When I first heard of drop-in childcare, I thought it was the most brilliant idea ever invented. When I heard a drop-in childcare center called Athleticademy was coming to Knoxville, I nearly cried I was so excited. Don’t get me wrong; I love my children, I love being a stay-at-home mom, and I love homeschooling my 4th grader. These are all genuine blessings I do not take for granted. That being said…girl needs a break every now and then.
Between school activities, youth sports, church events, chorus concerts, work commitments, and so on and so on, it’s hard to find time to do everything. And everything there is to do takes exponentially longer with kids in tow. Just forget about something truly solo, like a massage or maybe an *ahem* lady doctor visit unless you have a babysitter. I have some amazing babysitters in my life, but they are humans and have their own lives and obligations and stuff that comes up. If that happens, I’m left scrambling last minute or just cancel my own appointment. It’s exhausting and oftentimes frustrating.
Once the kids were all checked in, we were done! I didn’t need to tour the facility because it’s all so open, I could see everything! Restrooms and a water fountain are at the back, and there is a small sensory room for kids who may need a break from the crowd, but it’s all pretty much visible from the door. I didn’t worry about my four-year-old getting run over or my nine-year-old sneaking off to hide and prank someone, because everyone is visible from every part of the facility.
Then…we left. We ate lunch together at the mall, and no one complained about food or shoved their brothers in the booth seat.
We walked through stores and pretended we were going to buy things we could never afford, a stupid game we used to play when we were dating, but we can’t play now because with kids, it’s very likely we’ll have to test that “you break it, you buy it” rule. We walked slowly, meandered without specific direction, and held hands.
We went into Bath and Body Works and smelled every.single.thing. And when it was time to check out, I waited in this line.
I stood alone, silent, not even looking at my phone, but just enjoying the ability to stand silently. I picked up all the hand sanitizers and travel lotions and car air fresheners on the shelves I passed in line, then I put them back. Had my children been there, I would have used every exhale to tell someone to “stop touching that” or “don’t pick that up, it’s not yours” or “you can’t put that in your mouth” or whatever else because they would drive me completely bonkers. (BTW, if you’re a mom of a teeny tiny infant angel baby, bless you. Please heed this warning to never, ever take your children into Bath and Body Works lest you lose your marbles and end up on one of those true crime shows on local tv.)
When we returned to Athleticademy to pick up the kids, check out was a simple one click through the tablet software, plus matching our blacklight stamp numbers for safety. The hardest part was convincing my kids to put down the gear with which they were playing so we could hit up the food court for some snacks!
The staff informed me that my older boys showed a real affinity for lacrosse, and one seems to have a knack for soccer. Who knew?! One of my sons played soccer when he was four, but we didn’t make it past that first season just because life got busy, and when we got back into youth sports, they both went to baseball. We have never even looked into lacrosse! As a youth soccer player myself, I would love to see my kids get into that, but they’ve never been willing to sacrifice a baseball season to try it. Lacrosse tends to be a more costly sport with a good bit of equipment, so I can’t really afford the investment if they’re going to lose interest or (let’s be honest) just be terrible at it.
A light bulb went off in my brain: rather than spending hundreds of dollars on league fees and equipment, committing to months of late night practices and early Saturday games, and potentially watching my kid pick dandelions instead of playing a new sport, I could bring them to Athleticademy during one of the scheduled, sport-specific play sessions. Instead of sitting on the sidelines trying to entertain my other kids, we could just…leave! I could take the other kids to a movie or shopping, or I could leave them to play along, even if they’re not necessarily ready to play the sport themselves. The hourly cost is a fraction of what I might pay for a training camp to gauge my kids’ interest and talent, plus I’m able to get a break to do things I enjoy while they learn. It may have been an epiphany for me, but the folks at Athleticademy already had this in mind for their service. Their staff are not “babysitters” or “teachers;” instead, they are called coaches, because that’s exactly what they are trained to do.
Whether you’re looking for sports assessments, letting the kids burn off some energy, or if you just need a break to get some things done, Athleticademy is for you! You can trust your kids are safe, well cared-for, and will be good and tired when you pick them up. Don’t waste any more time dragging your kids on errands that make both of you miserable, hoping your babysitter doesn’t flake out, or fighting with your kid to play a sport they hate. Let Athleticademy do the work while you soak up the quiet time…and maybe grab one of those cool color-changing balls just for fun.