Providing parents and kids a happy place

. July 30, 2013.

My Urban Toddler, a “destination play site and store” in Saline is a happy place, but it came to be out of owner Rosa Lee’s period of postpartum depression. Before starting her family, she worked as an architect in Chicago, enjoying the company of colleagues and the challenges of 90-hour work-weeks and travel weekends. She changed careers to work in a business environment, running a design showroom for an architectural firm, where she learned valuable project management and team leader skills. When she became pregnant with the first of her four children, she put work on hold.
“I didn’t know it at the time,” she remembers, “but I had a very bad case of post-partum depression. I didn’t leave my house for six months after my baby was born. I looked normal; I took care of my hair and everything, but felt guilty for not being happy. We moved to St. Louis, where I knew nobody, then back to my hometown of Ann Arbor. By then, all my high school friends were gone, or didn’t have children, so I felt very isolated. I was looking for a place to meet other adults and decided on this business. I started My Urban Toddler as my own group therapy place!”

Working with the Kraemer Design Group of Detroit, she designed a place she loved, and found her management skills to be invaluable as she organized her business. “We have a real team effort here,” she notes, “and all employees are cross-trained. Anybody can answer any question about what we do here.”

What kids do at My Urban Toddler is play, what Lee promises is imaginative play. There are no TVs or video games here, just tools for community play. A kid-size little town includes a fire station, school, market, and library for lots of interaction also. Music, karate, ballet, and introduction to Montessori classes keep kids busy.

Camps, run by employees with early childhood education backgrounds, are week-long adventures, such as Wild Wild West, Under the Sea, or Fantastic Foods. Moms and dads are welcome to join the children as they play or watch from the café, and are invited to take parenting and childbirth classes on their own.

Photo Credit: Lorissa Farr, Photography By Lorissa Of Saline, Mi

The Saline location also offers a retail shop for maternity items, baby furniture, baby clothes and accessories, toys and books.  Lee explains, “I can’t lie. I love going to the juvenile product shows. We do all the research for the things we buy and I try everything. I can’t sell it to someone if I don’t know if it is good!”

The new location in Ann Arbor opens in late August, and will feature only the retail store. Lee says she is taking the expansion of her business slowly, but looks forward to going to work everyday. “I don’t have to take work home, so I can spend all my home time with my kids. I feel very blessed.”

My Urban Toddler is located at 7025 E. Michigan Avenue in Saline. 734-944-3628. The second store is located in the new Arbor Hills Shopping Center on Washtenaw between Huron Parkway and Platt Road.