Made in NY: Work Around

Introducing a co-working space that’s actually making parents’ lives easier.

Made in NY: Work Around

As a pregnant mama, it’s hard to envision a circle of friends beyond your tight-knit circle that you can call upon at your weakest and proudest moments. The beauty is that becoming a mom expands that circle even further. Turns out that bonding over baby makes some of the strongest connections possible and often opens up your mind to ideas you never saw before.

Through parenthood, Brooklyn moms Selena Beal and Amy Butterworth not only found a friendship but also a genius idea that spoke to a modern parent’s freelance lifestyle: The WorkAround, a coworking community where parents could literally bring their kids to work and have caretakers present to take care of them.


Here’s what it’s all about.

How did The WorkAround get started?

Like most modern relationships, Amy and I met online long before we met in person. We live a few blocks from each other in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn and were both due to give birth in Jan 2012, me with my second child and she with her first. We were part of a sub-group of our local parenting listserv which organized regular meet ups. Amy and I would pass each other at these events and swap notes about baby sleep behavior, sibling age difference and other hallmarks of new parenthood.

As a freelance web designer with two kids, Amy was already looking for flexible work solutions. As a stay-at-home mom of two, I was looking to build a new career supporting new mothers. After both of us spent some time looking into the coworking with childcare concept separately, I asked her out to coffee to pick her brain about the idea, found out that she was on the same path and a partnership was born.

Why is building a community of work-from-home parents important?

Everyone needs support. Our service is bringing together two groups of people that tend to get very isolated in what they do. New parenthood can be lonely and frustrating in these modern times and finding other parents in a supportive setting is key while stumbling toward the new normal of that first year. Those of us that work from home - whether it be full time or part time - can get stuck in some understandable but unproductive habits while still relishing the freedom of a remote lifestyle. We bring everyone in: moms who freelance, study, write, research, take care of the family business, teach, learn, create and more to get it done - together.

What is the benefit of having your child onsite?

At the workaround, we want to introduce a new kind of childcare option - a place where the walls are porous, where a mom can drop off her baby with a caretaker but still be there when it's time to nurse, where a parent and toddler can take a lunch break together, where a parent whose child is not quite ready to say goodbye can pop back and forth as much as needed to keep those bonds of trust secure. We are here for the families that aren't ready for major separation but are ready for a little time apart.

What are the best things about being a freelance parent?

Having the flexibility to work from home can be a great gift to a family. Being able to choose how much or how little work to take on, when, where and how to spend time together, what sort of care they want to piece together for their child. We all want balance in our lives, and working from home can be a great way to be financially and creatively productive while staying physically close to our child.

What are the challenges?

The challenges of working from home are that it takes a great amount of discipline to maintain, and for new parents this is right at a time when we are sleep deprived, stretched thin emotionally and not always so confident about the decisions we are making. The challenge of working from home as a parent is that what seems like such a neat fix, "I'll just work while the baby naps" ends up for most parents being more of a mirage then reality. Because in reality, maybe the baby skips her nap today. Maybe mom or dad didn't get any sleep last night. Maybe an important request came in that has to be dealt with right now. Maybe the house is a wreck and that seems more important then desk work today. Getting work done while parenting is hard, in ways that we couldn't have envisioned in our pre-baby days.

How does WorkAround fit in?

The support of being around other parents in the same spot is the first and foremost service we want to provide. Having support and finding connection with others on the journey is really the biggest piece of the puzzle. The rest of what we do is try to anticipate what our parent/child clients will need to get the work done while the kids are entertained. So for parents, we provide coffee and tea, dedicated desk space with WiFi and a video monitor to keep an eye on the children. For the kids we have a range of age appropriate activities and toys.

Our caregivers are ready to adapt to new children, new age dynamics and new interests at every session with songs and story time, movement games, rest times and a light snack. We teach our caregivers to be a partner to our parents by welcoming them into the children's space at any time for as long as they need, by working with them on special rituals for saying goodbye, watching for cues to know when it's time to call the parent back to the child, easing the little ones through all of their transitions in what can be a long separation process. It may take several visits for a child to feel comfortable enough for mom or dad to leave the room; we also welcome parents to bring their work right into the children's space if need be, with the hope that after a few sessions s/he will be able to ease into the adult space. Each parent/child unit dictate the terms that feel best for them. That's right in our motto: coworking with childcare so everybody wins!

How do you scout your caretakers?

We use carefully crafted job postings on both Urbansitter and Sittercity to find candidates. Then we interview them in person and check their references. We are working on an orientation program that will set up our permanent staff to gain infant CPR certification, babywearing instruction and attend a workshop in nonviolent communication.

In This Article

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


    Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

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    Stowaway Collection Maternity: Modern maternity wear that shows off your bump.

    Finding clothes that still make you feel like yourself isn't always easy. With their premium fabrics and universally flattering cuts, we can't get enough of the maternity wardrobe essentials from Stowaway Collection maternity. Even better? Everything from the mama/daughter duo owned brand is sewn in Long Island City, NY and they source USA-made fabric whenever possible.

    Superkin: High tech, low maintenance clothing designed for mamas.

    Superkin's line of focused essentials (launched by two retail execs, Miriam Williams and Tara Henning, who worked for world-class brands like Louis Vuitton, Walmart, J.Crew and Narvar) are meticulously designed with the needs of mamas in mind. Made from luxurious, wear tested fabrics and featuring thoughtful design details, they've created a line of clothing women actually want to wear. Each piece is a welcome addition to a solid maternity capsule wardrobe, making them a worthy investment from the first trimester.

    Tellus Mater: Sophisticated, luxury maternity wear with a minimalist aesthetic.

    Founded by a former ELLE and Marie Claire beauty editor, Tellus Mater offers high-end, sophisticated maternity looks. Designed for mamas who are looking beyond the standard ruched dresses and oversize T-shirts, the considered line features classic white blouses, tailored trousers and fitted turtlenecks with a minimalist aesthetic. Their classic feel can easily carry mamas from meetings to business dinners all in one day.

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