AWNY Mums: 2017 Year in Review

Written by Helen McWilliam

This is Amanda and my first year to coordinate the Mums and Dads branch of the Australian Women of New York group.  We have both thoroughly enjoyed the last year of planning events and meeting new and existing Aussie Mums and Dads in New York.

Blog posts
We began the year by asking the question “Is it okay not to love New York with kids?”.  We had such a great response to this article from Australians and readers of other nationalities. It seems like moving to any city is tough when you have young children!

We also gave you “survival” tips: surviving the subway with kids, Aussie Mum, Nakia Gordon’s tips for surviving the cold with children and also her advice for how to “survive” (enjoy) the festive season in New York with kids.

One of my personal challenges this year was to visit every playground in Central Park before it got too cold.  I’m happy to say that I achieved this!  I’ve written about my experiences which will be up on the blog in the new year to provide inspiration for when we actually feel like going outdoors again.

AWNY Mums 2017 Christmas Dinner

Most of the events this year were focused on getting Mums out of the house! Amanda and I tend to think that the kids have enough parties and fun things to attend but we couldn’t resist holding an Easter Egg Hunt. It was a hugely popular event with over 100 people attending and had representatives from all 5 boroughs! It will definitely become a yearly tradition.

We also organised a group booking to Women of Letters, which is one of my favourite things to do in New York and held summer drinks at Tavern on the Green.

We held dinners all over the city: Pio Pio in May was based in Hell’s Kitchen, Burke and Wills in October on the Upper West Side and our Christmas Party at Coarse NYC in the West Village. We’ve had some great events this year but I have to say Coarse NYC was the best food. We had a 6 course tasting menu with matching wines. My only complaint was that the wine pour was a bit generous for a Monday night. The school run was tough on Tuesday morning!

We have some interesting events in the pipeline for next year.  We hope you enjoy the holidays and we look forward to seeing you again in the New Year.

Maarten van den Heuvel @mvdheuvel Maarten van den Heuvel

Is it okay not to love New York City with kids?

By Helen McWilliam


What makes a person move to New York City? Bright lights, big city? For us, it was love at first sight ten years ago when we visited New York City. My now husband and I visited for 5 days and loved every second. We barely slept because we didn’t want to waste a moment. We were determined to return to live in New York one day. This dream took a back seat as we continued our every day life. We visited again for a few days as part of a longer holiday in the US. Again loving every second.

The opportunity came when I was about 3 months pregnant with our second child. We had made a happy life for ourselves in Sydney; new to us but it felt like home. As settled as we were, we didn’t feel like we could turn down the opportunity to move to New York, a city that we both loved. We negotiated for my husband to transfer 6 weeks after the baby was born. I would move to Queensland to live with my Mum whilst he moved to New York to set us up. I couldn’t wait to get to New York. I hated splitting up our family and my then 2.5 year old missed his father desperately.

I am pretty flexible and I find it easy to make conversations with strangers so I was looking forward to the challenge of forming a new network…but with a 12 week old baby? I didn’t think about how challenging that would be.

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Maternity Leave in the US Makes Me Want to Move Down Under

Written by Laura Forer

Peanut butter, Disneyland, better Netflix… yes, there are truly some great benefits to living in the US. But if you’ve ever had a baby here, or know someone who has had a baby here, then you know that one huge disadvantage is the lack of paid parental leave.

Nearly every country in the world—and all developed countries—offer some type of paid leave to new parents (always mothers, sometimes fathers). Except the US.

So I wrote this letter, which lists 13 statistics about how the US is behind and why it’s important to change, and I’m asking for your help:

  1. If you are registered to vote in the US, please send the letter at to your representatives. It takes just a few seconds.
  2. SHARE, SHARE, SHARE. So far this letter has been sent from hundreds of people in 35 states. Let’s make it thousands of people from all of the states.

Of all the issues, why am I championing this one? Because it affects literally every person. Because babies need their parents, parents need their babies, and when paid leave is done properly it actually saves employers money and creates a healthier nation.

Right now paid leave in the US is not done properly. It’s true that some lucky people get paid time off because they work for a generous employer. Google, Facebook, Adobe, and the aforementioned Netflix are just a few of the large tech companies footing the bill. But most workers do not enjoy this benefit. It’s very common for expectant moms to save up all their sick and vacation days to allow them an extra couple weeks to be with their child once their six weeks of disability pay expires.

This means that many new parents in the US have to choose between staying with newborn babies or going back to work. And too often, this decision isn’t made in a matter of months—situations become desperate in a matter or weeks, or even days. 30% of women in the US do not even take maternity leave.

But one thing moms do well is help each other. And we can change this. To learn more about how paid parental leave helps babies, parents, and yes, even employers, check out this letter and then spread the word.


About the Author

Laura Forer is an American who lived in Australia during university and fell in love with antipodean culture. When she moved back to New York, she founded Waltzing Matilda’s Bakery to share her passion for Aussie sweets and treats. Now closed, she currently works in content marketing and, after the birth of her first child, has become an advocate for changing maternity leave laws in the US. Connect with Laura at