Before they have their first baby, many women envision a freelance career that combines staying at home with an infant and squeezing in hours during the baby’s naps. The reality, however, often involves crowded apartments, piles of laundry and a home life that is not conducive to working for pay. Elizabeth Kaiden hoped for the ideal work environment before her children were born. The Upper West Sider was a freelance writer and film critic, but found she could not work at home, nor could she commit to the kind of childcare options that freelancers require.
Thus, her new career — founding and serving as executive director of Two Rooms, a non-profit facility in her very neighborhood, designed to serve the needs of freelance workers who are parents.
The Two Rooms concept, “you work, they play” is genius in its simplicity. Parents sign their kids up for morning, afternoon, or all-day childcare and work in the communal space next door. There is a membership fee, then you pay by the week; depending on how much you use the service, fees are $8-$13.25 per hour.
Childcare is available for kids 3 months to 4 years old. Ironically, Kaiden’s son, who was 5 when she thought up Two Rooms, has already ‘aged out’, and her 3 1/2 year old daughter, Eva, still in the correct demographic, is in preschool. Two Rooms is open Monday-Friday, 8:30am–5:30pm; in the evenings, there will be classes. The space is also available to rent for weekend birthday parties. In its flexibility, Two Rooms is ideal for freelancers. It is also great for nursing mothers who can work and take a break to breastfeed their babies. You also needn’t be present the whole time your kid is in childcare; if you have a work meeting, or even a doctor’s appointment, you can just use the childcare. But one thing you can’t count on is work that requires heavy phone use. Kaiden’s model is the Writer’s Room downtown, which has a strict no-talking policy. Two Rooms will not be so Draconian, but Kaiden acknowledges that writers and others who work in quietness are her ideal customer. But the concept is still evolving. Two Rooms opened at the end of February, and Kaiden is committed to “serving the population that will use it.” Two Rooms can take a maximum of 21 adults and 21 children at one time.
Freelancers also often have difficulty finding health care, and as a non-profit, Two Rooms is also dedicated to offering access to healthcare insurance.
In addition to the licensed professional childcare staff, Two Rooms offers full professional business services: wireless Internet access, computers for rent, a printer, copier, fax and scanner. Since there is a receptionist, workers can have packages delivered.
Kids have a completely separate space, with an infant room. There is even a small outdoor play area. In a bit of synergy, Two Rooms is in the same building as Albee’s, a children’s store, and the River Park Nursery School.
Two Rooms is at 711 Amsterdam Avenue, at 94th Street. Call (212) 662-0845 or email [email protected]