We all know that being a parent is hard work.
Being a stay-at-home parent can be even more trying, trust me. I used to wish for a place, like in a traditional office building, where I could go take break and meet other stay-at-home parents – “colleagues.”
Don’t get me wrong, being a stay-at-home parent is a wonderful job! It’s probably the most rewarding job anyone could ever have, but it’s very stressful. We don’t get a lunch break, sick days, or vacation days; and we’re on the clock 24 hours a day. Sometimes you just need a break, a place to recoup, or just a place to be a mom and not be judged for my child’s “Terrible Twos” behavior.
Plus, without a lunch break, I craved a place where I could sit down and have a good meal with my family that wasn’t fried or processed. But what place has that, as well as being fun and safe for my kids, enough that I didn’t need to worry about them running off during the meal?
Before I was a mom, I was a teacher. I toured dozens of preschools around the cities but few reached my preschool curriculum criteria. Some preschools didn’t have adequate indoor gross motor play areas; some missed the mark in other ways. So I decided to create my own. I developed Play and Learn Cafe to cover all of my needs, wants, and desires. A place for mom and dad, a place for the kids to run, and a place for learning.
Play and Learn Café is a new business concept to the Twin Cities that can give parents just what they need. It’s a place where parents can take comfort, knowing their child is playing in a safe place while they relax for a few moments. It’s a place to meet with friends over a good cup of coffee or lunch.
I first came up with the idea back in 2009, shortly after my first child was born. Most of my friends did not yet have children and didn’t quite understand the trials of parenthood. They wanted to get together at coffee shops and restaurants, but it almost always ended in disaster. I got tired of the glare from couples without children at the table next to us a result of our child’s inappropriate restaurant behavior. It was impossible to finish a conversation or even follow one, because I was constantly trying to amuse my child to keep her quiet.
Shortly after my first was born, baby number two came along. Having two children so close in age, and both in diapers, was even more challenging. Not only was it hard to get together with friends, but also finding activities outside the home that engaged both children was a challenge. We tried various indoor play spaces but those outings usually ended with the inevitable chase through endless “hamster mazes,” in an attempt to leave. And let’s not forget the child who thinks it’s hilarious to play hide-and-seek, only, no one told mom that the game had started.
I wanted a place that was fun for my cautious child, safe for my fearless child, and enjoyable for me. I also wanted educational things that I could do with my children. Play and Learn Café can do it all. It’s a place where kids can be kids, and parents can relax, knowing their child is in good hands.
With coffee and a fresh food menu, it’s also a place that friends who aren’t parents can enjoy, without them feeling like they’re trapped in “kidville.” Parents can meet other parents (stay-at-home or otherwise), take a seminar to learn new parenting tips and tricks, or even host a party, leaving Play and Learn Café to take care of the mess. It’s also a place to send your child to take enrichment classes.
Play and Learn Café will be conveniently located at the intersections of Highway 169 and Highway 55. If you are a parent, caregiver, or just know a parent and want them to have this wonderful resource, please consider contributing to the Play and Learn Café KickStarter Campaign.
Sarah Bakkum is a wife, teacher, and a mother of two children. As if that isn’t enough for Sarah to do, she’s also an entrepreneur, the creator of Play and Learn Cafe. Sarah and her family live in Golden Valley.