Volume 74, Number 31 | December 08 - 14, 2004

Metropolitan Moms

Visiting the Met with baby

New company offers moms culture and companionship

By Kaitlen Jay Exum

There is good news for new parents: life with a baby doesn’t have to mean only diapers and sleepless nights. It can include cultural activities, according to Molly Snyder and Dara Rosenberg, the dynamic duo behind Metropolitan Moms aimed at getting new parents out of the house and into galleries, museums, and restaurants both with and without their children.

After the birth of her daughter, Sara, 14-months-ago, Molly Snyder, 30, couldn’t imagine leaving her baby five days a week to go back to work as an investment banker. On the other hand, she wasn’t crazy about being cooped up in the apartment taking care of the baby all day. And even when she took the baby out for play dates, discussions were mainly baby-centric.

After spending some time searching for new options, Snyder decided to create one herself. She launched Metropolitan Moms in January 2004, offering seven-week courses encompassing gallery tours, in-studio artist talks, and neighborhood walking tours.

Each class has roughly ten moms and their babies. College student babystitters are also on hand to assist. All destinations are stroller-accessible and baby-friendly. They are led by curators, artists, and tour guides.

The courses appear to be wildly popular. Classes that began in May quickly sold out.

Dara Rosenberg, 30, was an early participant in one of those classes. Her situation was very similar to Snyder’s. She was a new mom and feared that returning to her job as an elementary school teacher during the day and caring for her daughter, Madison, now 13 months old, would be “emotionally and physically draining.” So, instead, she offered her services to Snyder.

For her part, Snyder was thrilled but overwhelmed by the immediate positive response to her brainchild. She knew that she couldn’t handle the whole program alone and promptly accepted Rosenberg as a program coordinator of sorts.

“We don’t use titles,” Snyder said. “We both do everything.” When choosing new activities to incorporate into the program, they take into consideration their own interests, whatever events and exhibits are new, and members’ suggestions.

And they both have plenty to do these days. With a mailing list of around 1,000 enthusiastic members, 120 of whom are enrolled in classes this winter, Snyder and Rosenberg are busy. They have added classes to the series already offered including a Moms-Only Series of visits to locations like the Frick, Sotheby’s, the Guggenheim, and galleries and studios that aren’t suited to children. There is also now a series for children aged one through three that takes place entirely in galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is also a “Metropolitan Grandmas” course, a four-week series of museum visits designed for grandmothers and their grandchildren.

Classes range in price from approximately $260 to $430 per series.

“For what they provide, their cost is really reasonable—each experience is unique,” said two-time participant Michelle Bach. Dads are welcome, too.

Even though Snyder only conceived of the program this past January, it is already turning a profit due, not only to the low overhead of operating it online, without an office, but also to the widespread interest it has generated and the satisfaction that has resulted in repeat participants.

So, why do moms like the program so much? Why, when they could visit many museums and galleries for free or nominal fees, do they pay significantly more to participate in Metropolitan Moms? It’s not just for the activities, explains Snyder.

Moms who pay for the program and commit to attending one day per week are more likely to make the effort to bundle up the babies, break out the strollers, and show up for activities that they otherwise might have missed. To remind participants of upcoming events Rosenberg and Snyder regularly email members. Each session also features an optional lunch at a child-friendly restaurant following the main activity.

Mom Sari Hild explained that she thought of the program as “a chance for me to soak up some culture and see places I probably wouldn’t have ventured out to on my own. It also, she said, gave her the opportunity to meet new moms around the city, like Michelle Bach who enthused about the classes.

“It made it really, really easy for everyone to get out of their comfort zone and do cultural things with their kids. It’s so worth it—I recommend it to everyone!”

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