Play on: Parents get time off, kids stay and play

Finding a sitter on a weekend night can be a challenge, but Luv 2 Play has created a chance for parents to get a little time off while the kids have plenty of fun.

Every Friday night since January, Luv 2 Play’s Hampton location has hosted what they call Parent Night Out, where parents who sign up ahead of time can drop their children off between the hours of 5 and 9 p.m. While the parents are out doing whatever they want to do with their free time, the kids can play in a safe environment.

“They have the facility to themselves during those hours to run, go through and play on whatever they want to play,” said Luv 2 Play Hampton owner Patrick St. John. “There isn’t a lot of structure to it in a sense. We don’t have a reading time or anything like that. What we find is the kids are much more interested in just burning some energy.”

Luv 2 Play is designed for kids 2 to 12, with a variety of play areas that suit children of different ages. From a massive playset with four slides, to arcade games, to an infant area, parents can be assured that there’s always something age-appropriate.

For parents who might want to stay, rather than leave entirely, Luv 2 Play offers a cafe with Wi-Fi and a clear view of the play area.

“It’s very easy for the parents to come and relax while the kids play, because they can keep an eye on them, but they don’t necessarily have to be right with them,” St. John said.

Something that sets Parent Night Out apart from other sitting services is the price, St. John said: The cost of $8 per hour for the first child, plus an additional $4 per hour for every other child, means that parents can rest assured their children are in good hands without breaking the bank or frantically searching for a sitter at the last minute.

“[The price is] pretty reasonable, particularly if you have more than one kid. It’s an option that’s reliable. I know from my own experience that trying to get a teenager or someone to commit can be difficult. But here, every Friday we’re available from 5 to 9 no matter what,” St. John said.

In addition to Parent Night Out, Luv 2 Play also offers a Drop and Shop program on weekdays, a similar sitting service to Parent Night Out that gives parents some time to get errands done after work and school is out for the day.

St. John said that as a retired veteran, he and his wife, Melissa, place a particularly strong emphasis on cleanliness — something that many feel similar child play places often lack, they said. St. John said one consistent compliment online reviewers give of his franchise location is how clean it is.

“It’s something we take pride in,” he said.

Something else St. John takes pride in is the food Luv 2 Play serves its customers. Despite the otherwise typical menu of pizza, mac and cheese, and hot dogs, over the years, he says he’s spent time reworking the meals they offer so that what they provide to customers is higher-quality than what one might typically find on the kids’ menu. At the end of the day, though, he says what’s important is that customers enjoy themselves and parents want to bring their kids back. And parents do bring their kids back.

“As people continue to learn more and more about [Parent Night Out], it continues to get more popular. Compared to the first month that we did it, we’re definitely seeing consistently eight to 10 kids every Friday night,” he said. “We definitely have repeat customers, and every week we get one or two new new folks who have heard about us from one of the other parents, so it continues to expand in that fashion.”

Making sure kids have a fun but safe environment to play in is one of Luv 2 Play’s highest priorities. All employees have been adult and pediatric CPR-certified and have passed background checks and drug screenings.

To sign your child up for Parent Night Out, go to For questions, call Melissa St. John at 203-430-3964, or email her at

— Elyse Carmosino

Courtesy photo.

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