Thursday, March 6, 2014

American Mama: Brooklyn, NY

Family member names:
Kate, Josh, Charlie Mae (age 4) and Ruby (16 months)

Location: Brooklyn, NY
3.5 years in Brooklyn but 12 years in NYC

Occupation(s): Kate is a part time program manager for Scholarship Plus (a college scholarship program) and stay at home mama, and Josh is a Chef.

Charlie Mae, Kate, and Ruby in Brooklyn, NY.

If you could choose 3 characteristics/adjectives for how you’d like your kids to “turn out”, what would they be?  
Sounds so cliche but really just happy.  Doing what they love, open minded and giving would also be great.

Do you (and your spouse) subscribe to a particular parenting system?
Nah. Its mostly survival- Ha. We take bits and pieces from things we have read.  We also had some great parents as role models. I do like the books by Louise Bates Ames.  The books are from the 70’s and have a simple, relaxed approach to parenting.. She has a small and manageable book for each age.  I love that she often advises using humor to handle certain battles.

What is your main form of transportation?
We walk a lot.  The stroller is my best friend. It’s my car, my shopping cart, laundry cart, christmas tree lugger, etc.  We also use the bus and subway too. We also recently got a car and we do use that some.

How is education (public or private) set-up in your specific area? What is the norm? What have you chosen for your kids?
NYC has so many options for schools.  Our oldest daughter has been attending a CO OP preschool. It’s parent run and teacher led school. It’s a sweet little school and has been great for her.  The COOP model keeps you involved but also keeps the price down because the parents take on some of the administrative work. etc.  Our kids will be attending a public school after preschool. We are navigating that now because Charlie starts kindergarten in the fall. It’s tough. There are a lot of great public schools and a lot of student’s vying for those spots.  Fingers crossed.

Does your family have any unique sleeping situations or needs?
We recently moved and our girls have their own rooms which has been huge for us.  The sharing a room thing was tricky for us. We never got to the “oh they will sleep through each others noises” phase that I heard about from others.  For a few months we had the four year old curled up in a pack in play in our room- I could probably be reported for that.

What general food choices do you make for your family?
We try and eat healthy and organic as much as possible. But that doesn’t mean i don't turn to boxed pizza or mac and cheese every once and a while. I mostly eat vegetarian so that is what I cook during the week for us. My husband is an amazing chef and will spoil us often on the weekends. Our kids are great eaters (knock on wood). I don't know what I can attribute that too. We did do baby lead weaning with them.  They didn’t really do baby food and just started right in on “real food”. I think this helped them get used different flavors and textures that you may not get in baby food. We also don’t  do a kids meal and a grownup meal. There is one meal at our house- I am far too lazy to do two.

We all want our kids to be “good”.  What does that mean to you and how do you achieve this goal?
I struggle with this one. I recently read an article about how using the term “be a good girl” can be more harmful than helpful.  Of course I want my kids to be polite and kind and when they kick and hit each other that isn't “good.”  And believe me, I find myself saying ALL the time, “ be good.” I am working on saying what I need her to do rather than using the word “good”- because what does that really mean to a 1 year old and a 4 year old? And then there is that whole thing about showing them through our actions- that’s a tough one too :)

The whole family! (If only there was space to post the whole series of these shots…taking pictures with kids is hilarious. And tough.)

On a typical weekend, how do you spend your time?
In the warmer weather we are out at the park all day long or hitting up a food fair.  The winter is trickier.  We will have lazy movie days or go to the children's museum. My four year old is very into baking, so we usually do that. Family dinner is also always a goal because my husband is usually not around for dinner during the week.

Anything else that is unique to raising kids in your area?
I never really thought I’d stay in New York and raise a family. I grew up in the midwest and built forts in my backyard. I have to say I love what the city gives to my children. The culture, diversity and opportunity that NYC has is really unbeatable. I think the biggest difference for me versus my friends not in the city is not living in a car culture.  Some things are easier- I love having anything I need for the most part with in a 5 block walking distance (deli, grocery, pharmacy, hardware, chinese food at 2am - you name it). Laundry has always be the vain of my existence, we’d lug our laundry to a nearby laundromat or occasionally send it out to me done.. spending way too much money on either option. We just got a washer and dryer in our place and its been life transforming!  Also, stocking up on items isn't easy. You don't have the space and lugging a 24 pack of paper towels gets tricky with two kids. Amazon subscribe and save has become my best friend for diapers and wipes and household essentials.

Thank you, Kate and family!  I'll be checking out the books you recommended for parenting toddlers asap!  Any questions for Kate? Ask them in our comments below!

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