New to parenthood or to your neighborhood? Seeking to meet other parents like yourself? The winter months make it tough to get out and socialize. But don't worry, you don't need to take out a personal ad. Try these ideas to get up and out and meet new folks (and kids).
Remember, this list is a sampling of some of the largest groups, but certainly not exhaustive. If you don’t see your neighborhood on the list, search a Yahoo Groups directory for your area (or interest), adding “parents" to the search. Also visit Meetup’s Parents and Family page.
For more creative play ideas ideas, check out our guide to indoors activities on Long Island.
Admit it, you're on Facebook a million times a day. Why not use the social network to get your parental social life in gear? Most Long Island towns have individualized moms/dads groups. Bellmore even has a separate parents group geared toward toddlers and preschoolers. Can't find one? Create it, start spreading the word and organize a meet-up. Here are some active ones we found. Long Island Moms/Dads and Tots Playgroup connects parents seeking play dates; Long Island Preschool & Elementary Moms and Long Island Moms are a mommy catch-all. You can meet new moms, set up play dates, or ask for advice and recommendations. There's even a group for Crunchy Moms of Long Island. Wear the badge of a special-needs family? Connect with pioneering parents just like yourself in groups such as Long Island Special Education Parent Network.
Fitness, exercise, and more
Hike It Baby
This active club, also known as Long Island Little Adventurers, organizes hikes for moms and dads of various fitness levels and ages. Baby-wearing parents and parents with children in strollers are welcome.
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Take a class with your baby and meet fellow parents. Photo courtesy of Mommy Moves
Mommy-and-me yoga classes are offered for parents and other caregivers with babies as young as 6 weeks. Get mindful with like-minded moms and dads.
Sway to the beat while swaddling your baby and sweating with fellow mammas at classes in Plainview or Massapequa.
Get in shape while you socialize. These organized exercise groups, in Nassau and Suffolk counties, keep your body moving with baby in tow.
Channel your inner Picasso or cozy up with some power tools at places such as Suite Pieces in Huntington Station or Massapequa; Bubble in Babylon; ARTrageous in Rockville Centre; As You Wish in Bellmore; Mini Monet in Sayville; or The Painted Canvas in Wading River. Most of these locations have ladies' nights, at which you can mix and mingle with other moms.
Libraries, classes, and more
Most libraries in Nassau and Suffolk offer free read-alouds, sing-a-longs and/or circle time. They are often age-specific, so you can target your little one's age group. Other parents are bound to check them out. Bonus: They're usually FREE.
Local churches and synagogues occasionally offer baby-and-me or toddler-and-me classes. The Little Fishes playgroup at The Whaling Museum in Cold Spring Harbor invites parents to chit-chat while snacking. Tiny Tots at the Center for Science Teaching & Learning is a drop-in, weekly nature class for parents and children. Look into other mommy-and-me classes across Long Island.
Barnes & Nobles hosts FREE weekly storytimes for parents and tots. You're bound to find a fellow parent to connect with over literary (or coffee) preferences. Drop into a session at the Smith Haven Mall, in East Northport, Carle Place, Manhasset or Bay Shore.
Grab a coffee and meet new friends at a nearby play cafe. Photo courtesy of Sippy Cups Cafe
Several individually owned play spaces cater to younger children. Liddle Bites Play Cafe in Long Beach, Momo's Clubhouse in Syosset, Sippy Cups Cafe in Seaford, Cup O' Fun Cafe in Valley Stream, Imaginations at Play in Ronkonkoma, and The Sandbox in Huntington are all good for parents of the 5-and-under crowd. Some offer organized play sessions, while others allow children and parents to socialize via supervised play. Check out our roundups of indoor play spaces in Nassau and Suffolk. On a budget? Pop into one of these FREE play spaces across Long Island for socialization and engagement.
Top photo of a Stroller Strides workout courtesy of Kathleen Leavitt Cargun via Flickr