C-ville For The Preschool-Set

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by Allie Pesch

Rebecca Coughlin with “co-authors” Jack Blemker and Andrew Cottler.
Rebecca Coughlin with “co-authors” Jack Blemker and Andrew Cottler.

September might mean back-to-school time for a lot of kids, but for toddlers, it’s just another month to be filled with outings and explorations. For parents and babysitters running short on ideas, Ivy native Rebecca Coughlin has the solution: the newly self-published Toddler’s Guide to Charlottesville.

Although Becky herself was once a toddler in western Albemarle, a lot has changed since this WAHS graduate was two. As a  full-time nanny who specializes in infant care, she felt a bit lost when little Andrew Cottler and Jack Blemker, whom she has cared for since they were only a few months old, were suddenly no longer young enough to be entertained at home all day. Becky started looking for toddler-friendly outings for the two curious little ones in the Charlottesville area.

At the end of an exciting day out, when Becky and the boys would tell mothers Shayn Cottler and Silvia Blemker where they had been, the mothers would often be surprised to find that they had never heard of a particular park, playground or activity space. “They started telling me, ‘You should write a book about all these places!’,” Becky recalled. “So eventually, I did!”

Becky took pictures and notes at all the different places she, Andrew and Jack would go. Now, a little over a year later, the first edition of The Toddler’s Guide to Charlottesville is finally out.

Intended for parents and caregivers who have little ones who are active and ready to “explore non-stop,” as the introduction explains, the book is organized into five categories: Discovering Nature, Playgrounds, Indoor Play Areas, Classes, and Eating Out.

“There are some old classics in there like Pen Park and Mint Springs, but also some hidden treasures—places where sometimes when I take the boys we are the only ones there,” Becky said.

Other parts of the book highlight music groups and big play areas “where children can learn to share and socialize.”

The guide also includes a list of helpful resources and itineraries for themed days.

“There are so many great places to visit in and around Charlottesville. I hope this book helps grown-ups and their little ones discover them together!” Becky concluded.

While the first batch of guidebooks sold out in just a few days, more copies will be available at Over The Moon Bookstore in Crozet, as well as Shenanigans, Bounce-n-Play, Carter’s Mountain Orchard, and other places around town, by mid- September.

For more information, or to submit suggestions for the next edition, visit www.toddlersguidetocharlottesville.com.

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