Music, art, swimming, dance, playgroups: When you're the parent of a young child, the opportunities to introduce your son or daughter to new experiences and friends can seem limitless. But if you're a working parent, the last thing you want to do is cram your already packed calendar with classes that happen at inconvenient times. Luckily, Boston is home to many stellar programs that are particularly accommodating to working parents' schedules. Here are some of our favorites.
Little Groove - Back Bay and Charlestown
Designed for infants through preschoolers, Little Groove's music classes introduce budding musicians to the world of sound. Led by instructors playing live instruments, the classes allow kids to participate as they feel comfortable, and help them learn to express themselves through music while honing motor and social skills. Teachers incorporate plenty of toys into their curriculum, which add to the fun. Little Groove offers classes at locations throughout Boston and surrounding areas; the Back Bay and Charlestown programs offer 5-, 6-, and 7-week sessions on a dedicated weekend schedule that's ideal for working parents. See our full review here.
Museum of Fine Arts Preschool Program - Boston
Offered in the fall, winter, and spring, these five-week classes available on Sundays introduce 4- and 5-year-olds to fine art through projects inspired by pieces in the museum's collection. Parents accompany budding artists to the classes, which allows for great weekend-morning bonding time in a particularly pleasant studio space. Art supplies are provided.
Tinkergarten - Multiple Locations
Tinkergarten brings the classroom outdoors to local parks and green spaces all over Boston. Kids of all ages — even babies — get opportunities to use play to explore the environment, and develop social, emotional, creative, and problem-solving skills along the way. Trained class leaders guide children through seasonally appropriate activities, such as learning about the winter solstice, building an outdoor shelter, creating handmade paper using natural materials, and exploring bugs and their homes. Weekend options abound, giving working parents who are busy during traditional daycare or school hours a chance to interact with kiddos in a learning environment.
The Little Gym of Boston at Waverly Oaks - Waltham
If you want to minimize time spent in the car driving from one activity to another, this is the place for you. With a varying schedule that include plenty of late afternoon, evening, and weekend availability, the Little Gym offers working parents one-stop shopping for activities such as parent-child classes (ages 4 months to 3 years), Pre-K gymnastics (ages 3 to 6), sports (ages 3 to 6), and more. Demo classes are also available. Busy moms and dads can also take advantage of the Parents' Survival Night, a drop-off evening program for children 3 and older that allows parents a few hours to themselves.
The Working Mom’s Playgroup - Multiple Locations
The fast-growing Working Mom’s Playgroup, launched through Meetup, offers a calendar full of events designed to connect working moms and their children, such as age-based playgroups, family events, coffee chats, and Friday playdates. Organizers are planning to add arts and crafts projects, parenting workshops, discussion groups, holiday celebrations, community outreach programs, and more into the mix soon. There are currently three active chapters: the Parkway chapter, geared towards moms in Roslindale, West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and Hyde Park; the Norwood/Walpole chapter encompassing the towns of Norwood, Walpole, Sharon, Dedham, Westwood, Canton, and Stoughton; and a Franklin chapter for moms in Franklin, Bellingham, Mendon, Medway, Millis, Norfolk, and Wrentham.
And, while it's always fun to introduce your kids to new activities, it's important to make time for yourself, too. Here's a bonus option just for moms:
Momidarity - Virtual
If you are looking for the camaraderie of a moms' group but can't find one that accommodates your work schedule, Momidarity may be the answer. Virtual evening support groups, led by a moderator, provide opportunities for women to share their highs and lows on being a working parent; get advice and feedback; and explore special weekly topics such as support, balance, relationships, and identity. Once a 4-week session has ended, moms have lifetime access to an online forum and resources.
Top photo: Little Gym. Photo by SupportPDX via Flickr.