Where are the Parents’ Day Out Programs in Iowa City?

I was used to being away from my 2.5 year old daughter 40+ hours a week. She was accustomed to socializing with kids her own age. Throw us together 24/7 in a new state, uprooted from friends, family and routine…what could go wrong? 

It was the summer of 2016. As the 45-minute tantrums raged on, I took solace in the fact that schools would be starting soon. I would find a very part-time play school for both of our sakes (and for the baby on the way to have at least a few hours of undivided attention!). 

Except as I called places here in my new town, I heard variations of the fact that a program didn’t exist for 2-years-olds, unless maybe you were willing to pay a traditional daycare for 50% of the time. I was thinking along the lines of six hours a week, not 20.

Now, Iowa City is amazing and so much more progressive than Shreveport, Louisiana, (where we lived before) in many ways.

But not on this. 

My friends who stayed home in Shreveport almost universally had their kids enrolled in a “Mother’s Day Out” program, starting as young as a few months (what I’ll refer to as “Parents’ Day Out” (PDO) because dads stay at home too!). Sometimes it was only for one morning a week. But this was one morning she could count on to do whatever she wanted–clean her house, get her hair cut, or just enjoy peace and quiet at home without the possibility of a little person needing something, needing her.

Without the presence of PDO programs in Iowa City, my takeaway was that as a new stay-at-home parent, I shouldn’t feel the need to spend regular time away from my young child. 

And this led to guilt during a time when I was already struggling with how to define myself amidst so many changes. 

I’m not saying that parents need to drop their young kids off one morning a week–if you are able to maintain your sanity with so much togetherness, more power to you. Or maybe you have a partner who is around a lot or family in town. But for this pregnant mom that late summer, with family 1,000 miles away and a husband putting in long hours, it would have been nice to feel that support. 

I’ve since learned that a few in-home providers offer something similar, but this seems more of a word-of-mouth thing and not like the programs I was familiar with.

If there are any area churches or other centers interested in starting a PDO program, please let me know, and I will assist how I can.

I have about two years left in Iowa City and would love to help bring this southern tradition to fellow stay-at-home-parents before I move. 


Meg is a transplant to the Midwest. Originally a Louisiana native, she moved to Iowa with her family in the summer of 2016 for her husband’s residency program. She and Addison have four daughters: Kate, born November 2013; Adrienne, born December 2016; and, Elizabeth and Caroline, born November 2018. Meg is a University of Richmond grad with a PR, government affairs and community outreach background.


  1. I offer a Parents Day Out program at my home. What I have found is that is that it is difficult to find parents who are looking for just a morning or two break a week vs full time care.

  2. Hannah, that’s interesting. I’m sorry to hear it hasn’t been a success. It seems like most people I talk to are interested- I wonder if either they don’t know about it or it’s the difference of in-home versus a center (like they traditionally are in the south).

  3. I looked for this as well moving here from the south and like you only found a few in home places— not nearly the extent available in the south where every church seems to have one. Our kids currently go to Sprout kids academy out in Tiffin. Long drive from IC but awesome place and they have part time options that could be close to what you would get from PDO. Great teachers and facility, reasonable pricing.

  4. Agreed! I was coming from Arlington VA where there were lots of options like this as well as co-op playgroups which were beloved. I’m finding it hard to find something like that in San Diego as well but I haven’t looked very hard. What a great thing if you could help start something in IC before you leave!

  5. I’m from northern canada and parents day out programs a very popular there too! One day a week would be AMAZING! I think a lot of families would be interested in a program like that!

  6. Hey Meg! Did something like this ever get started? I have newly moved to Iowa city have been searching for MDO or PDO options. Even trying to find a part time daycare for a 1 year old here is so difficult!


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