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Out and About!

What ever happened to “me time”?

With little ones constantly in tow (or even after a long day at the office), it can be quite the challenge to find the time to squeeze in a cardio session or get that hot stone massage you so desperately need … and deserve! Never mind wardrobe updates—the last time your closet got a makeover, Justin Bieber was holding a rattle instead of a microphone.       

Sure, it’s no secret that IKEA has long been the place to go to for a double-duty dose of home décor browsing and playtime for the kids. When the store opened up in Frisco a few years back, parents flocked to the Scandinavian furniture superstore to sneak a little retail therapy in, knowing they could leave the kids at Smaland (IKEA’s in-store childcare center) while they checked out those innovative room concepts.

But luckily for all you busy moms, your local gyms, spa sites and other locales where you can enjoy a bit of leisure time are catching on—offering childcare services on-site, or nearby at a drop-in care facility. Here, you can leave the little ones to be looked after while you get that workout or grocery shopping done … or even a little massage treatment.  

For Frisco mom Jennifer Rayburn, these kinds of establishments have made all the difference. “I’m a single parent, so it helps a lot,” she says. “If I couldn’t drop them off [while I go to the gym], I wouldn’t get much of a workout.”

So whether you’re a stay-at-home mom looking for a respite, or a working mother who needs to finish that personal to-do list and keep an eye on the kids, we’ve rounded up a child-friendly selection of places around Big D that can also provide care for the kiddies so you can get your own time out! 

Rayburn, along with other busy moms like her, has figured out at least one way to squeeze in some time to herself. The gym, for instance. It’s clear just from that first step through the glass doors and that first swipe of your membership card that there are some things at the gym that just aren’t made for the children—case in point, elliptical machines, heavy free weights and those fancy step machines. That’s why fitness centers are catching on to becoming more kid-care savvy. Now you can drop the little ones off with care providers who will entertain, keep a watchful eye on them and if necessary, take care of the dirty work—though they may interrupt you to change a dirty diaper or two.

One place you may want to check out is Telos Fitness Center (13701 Dallas Pkwy., 972/386-2533 or www.telosfitnesscenter.com). This Dallas health club offers child care seven days a week at Telos Tykes. From 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. daily, you can drop the little ones off where they read books, watch videos, play on the computer (at least, the older ones!), compete on Wii, put together puzzles and play on swings. If you’re curious, you can keep up with them on Channel 49, which you can watch from the comfort of your own treadmill. Kids are welcome to attend starting at age 2 months (or when they’ve had their first round of vaccinations), and they generally stop when they’re old enough to work out with mom and dad (13 years old). Cost is complimentary for Performance Plus members, $4 per hour for members and $5 for non-members (guest of members only).

Another option would be to drop the tots off at Equinox (8611 Hillcrest Road, 214/265-5512 or 4023 Oak Lawn Ave., 214/443-9009 or www.equinox.com). Within its sleek facilities lies their fully equipped Kids Club. The play area here is a bit smaller than other places, but there is plenty to keep the little ones entertained. They can get creative playing musical instruments or they can keep busy on computers. Additionally, they can participate in coloring activities and crafts and also play games like Twister and Candyland. Little thrill seekers can roam the play area in a toy car. Kids ages 3 months to 9 years are welcome. Drop them off between 8 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Sat.-Sun. The adult to child ratio is six to one, and caregivers will bottle feed, though parents are responsible for changing dirty diapers. There is no maximum capacity, but there is a two-hour time limit. Feel free to send your kids off with snacks, since they are not provided. To use these facilities, cost is $7 per child, or you can sign up for a $60 ten-pack (members only).

But what do you do when you get home from that grueling workout? As tired as you are, you’ve got mouths to feed—hungry ones at that! You open the pantry … not quite the ingredient list for five-star meal (or even star-shaped pasta that will satisfy a 2-year-old). Or what about that night the mother-in-law decided to drop in unexpectedly for dinner? When you’ve got to prep a meal for an impromptu dinner guest, it’s not always easy to go through the aisles at your leisure—especially when your curious tot is clamoring for whatever catches his eye. Luckily, there’s a solution. Check out at Huggie Land at Kroger in Allen (1320 W. McDermott Dr., 214/495-0202 or www.kroger.com)

when you’ve got grocery shopping to do. Your child can while away the time with coloring books, video games, movies and gender-specific toys. The complimentary service is for children ages 3-7, and you’ll need to enroll your child the first time you drop him off. Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Kids will be issued a wristband, and they’ll need to wear shoes the whole time. Maximum capacity is 11 kids, and there is one adult present.

Now that you’ve gotten all the tough stuff out of the way—your workout, your grocery shopping … take some time some real R&R. After a long day of errand running and toting toddlers around, what multitasking mom doesn’t have knots in her back or a furrow in her brow? Hunker down for some well-deserved TLC sans the little ones.

Visit Cooper Aerobics Center (12230 Preston Road, Dallas, 972/239-6171 or 7910 Collin McKinney Pkwy., McKinney, 214/383-1010 or www.cooperaerobics.com) which offers a fitness center and a full-service spa, where you can indulge in a facial, manicure, pedicure, wraps and more. Leave the kids under the care of two adults between the hours of 8:30 a.m and 7:30 p.m. Mon.-Thu. 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Fri. and 8:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Sat. The child-to-adult ratio is seven to one, and the maximum capacity of children accepted is 21. Kids ages 2 months to 12 years are welcome. This service is free with spa appointment, though reservations are suggested.

You can also kick back at The Spa & Salon at Four Seasons (4150 N. MacArthur Blvd., Irving, 972/717-2555 or www.fourseasons.com), which offers children a place to participate in arts and crafts, romp on the playground, play dodgeball and skeeball, watch movies, and play with toys—all while you get in some real relaxation (you must be signed up for a spa treatment to avail of child care). Kids can fill their tummies with pretzels, milk and lemonade. But on Friday nights (date night for you!) you can drop them off for Kids Night In, where they’ll be entertained with dinner, games, crafts and movies—and you can enjoy a night with the hubby ($35). The ratio of kids to adults is two to one for children younger than 18 months, and six to one for older kids. Those ages 6 months to 7 years old are welcome. Childcare hours are between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Cost is $7.50 per hour for spa members, $13 per hour for Four Seasons hotel guests and free for kids older than 5 years old.

Now that you can get a tension-busting massage, do some reps on the stability ball and get everything you need to prepare a feast (and gain a little peace of mind while you’re at it), you may just start to wonder how you got it all done before. Our best guess is that, with all these enticing out-of-the-house options, it’s the kiddos who are going to be begging to head out to “run errands with mommy.”