How to Survive the Subway With Kids

 

By Helen McWilliam

I had lived in New York for 18 months before I ventured onto the subway with my two children. I had no trouble catching it by myself, but for some reason I was terrified of travelling on it with both my children. Once I began taking them on the subway, I realised how much more it opens up the city to me on weekdays. To be honest, it is occasionally a very average experience, but it is worth it to get away from my regular four blocks, which contain the park, school, and grocery store. My children love the adventure, too. So here’s my 5-point plan for surviving the subway with children.

#1 – Hand sanitiser

Make sure you have litres of the stuff. One touch of the slimy poles and you’ll regret not having any. It can also buy you time until you can wash the children’s hands properly in a sink post-subway. Despite my best efforts, my children tend to touch every part of the subway car: poles, seat and even sometimes the floor. Touching a handrail on the New York Subway system is like shaking hands with 10,000 people. Children are germy enough without adding more into the mix! I also strip the children once we get home and wash (burn) their clothes.

#2 – Plan your journey

If it’s your first time on the subway, allow yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. As I am rarely without a stroller, I like to plan my journey based on where the elevators are. I use the ‘Subway: NYC’ app, which indicates the stations that have disabled access. Even if there is no elevator at your destination, you can at least prepare yourself for having to bump the stroller up or down the stairs. Or prepare to smile sweetly at passersby until someone offers to help.

asubway

#3 – Be prepared for angry people

People catching the subway are going to jobs they don’t like, appointments with people they don’t like, doing the school run, running late etc. During the week, travel on the subway is rarely a fun occasion. My rule of thumb is to keep out of the way, smile widely and apologise as much as possible. Fellow travellers are generally not angry with you, just at the world in general, so don’t take it personally!

#4 – Take no prisoners

Stand up for yourself. You need to get on that train and there’s always room. It is a lot more difficult when you have a stroller, but if six people can mash in just as the doors are closing, there was room for your stroller.

#5 – Bribery works

What I would consider the most important thing to take on your journey are bribes. Find something that will keep your children quiet or entertained for the journey. My two are generally happy on the way there but tired and cranky on the journey home. What works for me are apples – they take ages to eat, and lollipops – totally worth the sugar high if it keeps them quiet. In desperate circumstances, my smart phone helps! Timing the return journey with my younger child’s naps also helps so I only have the elder one to worry about who is more easily entertained. I’ve tried toys, however they largely get dropped, lost, or forgotten about early on. It is just more to wash (burn) when we get home.

Finally, I have no advice on how to avoid the horrible smells in the elevators. I’ve no idea how people find the time to use it as a bathroom but just hold your breath and advise your children to do the same.

Happy travelling!

Helen was born in South Africa, grew up in Brisbane, but calls Sydney home.  She is a social worker who is currently a stay-at-home mum to her two boys in the ‘burbs’ of Manhattan, the Upper West Side.

The Best New Aussie Restaurants in NYC

There’s a thriving Australian community in New York—and nowhere is it more apparent than the city’s dining scene. Want a good coffee? Find an Aussie café like Blue Stone Lane and you’re golden. Brunch? Antipodeans conquered it with avocado toast and flat whites—now on every breakfast menu. And while we’ll be forever loyal to stalwarts like Ruby’s and Flinders Lane, which did a bang-up job introducing New Yorkers to our culinary prowess (Outback Steakhouse is not Australian, people!), there’s a new bunch of Aussie-owned hotspots receiving rave reviews.

Here are some great places to check out:

BANTER
GREENWICH VILLAGE169 Sullivan St
This very good-looking newcomer originally opened as a café, but now offers a full dinner menu. Owned by two Aussies who met while working at iconic NYC café, Two Hands, there are plenty of healthy options, and the requisite avocado toast. Fun fact: a very well-known Condé Nast personality lives nearby, so you might get a celebrity spotting on the side.

Your favorite brunch spot is now open for DINNER! Full menu online at http://www.banternyc.com/bantermenu CRISPY SHRIMP SKEWERS 🤤

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THE FLOWER SHOP
LOWER EAST SIDE – 107 Eldridge St
It’s been variously described as looking like a 1970s living room, a grandma’s basement, and “a ‘Cheers’-type place”—so you know it’s gonna be great. The Flower Shop, owned by two Aussie expats and their American business partner, has a restaurant upstairs with a bar/lounge/pub hybrid downstairs. (And Tony Hawk—yes, that Tony Hawk—is an investor).

The table is set…. we are open for dinner from 5pm 🍽 visit the website for reservations (in bio) #seasonalspecials 🍷

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CHINESE TUXEDO
CHINATOWN – 5 Doyers St
Another Chinese restaurant in Chinatown? Yes, but this one is special. Opened in November 2016 and housed in a two-story former opera house, the restaurant focuses on contemporary Asian cuisine, with an Australian influence (it’s co-owned by expat restaurateur Eddy Buckingham, and the head chef used to work at Sydney eatery Ms. G’s).

Little small plates of heaven, from our new Fall menu dropping tomorrow! #tuxedoplates

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COCO & CRU
NOHO – 643 Broadway
You’ll recognize the kind of fresh and healthy fare we’re used to back home. And you’ll feel even more at home with the cheeky Vegemites-as-décor. The light-filled cafe has a fantastic casual menu, with an Aussie-inspired burger or two, and is open til 9pm every night. Look out for the “Made in USA With Aus Parts” sign.

A New York Newbie on Her First AWNY Event

By Felicity James

It was a sparkling June day in the Big Apple. Despite early morning storms casting a potential shadow over the afternoon, the beating rays of the summer sun refused to be vanquished. By midday the skies were crystal clear, the temperatures were balmy and the summer vibes were circulating once more… perfect conditions for a picnic in Central Park. And this was no ordinary picnic—it was the annual picnic organized by the Australian Women in New York group!

I had chanced upon the AWNY Facebook page only a couple of days earlier, in my quest to find a group of Antipodeans in my new home away from home, New York. Note the word ‘new’. I mean, I was proper new. Green. Fresh off the plane. I’d landed at JFK only a week prior to this gathering, and I was keen to make at least a couple of acquaintances with fellow country ladies. Lucky for me, their annual summer picnic was set for my first weekend in New York.

Armed with sunblock and Google maps, I navigated my way from Brooklyn to the Great Lawn. Upon arrival, I quickly realized that the storms had not deterred the home crowds—quite the opposite in fact. The greens were teaming with families, couples, groups of friends, toddlers, cyclists, joggers, sunbathers, salsa dancers—and that was only on the south end. I scanned the area, wondering how on earth I was going to identify a group of women I had never met, and who had never met me! Then, my ears suddenly pricked up. ‘Howzit goin?!’ I heard a female voice proclaim to another. A sense of warm familiarity washed over me! There was no mistaking the lilt of the Australian accent. The comforting tone, the rising inflection, not to mention the vernacular that only a fellow Down Under citizen would immediately comprehend.

My eyes finally caught up with my ears, and a couple of Australian flags and a blow-up kangaroo entered (bounced, rather) into my line of sight. Bingo! I wandered over to the group and introduced myself…
picnic1
And what a beautifully warm welcome I received. Which is not surprising in the slightest—these are Aussies we are talking about here! Immediately I was invited to join them on one of the many picnic rugs laid out, each adorned with a variety of home-grown lollies (Coles bananas, anyone?), wine, beer and the like. The group was made up of around 40-odd people, with an even mix of families, couples and solo attendees like myself. There was face painting, a piñata, a raffle, even a TV journalist was darting around, collecting vox pops and filming the event (check it out here).

It was a two-hour affair, but by the end of the afternoon it felt like I had known these women for so much longer. Each person I chatted to had their own unique story of how they came to live in one of the greatest cities in the United States. As a newbie to New York, this was a wonderful experience to be in the presence of females who had built their lives not only in a brand new city but on a completely different continent, and to discover how they came to call New York their home. I returned from the picnic not only with a packet of banana lollies and some lovely connections, but with the knowledge that no matter where you are in the world, the Australian welcome and friendliness is unequivocal.
picnic2

(AWNY would like to thank Carmen Cavallaro and Nakia Gordon of the AWNY Events and Mums and Dads teams, and our sponsors: Noni Balian from InStitchu and Jacinta Stewart from Art by Jacinta for their help with our annual Picnic in Central Park!)

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AWNY Mums and Dads Update, July 2017

Summer has finally has come to the city, and we celebrated with two outdoor events—the AWNY Mums’ Summer in the City drinks and the AWNY Picnic in the Park.

The AWNY Mums’ drinks at Tavern on the Green enjoyed beautiful weather. It was just so nice to be outside. We had a good attendance of about 10 mums, along with some dads. Tavern on the Green is a great summer venue—a little pricey but it has good food and lots of space for children!

We were anxiously watching the forecast in the days ahead of the AWNY Annual Picnic. Will it rain? Will it thunder? Neither Amanda or I could attend the picnic, but we’re told the weather was amazing and the kids enjoyed face painting, bubbles and a piñata.

I also wanted to share the best thing I learnt about this month: the Give Back Box. Something I have been missing since we left Australia is charity clothes bins. I have missed being able to put all my clothes for donation in the back of the car, drive them to the local supermarket and put them in the charity bins. Job done. The clothes my sons have grown out of have been piling up for the two years we have lived here (I am in no way saving them for a third child….this mum is done!). But then a friend told me about Give Back Box. The idea is that you recycle the many Amazon boxes you receive by packing them with good quality secondhand clothes, printing out a label, and booking a pick-up or taking them to your local post office. So easy! I am now on my third box and the clothes stockpile is nearly gone. There are probably a million other ways to donate clothes in the city but this is the best one I have found so far so I wanted to share!

AWNY Mums and Dads will be a little quiet over the summer with most families coming and going for the school holidays. Our next event will be a Mums’ dinner coming up at the end of August. Our current plan is Sunday night dinner at Burke and Wills, with a trip upstairs afterwards to the Manhattan Cricketers Club for an aperitif. Should be a fun evening!

Hope you’re all enjoying the summer! Stay cool!
Helen and Amanda