Faces of AWNY: Angela Tohl

Angela Tohl, originally from Adelaide, calls Brisbane home. She now resides in NYC with her beautiful family. Read on to find out her tips for thriving in NYC with kids!


Please start with some background about yourself
I came here 10 years ago in search of an adventure. Along the way, I unexpectedly met the love of my life, to whom I’m now married with two beautiful kids. So…mission well and truly accomplished.

Why did you move to NYC?
I was born in Adelaide, worked in Central Queensland and in Tokyo, Japan, prior to settling in Brisbane, which I consider to be my home in Australia.

A friend and I visited NYC for a holiday in 2005 and it felt as familiar as putting on an old pair of jeans. When I returned to Brisbane, I kept thinking “I wonder what it would be like to live and work in NYC?”. The E3 visa had recently been introduced in the US and I created a plan to secure a career opportunity over here.

Professionally, I’m a Project Manager specializing in business improvement, which I applied to Recruiting and Healthcare in NYC. My current role is as a mummy to two young sons, and my experience of managing relationships and being organized help me navigate our day-to-day adventures.

What’s your ‘only in New York’ moment?
In a Manhattan diner, I got chatting to a political scientist who serves at the United Nations. A few days later, I was sitting in on the UN General Assembly, courtesy of a visitor pass from my new acquaintance.

Where do you live, and why did you choose that area?
We moved from Murray Hill to Staten Island when my eldest son was an infant. He was already crawling by 4 months and we suspected he would benefit from more space. Our backyard is now the perfect sanctuary for two busy little boys, and I get to indulge my joy of gardening.

What do you like/dislike about your area?
I love the wide open spaces of Staten Island. We’re in walking distance to many parks and a short drive to the Greenbelt, where we often go hiking. The relaxed feel counters the frenetic pace of Manhattan. The downside is having to drive. I miss being able to walk everywhere.

What do you like/dislike about your neighbourhood (in general and for kids)?
There’s an abundance of activities for kids such as Wagner College STEM programs, the Staten Island Children’s Museum and Snug Harbour Botanical Gardens.

What’s a typical weekend for your family in NY?
Our weekends are a shambolic juggle of birthday parties and soccer for the kids, gym and going for a run for the parents. We regularly get a sitter for “date night” at local restaurants including Adobe Blues, Beans and Leaves Cafe, SIPS + MAKER.

What do you like most/least about having kids in NY?
I love the phenomenon of four seasons and the associated rituals. New Yorkers enthusiastically decorate their homes from Halloween to New Year. And snow… you really can’t beat snow as the ultimate fun activity for kids.

The City offers many free social services to kids, such as The New York Public Library story time and craft activities, NYC Early Intervention and NYC Parks Foundation Learn-to-Play programs.

I dislike the lack of mandated paid maternity leave, the mere 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA (for which only 50% of workplaces qualify), and the lack of work/life balance. I worked up until the two public holidays before giving birth, and developed pregnancy-related hypertension as a result. The US economy functions under a strong capitalist paradigm, but being a primary caregiver for the vulnerable (infant, seniors, sick and special needs individuals) is a relationship that most of us experience. To deny this aspect is to deny the human aspect of communities. Business success and recognizing the whole person are not mutually exclusive.

Funniest NY moment?
When I was 9 months’ pregnant with my second son, my husband badly injured his leg. At Trader Joe’s, I suggested he use the courtesy ride-on scooter. My then 4 year old eagerly jumped on Daddy’s lap to “help” drive. Despite a few near misses with other shoppers, I found the whole thing hilarious and thought I would spontaneously go into labor in the pasta aisle.

If any of your children were born in NY do you have any advice for going through pregnancy/birth over here?
Both my kids were born in NY. Australian women in NY often lack personal support, so I recommend seeking out practical support to suit your circumstances and preferences.

Birth can be very medicalized in the US. However, NYC also offers more natural options for pregnancy and birth. I found a birth doula invaluable for constant support throughout labor and delivery.

La Leche League meetings were fantastic for breastfeeding support. Baby-wearing saved my sanity and was the easiest way to get around Manhattan.

If you also have a job, how do you and your partner juggle work and kids?
I’m currently on career pause. When I resume paid work, I plan to target specific projects, incorporating a reduced schedule, so that I can excel in both employer and family commitments.

Any words of wisdom for people moving to NY with kids?
Be sure to attend to your own self-care as a parent. You are moving to (arguably) the most sophisticated city in the world with the inevitable scarcity mindset thrust upon you. However, your kids will still be happiest in the playground or with a cardboard box and with parents who are healthy and happy. Less is more. Keep it simple.

What do you like about being part of AWNY?
It’s so inspiring to contribute my skills within such a motivated and intelligent group of women.  The diversity of individual talent is phenomenal, and the power of collaboration is evident in the high calibre of support that AWNY provides to the Australian community within NYC.