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Moms are flocking to use desks that have cribs attached. They say it allows them to balance motherhood with their careers.

Kelly Burch   

Moms are flocking to use desks that have cribs attached. They say it allows them to balance motherhood with their careers.
  • The desks have a play area attached to keep babies and tots entertained.
  • Parents say that the desks allow them to work near their children.

When Maegan Moore returned to work about two months ago after the birth of her first child, she found a unique solution for balancing her career with mothering: a work-play desk that lets her care for her baby, Eleanor, while also having a dedicated workspace.

"For her age, it's been awesome," Moore told Business Insider. "I'll try to time it so I can feed her, put her down in the play desk area, and do some work that doesn't involve calls."

The work and play desk is a sort of cubicle designed for parents and children. The desk has a flat work area for parents and a play-pen-like attachment for babies.

Moore uses the desk at a coworking space in New York, but the idea originally started at a library in Virginia that largely serves a disadvantaged population that has trouble accessing both childcare and reliable internet.

Moore doesn't use the desk for long stretches of time — about an hour or two is her current limit. Although she has childcare during the middle of the day, she uses the desk most mornings and afternoons. She says that being able to have Eleanor nearby and nurse her, rather than pumping, has eased her transition back to work.

"That's been a real gift," she said.

A mom uses the desk to cope with days off school

Bethany Crystal, who contracts for multiple companies in tech and education, uses the work-and-play desk for her 21-month-old, Sydney. Because of the nature of her work, she doesn't have an office to report to. Before finding the work and play desk, she had instances of trying to nurse her baby in a WeWork coworking space or struggling to find a place to put her while she interviewed with firms. The work and play desk has solved that.

"It's really useful to be able to go places for an hour or two and have a place to put a baby," Crystal told BI.

Now that Sydney is a toddler, she's enrolled in a local Montessori school, but the frequent days off mean that Crystal still utilizes the work and play desk regularly.

"There's a lot of inservice days and holidays, which wreaks havoc for professional, entrepreneurial parents like myself," Crystal said.

Sydney is "so happy" to be next to her mother, and Crystal is able to get solid two-hour blocks of work done, which add up over the course of her 60-hour workweek.

"Even being able to put her in the crib for little stints made such a big difference," she said.

To Crystal, the desk is representative of a modern work-life balance.

"I believe we are in a new era of work, where it's no longer about what job you want, it's about what kind of lifestyle you want," she said. "For me, it's critically important to have spaces to do work that lean into the messy complications of an imperfect life with a lot of demands."

Solving the problem of the generation

Both Moore and Crystal use the work and play desk at Workplayce, a family-friendly coworking facility on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In addition to the desks, the building offers quiet work space, a communal area for parents to work while kids play, and dedicated on-site childcare that can be booked by the hour.

For Crystal, who also has a 4-year-old, the community aspect has been as important as the physical space.

"Not only do I have a place where kids can be kids and I can be at work, but I have fellow parents who are in work-hybrid mode," she said. "It's the first time I've felt like I've been part of a peer-parent community."

"It's refreshing to me," she added, "and helpful for us to see each other and learn how we are all making it work."

When Moore heard about Workplayce, she thought, "This is incredible. What a cool tool to equip working parents."

Prior to this, Moore tried working from home with a babysitter for Eleanor. But living in a small apartment, it was difficult "to not look around and see all the tasks and to-dos," which could distract from work, she said.

Now, she typically goes to the coworking space about four times a week, enrolling Eleanor in childcare when she has a meeting, a call, or work that requires deeper concentration.

"It's great having her around and getting to pop in and see her, but when I need full separate space, I have the ability to do that as well," Moore said.

That setup more accurately matches the lives of many modern working parents, Crystal said.

"There's a unique opportunity for parents to make work and kids fit with their lives. Decoupling work and kids from these arbitrary 9-to-5 work days or 9-to-3 day care days is the first step to making a life that works for you," she said. "This is a really important thing for our generation to solve for."

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