As a mom who decided to stay home with her kids through their younger years, I can truly appreciate the need for more flexible childcare options in Chicago. When I saw that Play2Day was opening I thought, WOW. Why hasn’t this happened sooner?! Annie has figured out how to fill the childcare void of needing help for just an hour or two. The times when you just don’t have the patients to take your toddler on a grocery run, or when need a pedicure and a little peace and quiet for an hour! Either way, she has you covered.
How long have you lived in Chicago and what brought you to the city?
This is my fifth year living in Chicago! I originally moved here when I accepted a job with a non-profit called Young Life. I fell in love with this city and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.
How did you come up with the concept for Play2Day? When did you get to the point where you decided that it was time to take the leap and open?
I came up with the idea for Play2Day through lots of conversations with friends with kids living in the city. I learned that there is a middle ground between parents who need full time childcare and stay at home parents. So many people these days work from home or part-time, on flexible schedules, and the child care industry doesn’t really have anything to accommodate this in-between. About 2.5 years ago, I was personally at a place where I was ready to focus my energy on the business, so I started nannying during the day and building the business at night.
What was your mission or vision for your business at the onsite?
Our mission at Play2Day is to create a playspace where children can engage in developmentally appropriate play to stimulate their curiosity while providing a respite for productive parents on a flexible schedule. We strive to help facilitate secure attachments for children and new parents who need that extra push to make self care a priority.
What services do you offer at Play2Day- during a business as usual period of course! Following that, you’ve had to quickly adapt over the wake of Covid-19, how did you adjust and do you see continuing in that direction at all?
Well, this time has been a whirlwind! We had our grand opening on February 15th and decided to close due to COVID-19 at the end of business on March 15th. We provide a safe environment in which to drop-off children on a flexible schedule for up to 3 hours at a time. Parents can get some work done, grab coffee with a friend, or even get treatment at the spa while their child is in our care. Always included in the price of care is a low ratio with a qualified caregiver, hourly circle time with stories and songs, sensory development activities, as well as weekly kids yoga and movement classes.
In the wake of COVID-19, I have transitioned to a completely virtual, interactive and personalized experience with children and their parents. Every Monday-Friday I host a storytime on Instagram Live and every Saturday I’ve hosted a sing-along on Zoom where kids can request what songs they want to hear. I am also offering free 15 or 30 minute private storytimes with kids if their parents need some time to drink their coffee or unload the dishwasher, all of which can be booked on our website. It has been important for me to be another voice in a child’s life telling them they are strong, smart and kind in these difficult times. I have even made new friends from all around the country, which is something we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do otherwise!
What advice would you offer parents over the time of shelter in place?
I want to encourage parents that YOU are doing an amazing job. You are exactly who your child needs you to be in this time, so don’t compare yourself to others on social media who “seem” to have it all together. Keyword there is seem 🙂 Also, ask for help! There are so many single people without kids out there who are willing to connect and help your family in creative ways! One of my favorite things to do is FaceTime with my niece and nephew or the kids I used to nanny for, and technology allows us to do that so easily.
When we’re able to get out and about again, what are some of your local favorites you’re excited to visit?
My newest obsession has been Bourgeois Pig, actually. It’s a small little coffee shop near Play2Day that I was visiting all the time before the shutdown. For quick and delicious meals, I am a big fan of The Little Meatball. Their staff is so friendly and I have never had a bad meal there. I could also spend HOURS in the toy store *play, just browsing all the amazing toys and books they have in stock!
What’s keeping you motivated and inspired over these weeks of quarantine?
What’s keeping me motivated is connecting 6 days a week with new and old friends and hearing feedback from parents that kids are asking for more. I know that this season of life is temporary, and things will be back to normal before we know it. I want to be a source of light and encouragement in this time, showing the Lincoln Park neighborhood that we are resilient and can bounce back better than before.