San Francisco mom and postpartum doula, Sarah Montoya, reviews one of her family's favorite places to learn, play, and connect. Read on to learn more about how the space can add some fun and education (and maybe even peace!) to your family's routine.
When I walk into Recess Collective, I immediately sigh and feel a sense of relief as my kids run in and find their favorite activity, start to play and learn. I make myself a cup of coffee and chat with fellow parents. We commiserate over whatever parenting struggles we are facing that day. Sometimes I arrive to find a volunteer who is a trained therapist offering helpful feedback, other times I find parents like me who are figuring it out as we go. Every single time I find a space where my kids and I are welcomed.
We joined Recess when we had an 18 month old and twin infants living in a one bedroom apartment. Our oldest is now four, the twins are two, and we have moved into a 2 bedroom house. Even as our needs have changed, Recess has continued to be a vital part of our family life. In a city where I often experience pressure to get my kids started in classes that will challenge them to learn, Recess has provided them with age appropriate challenges in their play that demonstrates respect for the reality that play is a child’s work. At Recess, play it isn’t a break from learning, it is learning. The space is mostly open ended with quality wooden toys that can be used in multiple ways, structures that allow children to use their imaginations, and limited structured programming.
When I say limited structured programming I don’t mean their isn’t programming. What I mean is that the programming is set up to be inviting and allow the children to opt in. Music time is welcoming to all, but no one is going to tell a child to get off the swing and join in. The same is true of story time, and no one asks the children to be quiet for the cello concert. Family Yoga is a bit different but it is in a separate room and the instructor doesn’t mind if you have the type of day where your child needs to go and and out of the room because they aren’t quite ready for a full class.
Recess is designed to take the guesswork out of engaging with your child. There are pamphlets on the wall that provide helpful resources for parents to learn how to engage with their children and join them in play instead of dictating play. There are also helpful tips for how to teach your kids age appropriate skills in a playful way. Everything is centered around play as a source of connection and learning. It isn’t about your kid being distracted so you can breath, it's about your kid having a meaningful space to learn and play while you also catch a breath, and hopefully feel refreshed enough to join them in their fun.
There are various membership options, including unlimited, and once-a-month plans. You can also purchase a one-day preview pass that you can apply to your membership if you decide to join. Amazingly, parents of babies 0-6 months can join for free, connecting with other parents and creating community around their similarly aged kids.
One last thing I want to rave about it parties at Recess. We did our twins one year birthday party there and I had the best day. I was ready to be so stressed out, but the team helped with everything. At the time I was too overwhelmed to decorate. Luckily the space is attractive enough that I didn’t have to. But I have also been there for a few parties where parents decked out the space, even more glorious with the addition of streamers. Being at Recess meant that I was able to relax, celebrate my kids, and mingle with friends knowing that all of our kids were having fun—which meant we could have fun. Also, GGMG members get $50 off parties!!!
If you haven’t been to Recess I highly encourage you to check the space out.
Things to Know
Parking is mostly one hour on that block
It’s easy on public Transit— L Taraval stops on the block
You need to make a reservation or call ahead for drop in, and it's often full on rainy days.
Bring cash for snacks, because there are plenty of healthy snacks available.
Check out the calendar for programming because there are so many amazing offerings you don’t want to miss out.
Remember Golden Gate Mothers Group members get $50 off parties!
Join thousands of moms in our incredibly active online forums where our members will support you in all your parenting needs. Also come to exclusive GGMG events, get discounts through our partners, and participate in mom-focused activities.
Only $75 per year.