I have an idea about what I could do for work. As I’ve mentioned before, these ideas are not unusual for me. But as is typically the case, I have neither the means nor the gumption to commit to it. I just can’t get the idea out of my head though, so I’m sharing it with you in the hope that it will either flee from my brain or else someone I know will take advantage of my free business idea and run with it.
I’ll start off with a little background about how I got the idea. From time to time after Charlotte was born, I’ve wanted/needed a place I can drop off Vivi, either so she can play when I’m too tired to play with her, or so she can stay out of my hair if I need to do something not conducive to having a three year old around, like going to the dentist. At first I wasn’t sure if such a place existed because I couldn’t find one in DC. When I went to live with my mom for a few months in Roswell, I found a place exactly like I was looking for right away! It was like the owner had read my mind. It’s called Play Activity Center, and they have a great indoor play space with a bouncy castle, big foam pit, trampoline, the works. The caregivers feed the kids sack lunches and are very attentive; they do art projects and run around with them in the "big gym." You can reserve the gym for birthday parties, and there’s even a quiet room where parents can go who aren’t in the mood to listen to 20 seven-year-olds screaming and laughing their heads off. And if you do want to stay and play with your kid, you can get a membership for the big gym and pay less to go in and play together. They also do seasonal events, like a visit with Santa. You call ahead to reserve a spot (so they know how many workers to schedule), and if you aren’t going to make it, you call and cancel. The best part is that it only cost me $7 an hour. Perfect!
So why haven’t these places been duplicated elsewhere? My guess as to why it’s not in DC is that frankly, no moms stay at home, and thus the service isn’t really in demand as much. But there are PLENTY of stay-at-home moms here in Boston, so where’s our drop-off play center? I immediately searched for such a place when I got here in January, and all I could come up with were VERY EXPENSIVE nannies and preschools, mostly for kids over 2 and all requiring you to fill a permanent place in a center/school/home, not an impromptu drop-off facility. So finding none, I began to probe fellow moms to find out more. I always got the same reaction; first puzzlement and questions, then skepticism and more questions, and finally lightbulb and exclamation of "That’s a great idea! Why doesn’t that exist here?" I’ve often asked myself that question, and without doing actual research, I came up with two possible answers:
1. People have come up with the idea, but there’s some regulation/law/expense stopping them from doing it (Mass. loves its regulations!)
2. It’s never been done here before, so it’s not part of the culture, and no one has come up with the idea yet.
I have no doubt that were someone to overcome the potential obstacles listed above in reason #1, that person would make a killing! It’s not even a question in my mind. This is a needed service that would be gobbled up so fast you’d have a mile-long wait list. In my dream, the play center would be attached to a big kids’ consignment shop, so moms could drop their kids off to play and then shop peacefully in the store by themselves. In the end, a person would need the two things I mentioned at the start of my post to make it work. First, you would need money, aka "capital" in yuppy businessman terminology, and secondly, you would need to commit to living in the same city for at least 5 but more like 10 or 15 years. Given my recent post about Atlanta, clearly I do not possess the latter quality, and without telling sob stories or eating worms, I must also admit to not have much of the former quality either. Somebody, anybody out there, please do this so I have a place to drop off my kids!