The mama: There’s a pretty good chance you recognize Krista Yutzy-Burkey as the busy person running around the (beautiful) Fishtown play space, PlayArts, which launched last summer and hasn’t seemed to have a slow day since. Krista taught music in the public charter system for 16 years, and found herself interested specifically in early childhood music education about five years ago, with the birth of her son, Milo. In fact, PlayArts started as PlayMusic, Krista says, “but it took some time to find the right formula to make a viable business plan.” Today, the place offers all sorts of programming (music, yes, but also dance, art, playschool, pop-ups, parties and more) as well as a super-popular open-play space beloved by members and drop-in fams alike. Krista, meantime, does everything from the class-planning to the teacher-hiring to the toilet-cleaning (see? busy!) … but her favorite part, she says, is “meeting fantastic area kids and families.”
Are you a Philly native? No, I grew up on a farm in Nebraska, but I’ve lived in Philly (and within 5 blocks of PlayArts) for 17 years.
Where does your little one attend daycare/preschool/school? Milo attends the Nature Preschool at the Schuylkill Center three mornings per week. This fall he will start kindergarten at Adaire.
Favorite kids’ classes: I’m fortunate to have a really talented team of teachers at PlayArts, so I’m pretty proud of all of our kids classes, but our Open Sensory Play class is the bee’s knees. Our art teachers (Kara and Julia) curate the whole experience around a theme and it’s just about the loveliest, most joyful time you can spend with a toddler. We’ve had so many organizations and educators stop in to observe it, and it continues to grow in popularity. Plus, we’re really dedicated to making it accessible, so we keep it at just a $5 drop-in.
Best way to spend a Saturday afternoon as a family: Honestly, I’m pretty boring on the weekends. I work so much during the week that I love staying home and snuggling and reading with Milo on the couch. He’s learning to read and can now read to me, so I can’t get enough. We also love to get out to the Wissahickon for sunny hikes on weekends.
Parents’ class: I haven’t been able to attend any of them yet, but they offer such cool stuff over at The Art Dept on Berks. Before I started PlayArts I used to sew a lot in my free time, and I’m hoping to catch a sewing or textile class there sometime.
Date night: We usually opt to maximize our time by staying in the neighborhood. We have so many places to choose from in Fishtown, but one of our favorite things is to put in our order at Pizzeria Beddia and then hop around for drinks and apps until our pizza is ready at 10.
Favorite spring break camp or summer camp: One of the best things about owning PlayArts is that Milo gets to try out all the classes and programming, so I’m psyched to put him in our Food, Art and Culture camp this June!
Outing or event you avoid: Grocery shopping on Sunday evening.
Outing or event you love: The Kensington Sculpture Derby. This is an annual neighborhood event that has grown exponentially since it started and it’s fun for both kids and adults. The sculptures/floats are awe-inspiring and they really highlight all of the creative, artistic talent and energy that resides in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Favorite app for parents, or favorite app for kids: I couldn’t live without my to-do list app. For kids I really like the “Endless” series (Endless Alphabet, Endless Reader, Endless Spanish, etc.).
Favorite treat for you: A hot bath and a beer, while watching Netflix.
Family-friendly restaurant: Fette Sau.
Favorite cultural activity or event in Philly or ‘burbs: Chinese New Year Celebration in Chinatown.
Favorite community service with kids: Comcast Cares at Adaire.
Gear you can’t live without: In the baby stage, we used the Bjorn carrier every day. Now we just need to remember a water bottle and a snack to stave off the low-blood-sugar-induced hangry feelings. (Usually mine.)
Person/professional you can’t live without: My general contractor (a.k.a. my husband, Steve).
Indulgence you can’t live without: Trader Joe’s chocolate chips.
Place for baby/children’s gifts: Minnow Lane.
Favorite children’s book right now: Anything from the Mo Willems early reader series, “Gerald and Piggie” books.
Favorite outdoorsy thing to do with kids: Camping with friends.
Fun kids party spot: I love attending kids’ parties at Liberty Lands park (when the weather cooperates). The simpler the party, the better, in my opinion.
Best piece of advice you’ve gotten about parenting: “Stop overthinking it.”
Any mom’s groups you love? My friend started a political action group called, Philly InFormation, for moms who are interested in political action but who, like most of us, don’t have a lot of free time. She recognized the need for a group to help educate moms about various opportunities and prioritize actions to fit their passions and their schedules.
Best parenting book you read: Last one I read was a baby sleep book: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. It seems like the distant past, but I remember it being essential and urgent reading at the time.
Favorite parent hack, or Philly hack: “Listen…it’s the Music Truck! Isn’t it nice of that truck to share music with our neighborhood?” (This works until one day at the park your kid realizes that all the other kids are running toward the music truck to get ice cream.)
Favorite toy or kid entertainment in your house right now: Audiobooks. Milo is listening to one now as I type. The Philadelphia Free Library online collection is a gold mine.
One thing you wish Philly/burbs had that it doesn’t: Midwestern sunsets. (And Midwestern customer service.)
Best part of raising kids here: There are so many opportunities and such great food within walking distance. Growing up, we had to drive 7 miles to get to school. My son will walk less than 7 blocks. And in a city, your community is large and diverse enough to be whatever you want to make of it. I get a lot of energy and inspiration from that.