My wife and I grew up in the same small town in Northeast Ohio and had been living in Columbus for several years when we decided to do something crazy: we moved to New York City. My wife had dreamed of living there since the first time we visited together when we were 18, and I was up for the adventure. So we sold our house, two cars, and almost everything we owned and headed to the Big Apple. We brought our six-week-old daughter along for the ride, my wife started her first job after more than a decade in school, and I left the workforce to be an at-home dad. I guess if you’re going to make a life change, you might as well make all of the changes at once, right?
But when my wife went to work I found myself in a 750-square-foot apartment with our new baby, winter approaching, and not knowing anyone else in the city. Was this the adventure I had signed up for? My wife encouraged me to join the NYC Dads Group, and it isn’t an exaggeration to say that it changed my life. I felt kind of weird about it at first, but I met NYC Dads Group co-founders, Lance and Matt, and other dads that wanted to socialize and support each other. In the group I found adult conversation, the friendship and connection I’d been looking for, and a whole lot of fun! It got me out of our apartment and exploring the city in ways I don’t think I would have done without them.
We had our second daughter in NYC (my wife laboring in a taxi, sure she was going to have the baby right there). Our apartment suddenly felt smaller, but we were still having the time of our lives in New York, and the support of the NYC Dads Group was a big part of that. But an unexpected job opportunity for my wife had us thinking about moving back to Columbus, taking us closer to family and long-time friends. Around this time Lance and Matt created the City Dads Group to expand the concept of the New York City Dads Group across the country. I talked to them about starting a group in Ohio, and with their support the Columbus Dads Group was born.
The first meetup of the Columbus Dads Group was at a play café and one other dad showed up. Fast-forward to today and we have more than 200 members and have had almost 200 meetups all over the city. Together with our kids we’ve gone to COSI and the Columbus Zoo, explored metro parks, museums, and libraries, and seen shows downtown. We’ve had Dads Nights Out and tried breweries all over town. More dads are organizing meetups and helping our group grow. We’ve become a group of dads that doesn’t like to sit around. We love to get our kids out of the house, connecting with each other, and exploring the greatest city in the Midwest!
I have a piece of advice for dads out there: Don’t let this group pass you by. I almost did when I was living in New York, and that would have been a huge mistake. We welcome dads of all kinds: at-home or working, married or single, gay or straight. We’re here to help each other navigate parenthood while enjoying everything Columbus has to offer!
Lance Somerfeld says
Ryan, reading this made me well up with tears. Glad to know you, be friends with you, and be along the ride with you during this crazy parenting journey. Congrats on the site launch. Exciting times! -lance
Ryan Gross says
Thanks Lance! It’s been a fantastic ride so far and can’t wait to see what the future holds. I’m sure it’s many more trips back to NYC.
Hi, there seems to be a new NGO encouraging a “Fathers` walk” every Father´s Day: activedads.org. Maybe this is of interest for you …
Ryan Gross says
Thanks Paul, we’ll definitely check it out.
Jan Harris says
Hi. I am the owner of Studio J. We do paint nights for Dads and Kids and would love to have you have night, or day? Our usual cost is $15.00 per person for the canvas paint but we are happy to offer groups of 7 or more $10.00 each. We have some great choices like shopkins, minecraft, trolls, landscapes, etc. Great fun and we are sharing a building with a retro candy store so kids get a free spin on a candy wheel to win candy. You are free to bring your own drinks/refreshments as well. We are in downtown Powell. Phone is 614-563-4807