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Mixing Work and Play at Roo's World of Discovery

The Eastside's sensory-friendly play space launches a small co-working space

Published on: June 23, 2017

Roo's World of Discovery
Your kids can play here while you work upstairs. Courtesy Roo's World of Discovery

If there is one thing we learned from the viral and hilariously real "BBC Dad" video, it’s that working from home when you have young kids is not easy — even if you’re not presenting on live TV. As a freelancer and full-time mom, I know the struggle of trying to juggle work and child care all too well; the schedules and workloads are often unpredictable, which makes arranging for help when needed challenging, to say the least.

“It’s so hard to find great child care, and even when you do, things happen; it’s not always reliable,” says Michelle Pollak Landwehr, owner of Roo’s World of Discovery play center in downtown Kirkland.

Eastside parents already know and love Roo’s for its soothing, sensory-friendly space and Montessori-inspired play area. Now, those of us who toil at home while also caring for little ones have another reason to frequent the popular spot: a new co-working space for parents upstairs, which lets parents get stuff done while the kiddos play under the supervision of Roo’s caring staff.

Roo's World
A parent-kid yoga class at Roo's World of Discovery

“I had this little loft upstairs, and parents just kept asking me, ‘Can I work here? Can I work here?’” says Pollak Landwehr, who previously ran a small consignment store on the building’s second floor. Those questions sparked her idea to convert the loft into a co-working space — the first of its kind of the Eastside, and only the second co-working space in Greater Seattle to offer child-care facilities. (The Women’s Business Incubator in Green Lake is another, but unlike Roo’s, it only offers supervised care for preschool-aged children; younger tots play in the same room as the parents.)

How co-working at Roo's works

On scheduled weekday mornings, parents can drop off kids aged 5 and under for up to four hours, while they make use of the office amenities upstairs. “It’s an interesting mix,” says Pollak Landwehr; “We have parents who are working part-time at home; we have moms who own their own businesses; I get parents who have a full-time nanny but the nanny is sick or can’t make it so it’s a back-up care situation for them.”

Roo's World
One of the workstations at Roo's

While not large, the workspace is cozy and inviting, with two lighted desks, armchairs and a printing center. The room currently accommodates up to four parents, but there are plans to expand along with extending the hours during the summer months. Outlets, secure wifi, printer access, and coffee or tea are provided; all you need is your laptop.

To ease separation anxiety (on both ends!), parents can come down to check on their tots or feed their babies any time they want. Parents must stay on the premises.

“I recommend parents start slow and know their own child, as to how long of a stay they can handle,” says Pollak Landwehr. It’s a safe, familiar space for the kids and for parents who may not yet be comfortable with using a babysitter, she says; and a flexible option for moms like Naphtali Carlson, who did not have a good experience with a standard daycare setting.

“I was fearful that my little guy was too much for people to handle; but [Roo’s] team was wonderful with him,” said Carlson, who runs a company supporting children and adults with disabilities. “He was so happy and content; it was a relief for me to get work done and know that he was okay.”

For more information, visit Roo’s World of Discovery website.

If you go ...

Where: Roo’s World of Discovery, 108 Central Way, Kirkland

When: Co-working (now with extended hours for summer) is offered Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m.; and Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Make reservations at least 24 hours prior to ensure a spot.

Cost: Drop-in pricing starts at $15 per hour for a child under 18 months and $12 per hour for a child over 18 months, with a two-hour minimum. Siblings are $7 per hour.

What to bring: For your little one, Roo’s suggests packing a bag with diapers and wipes (extras are provided in case you run out); a change of clothing; labeled bottles of formula or breast-milk; pacifiers; sippy cups and snacks for older tots; and a blanket or favorite comfort toy if desired.

Nearby bonus: Aria Bakery, just a couple of door away, makes for a yummy lunch stop after a busy work morning.

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