It’s almost time for endless sunshine, playground romps and lots of popsicles. Be sure to add picnicking to your list. We’re talking about a trip to Picnic, Ravenswood’s new gathering place for parents and kids. Like its warm, breezy name implies, Picnic is a welcoming hub for parents that want friends, support and camaraderie. It offers prenatal and new-parent classes and support groups, plus silly-fun programming for kids. Here’s an inside look.

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The Place for New Parents
Picnic was created by Sue Gottschall and Rebecca Nguyen, a mother-daughter team. Both have a Master in Education and are certified lactation consultants, so they understand the struggles and joys new parents encounter. After teaching for years, they opened Picnic to make local parents’ roller coaster rides easier and more fun. The offerings start as early as prenatal workshops and go up to music and dance classes for five-year-olds.

The three-fold prenatal curriculum includes a six-week childbirth education series, a breastfeeding your baby workshop, and a bringing baby home workshop. They touch on breathing and relaxation, nutrition and exercise, birth options and more — and with personal stories shared along the way, everyone emerges with a handful of new friends. Once baby has arrived, there are new mom and baby groups that meet weekly and are opportunities to have topical discussions and connect. While everyone chats, moms bounce their babies, nurse, and do lots of smiling and cooing.

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It’s Like Your Living Room
Picnic’s homey feel is part of the appeal. At the center is a huge woven rug, where parents fan out with their kids and kick back on pillows, much like they would in their own living rooms. The ceilings are high with skylights for plenty of warm, natural light, and kids’ art is displayed on the wall. There are two rocking chairs for nursing moms and pint-sized bookshelves filled with books and small toys. Kids enjoy snuggling with huge stuffed animals or curling up in a mini arm chair for quiet time. There is nothing over-stimulating, which puts both parents and tots ease.

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photo: Shalimar B Photography

Fun & Learning as They Grow
Stick around past the baby years for monthly meet-ups for toddlers themed around early literacy. There’s also a gem called Stories, Songs, and Finger Plays, at which parents and their littles practice some of the read-aloud strategies discussed in class. Especially popular are the Stomp and Shout music classes, which are mixed-age (8 months to 4 years) adventures that celebrate growing up in the city.

Everyone can gather at special events like movie nights, family dance parties and music ho-downs, and they all open with a few moments to read or play. Prices and times vary for all classes and workshops, and the website is the best place to register and see what’s coming up.

The bottom line? This picnic is indoors, but it’s definitely one that’ll leave you feeling bright and sunny.

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Picnic: A Gathering Spot for Families with Young Children
3717 N. Ravenswood Ave.
Suite 219E
Ravenswood
773-259-2543
Online: chicagofamilypicnic.com

What classes and resources help you most as a parent? Let us know in the Comments!

— Kelly Aiglon