By Emily J. Weitz
The modern family is constantly in a state of juggling. And while a slice of the population has the means to hire nannies, housekeepers, and personal chefs to assist in satisfying the demands of work and home, most people don’t have that luxury.
That’s where Hampton Kids comes in: it’s a safe, fun, and perhaps most importantly, consistent place where kids can go while their parents are working hard to keep the family afloat.
Hampton Kids is located at East Hampton Indoor Tennis in Wainscott. While the building that houses Hampton Kids has been rented out for kid-related purposes including a school, summer camp and daycare for many years, it was three years ago that Scott Rubenstein, the managing partner of East Hampton Indoor Tennis, decided to keep the facility in the family. That’s when they opened Hampton Kids, which currently hosts two pre-school classes, a space for birthday parties, children’s programming and an extensive offering of drop-in care options, for those needing to get back to work, have some time for themselves, or play a round of tennis.
In order to fulfill the need for more affordable child care options in an educational and organized setting, the drop-in care was carefully designed to be less expensive than the average babysitter, with a lot more in the way of resources. The whole facility — from the bright yellow and green bounce house, to the indoor playground, to the art room and arcade games — is available for kids getting dropped off. And all parents have to do is call in and give them a heads-up at the front desk.
“Out here,” says Leigh Stumme, Director of Hampton Kids, “there was no other place to drop kids off and have them in a safe and nurturing environment.”
Stumme says the parents who utilize this service range from those who want to drop off their 18-month-old so they can go to a doctor’s appointment to those who need their 12-year-olds in a secure place after school.
“We have a lot of kids who come after school,” says Stumme. “This community is a working community, and for families working until 5 p.m. or 6 p.m., it is difficult.”
To satisfy that need, Hampton Kids has worked directly with schools to arrange for the bus route to run past Hampton Kids.
“They get tokens to play the arcade games,” says Stumme, “or they can play tennis or do their homework. It’s a consistent place for them to come and play and be safe.”
Hampton Kids offers memberships, which reduce the cost of hourly drop-off care – $15 for one hour for members, $20 for one hour for non-members. But these services are available to the community whether you want to join or not.
“We are targeting the families that are trying to juggle hectic schedules,” says Stumme. “But we also have lots of families where the moms don’t work, and they come here to make playdates with their children.”
There are different levels of membership, and all include access to the 10,000 square feet of play space. Kids also get monthly tokens to play the arcade games and win prizes. Membership comes with discounts on drop-in care as well as the classes that are offered at Hampton Kids, including ballet and yoga in the downstairs studio.
In addition to their consistent presence from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, the people at Hampton Kids are very flexible. They are available after hours for groups of six kids or more.
“If you have a group of friends that wants to go out for dinner,” Stumme says, “you can drop your kids off here and have them all in one place.”
In that way, Hampton Kids is looking to become a real part of the community. It’s a space designed for kids to treat as a living room or a playroom, a place where they’re supposed to feel at home.
“Most local preschools close at 1 p.m.,” says Stumme. “For parents who are working until 5 p.m., that’s extremely difficult.”
So they try to offer something for kids of all ages.
“We’re here for the convenience for parents,” said Stumme. “Kids get access to arcade games, the bounce house, the indoor playground, a full art room where we do arts and crafts, a gated playground outside, basketball courts, baseball diamond, soccer field, dance room downstairs, and a blacklight room where they can do karaoke. Plus we have three computers with X Boxes for older kids … We’re just trying to reach the community in general. The best way to find out about us is word of mouth. When someone comes here we hope they’ll share their experience.”
Hamptons Kids is located at East Hampton Indoor Tennis at 175 Daniel’s Hole Road in Wainscott. For more information, call 537-4614 or visit http://hamptonkids.org.