Local spots to get work done while kids get their play on

The gig economy isn’t just for millennials or generation Z. Plenty of parents are getting in on the act, fitting their work schedule around their kids on a daily basis. Some work during naptime or after the children are in bed. Others are getting things done during the school day or booking a sitter and hiding out in the nearest coffee shop. 

But what about when you need to get just a couple of hours’ work done, you’ve got your kiddos in tow, and you don’t want to turn on the TV or hand over a tablet again? There are plenty of great options in and around Chicago that will make for happy kids and parents alike. Here are a few you can try when you want to write an email without someone begging for a turn on your laptop.

The gym

Childcare is often included in your membership for a couple of hours a day, and with many offering free wifi and comfy cafés or reception areas, they’re a great place to get some work done. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can even fit in a quick workout; body and mind taken care of in one outing.

The mall

Take parental multitasking to the next level when you head to the Schaumburg Ikea. Kiddos can play in the Småland Play Area for up to an hour (must be between 37” and 54” and be potty trained) while you head to the café and grab an order of meatballs to go with your mini-work session. Take a quick spin around the store (remember — it’s not mandatory to follow the arrows) and grab a frozen yogurt or hot dog on the way out to keep everyone happy. 

The recently opened FUNDAY at Old Orchard Shopping Center gives grown-ups the opportunity for work or play while children have a blast in this boutique supervised play space. Drop off your kiddos and head to the rather conveniently located Starbucks to top-up your caffeine levels and get some work done. Or take time out and indulge in some retail therapy — you’ve earned it!

Play cafés

This is a great option for older toddlers who can play independently for a short while. Grab a coffee, find a cozy corner and take back control of your inbox while your little one enjoys endless toys and playmates on tap. Options include Little Beans (in the city and Evanston), Purple Monkey in the Bucktown neighborhood and Present Place in North Center (great for the younger set where you can easily keep an eye on your kiddo from one spot). Of course this isn’t exactly the quietest place to work – but you’re a parent; you can handle the crazy and still write a winning proposal! And if you’re looking for a supervised play option, Take A Break Playcare in East Lakeview offers a fun, safe place for the kiddos to hang out while you get some work done (two hour minimum – reservations required).

The library

Okay, so this may not be a great option for more boisterous kiddos, but for some families this can be a great place to while away a morning and get some work done. Plenty of libraries have children’s areas with toys and games, coloring stations and, of course, more books than they can ever read to keep them amused. The jewel in the crown of Chicago Public Libraries is the newly remodeled children’s library at Harold Washington Library, and there are lots of other great options around the city’s neighborhoods. But maybe plan your conference calls for another time.

Hopefully some of these options will make catching up on work a snap! A bit of creativity in where and when you work can keep you at the top of your game, and still leave time to play an extra round of your kiddo’s current favorite game during your precious time at home.

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