By Catherine Wayland
Hello dear mamas! First I hope your New Year is a prosperous one. By prosperous I mean that you drip with wealth of the heart. I want you to know peace and happiness in your home with your loved ones. These articles are my good wishes for all that and more to come true for you. I do believe in that old cliche, “If mama is happy, everyone is happy.” That doesn’t mean I advocate the rantings of a selfish lunatic of a mama. They unfortunately exist, and hopefully are the exception. But I do think many of us mothers put everyone else first and then run out of the “good stuff” too quick. A neglected mama, does not a happy mama make. So let’s pack a “mommy” goody bag for this cold winter month of January. Then let’s throw it on the handle of a freezing wet stroller and jump into a subway, bus, or cab, and go find some warmth and laughter.
Mama’s Goody Bag for Winter Fun
First, since its you pushing these heavy strollers, let’s think about our feet, shall we? Let’s start with DDF Pedi-Cream which you can order online at the beauty store at www.amazon.com. You won’t believe how two treatments a week make your feet feel! Ahh! Alright, let’s keep going with creams, shall we? Kiehl’s, Kiehl’s of course, of course. Visit their flagship store at 109 Third Avenue or go online www.kiehls.com. You can spend hours filling your mama goody bag here but we are going to focus on their Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 15. For the hands, let’s go to www.NewVitality.com and get their Green Tea Cream that comes complimentary with their Magic Green Tea Plus product – an absolute must for your bag, mamas! Feeling run down, catching all the colds from your toddler’s playgroup? Take just two droppers of the Magic Green Tea Plus a day which equals six cups of Green Tea – and you are on your way to a more energetic, healthy looking you! Finally, when you snack, you need to eat something for your yummy mama body, so rather than finishing your child’s mac-n-cheese, always carry a Pure Protein Bar available by the box at a value price on www.vitaminshoppe.com. Amen, and let’s go!
Strolling Around Town
All right mamas, now that you are armed with your “get toasty” treats, let’s hit the frozen, tundra of Manhattan! Cold as it may get, there is no better place for mama and their babes! New York City is a walk-around, mass-transit city. You have only to pile your angels into a comfy Toastie Toddler Blanket by Mobile Moms (www.mobilemoms.com) tucked inside a stroller in the Maclaren (www.maclarenstrollers.com) brand family, and off you go! Don’t fight the trend of the Maclaren strollers mamas, they’re actually popular for good reason! They are some of the lightest weight, easy-to-transport-in-cabs-subways-buses strollers in the world. I have both the double (Twin Traveler) and single (Triumph ). My resistance to the Maclaren was nine months of broken armed, child-endangering physical comedy that would have made even Lucille Ball giggle! My husband watched on the sidelines with much amusement, mouthing the word “Maclaren”, which was like “water” to a dehydrated survivor in the desert. I fell to the ground one day yelling “Uncle! You win ? order me the Maclaren and for god’s saake never mention this day to me ever again! Take mercy on my stubborn, proud soul!” Two more transport items that are Manhattan necessities are the Bjorn Pack (www.baby-bjornsuperplus.com) and the Hip Hamock by Playtex (www.playtexbaby.com). These items are as necessary as oxygen in New York City! The Bjorn Pack is your carrier pack for infants and your Hip Hammock for Toddlers. Save the headache, CALL AHEAD!
All right then, now that we have our gear, let’s talk some fun. I have picked my favorite indoor playspaces and drop-activities, mamas. I invite you all to respond to me if you have any of your own. I am always on the lookout. My children are under three years old, so I don’t hit the museums or libraries as ardently at this stage, although I will be writing about CMOM and Children’s Museum of the Arts. ALWAYS, CALL AHEAD ANYTIME YOU ARE EVEN THINKING OF GOING ANYWHERE IN NYC! One day, I followed the wrong schedule for Gymboree, only to put the kids in a taxi to the Monday and Tuesday closed CMOM! Arrgggghhh! Pleeasssssssssse learn from my agony!
Are your hat’s on? Let’s hit the streets!
Chelsea Piers Toddler Gym – 23rd and Hudson River Park located at their Fiield House. Phone: 212-336-6500 Website. www.chelseapiers.com. You can pay $10 a visit, discount packs or monthly passes. Check the schedule on the web and always call as this one is a party mecca and unreliable on the weekends. This was my favorite place when I was pregnant with my Brody and entertaining a rambunctious Jax. Big enough for Jax’s energy, but contained enough for a slow and physically traumatized mama. It is a lovely sized room with multiple activities, ball pit, climbers, slides, mats, logics, playhouse, etc.
Sydney’s Playground – 66 White Street between Church and Broadwway, Open Daily from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., ph: 212-431-9125 and www.sydneysplayground.com. This is similar to Chelsea Piers but huge! Sydney’s is a 6,000 square foot playground. I think one of the big sellers here is that they have a café right next to the play area so there is no transporting your instantly starving child to eat. It is big enough for bikes but watch out – these are the #1 toddler tantrum items other than shopping carts and baby doll strollers! Finally, Sydney’s has this deliciously separate, quieter infants room. A separate area for our teeny weenies is so smart! Sometimes at Chelsea Piers, it can get too aggressive. Sydney’s is also well staffed with supervision to any outside doors. The anxiety level and hyper-vigilance here is at a lower level.
Toys R Us and FAO Shwartz
I am going to mention these together and quickly. Toys R Us in Times Square at 1514 Broadway (directions at www.toysrus.com) has the carousel for a $1.50 a ride and plenty of play areas such as the famous Thomas the Train tables. FAO Schwartz at 58th and 5th Avenue, ph 212-644-9400, features a smarter separate play area away from shelved, packaged products. But these are first and foremost toy stores. So, risk spending money every time! I try to combine these play spaces with an already intended trip to stock up on bathtub crayons, play doh or diapers (they sell cheaper at Toys R Us than many Manhattan food stores).
Gymboree is all over Manhattan in multiple locations, i.e., Upper East Side, Murray Hill, Eighth Ave., Chelsea, Lexington, and Upper West Side. Call administrative offices at 1-877-GYMLEARN (496-5327) for info. These are your priciest of the bunch. The Drop-In Open Gyms are only for an hour Monday through Friday, (check the schedule, there are sometimes two in a day), and cost $15 if you are not enrolled in a class. But hey, I’ve been this desperate for some physical activity for my cagey toddler! The classes are wonderful and they do offer varying discounts when you inquire.
CMOM or Children’s Museum of Manhattan at 212 West 83rd St., ph: 212-721-1234 CMOM is wonderful but a lot of work, there is just so much roaming space! My Jax is endlessly running out the open doors and into elevators in a split second. But the educational art is magical and at the age of critical language development, it gives Jax and me endless fodder for conversations and interactions so it is worth the work out! The Children’s Museum of the Arts 182 Lafayette St, ph: 212-941-9198, I don’t know this one personally yet, but am bound and determined this winter. The big selling point here for me is that there are drop-in art and music with instructors. Fantastic! I have heard nothing but great, wonderful, majestic things about the magic of this space! Let’s check it out this winter together!
I cannot say enough about this space or the woman that started it. It is sacred and she is a priestess of good karma. How’s that? Deb’s Disco is a drop in and dance your buns off good time. Deb’s Disco is located at Club Babalu’s at 327 W.44th St. between 8th and 9th Avenues on Saturdays from 3-4:30 p.m. Deb cares about every person in the room getting their oldie or latest favorite played. There is a stage area to keep the smaller children safe from some of the wilder antics on the main floor. Disco lights spin and flare, birthday parties are inclusive rather than exclusive and there is too much fun, activity and good feeling to be had. It’s like eating chocolate and not getting fat!
The Art Farm in the City – 212-410-3117. I have read about this place and it sounds scrumpdilicious! It reads in the December, 2004 Parent Guide, “Drop off tykes ages 2 and up, Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. or Fridays 9:30-11:30 a.m., and let the expert staff lead your little farmers in interactive play. After cuddling with chinchillas, hopping with bunnies, stepping inside guinea pigs habitat or feeding lizards, children make art projects and bake delicious goodies in “Autumn in the Kitchen.” It doesn’t mention prices or required commitments, but sounds definitely worth checking out.
Mommy’s “Time Out”!
Ok, I’m out of breath. I’ve babbled. I’ve droned. I’ve topped even my most chatty of moments. And guess what? That’s not all. There is a schedule of events for goings-on in Manhattan in any one of the following publications: ParentGuide (www.parentguidenews.com), New York Family (www.NewYorkFamily.com) , and Big Apple Parent (www.ParentsKnow.com) The last thing that goes in your mama goody bag you can’t buy in a store mamas, you can only find it in your brave, courageous heart. Here it is – a note that you keep in your wallet that gives you permission to get a babysitter when affordable and go out with your husband, your girlfriends or yourself. And I’m not going to say it’s always affordable, but when I had children I started to change a lot of things, from fresh flowers to dry, from retail to resale, from Bloomies to Target and on and on. Inner beauty, Outer Beauty and just plain sanity is about a good “mommy time out!”
Bless you all in this New Year.