Meet Christina and Alexis! - Columbus Moms Network

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

Christina: I have a 3 year old daughter, Rooney and a 21 month old son, Delta.

Alexis: I have 2 kids keeping me on my toes at all times! Jayce Alexander age 9 and Ayla Rose age 3.

How long have you lived in Columbus and what brought you here? 

Christina: I initially came to Columbus to attend OSU for my undergraduate degree (go bucks!). After graduating in 2013, I moved to Chicago for several years with my now-husband, Matt. We moved back to put down roots and be closer to family at the end of 2015.We’ve been here ever since!

Alexis: My partner, John, and I moved here from Indiana in 2016 with our 1 year old at the time- Jayce! I was finishing my graduate program and landed my medical placement at Grant Medical in downtown Columbus. We quickly fell in love with the city, saw the potential here to raise a family, and made it home shortly after. We’ve been here for 8 years now!

What does your family enjoy doing together in your spare time?

Christina: We love to spend time together. Whether we are taking the kids for a simple nature walk or grabbing dinner at a brewery, we enjoy the adventure it brings. With littles of this age-a simple outing to the playground is a special way to see the world through their eyes. We also love to travel as a family, whether we are hiking in a national park or relaxing at the beach (we just returned back from Hawaii!), the travel is not easy but always worth it! My husband, Matt and his brother are also in a local band called Silvis. Our family supports him whenever we can as the kid’s believe they are also part of the band and love to perform in our living room haha!

Alexis: If we’re not at one of my son’s baseball games (He plays for the travel and rec team in New Albany!), you can find us doing just about anything outdoors! From walking around our neighborhood to biking around town to day trips at Hocking Hills- we’re always out and about exploring in and around Columbus!

How did the two of you decide to start The Play Spot?

We worked together several years ago at a play-based sensory clinic doing co-treatments and leading therapeutic play groups. After some time there, we went our separate ways, while still keeping in touch, and grew our families (Alexis had her 2nd child as Christina had her 1st). Motherhood quickly showed us the universal need for our skills in separate areas of child development and it was something we wanted to share with all families! We both love taking our own children to extracurricular classes- music, swim, etc.- but we saw a need for something like ‘The Play Spot’- an exciting place that fosters natural development, provides caretakers with education, and where all children can go either for a challenge, support, or just to have fun!

Tell us about some of the classes and events that you offer through The Play Spot and what are the ages that these classes are offered for?

Our 45 minute, thematic, caregiver and me classes includes a mix of structured and free play! We target multiple domains of development like gross motor, fine motor, sensory, communication and social skills but for the kids, it all feels like PLAY. Classes are offered for two age groups; 15 months-3 years and 3-5 years. The activities/themes are the same, yet graded for complexity to find that “just right challenge” for each age group! Caregivers also have access to developmental tips throughout the class and receive informative emails both pre and post- class! Our program combines the expertise of highly trained speech and occupational therapists with the joys of playtime using obstacle courses, sensory bins, crafts, story-time and fine-motor activities. Our class is sure to be a fun and engaging learning and relationship-building experience for children and their caregivers. Whether you’re looking for a challenge, need support or just a place to have fun, we meet every child where they are developmentally and can curate our class to all. Events have been so fun as well! Most events are in collaboration with similar businesses around Columbus. We typically do a portion of our class or showcase one of our stations. We also provide child entertainment for private events like birthday parties, holiday parties or weddings by providing custom sensory bins, party favors, or a fun and interactive sensory kit Build-a-Bar.

What sort of activities do you have in a Play Spot Class? How do you find they benefit the children participating in the class?

Structured portions of class include singing our Hello song, Parachute Play, Story and Snack, Melodies and Motion, and Goodbyes. These times are great to practice transitions and group participation. The free play portion is meticulously designed to keep each child engaged while simultaneously encouraging independence and creativity for them to move at their pace. Our Free Play portion is where ‘The Play Spot Stations’ come in! We offer a sensory station, a fine motor station, and a gross motor station. Themes change every class to keep it novel and exciting, yet children and caregivers can learn the predictable routines! Each portion of class also integrates language components. We love the happily surprised statements from caregivers as they watch their child engage for extended periods of time in a station! Likewise- we are passionate about offering a safe-space for toddlers to be toddlers! We are pro wiggles here and always encourage listening to your child’s body- even during those structured times 🙂 For many of our families, this class might be one of their first social experiences before they begin preschool. Children benefit both from pop-ups and class series, but our favorite examples are those of children we’ve watched blossom over the length of a class series. We’ve seen children’s language increase, we’ve seen children’s imitation during routines increase, and we’ve seen children become so much more comfortable and settle into the class structure when maybe this was a challenge to begin with. We’ve also had families seek out formal services and gain insights on their child after speaking with us and learning from our class. If we can help guide a family to a path that best serves their individual child- it is a win for us!

How can someone find out more about The Play Spot, and maybe try a class?

Pop-ups are a great way to try a class once before committing to a series! Our series consist of 4-6 weekly classes and they are great because we really get to know the family and children. The children also benefit from the repetition and are able to pick up on the routine and transitions. We announce everything on Instagram (@theplayspotclass) and Facebook (The Play Spot) and include all registration directly in our bio.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Class days typically start the day before by packing up our cars with all the fun materials! Since we are a traveling play class, we bring loads of materials! The day of- we get our kids off to school then head off to that day’s location- typically 45 minutes before class starts- to set up. Class is 45 minutes long. We clean up and then if we have time, we pick a favorite lunch or coffee spot to do all the behind the scenes work- admin, social, planning, meeting up with other businesses, making sensory material, etc.! We have a blast every step of the way! We both thankfully work in very flexible ways so Alexis’ days also include working part-time at a school, seeing private speech clients and being home with her children. Christina also works part time at a preschool and stays home with her children.

How do you juggle work and mom life?

Whew! That’s a loaded question  We love the metaphor of juggling plastic vs glass balls. We can’t keep all the balls in the air at all times; we have to decide which are glass and which are plastic. To keep the glass balls going, sometimes we have to drop the plastic ones and that’s okay. Our prioritization looks different day to day. Family time and being present is a glass ball for us, so we always make sure to squeeze some of that in! Some days we’re able to dedicate HOURS to our business and some days we only get 1-2 things checked off, but as long as we do something towards it everyday, we know we’re growing! We are also so grateful that our kids can not only witness their moms build a rewarding business, but join us on the journey! We “test” so many of our fun activities with them and even get to bring them to classes and events- that’s really special to us!

What is one piece of advice you would each give to a new mom?

Listen to your instincts above all else- you know your child best and are your child’s best teacher and play partner. There are so many emotions that come with motherhood, relish in the good, but don’t be afraid to ask for help or look for support whenever you feel it’s needed!

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