AWNY Mums and Dads Update, November 2017

By Helen McWilliam

I have a few things for you this month: my tips on how to cope with being stuck inside for days on end with sick kids, a recap of our Women of Letters Event and some details about our last event for the year, the upcoming AWNY Mums’ Christmas Dinner.

I’ve been at the doctor’s office weekly, sometimes twice weekly for the last four weeks.  My kids and I have had colds on and off since school started in September. With nearly 5 years’ practice, I feel like I have become skilled at entertaining sick toddlers as well as keeping myself sane.  So here are my top tips!

  1. Preplanning: Since my eldest was about 6 months old, I’ve always put away a box of rainy day toys, usually the really noisy ones that drive you nuts but your children love.  It means you can sit and have a cup of tea or get something done whilst they play with the “new” toys.
  2. Baking: It can make such a mess, especially the flour but it takes a lot of time to measure, mix, bake and eat.  It also helps that my two children love vacuuming!
  3. Books for ideas: I’ve read a few different ones but the best book I have found is  “150 Screen Free Activities for Kids”.  It is full of ideas that keep children entertained for a decent period of time and I can generally find the ingredients for the more popular slimes in the house.
  4. Facetime: The time difference is perfect at the moment for a chat with the grandparents in the afternoons.  It keeps all three of us occupied for at least an hour.  It is so nice to have an adult conversation as well!
  5. Fresh air: I also scope out quiet parks/play spaces for outside time when they start to feel better but are not quite ready for general population.  Our favourites are the DeWitt Clinton Park on 53rd and West End as well as the train near the river in Riverside Park South at about 61st.

Although sickness does lead to more time at home, it is a fantastic time of the year to be out and about in the city.  For festive tips, have a read of a recent post by AWNY Mum, Nakia Gordon on enjoying the festive spirit with children.

Women of Letters
Our event for November was a group visit to “Women of Letters” at the City Winery.  Women of Letters is a monthly literary salon which aims to revive the lost art of letter writing.  I have to admit to being an addict and haven’t missed a show in the two years since I have lived in New York City.  We had a great turn out of Aussies and enjoyed some inspiring letters on the theme of a “Letter to my Creation”.  The next Women of Letters is in January 2018, check the City Winery website for more details.


AWNY  Mums’ Christmas Party
Finally this month, Amanda has found us an amazing deal at new Restaurant Coarse NYC in the West Village. For $49 (plus tax and tips) we will be treated to a 3-4 course meal with wine pairings!   RSVP via the event on the Mums and Dads Facebook page or by emailing AWNY.

Enjoy all that the silly season has to offer and we hope to see you at the Christmas party!

Helen and Amanda

Event: Women of Letters NYC

Women of Letters is everyone’s favorite literary salon!

What is Women of Letters NYC?

Each month, host Sofija Stefanovic introduces a lineup of six women, from various walks of life.  The most interesting and acclaimed writers, musicians, actors, comedians and politicians appear together on stage, in an intimate setting, with the purpose of celebrating female talent and the lost art of letter-writing.  The shows are funny and sad, and never recorded or filmed – part of the magic is that they exist in the moment, and the events are a safe story-telling space.

Women of Letters veterans include: Molly Ringwald, Jean Grae, Kathleen Turner, Margo Jefferson, Martha Wainwright, Aparna Nancherla, Siri Hustvedt, Edie Falco, Elaine Welteroth, Susan Orlean, Emma Straub, Alexis Okeowo, Sonia Manzano, Eileen Myles, Suki Kim, Tavi Gevinson, Yael Stone, Amber Tamblyn and many more.

This Month’s Theme:

“A LETTER TO MY CREATION” is hosted by special guest, Angela Ledgerwood (of the Lit Up podcast) and features, together on stage for the first time ever:

  • Esteemed writer of essays, fiction and humour, KASHANA CAULEY
  • Eminent storyteller and author of Burn Down the Ground, KAMBRI CREWS
  • Award-winning poet, actress and playwright, DAEL ORLANDERSMITH
  • Beloved cult comedian and chanteuse, LADY RIZO
  • Legendary singer, songwriter, performer, author and actress, SUZZY ROCHE
  • Acclaimed author of “The Interestings”, MEG WOLITZER

Event Details:

Date: Wednesday, November 29th.
Time: Doors open at 6 pm for an 8 pm start
Location: City Winery, 155 Varick Street, New York.
Tickets: Purchase your tickets through City Winery. Women of Letters is a very popular event and regularly sells out so please get your tickets soon if you’d like to come along. Ticket prices range from $20 – $40
Promo Code: Use the PROMO code AWNY at the checkout and receive a $5 discount.

Join the Aussie Contingent:

There’s an Aussie contingent sitting in seats 270-276 so sit nearby if you are coming along. Please feel free to contact Amanda and Helen, through the Australian Mums and Dads in New York Group, to arrange to meet up.

Stick around afterwards as we have been invited to grab a drink with the organisers and letter writers of the night!

Faces of AWNY: Georgia Clark

Author Georgia Clark shares gives us a peek into her life and experiences in New York.

Tell us about yourself and why you moved to NYC?

I moved to NYC because I fell in love with the city and felt like I needed a big, exciting, scary change to kick-start my life. I was 29, single, hungry, restless and had lived in Sydney since starting uni. I wanted an adventure: and I got it.

Where are you from? How long have you been here?

I went to school at Gosford High School on the Central Coast, having grown up in Hornsby Heights and then moving to North Sydney when I was in Year 10 (so yes, it was a 2 hour commute to school every day!). I’ve been in NYC for 7.5 years.

Favorite NYC brunch spot

Dead heat between Five Leaves in Greenpoint and Diner in South Williamsburg.

Favorite NYC cocktail spot & cocktail of choice

I love some sort of spicy/sweet jalapeño margarita (like the Firewalker at Nitehawk cinema: amazing!). My girlfriend and I like getting the happy hour wine and a little cheese at Miusa, which is a cute little place close to our home.

How did you get into your job in NYC?

My current job is being an author, and I got that because my agent and I sold my first adult fiction novel, The Regulars, to Simon & Schuster in January 2015. I’m very lucky, but I also worked damn hard, unpaid, for years to get there! [Ed’s note: Georgia spoke about just how hard she worked at our recent event, Australian Writers in New York.]

What do you like about being part of AWNY?

I love being connected to so many smart, hard-working, curious Australian women. When the tide rises, all boats float.

What was your biggest win recently?

The Regulars launched in the UK on August 11, 2016, and we got some wonderful press. We got a great rave in the Sunday Mirror, Grazia published a two-page article, In-Style published a piece I wrote on how to write your first book, and Look called the book “Mean Girls with magic”, which is simply the best.

What’s the biggest challenge or road block you’ve been faced with since being in NYC and how do you overcome it?

I couldn’t get work for a long time and I was very broke. I foolishly thought that having a good resume and solid experience in Australia would translate well in America: it does not. I could’ve tried to get full-time work but I knew if I did that I’d never have the time to write and that was my priority. I subsisted on piecemeal writing work, like writing daily deal type copy for sites like Living Social and living on vegetable soup (Every. Single. Day) until I finally got a good freelance gig, and was able to get on top of debt and have a decent standard of living. But it was a long, tough road to that.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about living/working in NYC?

Persistence is key. It is all about who you know. It takes about 5 years to truly settle and put down real roots here, so be patient, if you’re serious about making a life here. Get a proper winter jacket.

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Faces of AWNY: Katherine Bruce, AWNY Mums & Bubs Coordinator

I moved to New York with my husband Matt and our daughter Emily, who was eight months old at the time, nearly two years ago. It’s been a busy two years, with lots of highs – including the birth of our second daughter, Sophie, last Memorial Day – and some lows – hello, two of the worst NY winters on record!?!! As much as I’m looking forward to being back in Sydney with family, friends and an easier lifestyle for kids, I know there is so much I will miss about New York. In particular, the friends I’ve made through the Australian Women in New York group and the wonderful, supportive mums in our Mums & Bubs group.

So as I farewell this brilliant city, here are my top tips for making the most of NYC as a stay at home Mum with young babies.

Online Shopping

This is something I’m really going to miss as I order pretty much everything online! Groceries: FreshDirect for next day delivery, Instacart for delivery within 1-2hrs; for anything baby related, it usually arrives the next day; Bed Bath & Beyond will deliver anything in store within hours for a small fee; Gap, H&M, Zara for kids clothes, and all the high street department stores. So much easier than battling the busy streets of NYC with a double stroller!

Get out of New York

One of the most memorable trips we’ve done during our time in NY was a holiday in France to celebrate my 40th. We listed our apartment on Home Exchange and were inundated with offers from all over the world to swap homes. We ended up swapping with a family in Paris, who had a beautiful apartment in the 9th arrondissement. So easy with kids, huge saving on accommodation and they gave us lots of local knowledge on where to eat, parks for the kids etc.

Paris apt

View from our apartment in Paris.

We also joined Zipcar and took weekend and day trips out of NYC. There are so many beautiful towns within 1-2hrs drive of the city and Zipcar makes it easy and affordable.

Meet other Australian Mums

Every mother needs her support network and more than ever when living on the other side of the world. I met so many wonderful women through the Australian Women in New York Mums & Bubs group, including some very close friends who I will miss dearly. We have a fantastic Facebook community of Australian/Kiwi Mums in NYC who are always very generous with their advice and support for women in NYC or making the move over here.

Take Time to Chill

Finding a Sunday night restorative yoga class at Upper West Side Yoga has been my sanctuary from the noise of NYC and the intensity of looking after two small children 24/7. I look forward to this class all week!

Leave the Neighborhood

As much as I love the buzz of downtown NYC, there are fewer strollers and elevators, and more people so I usually keep to the Upper West Side during peak hours. I tend to save venturing downtown with the kids for early weekend mornings when most people without kids are still asleep or at the gym. One of our favorite things to do on a weekend morning when the weather warms up, is an early breakfast at The Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District, followed by a walk along the Highline before it gets busy. The restaurant has lots of outdoor seating and it’s always easy to get a table at 8.30/9am.


I’ve been to Women of Letters at Joe’s Pub every month since it started and this is also something I really look forward to. They bring together an eclectic group of writers, actors, musicians, and comedians, and ask them to write a letter on a theme and read it to the audience. Most of the letters are deeply personal and hilarious/heartbreaking. A highlight was seeing 80s icon Molly Ringwald!

Central Park

One of the best things about this city is Central Park. Living on the Upper West Side, it’s a short 10-15min walk from home and we spend most weekends there, outside of January-March. There are 21 playgrounds inside Central Park and I think we’ve been to pretty much all of them! So much fun for kids in the summer when they have the sprinklers on.

Date Night

So many incredible restaurants in New York… some of my favorites include Han Dynasty, Balthazar, Commerce, Gramercy Tavern, Morandi, and Meme.