Hi, my name is Laura Beth Payne and I get the heebie-jeebies about leaving my kids with ANYBODY.
I know I'm not alone. Other moms I talk with agree: Finding a sitter just seems harder these days, whether it's the stranger-danger thing, the expense, or even just the availability (and anyone who has tried to work around a sitter's college class schedule said amen.)
Not to mention that it's doubly stressful if you're worried about someone bringing Coronavirus in to your home.
While my own family has been blessed with nearby relatives who help with the occasional date night or work meeting, I never even thought of drop-off care as an option until I learned about KidsPark, a recently-opened drop-in child care center that has pretty much everything I'd want for my kids-- consistent staff, lots of cleaning protocols, spaces for active kids, and even learning zones with no-screens and facilitated activities.
Essentially it's akin to dropping the kids off at their favorite friend's house-- you know, the one with the fun AND responsible mom you love and all the toys and neat stuff your kids adore.
So I was excited to talk with local franchise owner Megan Stewart to learn more about Kid's Park and the options it offers kids and their parents. Check out my five reasons to play here!
1. There's Fun AND Learning
I don't know about you, but when I hear "drop-off childcare," I tend to think of a place where kids are given a movie and an i-Pad until mom and dad get back. KidsPark, however, has a firm limited-screen time policy, with the emphasis on kids learning and interacting. Mornings from 9am-12pm feature an organized preschool program, while theme days like "Under the Sea," "Doctor Day," and "Crayon Day," provide more learning opportunities throughout the week.
Books, learning games, manipulatives and even an entire play house are available for play. An area for school-age children features an ample library of leveled readers along with, yes, a few learning pads with specific skill goals.
And a playground INSIDE? Yes, please! Wiggly kids will love the center's popular "Mountain of Energy" to burn off some steam and work up some giggles while at the center. A slide, tunnel, climbing bridge and stair steps are the stuff of a young kid's indoor playhouse dreams.
Far from a place where kids space out, there's educational value here, and judging from the way my own kids reacted to the offerings, it's hard to see anyone complaining!
2. Smart Staff
If you've ever hired a sitter with a degree in childhood education, you know the magic they can offer your kids with games, creativity and learning ideas. The staff at KidsPark have training in early childhood education and recreation, so parents can feel confident their kids are staying with people who get them. They're also certified in CPR and first aid, as well as screened by the Department of Justice, and regularly get professional development, adding an extra dose of peace of mind. And for shy kiddos? Staff will maintain a consistent schedule, especially during the preschool hours, noted Stewart, so little ones can get used to seeing a familiar face when they arrive.
3. Squeaky Clean
But what about the question of our time-- Covid-19? Children ages 5 and up are required to wear masks, and all staff wear them. Areas are frequently cleaned and children play in small groups. They also regularly wash hands and sanitize. Maybe one of the greater benefits of the center is the transience of guests, so rarely are large groups of kids together at one time.
4. Cost Efficient
One of the most attractive aspects of the center is that while it's cheaper than an individual center, it's certainly not a cheapened experience!
Price per hour is $9.50 per child, and $5 per additional child. There are no commitments or hourly round-ups on the cost, so parents pay only to the minute for when children come. Children have access to all activities and resources in the center, along with included snacks offered at certain times of the day(meals may be purchased for $5.50, or meals can be brought with the child). Simply stated: It's a deal.
5. All the Convenience
The times are changin' and with it our routines and schedules. KidsPark's flexible hours mean that kids can get care when its needed, without all phone calls and texts to work out changes in plans. The center is open for children ages 2-12 Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday 7:30 a.m.-midnight; Saturday 9 a.m.-midnight; Sunday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. While visits are limited to seven hours, both parents--and the kids-- can rest easy, knowing they have a home base away from home, even when life gets wonky.
Think KidsPark sounds awesome? Right now mention Murfreesboro Mama when bring your children to KidsPark and the first hour will be free!
KidsPark Murfreesboro is located at 215 Robert Rose Dr. Suite B in Murfreesboro. Visit them online at kidspark.com/murfreesboro for additional information on politics, registration, and weekly learning opportunities.
Laura Beth Payne is a writer mama and Murfreesboro native who lives in the Blackman community with her husband and two children. Follow her at @murfreesboromama on Facebook and Instagram. Got a column idea? Email her at email@example.com.