Itsy Bitsy Play and Cafe Indoor Play Space Opens in North Center

The new co-working space provides parents with a comfortable place to work while kids are safely engaged in fun, educational play.

When Sara Witt’s son, Seamus, was a baby, she struggled to achieve the coveted work-life balance we all dream of. The Lincoln Square mom was distracted, juggling the responsibilities of working from home while, at the same time, tending to Seamus. Witt faced a tough situation that many moms encounter — she didn’t want to commit to costly daycares, inconsistent babysitters or be too far away from him.

Witt struggled to make it work and some days, she “barely got by.” Years later, she had an idea: to create a flexible co-working space for parents with onsite playcare for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

“I thought I could create a solution where kids could be engaged in play while their parents could be on site, pop in and visit, or nurse them, while also tending to their own working needs,” says Witt. 

Later this month, Witt’s dream will become a reality with the opening of Itsy Bitsy Play & Café at 4210 N Western Avenue in North Center, a unique combination co-working, play space and café where kids up to age 6 will receive supervised, on-demand, activity-based care while their parents work. Parents can also enjoy coffee from Groundswell Coffee Roasters and a limited food menu.

Photo credit: Itsy Bitsy Play & Café

Operating on a membership model (prices start at $400/month), parents can opt for a four-hour window of 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Monday through Friday. During those times, the Itsy Bitsy staff – also called Playmakers – will take their kiddos through age-appropriate activities that include songs, storytime, arts & crafts and free play. Witt says Itsy Bitsy also plans to partner with outside organizations to bring yoga and Spanish specialists in for classes.

While the kids are entertained, parents can work or recharge in a comfortable, functional co-working office space, which includes desks, lounge chairs, a coffee bar and free Wi-Fi. A phonebooth room is also available for those who need to take private calls.

“Our space offers the best of both worlds — we provide a unique place where young children can play and engage in enrichment activities while parents enjoy a few uninterrupted hours in our coworking area,” says Witt. “I wish this existed when I desperately needed it.”

Photo credit: Itsy Bitsy Play & Café

On weekends, Itsy Bitsy will host open play ($20 for 2 hours) and birthday parties. Young children will relish in the colorful, lively playspace, which contains a gross motor room for crawlers, a fully stocked play kitchen, train tables, Lego tables, a custom-built play boat and Coast Guard Station, and a play vet center, supermarket and more. A quiet room will provide a break from stimulation for kids seeking down time.

Witt says what sets Itsy Bitsy Play & Café apart from other spaces is their philosophy. 

“At Itsy Bitsy, we believe children learn and thrive through play, love and kindness, which, in turn, can have a positive effect on their self-esteem,” Witt says.

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Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky is an award-winning journalist and bestselling children's book author. She is the mom of three little ladies who keep her on her toes.


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