"We wanted to reach out to the community," she said, adding they want people to "feel very welcome" at the church.
During the summer, there aren't many activities for kids and the church is offering an inexpensive way to have fun and give kids the chance to participate in activities they might not normally get to do at home, Sheffield said.
It is set up so children can jump around doing whatever holds their attention, said Jan Harvey, the church's director of children's ministries.
The multiple play rooms were set up with Legos, Play-Doh, snack tables, toys, puzzles and an art project where kids could decorate a paper fish with crayons, markers and colorful squares of paper. Outside, there was a paint station, playground equipment and children splashing around in buckets of water painting the walls of the building.
There are no rules, giving children the chance to explore whatever level they are at, Sheffield said. There will also be a chance for kids to get wet and messy, so parents are asked to bring their children in play clothes or swimsuits if the weather is nice.
The church plans on having water tables for kids to splash around in, but changing it up and filling them with rice or sand some weeks so the children can have different "tactile" experiences, Sheffield said.
The play date is exclusively for parents and children, and they ask that no nannies, babysitters or friends come. Parents and children need to form a bond, and these couple hours a week are a time to reaffirm that, Sheffield said.
"I think it's easy to send children with other people, but this is really a time for parents and kids to bond together," she said.
While Novelich said she wants to start preparing her son for not being with her every second, she still enjoys the mommy-and-me play times and wants to spend as much time with him as she can.
"I want to soak up every minute," she said.
If You Go
What: Parent participation play time
Who: Parents and children 12 months old to 5 years
When: 9:30 at 11:30 a.m. July 20, and Aug. 3, 17 and 24
Where: St. Peter's By-the-Sea Presbyterian Church, 16911 Bolsa Chica St.
Cost: $5 a child per day, $10 maximum per family