A place to play, socialize
Moms and Tots fits the bill!

by Marty Brown
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 12/97) - Kids are playing, moms are chatting, there's a small tug of war going on over a plastic truck, someone small is singing to themselves and peanut butter is being smeared joyously on a craft project. Where are we?

Kindergarten? Sunday School? Nope, we're at Moms and Tots, a non-profit group that gives kids a place to play and care-givers support.

If you have three kids under the age of five, it's -40 C and you're new to town, what could be more welcome?

Every day of the week, except Tuesday, moms and tots have been meeting in the Calvary Community Church. It's a time for people with kids to socialize. In fact, the name "Moms and Tots" could be changed, said one of the moms, Cori Jones.

"It's not just moms any more. There's dads, babysitters, nannies -- main care-givers for under-school-age children drop in," said Jones.

There's not a lot of places to go with pre-schoolers when the temperature's -40 C. People living in apartments find kids need space and friends and Moms and Tots has both said Jones.

This particular day there were nine moms and 10 kids. Some days, there's 30 tots. Friday is the busiest day.

Besides lots of room to run off steam, Moms and Tots offers crafts, songs and a chance to get very messy.

"There's lots of cutting and pasting, home-made play-dough creations, finger-painting and peanut butter bird feeders, where lots of peanut butter ends up getting eaten," said Angela Neish, one of the craft co-ordinators.

There's snack time, stories, parties and trips to the park in nice weather. But most importantly, there are other care-givers who have the same problems and joys you do.

"Not a lot of people have family here so there's no support for young moms. Without Moms and Tots I don't know what I'd do," said group president Dana Wilson, balancing 16-month-old Lewis on her lap.

The parents agree that Moms and Tots is the only forum they have. And infants are more than welcome.

The moms even organized a mothers' night out once a month involving everything from movies to fondue parties.

There's a small drop-in fee but no one keeps track, so don't stay away because of that, Neish said.