Two years ago Diana Rothschild had just become a mom. To be close to her eight-month-old daughter Sophia, she turned her dining room into her home office and started working from home as a sustainability consultant.
Then one day as she was on a call with the senior vice president of Nestle coffee's supply chains and her daughter woke up from her nap and started crying. "He asks me, 'Oh, do you need to go? There's a baby crying.' My mom was babysitting, and I was like 'No, I don't need to go.'"
That conversation was a turning point, "I thought, I'm not (perceived as) the trusted CEO advisor that I am, and I'm not the mom that I want to be," she says.
Then, there in her dining room, she had a daydream: a light, airy space with good coffee and interesting people working on cool stuff—and a place where her daughter could be taken care of and still be nearby.
Rothschild made her dream a reality last summer when she opened NextKids. NextKids is an offshoot of the popular co-working company NextSpace, which has eight locations in California and one in Chicago. NextKids, at the Potrero Hill, San Francisco location is like co-working meets daycare—with a community of working adults—graphic designers, biomedical engineers, app developers—and their kids. It's like 'it takes a village,' only with more Wi-Fi.
To make an excellent co-working space, Rothschild wanted NextKids to be more than a mommy-daddy club. Instead, it should be a place where parents can work and see their kids easily and talk about parenting—but not only have it be about parenting. She took care to make sure there was the right mix of industries. And the right coffee and fast Internet speeds and plenty of opportunities to connect.
The daycare piece requires equal attention. At NextKids, diapers are taken care of, snacks are provided. There are separate rooms for toddlers and infants, but common areas as well. And it's not just "drop your kids off and we'll make sure they don't get hurt," she says; they've got an emergent curriculum that moves with kids interests.
Sophia, now in the toddler room, is learning all about trucks, given an interest spurred by a nearby construction site. There's books on transportation in the library and plenty of sensory play and digging up sand. What's more, Rothschild knows all the parents, so she knows who her daughter is playing with.
While there's just the one NextKids space thus far in San Francisco, she could see a few dozen sprouting up around the U.S. and more abroad. But this model doesn't need to be limited to co-working spaces; there's a lot of potential for corporate communities, too. Anywhere where people want to be close to their kids—and still get their work done.
What she didn't expect were the productivity benefits. While she's not physically with her, having her daughter nearby allows her to feel more peaceful than if she were a nanny or an off-site daycare. With that peacefulness comes productivity.
Rothschild had just had her second child, Emily, and she plans to be back to work at NextSpace in the spring.
"I have friends saying, 'You're only taking three months off? And I say, 'I'm going back to NextKids! I get to see my daughter every day, I'm going to get to nurse every day.' I'm going to get to experience what my dream was to create."
[Image: Flickr user Miika Silfverberg]