Parent Meet-ups Pop Up Around Brooklyn

Judging by the amount of parent meet-up groups forming around the borough, families are definitely growing in Brooklyn.

The groups not only provide companionship for tots, but for parents, as well.  When Jyoti Haimoff moved to the Northside Piers in Williamsburg in 2008, there were just two other children in the building, besides her newborn son.

“It was hard to find out about good activities for kids and classes,” recalled Haimoff, herself a former teacher.

The following year, there was an “explosion” of kids in the building. That’s when Haimoff decided to help out newer parents so they would have better resources than she did.

Haimoff started a Google Group just for residents of the Northside Piers and the parent meet-ups commenced, growing to include 45 families who “share everything from sleep training techniques to [how to help] teething problems.”

The meet-up group also hosts events like Margarita Mamas, when the kids stay home with dad and mom goes out; Dad’s Night Out, in honor of Father’s Day; Halloween parties and picnics. A ferry ride to DUMBO is currently in the works.

Haimoff’s son is now three-and-a-half and her daughter recently turned one year old. As the kids in the group get older, the conversation changes, as well.  “[Parents] are talking now about school and where to send them,” she said. “When he [my son] entered his classroom, he knew half of the kids in there. It’s a nice friendly environment this way and not a shock.”

Haimoff considers Brooklyn to be a huge help in making her group so successful since “the parents here are more relaxed and not competitive,” she said.

Over in southwest Brooklyn, Keiko Asakawa-Golden has organized regular meet-ups since 2003 for Japanese moms, many of whom she first met at a park in Bay Ridge. By word of mouth, news of the group spread and it now has about 30 members throughout Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Sunset Park.

“Sometimes we have a swap, where we exchange items. We have mom’s night out, where we go out for dinner or for dim sum with our families,” Asakawa-Golden said.  “We have several annual events. In the spring, we have an Easter egg hunt and a summer festival in June. Then we try to do more regular playgroups at the Bay Ridge Library.”

All of the kids in this group are also being raised bilingual, and “everything we do is related to Japan. We speak Japanese when we meet,” said the mom of two young boys, who added that she likes to keep the meeting local in consideration of the “families who have little kids [and find] it’s hard to travel.”

Parent meet-ups aren’t only for moms, though. For the over 500 members of the NYC Dads Group, the opportunity to hang out with and learn from other at-home and working dads who share a desire to be an active part of their children’s lives is invaluable. Since starting in 2009 with a group of four or five friends of friends, the group has spread to include a regularly-updated blog at, a New Dad Boot Camp for expectant dads, and near-daily activities across the five boroughs.

“For a lot of dads, it’s kind of hard to find opportunities for dads to get out and socialize,” said Aaron Smith, father to 16-month old Siena and a Dads Group organizer from Carroll Gardens. “Meet-ups are a great tool for us to do that, but they also do things that help dads try to get ready for parenthood and being fathers… It’s a nice opportunity for adults to get out and socialize, to talk about trials and tribulations of raising kids.”

As Dads Group founder Lance Somerfeld explained, what started as “a social outlet” has transformed into a huge network that is helping to “break the mold and shatter perceptions of what people think of dads… The more dads feel supported, have opportunity to socialize, the better dads they will be and want to be.”

Sometimes meet-ups connect with or grow out of established businesses, as well. Wanting to address a feeling of isolation is also what spurred Carey Balogh, mom of a 21-month-old and a three-year-old to team up with new neighbor and fellow new mom Julia Dawson to launch a new business, Frolic! Playspace, in Williamsburg this past January.

“We wanted to create an environment where we had a play area and a coffee lounge where new parents can meet and talk about issues like breastfeeding and sleeping patterns,” Balogh explained of their enterprise, which recently added a meet-up for newborns to three-month-olds in addition to formal music and dance classes.

Every Friday between 1 and 2:30 p.m., the bright space filled with the sounds of kid-friendly rock music welcomes new parents to grab a coffee while watching their children play. “You just come in and everyone knows your name. It has an amazing vibe,” said Balogh.

Adriane Stare, founder of Caribou Baby in Greenpoint, and mom to an almost-three-year-old agreed, noting that this is especially important in communities that are still in transition and don’t have established social centers.

“When [my son] was much younger, there was a sort of a lack of resources for new parents in the neighborhood,” explained Stare, whose store is stocked with newborn and infant supplies and other nursing and maternity apparel, and has a big open living-room-like space for socializing. The room has a skylight, projector screen, kitchenette and lambskin rugs – a homey space for parents to feel like they are amongst friends and “there are no expectations.”

“A pace of life is different with a baby,” Stare noted. “You can be talking to someone in a normal conversation and your baby will cry or need a diaper change and you will literally cut off the conversation mid-sentence to do something else. By having these meet-ups, parents can talk in a flexible way.”


Here are some places that host parent meet-ups:

Brooklyn Heights Work-At-Home Moms Group: For working moms inside and outside of the house to gather, support and commiserate with one another – with or without the kids. Sign up for updates at

Stroller Strides Brooklyn Area Moms Group: This group meets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9:30 a.m. at the Remsen Street entrance of the Brooklyn Promenade for an hour or so of “fitness for mom, fun for baby.” Join at

NYC Dads Group: A diverse group of over 500 dads who meet around the city at museums, parks, zoos, parent-and-me classes and elsewhere. They often chat with experts about fatherhood and parenting. and

Brownstone Brooklyn Parents of Twins Club: Created 15 years ago for parents of multiples, the group now includes over 300 families.

Der Schwarze Kolner Biergarten, 710 Fulton Street, 347-841-4495

This Fort Greene beer garden hosts a playgroup every Monday through Thursday from 2:30 to 5 p.m. for moms and dads who want to socialize – and maybe even enjoy a pint or two – while their toddlers play.

Boing Boing, 204 Sixth Avenue, 718-398-0251
Founded by Karen Paperno in 1995, this boutique claims to be the first breastfeeding and baby-wearing store in the country – offering advice and instruction on subjects that are usually deemed taboo. Each week addresses something different, from infant massage and lactation advice to parenting books and advice on how to regain intimacy with your spouse.


Reporting contributed by Heather Chin.

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