It took me all Summer, but I finally found the best places for you and your kiddos to enjoy mommy and me playdates. Ideally I wanted the playdates to be fun and low-pressure. In order to make the situation less stressful, I had to find locations in the greater Austin area that I personally felt safe and secure with my kids but also allowed me to be present with my mommy friend.

There are multiple benefits that come from mommy playdates. First off, they offer a chance for both moms and children to have fun while benefiting from social interaction. My social activity took a significant dip during the initial rise of COVID 19. I had just had my second baby and felt pretty isolated.

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The new friends and relationships that I made as a result of my mommy and me time also impacted my kids lives in a positive way. It taught them that they can form early friendships while very young. The play dates fostered a supportive network for me to share advice, tips, and experiences with other mommies that just got it. I always find the best places and things to do when talking to my Austin-native mamas. Not only do I benefit from a social perspective but my girls benefit from interacting with their peers, promoting social and emotional development. These are vital tools they will use throughout the entire course of their lives.

The best reason for mommy playdates are that they provide a safe and secure opportunity to socialize with other momma’s who understand the challenges and joys of parenthood. They provide a break from my daily routines and are fun and relaxing experience for both parents and kiddos.

However, if I’m in an area where I’m letting my kids play in a park and there isn’t a fence or enclosed area and I’m constantly having to watch over my kid for their safety, my mommy and me playdate is no longer stress-free or fun.

These are the top places in Austin that made me feel the most comfortable and safe. More fun, less worry!

1.Barre 3 (1911 Aldrich St. Suite 150 Austin, TX, 78723) There are multiple Barre 3 locations throughout Austin, but I had the best experience with the following two studios. The downtown location is perfect for mommies that want to workout with a friend and go grocery shopping after. Trader Joes is right around the corner! If you want to get back into an exercise routine in a safe environment mentally and physically, this place is for you. In 2021 I experienced severe postpartum depression. This particular studio lifted me up and made me feel as if I was a part of the Austin community. The perk is that they have an in house play lounge for your kiddos which gave me a peace of mind. Don’t forget to bring your parking ticket to the front desk because they’ll validate!

 

2.Barre 3 (12160 W Parmer Ln Suite 170, Cedar Park, TX 78613) This location is everything! The staff made me feel like I was home. I felt incredibly safe dropping my kids off at the play lounge and really enjoyed all my classes. The instructors that work here, have incredible interpersonal skills. Not only are they skilled barre instructors but also engaging and super welcoming! I actually became best friends with a gal that worked there and made plenty of other friends with other ladies that worked/attended here! I’ve visited all of the Barre 3 studios in the greater Austin area but the above two locations were my favorite as a new momma.

3.Mandolas (12100 W Parmer Ln #200, Cedar Park, TX 78613) If you’re looking for a lunch spot that both you and your kids will enjoy, this is the restaurant. They have a cute coffee/dessert bar for the mommies and an enclosed, gated jungle gym for the kiddos. Bonus-it’s next door to the Barre 3, Cedar Park location. I’ve needed that one on one mommy convo after exercising and this place is the perfect complement to a barre class.

 

4. Garbos (12709 N Mopac Expy, Austin, TX 78727) First of all, yum! This is also one of my husband’s favorite places to eat. The lobster rolls and shaved ice lemonades are out of this world delicious. They have plenty of parking and a super cute outdoor playground that my kids are obsessed with. To top it off they also have a super cute ice cream truck, too! My kids love it. Lots and lots of parking!

5.Pikopye’s Town (1607 Ranch Rd 620 N #100, Lakeway, TX 78734) My favorite thing about this spot is the cold brew on tap! It’s so tasty and it’s included with your reservation. You and a mommy can reserve a play date for three whole hours while your kids play in their life size, “Richard Scary,” kind of play village. Plenty of parking as well. Play dates can be reserved Mondays through Fridays only.

6.The Little Land Gym (2423 S Bell Blvd Suite B, Cedar Park, TX 78613) This place is super cute! Think mini “Thinkery,” but easier to keep an eye on the kiddos kind-of-place. My toddlers love it but it’s also safe for the babies too! What I like about this location is that there is only one entrance and exit out to the play area. It can be tricky keeping an eye on siblings when multiple exits/entrances exist. The staff are all super friendly and helpful! It’s important to note that you should bring socks & give yourself extra time for parking as it is limited.

 

7.Mt. Playmore (13609 N Interstate Hwy 35, Austin, TX 78753) This place is super fun for kids of all ages! I have two toddlers and they love it! If you have babies or toddlers this is one of the best places to go. They have a huge enclosed area designated for the littles that includes a locked gate, nursing room, recliners and multiple toys/slides etc. designed for the little guys and gals. Bonus, they have an in house restaurant with plenty of seating. Huge parking lot, too!

8.Work Castle (9901 N Capital of Texas Hwy Suite 3250, Austin, TX 78759) I saved the best for last. At first I didn’t believe it was real. According to my four-year-old “Work Castle is my dream come true.” And it is, for me and my kids. It’s a co-working spot that goes above and beyond. They’re centrally located a few feet away from a Wholefoods, movie theatre and Nordstrom Rack making it the perfect place for a mommy date! They’re unique because they’re the only drop off childcare facility that allows you to pay by the hour. It’s perfect for mommies that want to drop their kids off for an hour or two and head to a movie, go shopping or even buy groceries. It’s ideal for mommies that are working during the day, but need to feel the safety and security  knowing that their children are taken care of. The difference between their child care center versus child care in other areas of Austin is that they actually provide one on one education and learning development. Imagine your child learning and having fun while you are only a door away, working or having a talk with a girlfriend. It is also unique in the sense that it’s the only place on my list that allows you to drop off the kiddos and leave. They’re open all day and weekends! My girls are always asking to go!

 

Remember, open communication, common-sense safety precautions and attentiveness to the children’s needs are essential to ensuring the most safe and enjoyable playdates. Don’t forget to have fun mommas, parenthood doesn’t need to be lonely or isolated! Get out there and start scheduling some mommy playdates!

Rachel Nicole Frey
Rachel is a "momedian," get it?! ...she's a mom plus a comedian! She's a biracial mama both Hispanic and Caucasian, 50/50 with an extra helping of ADHD. She's an Air Force brat (and wife) born on a military base in the UK but has also lived in Shreveport, Louisiana, Monterey, California, San Angelo, Texas, Destin, Florida, Stafford,Virginia, Tokyo, Japan, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Springfield, Virginia, Alexandria, Virginia, Arlington Virginia, Silver Spring, Maryland, Santa Monica, California and now hangs her vintage hat collection in good ol' Austin Texas. She's an elder millennial in recovery for an eating disorder and body dysmorphia, committed to a lifetime of therapy because she wants to teach her two daughters to eat intuitively and love their bodies. Her favorite things about Austin include a Chuys burrito with ranchero sauce, thrifting, all the crafty coffee spots and the fact that she can get anywhere in less than 30 minutes driving. You can find her on Instagram @rachelnicolefrey

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