s yoga, pilates, cooking for babies and baby massage. They do parties customized to your needs and requirements.
A café that gives attention to detail, a wide range of fresh products made with natural and organic ingredients in a bright and pleasant atmopshere for the whole family.
The cool owners bring their children to class, so your child rubs elbows with Madrid’s fashion crew.
In just three short years, the Baby Deli opened a second branch in Madrid and branches in Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia. They are open to franchise opportunities. This year, they launched the first issue of the Baby Deli Magazine.
Calle de Lagasca, 54, Madrid
TEL 915 763 810
C/ Claudio Coello, 101, Madrid
TEL 917 813 442
Avinguda de Pau Casals, 6, 08021 Barcelona
TEL+34 93 166 80 88
C/Licenciado Poza, 14, 48011 – Bilbao – Vizcaya
TEL 944 700 204
C/Conde de Salvatierra, 39, 46004 Valencia
TEL 963 940 998
MOM AND BABY CAFÉ CULTURE
Le Poussette Café in Paris, translated as ‘stroller café in English, has been featured here: http://glamomamas.com/2011/09/paris-kids-part-2/
Also in Paris is Café Grenadine by Julie Boudin, a 32-year-old mom with a 3-year-old daughter. She worked in Human Resources but wanted a life change. Her reply to my query, ‘Since my daughter’s birth it was really difficult to go out with her, have coffee with friends or to go to a restaurant. I decided to create the place of my dreams. In the Café Grenadine you can have coffee, lunch, or eat one of our delicious cakes. All our food is home made; vegetables, fruits and juices are organic. We also sell pens and stamps for creative activities and birth gifts. We organise workshops for children such as Mirror decorating and cup cake painting. For mummies there’s massage for babies, how to carry a baby, sign language with baby. We have enough space to park strollers, and our baby equipment include : changing mat, high chairs, gliders, food, and a play area (kitchen, cars, books). We rent strollers and car seats (reservation on familib.com).’
161 avenue du Maine 75014 Paris
TEL 01 45 43 99 09
In Marseille there’s Pouce!, also by young mom Coline Sourice, frustrated with the absence of restaurants where she could relax with a drink while her child plays. Her tea salon / boutique / playspace is ideally located beside a large, historic park Palais de Longchamp where many families hang out. She offers home-style organic meals, high chairs, diaper changing stations, mom and baby workshops.
I like her courtyard with outdoor seating and a vegetable garden, where kids are encouraged to plant and watch it’s evolution through the weeks. Her boutique sells gently used clothing.
I spent three hours with my son, and he enjoyed so much that he refused to go home … a feat for someone who has the attention span of a fly. I successfully caught up with my reading and made new friends, completely uninterrupted; whereas at home he’d constantly cling to me making any form of activity impossible.
95 boulevard Longchamp 13001 Marseille
Similar mom and baby café spaces around France : Libellule Café in Mouans-Sartoux, Le Petit Atelier in Montpellier, Café Libellune in Caen.
If I did a review of every baby-friendly café in Australia, this article would turn into a book. There are several, and most of them have a clean, modern look that upon first glance, make visitors think it’s a space just for adults. The kiddie portion is seldom loudly in-your-face.
Most notable is Pampered Mummies in Melbourne. They describe themselves as a down to earth kid friendly cafe, hair and beauty salon offering good old fashioned hospitality in a warm, inviting atmosphere. A place where moms can get her hair done, enjoy her beauty treatments and have coffee all the while knowing her kids are being entertained in a nurturing environment. Besides children’s activities such as cooking and reading, they’re open for baby showers and birthdays.
92 Somerville Road
Yarraville, Victoria 3013
TEL: (03) 9314-5069
Also for Melbourne moms, there’s the blog Little Eats : Café Culture For Melbourne’s Little Ones. The cafés they feature might not all have spas or workshops, but they serve healthy food, are fully equipped for children, focus on parents’ peace of mind that their kids are safely playing nearby instead of destroying the china. Many of these cafés provide an environment to dine and meet friends, without resembling a theme park.
If you’re in Adelaide, log on to Little Lattes www.littlelattes.com.au for a list of child-friendly cafés, restaurants and pubs. This website is about : Places to go with tackers in tow.
If you’re in Sydney, log on to Hey Bambini http://www.heybambini.com.au/ for the café directory.
TOKYO BABY CAFÉ
The Tokyo Baby Café is a private member’s club for moms, pregnant women and children under 7 years.
Of all the mom and baby spaces featured, this one has the most unique design. Two perspectives are taken into consideration : that of the parents who see the table tops, as they have coffee and catch up with friends. Then that of small children who see the underside of tables : there’s art painted underneath to keep them entertained. The interiors have a soothing minimal look, with everything in light blue and grey ; and furniture in Alice and Wonderland proportions. The space was created by Japanese firm Nendo, which is headed by design star Oki Sato.
The restaurant allows for stroller maneuvering. A wall displays picture books and you’ll find baskets of toys. Children are free to run, stomp and do whatever they want … lessening the stress of parents who usually need to keep their boisterous kids at bay in regular restaurants. The nursing sofa doubles as a playspace and diaper changing table. If you wish to nurse or change, there are private rooms available. Floorboards and windows come in adult and child sizes.
They offer a menu of classes and occassionally do live music.
4-5-12-B1F Jingumae Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0001
Have you discovered similar places not yet in my radar? I’m looking for those that take parents’ wellbeing and sense of aesthetics into consideration, and not just playspaces for babies. Please send me a message here … would love to compile a global address book.
October 26, 2011 by Guest Writer