Learn strategies for navigating public transportation, crowded streets and small living spaces from Manhattan mom Monica Storch.

Rain, Snow, or Shine, the City Always Entertains

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Photo: Jessica Shyba

There are very few things about living in New York City that I don’t love. I’ve been surprised daily with the amount of opportunities that are available to not only me, but to my children as well. One of the things that I was the most apprehensive about living here as opposed to our “normal” life in the suburbs of California was the availability of things to do with my toddlers. As naïve as I admit that I tend to be, I had always dismissed NYC as a place to live as a young person fresh out of college or a wealthy business person. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that NYC was even remotely suitable or good for raising a family.

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Fortunately, I was very wrong about that.

During summers in California, we used to pass the sweltering days at the beach, pool, or air-conditioned malls. Our cars would chauffeur us to each and every destination easily and there was little to no concern about the weather hampering any plans that we had made.

Living in the city couldn’t be more different. Not only do we not have cars, but we rely on our strollers to take us from place to place. This means that I have to have the weather man on my speed dial at all times. I check two different weather apps before I go to bed and once when I wake up, just to make sure things haven’t changed. We plan our days according to just how livable the outside conditions are, because we spend a good deal of time getting to and from places and events outside, braving all elements.

The forecast aside, there is a vast range of things to do in the city with kids at all times. We have memberships at museums and facilities that offer indoor activities like art, cooking and dance classes. There are various music, dance and sports programs all over the city that are available both indoors and outdoors, and to all ages.

During the winter, there are several ice skating rinks around the city, along with some of the most charming bookstores and bakeries I’ve ever stepped foot into.

The summer months are really when all kinds of things are abound for families to do in the city: We regularly visit green markets and parks -specifically the ones with spray grounds for the days that are especially warm. We pack our bags with extra clothes, sunscreen, snacks, swimsuits, and water balloons and head to the parks for the majority of the day. It’s like having a commercial water park in your back yard, except it’s free and no one is out gouging you for souvenirs and snacks.

Both Central Park and Madison Square Park (amongst many, surely) offer free summer concerts geared towards adults and children. We make sure to head to Madison Square Park regularly, as not only is it right in our neighborhood, but the concerts always feature a prominent children’s artist. We’ll grab burgers at the Shake Shack and head home after a morning of music and dancing in the middle of the city.

It’s no secret, however, that the East Coast gets pretty hammered with cold and hot weather extremes, and I would be lying if I said we didn’t struggle with those times. I’ve never known the true meaning of cabin fever until being stuck inside an 800 sq ft apartment for days on end with two small children. We pass the time with games, cooking and lots of art projects.

Regardless of the weather or activity, we are always spending really good time together. I love experiencing the city and all that it has to offer to my children and to us as a family. (But I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing the Pacific Ocean,.)

Jessica’s Tips

  • Check the weather the night before and then in the morning before heading out so you don’t get surprised by any weather conditions.
  • Join museums and kids’ play spaces.
  • In the summer: explore green markets and parks. Look for free summer concerts geared to families.
  • In the winter: look for outdoor ice skating rinks and check out bookstores with cozy kids’ sections.
  • You never know where the day may end up so pack your bag with extra clothes, snacks, and in the summer, swimsuits, sunscreen and water balloons!

About Jessica

After moving to Manhattan from the suburbs of San Francisco, Jessica started a blog called Momma’s Gone City. Jessica's learned to navigate her way through the New York City preschool system and around Manhattan with two toddlers in tow. She's written for New York Family Magazine and StyleMom.com, and serves as an ambassador for various children’s brands.

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