Newton center hopes co-working spaces with built-in childcare will catch on for local families

NEWTON, Mass. — As many local families struggle to find the right mix of work-from-home and childcare to achieve the illusive “work/life balance,” Newton’s Pop Center is hoping a new concept will start to catch on.

Unlike most childcare centers in the Boston area, the parents stay at the center all day with their kids, taking care of business in a designated co-working space, while their children are cared for.

“The first thing I thought was it’s just too good to be true. I can get work done, you know, have my cake and eat it too, and still spend time with my little baby,” said mom Meredith Pestourie. She and her husband both spend time in the Pop Center’s co-working space.

With long waits at traditional daycares, Pestourie says this option works for her family because they can get work done when they need to, but still be hands-on for meals, diaper changes, and the occasional cuddle during the day.

“When I’m home with my kids evenings, weekends, I’m not feeling as much pressure that I need to like work and squeeze out a few minutes here and there,” she said.

“And that’s what the Pop Center allows, is for you to be a more purposeful and productive parent,” Pop Center founder Crystal Tullos told Boston 25 News.

Tullos operates 2 fully-licensed childcare centers in the state but says with staffing crunches and a lack of commercial real estate in Massachusetts, there is still a need for something different.

“We would go to like indoor play spaces that existed and there was nothing for parents. We would sit on these hard benches with bad wifi and crappy coffee, and I remember thinking ten years ago, somebody needs to invent this,” Tullos said.

Because parents are on-site the whole time, the center doesn’t follow the same licensing as traditional daycares - Tullos says they’re more flexible with staffing ratios.

“As an employer, I know what I’m looking for. I look for people who have a background in early education, who are licensed by the EEC, who have gone through the required courses. We put all of our staff through safety training, through CPR certification,” Tullos explained.

Tullos says they offer memberships for families trying to keep costs down. She said those plans are less expensive than traditional daycare centers. Drop-in options for those looking for flexibility are available at a more expensive hourly rate.

“So you wake up on a Tuesday. ‘I really would love to get some work done while my kid plays.’ You can check your child into our supervised play groups while you sit in our co-working offices,” Tullos said.

Since opening this fall, she says 60 families signed up for Pop Center memberships.

“I would really love to see these Pop Centers franchises in other areas because not everybody can drive into Newton. I’d love to see them on the North Shore…on the South Shore,” said Tullos. “I think parents need and deserve choices, and I think kids deserve time with their parents.”

“I truly feel like this place here is a home away from home,” said Pestourie.

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