Having children in a family with two working parents — it’s a struggle with which many Eastside families are familiar.
The decision between whether to go to work all day while the kids are raised by a nanny, or to work from home but risk a low productivity rate due to the lovable distraction of youngsters can seem like a no-win situation.
But what if parents could go to work in the same building where their child is receiving care?
A business in Kirkland is now providing the Eastside with its first “co-working space,” a facility where parents can work in an office setting while their children are being cared for and playing with other kids.
At play space Roo’s World of Discovery, located in downtown Kirkland, kids of all abilities ages 5 and younger can play in a Montessori-like environment while their parents work from a designated common co-working space upstairs. This way, parents get work done in a peaceful and relaxed environment, but can easily take breaks to spend time with their children.
“It’s that comfort of knowing that they can just check on their child,” said Michelle Pollak Landwehr, founder of Roo’s World. She added that the co-working space is the only one of its kind on the Eastside.
In the play space, kids can enjoy a wide variety of fun activities that help them learn, including a climbing structure, play kitchen, toy train, doll house, arts and crafts, books and more. In addition to the play space and co-working space, Roo’s World also includes a low-sensory room and a consignment shop with eco-friendly books and toys.
Landwehr explained that the parents using the co-working space range from full-time employees for large companies who are able to telecommute, to parents who are self-employed, to stay-at-home parents who “just want to … pay their bills and get stuff done.” One mom recently sought out Roo’s so she could read a book for a little while as her child was entertained.
“I’ve found it super helpful because it’s nice to be able to drop my rambunctious toddler off … and she has a great place to play,” said Garen Glazier, an author who uses the co-working space to work on her next novel. “I don’t feel guilty when I’m working because I know she’s having a good time.”
Unlike the daycare facilities that require a 40-hours-per-week commitment, moms and dads can make the co-working space a regular occurrence or they can simply come in and use it one time when the babysitter gets sick.
“Parents really appreciate how flexible it is,” Landwehr said.
And at $15 per hour for 18 months old and younger and $12 per hour for 19 months to 5 years, the Roo’s World co-working space runs $3-7 per hour cheaper than the going rate for nannies, Landwehr added.
Jennifer Ohayon, a self-employed Kirkland realtor with a 4-month-old daughter, called the co-working space a “blessing.”
“It has been great, it’s been the answer to my prayers,” Ohayon said.
After having her daughter, Ohayon said that she wanted to find a child care option that was a little more flexible, cheaper and more personal than daycare.
“I thought, ‘I don’t want to give her to daycare; there’s got to be another option,” Ohayon recalled.
Then she came upon the Roo’s World co-working space and realized that this was exactly what she was looking for. With Roo’s World, Ohayon is able to breastfeed her daughter “at work” with just a quick walk downstairs.
“It really gives me a balance,” Ohayon said. “I don’t feel stressed anymore.”
Roo’s World helps not only kids, but parents, too, to find new friends. With parent-child activities like “Mommy and Me Yoga” taking place in the play space, parents can meet and connect with one another.
Landwehr said many of the parents who seek out Roo’s have moved to the area from far away to work for one of the local tech giants, leaving behind all of their family and friends.
“It’s so difficult being a mom, especially if you’re a mom that doesn’t have family nearby,” Landwehr said. But at Roo’s World, “We force a village.”
Roo’s World is located at 108 Central Way, Kirkland. The co-working space is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, though Landwehr recommends parents make reservations before coming in, as there are currently four spaces available. For more information, call (425) 495-0714 or visit www.roos worldofdiscovery.com.