Best Places Around Austin for Last Minute Childcare

We’ve all been there, a minor family catastrophe needs attention, an unplanned meeting pops up on your agenda or maybe you just need a solid hour without a baby on your arm. (Sanity is priceless mama!)
Either way, sometimes life happens to throw a wrench your way and you need to secure reputable childcare. Someone trustworthy, responsible and fun to watch your child (or children.) This is especially stressful when it’s last minute and you’re not sure where to turn.
If a spouse or family member aren’t available, here are some alternatives to help when you need childcare on a drop-in, as-needed basis:

Last Minute Childcare Options

Ashley’s Playhouse
North Austin
Childcare for children 6 weeks – 12 years
This is the playhouse of all playhouses. It’s colorful, bright and so much fun for children of any age. With an indoor treehouse and movie theater, Ashley’s Playhouse offers not only drop-in childcare but after-school care and special camps as well. Healthy lunch and dinner options are available for purchase, with snack included in the daily rate. You’ll want to look for specials throughout the year to help save on the initial registration fee. There’s also blocks of time for purchase, instead of the hourly rate and you can join to become an APH annual member for even more savings. Follow their Facebook page to stay up-to-date on Ashley’s Playhouse special events and more.

*Note Ashley’s Playhouse is closed on Sundays for private parties*

Childcare for children 18months- 12 years
CircleC and Avery Ranch
KidSpa offers a range of childcare programs from full-time to drop-in and even preschool options. With two locations, one north (Avery Ranch) and one in South Austin (Circle C) KidSpa can help you out in a jam, as long as your child is older than 18 months. I remember one time when my daughter was a year old I called about setting up a visit and was sad to learn I had to wait until she was 1.5 years old. But, rules are rules.

The Preschool program at KidSpa looks pretty unique too in that you choose which days of the week to send your child. As long as it’s a minimum of 3 days any three or four-year-old can attend and receive instruction with guided education and play.

KidSpa also has a one-time registration fee per child, but then you can pay per hour for the visits, or purchase prepaid blocks of time for significant cost savings.
Childcare for children 12 months+
If you’ve never been to the Toybrary go check it out during a drop-in playtime or special event. They host lots of local musicians, special Daddy-and-Me activities, dance class and rotating themed events throughout the year. We loved attending the Valentine’s Day Party and Teddy Bear Tea! Since the Toybrary functions as a toy-lending library, it’s not set up like a traditional child care facility, but they do offer care on a limited basis if you call or e-mail ahead of time. (For example, there is no nap area.) Space is limited so be sure to contact them ahead of time about availability and rates.

Funtime Playcare
Childcare for children 4 months- 12 years
Without a doubt, your child will have fun at Funtime Playcare. Located in Georgetown, this childcare center is open early for your convenience and late night on both Friday ad Saturday evenings. We’re talking 1 AM late, for those date nights that go the extra mile- wink wink. There are also Sunday hours, which is hard to come by! Choose from a hourly drop-in rate or pay for blocks of time in advance that never expire. Funtime also offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for children. There are age-appropriate activities planned for each age group, so don’t stress about your child getting bored or not having a good time at Funtime!

Before sending your child to any of these great drop-in childcare locations, here are some things to remember:

Be sure to stop by for a tour so you feel comfortable with the staff and amenities. It’s a good idea to bring your child too, so they can check out the environment and feel safe. Case in point, my son doesn’t do well in situations where there are a lot of kids, so something like KidSpa may not be the best fit. The Toybrary on the other hand limits the number of children watched during drop-in and most children are under the age of 5, so he feels less intimidated and nervous when I need to drop him off and run to a meeting down the road at Starbucks. Plus, he gets to sample new toys that I can later take home with our Toybrary membership.

You’ll also want to have a hard copy (or digital copy) of vaccination records for the establishment to keep on file as well. Most childcare facility will require this, so put in a call to the pediatrician before heading out to visit.
Ask about nap time (is a mat supplied or do you bring one?) snacks (is this something you are responsible for and if so, what are the dietary restrictions?) and also diaper changes and potty. In some cases a center may require a child to be comfortable using the toilet in order to enroll into a specific age class. My kids are cloth diapered so ask about that if you do too. It may or may not be welcome at drop-in childcare centers.

In addition to drop-in locations, you may also be able to find a temp nanny or babysitter to come to you. Look on for notices and reviews of childcare providers in your area. Or, ask employers if they offer any childcare assistance as a work benefit. For example, my husband’s company gives employees free memberships and 7 days worth of emergency childcare at a reduced cost. (I’m still not 100% sure how this works, if there is a set list of care givers pre-screened or what, but it’s still really cool that they recognize working families challenges. Thankfully we haven’t had to use this perk- yet.)

 Even though it may feel like a huge pain to coordinate last-minute care during  a random time of need, (insert mom guilt here) there are plenty of places for them to have fun and socialize with other children in a safe environment around Austin. Isn’t that what we all want for our little ones anyway?

Thank goodness for drop-in childcare places, they have saved the day plenty of times throughout the last year!


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