Finding reliable, affordable, and trustworthy childcare is probably the hardest part of having children. Then add in a rotating scheduling where childcare needs are not the same day to day or week to week, and it is even more challenging. On top of that, I worry about who will be watching my kid, will he be happy, and all those other normal parent worries.
Then I found Sleeping Grass: Kids Drop In Center and I cannot be happier! The drop in style of childcare has literally saved me more times than I can count and works so well for our lifestyle. Sleeping Grass in particular for us has been perfect! The atmosphere is so wonderful and welcoming, and most importantly I can do what I need to do all the while knowing my child is cared for and loved!
We were able to catch up with Mastaneh, the owner of Sleeping Grass, and got to pick her brain about her Montessori inspired drop in center located in the Lakewood neighborhood of Durham.
What makes Sleeping Grass so unique among drop-in centers?
Our campus is very unique compared to most other drop-in centers. Most other centers are located in traditional commercial spaces in the middle of shopping centers. Sleeping Grass is located in a converted house. Many of the features and architecture in the kid's environment are reminiscent of a home, warm and aged with character, rather than a cold, commercial space. No one gives off a more motherly feel than our lead caretaker, Jana. The mural artwork on the walls were all done by one of our long-time Indigo Montessori teachers, Angelique Bowman, so visually kids get beautiful and personal surroundings. The other advantage we have because of our site is the ability to have a playground and enclosed porch area. Kids aren't stuck indoors the whole time. Weather permitting, our favorite place to have snack is out on the porch, with a nice breeze and warm sun!
What influenced you to open Sleeping Grass?
I currently run Indigo Montessori School in downtown, and have for over 15 years. Our Indigo parents have always been vocal about their need for care later in the afternoons or on the weekends. We would occasionally be asked if we could stay open late on Fridays so parents could have a date night if they couldn't find a babysitter. Before Indigo Montessori School opened, I ran a preschool at the Sleeping Grass building called Little Paradise Preschool. Everything was mostly already set up for child-care, so it was a perfect use for the space. It wasn't until we opened that we realized how much of a need there was for Drop-in Care in Durham, especially in the Lakewood area! We've been open for four years, and we have well over 1000 unique families that are registered with us. Some use us only occasionally, but some use us almost every day!
How does a drop-in center differ from a traditional daycare?
This one is a question we are answering often! A drop-in center is designed for occasional, part time care at the most. The thing to keep in mind is that drop-in center's are not licensed childcare facilities, so they cannot have kids dropped off full time for parents to go to work or travel. Parents must be relatively nearby and accessible if they need to pick up their child, and they cant use us more than 4 hours a day regularly. So parents that need something full day for 2-3 days a week regularly will need to look at a traditional daycare. Parents that need to run a couple errands in town, go to an appointment, go on a date night, go to the gym(or even just take a shower in peace!), we are perfect for. One way to think of it, if you need something more like a nanny, you should look at traditional daycare. However if you need more of a babysitter, we are probably perfect for that. Many of our kids, especially ones we see on Saturdays or holidays already go to a traditional daycare, so we are also good to fill in blanks that daycares, and even schools cant fill!
What are the typical activities kids do while at Sleeping Grass?
Each room in Sleeping Grass has an assortment of things for kids of many ages to do. We have an art room that has plenty of supplies and mediums to create art. The studio would make any artist envious! A popular one with the kids is our dress up corner, where we have numerous costumes for the kids to wear and play-act. Our playground is a staple of Spring-Fall days when the weather is nice, and we always try and do snack outside if we can. Everyone, kids and caretakers alike love the opportunity for the fresh air and life that the outdoors brings. Our infant room has plenty to stimulate infant minds. We also get some inspiration from Indigo and have a few Montessori style works for kids to do if they are interested. The whole place is like a dream playroom that never ends. Other than the occasional Saturday night movie for late drop-ins, and speakers to play music, we limit technology. We don't rely on tablets, video games, tv-shows, etc to occupy our kids during their visit.
When you aren’t running the best drop-in center in the area, where can we find you?
When I'm not running Sleeping Grass, I'm usually running Indigo Montessori. I'm always bouncing back and forth between the two, and its not uncommon to catch me working shifts at Sleeping Grass along with the rest of our awesome caretakers! Like the actual Sleeping Grass plant, we are ever active! In the rare times I'm not doing either of those things, my time is spent with the rest of my family. I'm a mother of 5 children, spanning ages 30 all the way down to 14. Once you raise your own children 5 times over, running Sleeping Grass is a piece of cake!