Organizing child care can be tricky — especially if you work part-time, have an unpredictable schedule (hello, freelancers!) or if your regular childminder suddenly becomes sick. Thankfully, the Seattle area has some options to help you out.
Drop-in care typically means you need 2–4 hours for an occasional meeting, appointment or lunch date. Most facilities cater to parents needing care during normal business hours, though a few offer longer hours and night and weekend availability.
Co-working spaces that offer supervised play require you to be in the same building while your child is there. They offer office space, Wi-Fi, and sometimes even coffee. Typically, these locations charge by the hour and will give you time to work and tick off your to-do list while your kid gets to play.
Trettin Drop-in Preschool (University District) accepts children 2 years until starting kindergarten. The play-based preschool offers discounts for frequent users and siblings and accepts DSHS and UW student vouchers. They are open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. The drop-in rate starts at $11 an hour.
Penny Pumpernickel Pants Playcare (Northgate) is a preschool with drop-in "playcare" and is a ParentMap Golden Teddy Award favorite. Kids ages 2.5–4.5 can attend for a four-hour session in the morning or a two- to four-hour session in the afternoon, for fun and games indoors and outdoors. The drop-in rate starts at $10.50 an hour.
Seattle Athletic Club (Northgate) has drop-in child care for members and non-members at the Kids Court under the name of SAC to the Rescue! The service is available to non-members (at a higher hourly rate), and accepts kids as young as 6 weeks old during normal Kids Court hours.
The Inc. (Green Lake and West Seattle) offers coworking and drop-in care and are a Golden Teddy favorite. This organization has two locations: The Green Lake space accepts kids ages 2.5–4.5 and the West Seattle location caters for kids ages 1–4.5. They offer a toddler room and a co-work and coplay room. A minimum booking of two hours is required. Call 206-659-5978 for more information.
Time4Kidz Playcare (Lynnwood) is a drop-in child care center for kids ages 2.5–10. The center is located close to the Regal Cinemas near the Alderwood mall, and you can leave kids for up to four hours. The center is open late most evenings, making it a great option for weekend shopping or a movie date.
Lynnwood Recreation Center (Lynnwood) offers preschool playcare Monday to Thursday. Potty-trained kids 3–5 years of age play indoors and outdoors at sessions that run from 9–11:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m.–3 p.m. Call 425-670-5732 for more information.
The Nest (Woodinville) has three newly remodeled themed rooms and a charming reading loft for kids ages 2.5–6 to enjoy for a maximum of 4 hours (no time minimum). Potty training is not required. Snacks are supplied at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and parents can provide lunch if needed.
Dizzy's Tumblebus (Bellevue) offers stop-in service for kids ages 2.5–5. Kids can play for a minimum of 2 or up to 4 hours. Parents are highly encouraged to sign up for a regular schedule (1–5 days/week), but it is not required. Call to schedule a tour and find out what flexible arrangements are available for your family's needs. Call 425-564-8287 for more information.
The Growing Tree (Bellevue) is a daycare and preschool that welcomes drop-ins as long as there is room. Kids as young as 6 weeks are welcome, as well as older siblings (common during the summer months) for a minimum of 2 hours up to a full day. Call 425-502-7794 or email email@example.com to check availability.
Discovery Bay at Pro Club (Bellevue) is inside a gym where members can use the child care for offsite meetings or errands. Non-member patrons of the spa, physical therapy or podiatry services can also leave kids at Discovery Bay but must remain onsite. Kids from 6 weeks old to 6 years of age are welcome. Rates vary by age. Call 425-861-6247 for more information.
Adventure Kids Playcare (Bellevue and Issaquah) is a drop-off playcare center that takes infants as young as 6 weeks old. This spot stays open late most nights (Monday–Thursday until 10 p.m.; Friday–Saturday until midnight) making it a great option for working parents whose schedules change or need extra care now and then, or for last-minute date night coverage.
Tips for booking
1. Call in advance. Reservation requirements depend on the place, but all places have to keep within teacher-to-child ratios.
2. Find out if you need to fill in any paperwork to turn in on your first visit before you go.
3. Many centers have a one-time family registration fee and offer a discounted rate for siblings. Check in advance to see what additional fees or discounts might apply to you.
This article was originally published in 2015 and updated in June 2018. Writer Alyssa Johnson contributed to this article.