Time for fun, time for toys, and most of all time for bubbles…lots and lots of bubbles. “Time to Play” certainly was the theme at this morning’s festivities on Central Park’s Great Lawn. Time to Play sponsored an amazing event for the NYC Dads Group – to experience fun, laughs, and the latest in cool toys for toddlers. But the toys were not just for the kids as many dads joined in the fun playing with their kids and, well being boys – I know I did. I enjoyed playing with my son as he experimented with several cool offerings from Time to Play. Among the favorites were cars, trucks, sports gear and several bubble machines which kept the kids mesmerized as the air was filled with bubbles of every size, making the park look as if we were transported to an underwater fantasy land.
From the start, the kids and dads hit the park running, each gravitating toward their respective age group. Kids roamed the field picking up random toys and giving each a fair amount of analysis, evaluation, and good old-fashioned bang up, to see which stood the kiddy test. After “kicking the tires” on numerous products, in my opinion, many toys really stood up to the beating our tots were giving them. Now, the dads went right to work and did what we do best, tended to the little ones. Before mingling, we set up a campsite for the less mobile tots to roll around and stretch their legs. We unpacked the usual gear we all seem to lug around, mats, diaper bags, snacks and wipes. Then we blew off some steam by sharing the latest round of baby war stories, which usually starts with “did you get any sleep last night?” or “my kids are going to take a long nap after this.” Then, many dads let their inner child loose and got right down on the lawn and started playing- each picking their favorite toy. Mine was the sky ball, a ball so cool that it can bounce into space, ok not really, but it bounced super high. Another dad was putting golf balls from the Fisher-Price golf set into a makeshift hole made out of Hoola Hoops. I was also a big fan of the Avengers bubble machine -did I mention there were a lot of bubbles?!, Yowza, by the time I got my little dude home he smelled like a bottle of bubble solution. I mean seriously, every time he burped, bubbles flew out of his ears.
All in all, socializing with the other dads is by far my favorite aspect of the NYC Dads Group meet-ups, because the life of an at-home dad can be isolating. So when we have the opportunity to get together and just be guys, with our little guys, and little girls, it is very nurturing and necessary. There were plenty of laughs, dads playing with other dad’s kids, and laughing, lots of laughing.
It was also great to speak to Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of Time to Play (a dad that reminds us of Tom Hanks from “Big” because it’s his job to play & test out thousands of toys each year), and his entire team, as they are very supportive of the NYC Dads Group’s initiative to bring awareness to the changing face of at-home child care, as well as giving dads a personal space to build community, socialize, and nurture fun with their children. The team was helpful in answering questions about certain products and was especially open to receiving feedback from the dads on what we like in age-appropriate toys. I know I enjoyed playing product review guy explaining the nuisances of the perfect bubble machine and my favorite mode of playing with bubbles, namely anything that is clean and not messy since Daddy does not like to do laundry, which I seem to do every day due to my little guy’s tendency to roll around in everything and anything, but I’ll save that rant for another time.
In addition, it was great to have a media crew cover the event and interview some of the dads. The media seem to be genuinely interested in spotlighting the dads’ group and showing the efforts we put into being hands-on, competent, and caring dads. The reporter asked great questions, listened to all of our war stories and really supported our role as a group, and “movement.” Then, if things couldn’t get any better, there was a raffle held where each of the kids that attended was able to receive a free toy to take home. Let me tell you, my son made a beeline right to the mound of free swag before Jim Silver and his team could start calling out raffle numbers. As soon as his number “eight” was called, my son ran straight to the toys, grabbing a Spider-Man bubble machine, (yes more bubbles, sense a theme yet?? ). It was nice that every dad and child received a toy for coming out, which was extra sweet icing on an already perfect cake. But wait, it gets even better. As everyone was about to leave, TIME TO PLAY announced that all the “gently used” toys on the grass were up for grabs, so now it was Daddy’s turn. I ran with my son scrounging around the wet, bubble-soaked grass, nabbing a cool Batman car and sky ball for our efforts. I have to admit I had my eye on the sky ball since I arrived at the park, you have to see this thing it just flies…well anyway, it was very cool to grab more toys, not to mention the goody bag each dad received as a parting gift, which totally made my son’s day, as it had a spider-man toy in it along with a free shirt. Not bad for a Wednesday morning in the park with seventeen other fathers!
Now, it’s off to bath time, because my son just made his way into the Spider-Man gift toy and I now have an apartment filled with, yes you guessed it, BUBBLES!!!
*Disclosure: This playdate in the park was a sponsored event by Time To Play. The opinions expressed in this blog entry are authentic and our own.
About the author
Eddie Munoz spends his days as an at-home dad on the Upper West Side of NYC. He cooks, cleans, and does laundry and in the evenings, when he is not busy chasing his son, maintains a part-time counseling and coaching practice.