Playgroup for 1 AND 4 year old?

I am working with limited funds, and taking care of our 1 and 4 year old on my own. Most of the time, I enjoy it, and we do a lot of fun things together.: libraries, museums, lots of free play outdoors, play dates, music classes, et al. But I would love a break, and would like to be able to do some of my own work during the day. My 4 year old does not want to go to any type of care environment where I am not present, and we are likely pursuing the homeschooling/unschooling route, so I am not planning to enroll her in school. I would like to guide her gently towards taking part in activities where I am not present, but *in her own time*, as she is ready, and so I do not push this now when she is vocalizing clearly to me that she is not. I am not seeking advice or commentary on our decision to keep her out of institutionalized schooling at the moment ~ that is not germane to my question here.

I'm not sure that this type of option exists, but here is what I am envisioning: a place where I can take both of my children, ages 1 and 4. and be present, but not in a supervisory role of any sort (so no co-op type of environment, or playgroup where parents are involved). I would like there to be other adult caretakers who "monitor" the space and free play (envisioning blocks, art supplies, books, etc.), while I am physically present but working on my own. It would be amazing if I could take both my 1 and 4 year old to the same space. I am happy to pay a per hour or per diem rate, but cannot afford things like the Berkeley Forest School for the older child, and then separate childcare for my younger daughter. I would love anywhere between 5-10 hours a week of this sort of relief.

Anyone know of such an opportunity, or am I dreaming of something that doesn't exist?! Thank you.

Parent Replies

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You could try something like a pre-school co-op. Some of them allow younger children (like your 1 yr old) to be there when the parent is present, even if the older child is the one enrolled. Most are intended for children to be left there like a regular daycare, with the parent working 1 or 2 days/week, but in many cases, the parent can be there even on their non-work day as just an additional adult presence. Check out Peter Pan in El Cerrito. They are very reasonably priced.

Studio Grow maybe your answer.

Maybe the Rec Room in Berkeley?


In San Francisco there is a place called Talk Line where there is a playroom for children open in the morning until 2 pm every day. It's close to the Golden Gate Park! There are some volunteers taking care of the children while parents can work in the same building. 

I spent a lot of time there working l and it's very convenient. 

You can find more details online or you can send me a message!