Wegmans Dulles W Kids Fun Center45131 Columbia Place
Sterling, VA 20166
Website ~ Map Link
Bottom Line: 90 minutes of free childcare while shopping in the Wegmans store. Kids must be 3-8 and potty-trained (no diapers or pull-ups). Sterling location only (if only it were closer to Arlington!). 5/5 stars
W Kids Center Hours: Mon - Sat 10-6pm, Sundays 10-4pm
After dabbling in couponing and chasing deals around various area grocery stores, I’ve settled into a routine that works for me — a weekly trip to H-Mart (an asian grocery store with fantastic produce prices) and Wegmans in Fairfax. If you steer clear of the prepared foods aisle, Wegmans pricing, especially on store brands, can’t be beat.
I usually grocery shop without the kids, but occasionally, I have them in tow and when I’m desperate for a little peace and quiet on my grocery run, I hop on the Dulles Toll Road and schlep all the way out to Sterling to go to the Dulles Wegman store.
Why travel so far for groceries, you ask? The answer is their WKids Fun Center — aka 90 minutes of FREE kid-watching while I grocery shop in peace.
This was a lifesaver for me while I finished off my pre-Christmas grocery shopping. Kids get to play, color, watch TV or play video games while mom gets to shop in peace. You fill out a form the first time, and then a sign-in sheet and parent and child are banded with matching security bracelets. Mom gets a pager and freedom, kids get to stay and play.
The ladies who watch the kids are very nice and have been familiar faces every time I have used the WKids center over the past year, so it seems turnover is not a problem.
Mostly, the kids end up staring at a screen — either a video or a video game — they are not going to learn their ABCs or do crafts here. But hey, you get what you pay for, and a little screen time is worth it to me when I need to get the shopping done.
Know Before You Go:
Childcare workers don’t do potty breaks (no bathroom inside the WKids area) — so plan on taking your child to the bathroom before you drop-off (unless you want to get paged mid-shopping). Also, no food, drinks, personal items (toys) or jackets are to be left inside the WKids area.
Also, the center does have limits on number of kids it accepts, so there is always a risk it will be full when you go to drop-off — that has only happened to me once, when they were short one worker. She could tell me how long it would be until someone was due to pick-up their child and I ended up waiting less than 5 minutes.
When you factor in the price of gas, drive time and tolls, it’s not really “free”, but it is such a great convenience for those times when you just need a break and the shopping has to get done.
Unfortunately, the Sterling location is the only one in the area with free childcare, however, plans are afoot to open an Alexandria location at some point in the future (likely 2013 or later) — hopefully they will include a WKids play center as well.
This is how I like to do Wegmans with kids: if I am going around the lunch hour, I will call the Pizza Shop on my way over: (703) 421-2415. A large (and I mean HUGE) cheese pizza costs $9.99 (with Wegmans shoppers card). We eat it upstairs in the cafe, and then I drop off the kids while I shop.
Find more parks by visiting my main Arlington Parks & Playgrounds page.