Playborhood Party – Part 2

Aug 30, 2012 by

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Last Saturday was the Playborhood Party (If you don’t know what a Playborhood Party is, check out Part 1 first.) 

The front yard was filled with nearly every little-kid toy I could find — sandbox; mini basketball hoop; sidewalk chalk and hopscotch board; cars and trucks out the wazoo (I have two boys); a blanket on the grass with a tea set and play food; bubbles; ride-on toys; and hula hoops.  In the field across the street were the toys for slightly older kids — we had a badminton/volleyball net with all the accessories; water balloons and water squirters; frisbees and Nerf footballs; and a parachute with pit balls (who remembers playing that game in elementary school gym class?? It was my favorite!).  There were snacks and cold drinks.  We had lawn chairs and tables strategically placed near the road so that in theory, the adults could sit there and stop the kids from dashing into the road.  I also used the chalk to write, “SLOW” on the actual road, but this seemed to have no effect on the cars that went by.  (Several cars DID slow down when passing the house, but that’s just because they thought it was a really freakin’ awesome tag sale!  Once they realized our toys were not for sale, they zoomed away in a huff.)


Playborhood Party collage


Drumroll please . . .  ratatatatatatatatatatatatatat . . . Three families attended.  Four adults, five kids, nine people total.  I was already good friends with one of the mamas and her two kids, so really, we met three new adults and three new kids from a neighborhood of 123 houses.  Of course I was bummed that we didn’t have a higher turnout, but do not despair, kind readers.  If you read Part 1, you may have noticed that Mike Lanza himself commented to warn me  that cultural change is really hard and requires a lot of pushing.  I’m nothing if not a pusher, ha ha.  Ask my mister, he’ll attest that I don’t give up on things I really care about.  EVER.

So there’s an upside.  The one couple that we met?  Their kids are almost the exact same age as mine and they were super excited about the Playborhood concept.  In fact, once they got here, the husband actually texted their closest neighbors, ones who also have small children, to get their butts to my house pronto!  The other families couldn’t make it, but just knowing that one family is on board is exciting to me. At ages nearly 4 and 2, our kids are too little to go exploring on their own, so we talked about the need to hold organized, scheduled activities like this at first.  Our new friends offered to host the next Playborhood Party and ensure that those other nearby families attended.  I consider that a success, don’t you?  Plus the husband loves Halloween and that’s my favorite holiday, too, so I foresee some kind of spooky craziness around here come October 31st.  Win win!

I’m going to keep at it.  Based on the comments to my Part 1 post, I think our readers are interested, too.  As Lanza beseeches in the Epilogue to Playborhood:

” . . . I want you to make your own neighborhood vibrant and nurturing.  I want you to build a neighborhood hangout in your own front yard, play out there with your kids every evening, and then give them the tools they need to be independent of you.  I want you to encourage your neighbors to join you.


In short, I want you to join the movement, or start your own movement, with the goal of promoting play and enhancing the quality of children’s lives today.  With enough voices, at a high enough volume, we can transform our culture’s conception of what a ‘normal childhood’ looks like.”

Who’s with me?!



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Jen is a nerdy mama with a touch of OCD and a penchant for snarkiness. Before she joined the corporate world in order to put food on the table, she obtained a Social Work degree in order to save the world and hug all the trees. Currently, she works full-time from home and puts her degree to good use in designing online training programs for a large insurance company. Jen originally hails from rural northwest Pennsylvania, where “creek” is pronounced “crick” and cow tipping is an accepted social activity. Jen lives in Simsbury with her husband and two little boys, who are well on their way to being the best-documented children in history (40K+ photos and counting).

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  • meg

    Good for you! It’s a start …the entertainment looks awesome. I’m inspired!

    • JSeiderer

      Thanks, Meg! I have to admit, the water balloons and water squirters were the most fun. I think the adults got more into it than the kids did! At one point, we had a kid AND a dad dunking their entire heads into the bucket of water! Fun fun fun. Plus we left the badminton net up for the rest of the weekend and my mister and kids and I played out there every evening.

  • Kris-Ann

    YAY! So happy to hear it was succesful. I think your turnout was pretty good the first time out. I’ve thought about holding some kind of organzied activity for my neighborhood like pumpkin carving once the weather turns a bit. A friend of mine at work is planning to host an outdoor movie night. Keep it up Jen, can’t wait to hear more about this.

    • JSeiderer

      I’m definitely going to do the outdoor movie night once my kids are old enough to stay up after dark! I’ve been wanting to do that one for a while now. For now, I’m going to work on a way to play out front more often without worrying about the road. My little ones can’t be trusted yet and the fenced-in backyard is easy, but I’m going to figure it out.

  • ScienceMomArlene

    Great start, hope it grows to more.
    For a Halloween sugestion, a co-worker of mine does this in her neighborhood and the kids love it. At a central house they set up a table of drinks, snacks, crafts, etc so kids can stop by while Trick-or-Treating to take a break and have fun. Usally one parents stays there to help out while the other goes around witht he kids. They have even just done a big trick or treat thing there where all the houses in the neighborhood just set up a table with their stuff and the kids go from table to table instead of house to house plus have other fun thing for the kids to do there as well. It’s a big hit in her neighborhood and her kids start planning next years the day after Halloween.

    • JSeiderer

      That’s a great idea! I’d love to try something like that. We’re going to have to be creative about Halloween anyways because of Big’s peanut allergy, so we could definitely do something like this. Plus it would work for the little kiddos who can’t go street to street on their own yet, or the ones who are too shy to knock on doors (not that Big is shy after delivering 123 invites!). Stay tuned!

  • Katie Schunk

    That sounds like a huge sucess!!!!! Keep at it and soon enough you will be turning kids away from your house :-)

    • JSeiderer

      Ha ha, I wish! Yeah, if the problem was that I had too many kids around, wouldn’t that be a great way for my kids to grow up??

  • Sofia

    Awesome!!! Happy to hear you have people in your neighborhood who are on board. :)

    • JSeiderer

      Thanks, Sofia! There are a couple and I’m gonna work on getting more on board!

  • Kate Street

    You ROCK, Mama! Totally, totally rock and I’m totally, totally inspired!!!!!

    • JSeiderer

      Awww, thanks! Kiss kiss!

  • Melanie

    I’m so happy you made some new friends. I think I’m way too shy to pull off something like this. I loved the pictures btw.

    • JSeiderer

      Thanks, Melanie. Although I’m not shy, I’m not normally this outgoing, either; it was a stretch. We were delivering invites at the same time as campaigning for the primary was going on, which is why I think more people didn’t answer the door. I took Big with me to hopefully convince people to talk to me and as soon as they opened the door, I had to start my spiel all in a rush: “I’m-not-campaigning-or-selling-anything-I’m-just-inviting-you-to-a-party . . .”

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  • Mike Lanza

    Wow, Jen! I love your spirit! I wish we were neighbors!

    You’re making a difference in your ‘hood, even though the numbers aren’t out there yet. I hope you manage to create some sort of “neighborhood hangout” in your front yard. If you have a fun place out there for everyone to see every day, your neighbors will start to realize how boring their kids’ lives are…

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