NYC Parenting: Finding the Right Preschool for Your Child

This post is sponsored by KinderCareThanks for supporting Baby Meets City!

Of all the challenges of NYC parenting (and there are plenty to choose from), deciding on your child's first preschool experience is near the top of the list. Not to start on a downer, as we all know there are countless benefits to raising a child in the city, but making that decision is a challenge. It just is.

Once you've come to grips with that realization, though, I'd suggest you quickly move on! Like anywhere, weighing the pros and cons of your options, based on where you live, school reputations, accreditation and affordability will all come in to play (we'll get into more of that in a moment). In our particular situation, with both girls, we employed a nanny from the time they were 3 months old and I returned to work. When it was time for preschool, I connected with fellow moms in my neighborhood of northern Manhattan who had started a small Waldorf preschool. It was the right fit for us, a sweet half day program, and my nanny was able to pick them up after school and care for them until we returned home.

Searching for preschool options from atop the Empire State Building
BUT - the process wasn't without its challenges. Millie actually started first in a home-based preschool, and I would have to leave her there screaming and crying each morning. It was terrible, and my feelings of "mom guilt" were almost unbearable. Luckily, we found our happy preschool ending, but I'm here to say, I speak about the struggle of finding the perfect fit for your child with experience.

As a result, I wanted to pass along a list of preschool thought points from KinderCare, a new daycare and preschool option for NYC families. Their suggestions come from experience, having been in the business of early education and daycare for over 40 years. I wanted to share a few of my favorite suggestions from their list, and here's one I'm adding myself: breathe, parents, breathe.

First, location, location, location. Do yourself a favor and pick a preschool that's within walking distance or easy commuting with your child. It's one thing to think about it on a gorgeous, sunny day -- but remember the LONG winter months ahead and the drudgery of snow and rain (it's bad enough solo, but walking with a todder in that mess... agh!)

Also, when you go out on preschool tours, look out for the basics -- cleanliness, safety measures, the school's nutrition program. Is the school accredited? Equally important, look for what you can't find in a brochure -- the heart and passion of the school's instructors when you talk to them. I wish I had spent a little more time on this last part in that nightmare experience I mentioned in the beginning.

I love that KinderCare encourages parents to go beyond the brochure when looking at preschools, welcomes questions and implores families to think about what's most important to them in finding an enriching experience for a child's first introduction to school. This journey of parenthood won't always be perfect or Instagram-worthy; it's by turns bumpy and stressful, tiring and hilarious, but KinderCare aims to make the crucial step of finding the right preschool for your child as smooth as possible. And for that, we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

Good luck in your preschool search! If you choose to include KinderCare in your preschool search, click HERE for a list of their locations in NYC.


Thinking Ahead... A Back-to-School Preview with Justice

This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx on behalf of Justice

So, I fully realize we just got OUT of school for summer, and no one really wants to be thinking about back-to-school at this point in time. But bear with me for a moment, as this post is two-fold. With an almost 9 year old in the house, sufficed to say, ideas about fashion and what to wear are changing. While Millie is still pretty open to my suggestions, she's begun to have more of an opinion on what styles and colors she likes and what feels comfortable to her. As right she should... I just have to get used to it.

Enter Justice, a brand that specializes in tapping in to everything tween girls love -- color, comfort, cool sayings and yes, sequins and sparkle. Honestly just looking at the website gets me in to the mood for summer fun. Example A: my little dog lover is obsessed with this silly t-shirt from their tops for girls section:

And while it's a destination for girls looking for all of the above, parents can't argue with the affordable prices, especially considering how lightening fast our kids are growing. But back-to-school talk for a hot second. I had no idea Justice also has a line of girls backpacks & school accessories, too! Love this "fearless" motto, as well as the ability to personalize accessories:

We're both loving these choices, and of course, the shimmery flip sequins of this back pack, lunch box and change purse, which are ALL THE RAGE these days. But aside from style, Justice backpacks have padded straps, plenty of pockets (side pockets are great for storing a water bottle), loads of room inside and the ability to match it all up with a lunch tote and accessories. That pom pom is pretty cute, too!

Keep Justice in mind for your tween (remember you can keep it classic there, too!) and when back-to-school shopping is on the horizon, you'll know just where to go. In the meantime, HAPPY SUMMER!

Disclosure: As noted above, this is a sponsored post on behalf of Justice through BabbleBoxx. All opinions are my own. 


A Memorial Day Weekend Getaway to Washington, D.C.

Somewhat impulsively (or as impulsive as you can be with a couple kids in tow), we made a quick trip down to Washington, D.C. over Memorial Day weekend. This beautiful city, steeped in history and national pride, is a fun-filled and educational destination for families. Our goal for the weekend was ambitious: visit a few of the city's historic sites, a museum or two, the zoo, and oh yeah, maybe relax a little bit. Luckily we were able to achieve that last part in spades, thanks to our stay at The Omni Shoreham Hotel. This luxurious hotel made us feel at home and comfortable almost immediately, and frankly, kind of hard to leave once we arrived!

First, a few words on why The Omni Shoreham is a great space for families visiting the DC area:

Location. The hotel is within easy walking distance of the Smithsonian's National Zoo, which is a must-do for any animal lover. We arrived mid-afternoon and headed straight for the panda exhibit (got to see them munching on bamboo... too cute). We also saw an Asian elephant, cheetah, crocodile & more snakes than I care to remember. My personal favorite was the gorilla habitat. So many adorable animals! And admission is free, too, by the way.

And speaking of location, because The Omni Shoreham is situated away from the main part of town in leafy Woodley Park, it felt like we had sort of gotten away from it all when we returned each day. The hotel grounds back up to Rock Creek Park, so the pool area and hotel "back yard" are very quiet. At the same time, you're not far from the heart of the city - a metro stop is one block away (though for this quick trip, we took Lyft everywhere and nothing was more than a 10 minute drive). Hurrah!

Second, Omni Kids! The hotel is very welcoming to kids and families, and their Omni Kids program is an excellent example. Upon check-in, kids receive a backpack filled with fun items designed specifically for them (our contents included a coloring book & crayons, game and a cool pair of binoculars). Kids also receive milk and cookies to their guest room on the first night. Naturally, my girls loved them! And if you dine at Robert's Restaurant in the hotel, they'll bring you a coloring menu and crayons-- always a benefit when eating out with kids.

Third, and I think this goes without saying, the POOL! The pool area itself is huge and we loved having access to the snack bar and wait service (I highly recommend the Mango Mule, for the record). While the girls and Husband swam, I made use of the hot tub. So relaxing! Wish I'd had a chance to check out their spa and gym, but there just weren't enough hours in the day.

Much like NYC, Washington, D.C. is a city you can keep coming back to, seeing something new on every visit. There are SO many world-class museums (many of them free, thanks to the Smithsonian) and monuments, tours, parks and restaurants. On our main day, we visited the Lincoln Memorial, walked along the Mall and past the National Monument, then all the way down to the Air & Space Museum. After lunch at the American Indian Museum, we walked over to the National Portrait Gallery. I think we walked almost 3 miles that day! And still, only the tip of the iceberg.

We'll be back, DC. You're a bit of a treasure. You, too, Omni Shoreham (I'm ending with a few more pics because clearly, I wish I was back on vacation)!

Disclosure: I was provided with two nights lodging in exchange for promotion and this review. All opinions herein are my own.


Summer Comfort and Style in prAna

As the temperature finally rises here in the northeast, my goal is to try and maintain a little style and uniqueness in my clothing, combined with comfort -- always comfort. And if such threads won't cause me to sweat profusely, that's a plus, too (just keeping things honest)! prAna is one of those brands that consistently fits the bill. Their clothes are airy and light, with beautiful detailing in just the right places and ethically made, which is a major plus.

Excited to share a couple prAna shirts that I'll be wearing throughout the summer while here in the city, and on vacation (we're headed out west!) in August. Want to pick up some for yourself? Use code TRBMS18 for 15% off when you shop online.

Here's to finding some adventure this summer, whether it's in your travels or just around the corner at home. I ran across this medieval-looking turret in Morningside Park last weekend -- so beautiful! Love finding hidden gems where you least expect them. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Disclosure: Product was supplied by prAna for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.


Pizza-Making 101 at Rossopomodoro in the West Village

Ask any kid their top 5 favorite foods, and pizza will undoubtedly be at the top of the list-- let's face it, pizza is practically its own food group at our house. So, when we got an invite to Rossopomodoro for a children's pizza-making lesson, the answer was an obvious no-brainer.

This West Village neighborhood favorite serves up classic Neapolitan cuisine in a warm & inviting atmosphere. The space allocated for children's pizza classes is semi-private, sunlit, and perfectly situated right next to their shiny gold brick oven.

The girls were given a chef's hat, apron and rolling pin when we arrived, and they got to work rolling out their dough under the supervision of Achille Confuorto, a GM Partner at the restaurant who also teaches adults how to make pizza at their location inside Eatily. As you can see from the pics below, it was a really fun and well-run class, and most importantly, the pizza was DELISH! Classes begin this weekend (for $27, your child will receive the aforementioned chef's hat, apron, rolling pin as well as their pizza masterpiece after it comes out of the oven). Call 212.242.2310 to reserve your child's spot!


Rossopomodoro will also begin using this space soon for birthday parties -- such a fun way to celebrate! Side note: had a look at their $10 children's menu, too, and will be adding it to my list of kid-friendly restaurants.

Disclosure: While this class was complimentary, all opinions herein are my own.


Underwater in Times Square with National Geographic

Over spring break, the girls and I checked out National Geographic's Encounter: Ocean Odyssey in Times Square. What a fascinating experience! I'll be honest, we had no idea what to expect, especially because I knew there wasn't suddenly an aquarium in the middle of Manhattan. But I'll get to that in a moment.

For starters, it's worth mentioning that this is a popular activity. Combine that with a holiday week, and the venue was quite crowded. That said, I think the staff did a good job of maintaining crowd control, and separating everyone into groups of 20 or so people made it feel like we'd be able to see everything and not get squashed in the process.

Thanks to some truly amazing technology, we went "underwater" and experienced all sorts of sea life on our tour: from coral reefs and kelp forests to a battle between two Humbold squid. In one room, we put on 3D glasses in order to witness a Humpback whale's feeding frenzy (I'm still dazzled by that one). There are plenty of touch screens for kids that need to reach out and tangibly experience things, including the last room which showed us the environmental factors that are damaging our oceans and their inhabitants. I felt like we left having learned some cool new facts about ocean life as well as our responsibility to protect it.

Due to the "underwater" factor, photo taking was a bit challenging, but trust me when I say this is a very cool, immersive and educational experience that the whole family will enjoy. At the moment, National Geographic is offering a family 4-pack deal at $99 for visits this spring. Enjoy!

Disclosure: We were given complimentary tickets to attend Ocean Odyssey. All opinions herein are my own.


Cinderella Lives in Greenwich Village

Last weekend, the girls and I checked out the new musical "Cinderella," playing now through April 22nd at The Players Theatre in Greenwich Village. Written by Michael Sgouros and Brenda Bell, fairy tale fans will notice a few slight changes from the original story, but nothing that will have you flagging a pumpkin carriage and heading for the exit. In fact, this Cinderella is pure love and light, a girl in search of family and security more than anything else (Prince Charming's companionship is an added bonus). We loved the live music, original songs and in particular, the wicked step-mother "Madame," played fantastically in drag by Eric Fletcher.

As an added bonus, come early for pre-show arts-n-crafts and learn how the magic happens behind the scenes, and afterwards, pose for photos with the cast. Check out the New York Times review and take note, they are offering one weekday performance during NYC public school spring break.

Use code BMC20 for 20% off tickets and have a magical time, friends!

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