AWNY Mums and Dads Update, September 2017

 

By Helen McWilliam

Last Days of Summer

And just like that, summer is over.  When I returned to New York for the start of the school year, it made me realise how important respite is when you live in such a big city. We take the beach and trees for granted in Australia.  I had a wake up call when my four year old was terrified of a fly. Don’t get me started on our trip to the Butterfly Conservatory at the American Natural History Museum—sheer terror! It was definitely time to get out of the city. Now we’re glad to be back and ready for the school year. Over the last few months, I found a few things that I thought were worth sharing:

Crybaby Matinees

I wish I’d known about this when we first moved here. There are parent and newborn baby screenings at cinemas here in New York, called ‘Crybaby Matinees’.  I used to attend them regularly in Sydney with my firstborn. I loved them because everyone’s baby is crying so it doesn’t matter if yours is too! Wednesdays at 11am at the E86th Street City Cinema is one location I am aware of however I am sure there are screenings in cinemas across New York. Definitely worth looking out for if you have a small baby.

53rd St Library Movies…

Another thing I wanted to share was a great children’s space I came across during the holidays—the 53rd Street Library, which has been open for just over a year in Midtown and is across the road from MOMA.  I came to know about it as I attended a free movie screening with my children. With a library card, the library provides you with a listening jack/headphones and you are welcome to bring food. It was a great and free way to see a movie with children.  

…and Kids’ Room

My two year old got tired of listening after a while so I took him downstairs to the children’s room, which is an enclosed space, so you can sit down and watch your children explore the room.  The children’s room also had Lego, toys and of course many books, as well as staff on hand.  They also had change tables and it just felt very child friendly.  In addition to the movie screenings, there are also numerous story times, coloring clubs, Spanish lessons and even a children’s improv hour.  See their website for more details.

Coming Attractions for Aussie Mums and Dads in New York

Finally, as the kids are back at school, Amanda and I have more time to ourselves so we are back to organising events!  The next one is a beauty and will be on October 22 at Burke and Wills for their $30 Sunday supper special. Please check out the event up on the Australian Mums and Dads in New York Facebook group.  We have a few more events planned over the next few months so please watch this space.

Helen and Amanda

AWNY Mums and Dads Update, August 2017

Written by Helen McWilliam

It’s been pretty quiet on the Mums and Dads front this month, so I thought I would report on my progress with visiting all the Central Park playgrounds before it gets too cold. To date, I have visited 13 out of 21, six since I started the challenge. It all gets a bit tricky from 14 on as the playgrounds are not as easy to access by subway, but I am committed!

Here’s a run down of the six I have visited since starting the challenge:

Diana Ross (West 81st St and Central Park West)
I’m not sure if Diana Ross is aware, but her namesake playground is in quite a state of disrepair. It felt quite unsafe for my two- and four-year-old. A section of the playground had been blocked off with signage stating it was unsafe. I personally won’t revisit this playground until it has been completely upgraded. It’s such a shame, because it is well shaded and in an easy to access area of Central Park.

West 110th Street Playground
This is a perfect playground for pre-schoolers. Well shaded, with a range of activities for different levels of ability.  It’s easy to access by public transport (no lift at either 110th St stations), but there was no close access to public toilets. As an additional positive, no school or camp groups visited whilst we were there.

East 110th Street Playground
What makes this a great playground option is that it is just above the Harlem Weir. It’s worth the trip to visit a very beautiful part of Central Park. The playground was easy to access via public transport (again, no lift at the subway station), but a negative was that it was very busy with school and camp groups. There was plenty of equipment to climb on, however they were a little challenging for pre-schoolers who, like my children, assume they have far greater abilities. Additionally, there was open access to the swings, which can be a little hairy at times with the aforementioned pre-schoolers. I would recommend this playground for ages 5 and above. Another plus for this playground was that it was very close public toilets.

Tarr Family Playground (West 100th St and Central Park West)
Full sun. This playground was hot. It’s a shame because it was a relatively quiet playground with a range of activities for different ages, with plenty of space to run around.  The sprinklers were good fun but it again had no nearby public toilets.  It was quite a hike from the subway, too.

Rudin Family Playground (West 97th St and Central Park West)
Beautifully shaded, but definitely more for younger children.  My 4-year-old appeared bored at this one, while my 2-year-old thought it was amazing.  I did too for the shade. A few school groups came through, but it wasn’t overwhelming.  As with the Tarr Family Playground, there is no access to public toilets and it’s quite a walk from the subway.

James Michael Levin Playground (East 76th St and Fifth Ave)
This was a very small but popular playground, with some sprinklers.  My two children enjoyed playing here, but there wasn’t much play equipment and I don’t think all of the sprinklers were working.  Nice large space though with some shade.  I can’t advise on access from public transport as I walked, but, again, there was no access to public toilets.

Still eight more playgrounds to go.  I could be cutting it close before school starts but I should definitely be able to get it done before it gets too cold.

We’d love to hear what you think about the playgrounds in Central Park, so please contact us through our Facebook page or email AWNY.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and Amanda and I will be back with more events planned for the fall.

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

 

 

 

AWNY Mums and Dads update, June 2017

Written by Helen McWilliam

May was a quieter month for the AWNY Mums and Dads group after a very busy April.  The warmer weather has been very welcome and my children are loving the more regular sight of sprinklers in the playgrounds.

This month, Amanda and I wanted to include a shout out to the Dads of this group.  The events we’ve organised so far have been focused on the Mums.  We’d love some input from the Dads to see if you’d like our help to organize a Dad’s meet-up, arrange a Saturday playgroup or something else entirely.  Please contact us through our Facebook page or email AWNY. We’d love to hear from you.

With the school holidays rapidly approaching, I wanted to share a day trip idea.  As I have recently overcome my fear of travelling on the subway alone with two children, I am finally leaving the Upper West Side.  Well, if I’m honest there’s still fear, I can just do it without hyperventilating and shouting! The New York Hall of Science in Queens is worth the long subway ride.  I have a 4.5 year old and nearly 2 year old and they were both transfixed for hours.  It would also be suitable for much older children as my two missed a lot of the meaning behind many of the exhibits. All the exhibits were engaging and hands on, however the ‘Connected Worlds’ installation was a must see. There’s also plenty of staff on hand to help the children get the most out of the museum. It can get a bit hectic with school groups but there’s a preschool area where groups aren’t allowed and we were advised that the groups tend to leave at 12-1pm. A few helpful pointers:

1. There’s no lift for strollers at 111th street Subway Station in Queens however, however I found I only had to look towards the stairs and people were offering me help.

2. The café was pretty basic so I would advise bringing your own food.

3. In what I would consider a big win, the shop was easily avoided!

Some up coming AWNY events to highlight: the ‘Working In the USA’ information session presented by Belinda Jackson is on the 14th of June.  It provides expert advice for Aussie job seekers.  Plus, the annual AWNY picnic is one for the whole family on the 24th of June in Central Park.

Photo credit: Helen McWilliams

Enjoy your June and the last few precious weeks of school before the endless school holidays!

 

May Mums and Dads Update

Written by Helen McWilliam

It was a BIG month for the AWNY Mums and Dads group. Our inaugural Easter Egg hunt was a great success. The hunt was attended by over 100 adults and children with all boroughs of New York represented; yes including Staten Island! The Dads hid the eggs whilst the Mums occupied the children in a nearby playground. Everyone who attended was very generous and we found even the youngest children managed to collect a full basket of eggs. We received a lot of positive feed back during the day and in the days following. It will surely become a yearly tradition!

Easter copy

Our first Mums outing of the year was also a huge success. We branched out from the Upper West Side to the Peruvian restaurant, Poi Poi in Hell’s Kitchen. Mums from all over New York came to enjoy delicious and abundant food. There was so much food; we all got a takeaway container to take home afterwards! It was such a fun evening with lots of laughs and easy conversation.

Mums dinner copy

Finally, we asked the question through the AWNY blog, is it okay not to love New York City with kids. The article received such an overwhelming response because it resonated with a lot of people who live in this and other big cities with young children. The response also reminded us having small children anywhere is seriously hard work!

We have a lot planned for the rest of the year. Next up ‘Welcome to Summer Drinks!’

Easter family copy