While we Manhattan moms put forth unparalleled efforts to give our tots every learning opportunity, we seldom pause to recognize the priceless lessons our babies are unwittingly teaching us.
The last time I saw my mother was March 19, when my family congregated for brunch to celebrate my brother’s 40th birthday. As my mother looked around the table at my husband and me, our two children, and my brother, his wife and their two children, she beamed with pride. “Look at all we’ve created,” she spoke softly to my father, her face luminous with pleasure. Although only 65 when she died suddenly two weeks later, my mother had been living her dream. There she was, looking on, as her babies had grown up, gotten married and started families of their own. In a way, her life’s work was complete.
Nothing could have prepared me for this loss. Facing each new day without my mother is much like waking up to a world without a sky – unimaginable. I’ve been looking for ways to articulate the tsunami of emotions – the heartbreak, despair, anger, sorrow, confusion – engulfing my heart in the days following her passing, but I’ve arrived at the realization that words alone cannot give voice to the depth of these feelings.
In the days immediately following my mother’s death, I gazed out the windows bewildered as people walked in and out of restaurants, their lives seemingly unfettered while my world was imploding, rendering me crippled. As a mom of an infant and toddler, there has never been a time in my life when I’ve felt like I needed my own mother more. Although 80 miles separated us, my mother was the first and last phone call of every day and was at the very heart of everything I do. She was the only person who was truly interested in the most mundane minutiae of my daily life. And in the frequent moments of pandemonium that often define motherhood, my mother was my guiding light and penultimate voice of reason. I long to hear the sound of her voice on the other end of the phone, offering guidance, wisdom, and telling me stories about my own childhood. And when my children reach a new milestone or do something to make me laugh, it feels slightly imperfect because I can’t share it with my mom. It is in these bittersweet moments when I miss her most. You see, it doesn’t matter how old you are. As a woman, you never stop needing your mother, and I will never stop needing mine.
My mother put her entire being into raising me and my brother and ensuring that we had every opportunity to learn, grow and achieve our dreams. And although she was a selfless woman who loved her children unconditionally, she was the quintessential Jewish mother who also made sure to remind us of her sacrifices and hold us to the highest of expectations. These expectations and my fear of failing to meet them served as catalyst for academic success and all aspects of personal achievement. In fact, although I’m now a grown woman with a family of my own, I am still very much guided by an inherent desire to make my mother proud.
If I am to make any sense at all out of her death, it is that life is both fleeting and precious. Seasons change, calendar pages flutter in the breeze, and time rapidly accelerates as we get older. As I continue on this surreal odyssey as a motherless mother, there is only one thing about which I am certain – I will take one day at a time and will instill in my children all of the values my mother worked so tirelessly to instill in me.
Money doesn’t buy happiness.
Those who knew my mother know that her life was marked by neither glitz nor glamour. She wasn’t at all impressed with worldly possessions and turned away from most material things. She was a minimalist who felt most comfortable wearing a paint-splattered grey hooded sweatshirt. I recall the time when I bought my first pair of Louboutins and she eagerly pointed out to me that the bottoms of my shoes were red, as if I hadn’t known. While Mom had very little appreciation for the finer things in life, she was always amused by my love of all things fashion and indulged me with frequent shopping trips as a child. In fact, some of my favorite childhood memories with her are afternoons spent in a mall dressing room as she tirelessly brought in one outfit after another for me to try on. Although she humored me and my affinity for inanimate objects, my mother also taught me that true happiness can be found only in relationships with people and through acts of kindness. As such, her legacy is not one of material things accumulated in her life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.
Give back to the community.
At any given time, much of my mother’s kitchen counter tops would be concealed by heaping piles of calendars, return address labels and other paraphernalia sent by the charities to which she religiously donated. The Humane Society, Paralyzed Veterans, and Jewish National Fund were just a few of the causes to which she felt so very committed. From a very early age she instilled in me that tzedakah – charity – is the most important of mitzvot. Her unshakable moral compass, righteousness, and fervent belief in donating to those less fortunate exemplified her adherence to the fundamental principles of Jewish life.
Always carry a jacket with you.
It could be an August afternoon with sweltering temperatures and stifling humidity, but my mother would never forget to carry a jacket with her and always reminded me to follow in suit. Any failure to do so would be irresponsibly flirting with the risk of catching a cold. You see, my mother was the embodiment of the universal caricature of Jewish mothers. What if it’s cold in the restaurant? What if they have the air conditioning on? These were real possibilities, and you know what? She was usually right!
Be honest and true to yourself in all of your endeavors.
My mother approached life with an unwavering commitment to brutal honesty. Always eager to voice her opinion and expose any injustice, she was truly a force to be reckoned with. Her incredibly quick wit and unfiltered opinions made her the most perfect sounding-board, and I consulted with her before making the majority of my important decisions. My mom was also not at all skittish when it came to offering unsolicited critiques and suggestions on my clothing choices, and although she couldn’t be bothered with her own wardrobe, she had a keen eye for fashion and meticulous attention to detail. Who needs Fashion Police when you have a Jewish mother?
You can do anything if you put your mind to it.
Anyone who had met my mother could attest to her ferocious determination. There was nothing this woman could not do. A jack-of-all-trades, she regularly mowed her 1.5 acres of grass on a sit-down tractor and took on laborious household projects such as once installing kitchen counter tops, wallpapering, scraping away popcorn ceilings and painting a myriad of rooms in addition to arduously power-washing the exterior of her house. Equal parts Herculean and stubborn, my mother refused my father’s pleadings to hire professionals to perform tasks she felt she could execute better herself. My brother and I would win Halloween costume contests at elementary school every year thanks to my mom’s over-the-top homemade costumes (think 6-foot tall giraffe). She even outdid herself constructing a Tudor dollhouse for me furnished with carpet, linoleum floors and wallpaper in every room. My mother loved projects and her creativity knew no bounds. As a knitter extraordinaire, she would make the most exquisite sweaters for my children and even my dog, whose custom threads turn heads on every street corner.
In her absence, I am left with sadness so profound that sometimes it feels like I’m drowning in grief. While the relationship I have with my mother is one that transcends the limitations of the physical world, I can’t help but feel robbed of her at a juncture when I still so heavily relied on her guidance. If there is a silver lining to be found, it is that the principals and values she so deeply ingrained in me read like a transcript to my ever-present inner voice. My greatest wish is that my kids will always know how much she loved them and how they had made her life complete. If I can be half the mother to them that she was to me, I know I will have succeeded. And if she were here right now, she would most certainly be wondering what all this mishegoss is about. I can practically hear her say, “Enough already, Melissa. Go live your life … and put a coat on – it’s chilly out.”
It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with fancy footwear. In fact, one glance at my closet leaves most people wondering whether I even wear the same pair twice. A sale, you say? I’ll be at the store when it opens, credit card in hand while borderline foaming at the mouth. Ohhh Christian, Giuseppe, and Manolo, why must you taunt me with your irresistible eye candy? In an ideal world, retail therapy would be covered by health insurance, but who can afford to indulge in designer footwear while keeping up with ever-changing fashion trends? Fortunately, for those of us rendered penniless from last season’s splurges, fast-fashion brands are skillfully mirroring designer footwear to provide us with access to high-end designs at a fraction of the cost. Chloe (which also happens to be my daughter’s name) is one of my favorite designers for everyday casual footwear. Apparently many other shoe designers have gotten the memo, as the French luxury fashion house’s designs are some of today’s most replicated styles. As it turns out, imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery.
Chloe “Lauren” Scallop Espadrille Flat
Take the Chloe “Lauren” suede espadrilles (above), for instance. These warm-weather flats are equal parts feminine and playful and the scalloped edges provide a whimsical update to the traditional espadrille silhouette. At $495, these beauties are inaccessible for most. So what’s a girl to do?
Enter the Crown Vintage “Bahamas” flat. Like the Chloe espadrille, these are made from luscious suede and feature feminine scalloped detailing that differentiate it from most others of its kind. Best part – these shoes are available for only $49 at DSW. Buy them here before they sell out.
The Chloe “Isa” Espadrille Wedge Sandal
It was truly love at first sight when I came across the Chloe “Isa” wedge while shopping at Nordstrom. I loved everything about it – the jute-wrapped wedge heel, the satin-finished gold-tone hardware, the oh-so subtle peep-toe, and the buttery-soft suede that cradled my foot ever so gently. After wiping the drool from my chin, I put these on my Spring wishlist and moved onto Bloomingdales. And that’s when I spotted “Adalyn,” Marc Fisher’s homage to the pricier Chloe wedge. Upon first glance these shoes look almost identical and only upon close inspection can one notice the discreet differences. For only $160, the Marc Fisher wedges are an affordable alternative with the same designer look.
It just so happens that Steve Madden has also jumped on the bandwagon with the release of his “Jaylen” espadrille wedge sandal, currently selling for only $60 at DSW. Who could argue with that price?
The epitome of elegance and grace, the ballet flat is a classic shoe that will never go out of style. With its year-round wearability and versatility to match almost any ensemble, the ballet flat is undeniably one of the most important pieces in a woman’s closet. As a proud collector of Chanel ballerinas, you could say that I have elevated standards for purchasing flats. At first I was skeptical about the Chloe “Lauren” ballet flat and thought the scalloped trim may irritate the backs of my heels, but oh my, are these shoes comfortable! Priced at a whopping $495 at Neiman Marcus, these ballerinas are an investment piece. It can be hard to justify spending a small fortune on ballet flats, even if you painstakingly care for your shoes as I do.
The Chloe “Lauren” Scalloped Leather Ballerina Flat, $495 at Neiman Marcus
Leave it to French Sole NY to introduce their “Jigsaw” ballet flat, a ballerina that bears a striking resemblance to the pricier Chloe shoe. Available at Zappos for only $200, these are a steal! But it gets better – the French Sole scalloped flats are actually featured on Gilt.com for a limited time for only $155. Sizes are extremely limited so get yours here before they’re gone!
Just as we thought we were out of the woods, yesterday New York City received a Winter reality check in the form of a snow and ice storm, transforming the streets of Manhattan into a near ghost town. As my toddler and I baked cookies, I watched the layers of freezing rain accumulate on our kitchen windows, and my mind drifted to lazy Spring afternoons in Central Park and meandering through street fairs on warm days. Although this weather is no indicator, Monday marks the official start to Spring. As the warmer weather approaches and dreams of sipping Chardonnay (I mean sparkling water, ahem) in the park become a reality, there are certain seasonal accessories that Manhattan moms should be adding to their online shopping carts.
1. The Save My Bag Handbag
The Save MY Bag handbag line was developed to provide women with stylish protective covers for their expensive designer handbags. Ingenious, really, as unpredictable weather conditions can really wreak havoc on suede, fabrics and exotic skins. Made from a spongy Lycra blend, these bags are waterproof and hand-washable with cold water. The Save My Bag designs mimic the iconic silhouettes of designer bags and are fitted with a hard removable base to support heavy contents. These bags are so classic and versatile that they’ve become a favorite among celebrities and retailers can’t keep them on the shelves. As the days get longer, the temperatures get warmer, and New York moms spend more hours outdoors and away from home. As all moms can attest, this means heavier bags stocked with an abundant supply of diapers, wipes, snacks, and other necessities, and that’s just for the babies! Not only are the Save My Bags large enough to fit all of your diaper bag contents and personal items, but they’re also affordable and weigh less than most traditional diaper bags. This Spring, be the most glamorous Mom at the playground with these trend setting totes. Buy yours at Bloomingdales or directly from the Save My Bag online shop.
2. Flipsters Foldable Sandal
We’ve all been there – we leave our apartments dressed for comfortable Spring weather and by the end of the afternoon we’re tired, shvitzing, and wishing we could just kick off our shoes and socks. . . Well now you can. Introducing Flipsters, the foldable flip-flops you can conveniently tuck into your bag for these “emergency” occasions. Although available in a wide assortment of colors, I prefer the “champagne,” which most closely resembles nude and would match practically any ensemble. On weekends we often take our kids out for brunch followed by impromptu play dates in the park or fun field trips to other destinations around the city. Rather than chasing my toddler around in my red soles I slip into my Flipsters and put the Louboutins away for safe keeping. I love the convenience of always having an alternative footwear option inside my bag. On sale for $27.95, hurry up and buy yours before they’re gone.
3. JJ Cole Outdoor Blanket
Large enough for the whole family, this multi-purpose JJ Cole outdoor blanket is the perfect companion for picnic lunches with my infant and toddler. Manufactured from water-resistant material, this blanket can be used on damp grass or muddy ground and will protect your clothes from the elements and keep them looking pristine. The blanket wipes clean and can even be machine washed should your little ones have a penchant for messy eating. In addition to picnic lunches, this lightly padded blanket also provides the perfect accommodations for you and your little ones at the many music classes held in the Upper East Side’s neighborhood parks. Easily folded and adorned with a convenient carry strap, toting this blanket is truly effortless. Theses are available in both 5′ x 5′ and 5′ x 7′ at Amazon.
4. Kovot 9-Piece Wine Travel Bag
For wine enthusiasts and parents of toddlers alike, a compact wine tote is an essential component for transforming a lackluster play date in the park into a “mocktail hour” fit for even the most fabulous moms. The Kovot 9-piece wine travel bag is like having your very own wine bar right at your fingertips. The insulated wine tote is compact in design and comes fully stocked with unbreakable glasses, napkins and corkscrew. Nervous about the kiddos knocking over your drinks? No worries – the set also includes stakes that stick right into the ground and keep your glasses safe and upright. Weighing in at less than two pounds, this is a staple item in my stroller’s storage basket. Don’t wait until the next warm weekend – buy it at Amazon now.
5. Evian Natural Mineral Water Facial Mist
I was first introduced to Evian Natural Mineral Water Facial Mist in Riviera Maya, Mexico, where our resort provided individual bottles to guests on the pool deck. Evian is widely known for their bottled water, but surprisingly their facial mist has flown under the radar for years. Evian Natural Mineral Water Facial Mist rehydrates dry skin and provides an instant refreshing pick-me-up for worn-out moms everywhere. Packaged in a leak-proof canister and small enough to keep inside your purse or diaper bag, its micro-droplets are formulated to freshen up makeup throughout the day. Available at Sephora, just one little spritz of this facial mist is all you need to cool off on a warm Spring day.
As little girls we spend hours pushing miniature strollers, dressing (and undressing) dolls, emulating how we see mothers care for their babies and practicing for the future. Just like the real thing, right? Ha! As a child, no one tells you about the diaper blow-outs, catching vomit with bare hands, or being peed on, all while operating on 3 hours of sleep. Taking care of a baby is an all-encompassing job, and while it’s indisputably rewarding in a myriad of ways, it can simultaneously trigger feelings of terror, frustration and exhaustion (in that order) akin only to dodging through crowds of seasoned shoppers at the Saks after-Christmas sale.
In May my husband and I embarked on an emotional roller-coaster as we welcomed our second child when our first was merely 20 months old. Our cozy family of three had become a quartet overnight and it felt like we were driving a Ferrari without a steering wheel. In the weeks leading up to my newborn’s arrival, I felt a sense of guilt that even surpassed the time I had too many mimosas and purchased full-price Louboutins identical to a pair I already own. How would we preserve what we had with our toddler while embracing the changing dynamic of our growing family? How would I have the energy to keep up with a raging toddler while waking every two hours to feed a seven pound dictator? These were questions to which I would soon have answers.
Having 2 babies under the age of 2 presents its own unique set of challenges, but with patience and an optimistic mindset, it is possible to tend to a newborn’s basic needs while also managing an active toddler. Below I will divulge five of my own tried-and-true strategies for surviving, thriving and even looking chic while caring for two-under-two.
1. Put the Phone Down
For many Manhattan women, shopping is a competitive sport that requires discipline, stamina and a high-speed internet connection. If you’re like me, you’re glued to your phone around 11am/12pm EST when the online flash sale sites launch their daily deals. Who wouldn’t be interested to peep all of the discount designer merchandise on RueLaLa, Gilt, Hautelook, etc.? It’s easy to be distracted by the constant presence of our mobile devices and the immediacy of communication and information that they provide. Aside from accessing flash sales, we grocery shop, order dinner, pay bills, read news, and receive social media updates from friends all at the touch of a button. Although it may be difficult at times, it’s essential to disconnect from these digital distractions, especially in the company of your little ones who are competing for your attention. I really restrict my phone usage around my kids and instead use our time together to play games, read books, and focus on being “present”. Sharing these private moments with each of your babies reassures them that they are both loved and an important part of the family. Moms everywhere – Next time you feel the temptation to use your phone, please remind yourself that while the internet will be around for years to come, your babies will be babies only once.
2. Privacy – It’s Overrated.
I can’t even remember the last time I was able to take a shower or use the bathroom without the presence of a pint-sized playmate. Now that my toddler has learned to open doors, I’ve surrendered the little slice of privacy I’d been clinging to since his birth. When I’m brushing my teeth, there he is – my steadfast bathroom buddy, excitedly rummaging through my makeup drawer. If anyone needs their toilet flushed 157 times, my kid is available! Need toilet paper? No problem! My toddler has just unraveled an entire roll. Rather than allowing privacy deprivation to get me down, I consider myself lucky to have children who constantly want to be with me and I’ve grown accustomed to incorporating my sweet little sidekicks into my routines, even those that happen behind (once) closed doors. When my toddler isn’t busy ransacking my bathroom cabinets or trying to flush household objects down the toilet, I try to involve him as much as possible in my morning routine. My pint-sized personal stylist loves picking out my clothes and accessories, helping me get dressed, brushing my hair and helping me make coffee. In the afternoons, I often utilize my toddler’s nap as an opportunity to wash my hair, in which case my infant joins me in the bathroom in a bouncy seat so I can watch her through the glass shower door (with door cracked for fresh air). Sometimes I even add Olbas (http://www.olbas.co.uk/products/olbas-for-children.ashx) oil to my shower if she’s at all congested. She loves the sound of the cascading water and enjoys playing peek-a-boo as I wipe away the fog on the glass door. Who needs privacy when you can have inquisitive smiling eyes gazing up at you at all times?
3. Distract, Distract, Distract.
One of my chief concerns about having two-under-two was how I would keep my high-energy toddler safe and distracted so that I could peacefully nurse my newborn. This thrill-seeking mini-MacGyver, appropriately nicknamed “The Monkey”, would be right at home swinging from trees in the jungle. In highly calculated maneuvers, he pushes furniture to help reach objects, scales shelving units, jumps from high surfaces, and cannot be left unattended for even a moment. I had heard promising feedback about the Amazon Fire tablet through a friend and figured I would give it a shot. The tablet proved to be a successful means of keeping him engrossed and out of harm’s way, but I didn’t feel comfortable exposing him to so much screen time. That’s when I came up with the idea to create a “breastfeeding basket” filled with stimulating toys that I would make available only during the times when I’m nursing the baby. Worked like a charm! Nesting cups, Tupperware containers and Mister Potato Head have been some of his favorites, but it’s important to switch up these toys regularly otherwise the novelty wears off and the breastfeeding basket will backfire. If all else fails, you can always put your toddler into his crib with some toys.
4. Mommy & Me.
“Who is this new little creature monopolizing my mommy’s time? Why doesn’t she spend as much time with me anymore? Am I still her numero uno shopping sidekick?” Welcoming a new baby presents many challenges for the two-under-two family, the greatest of which, in my opinion, is helping the toddler adjust to the new family dynamic. He/she may be angry, confused and/or jealous of the new baby and unable to adequately communicate any of these feelings. After my daughter was born, it was very difficult for my son to fully comprehend the concept of having a new sibling. Even though we read books about becoming a big brother and role-played with dolls, it wasn’t until we brought the new baby home from the hospital that reality sank in. Although my son has been smitten with his baby sister from the very beginning, there have been times he has struggled with jealousy stemming from sharing my attention. While verbally reassuring him of how much he is loved is important, I’ve found it much more valuable to show him through my actions. I incorporate into our daily routine at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted “mommy & me” time and it’s been such a fantastic way for me to remind him I’m still his mommy. We take mommy & me classes, go out for lunch, visit museums and play at the park. Most importantly, giving him my undivided attention every day makes him feel valued and appreciated.
5. They’re always sick – Get used to it
When my son was an infant he never had so much as a sniffle. I took him to classes, restaurants, and more shopping adventures than I’m willing to admit. Fast forward two years and things couldn’t be any more different. On any given day, there is a fairly good chance that someone in our household is sick. Now that my son is in preschool he’s exposed to countless germs, all of which he eagerly brings home to his baby sister. Despite frequent hand washing and our best efforts to sanitize everything that comes through our door, it seems like we are fighting a losing battle. Ever try quarantining a rambunctious 2-year old in a Manhattan apartment? You would have an easier time going to Hermes and walking out with a Birkin. The first winter with your toddler and newborn/infant will inevitably be an endless onslaught of runny noses and low-grade fevers. No need to panic, however. Armed with infant Tylenol, boogie wipes and a NoseFrida, you will have all the essentials to ride out even the worst cold season. Dust off your Juicy velour separates and take advantage of this time by sharing extra cuddles and allowing them to indulge in their favorite television shows. Most importantly, take comfort in knowing that childhood exposure to germs may help boost immunity and enjoy those snuggles while you can!
On blistery cold winter days, Manhattan parents often struggle with keeping their rambunctious tots entertained in apartments where space is extremely limited. As the mother of a thrill-seeking 2-year old boy, I’m always searching for new indoor venues where I can set my son free to burn off some energy. For parents in the city’s Upper East Side neighborhood, common rainy-day destinations include The Children’s Museum Of Manhattan, The Museum of Natural History, Barnes & Noble Bookstore, the local library and a variety of pay-as-you-go indoor play spaces. After having exhausted all of the aforementioned resources this winter, this weekend we piled into the car and drove to The Westchester, the county’s premier shopping experience and home to some of my favorite retailers. What could have easily been a series of unfortunate and embarrassing meltdowns with a toddler and infant was actually an enjoyable afternoon for our whole family. Below I will share some easily applied strategies that will help to ensure your shopping day with the kids is also stress-free and delightful.
Put Them To Work
We all have that one mommy friend whose toddler sits peacefully in a shopping cart while his/her mother leisurely shops. Not my kid! Like most 2-year-old’s, my toddler requires constant entertainment and demands immediate gratification. Boredom is our main source of behavioral issues while in public, so giving him an active role in shopping makes him less likely to seek out mischief and lessens the likelihood of any meltdowns. Because he is also extremely independent and loves a challenge, he really enjoys whatever tasks I ask him to complete. Whether it be finding socks of a certain color or grabbing an item from a shelf within his reach, it keeps him busy and gives him an enormous sense of accomplishment. At the Westchester, one of his favorite projects was throwing a few coins into the water fountain and making a wish for us. He loved being Mommy’s little helper.
A trip to the mall is generally viewed as an indulgence for Mom, but should really be considered as mutually beneficial for both Mom and babies. Here’s why – shopping presents a unique opportunity for the practical application of basic arithmetic and other everyday skills. “If we buy 2 pairs of shoes, how many shoes in total will we have? One, two, three, four…” Math is everywhere in a store and the lessons can become more complex as the kids grow. “If we buy 3 barrettes and give one to a friend, how many barrettes will we have left?” A fun game I play with my toddler is finding items of a specific shape as we walk through a store. Kids can also practice reading price tags and comparing the cost of different items. With my infant I focus more on introducing colors and exposure to vocabulary words, but I’m always looking out for those teachable moments.
After combing through the racks at Neiman Marcus, what 2-year-old wouldn’t need a break? I suggest strategically planning shopping trips around either playgrounds or amusement centers as a way of rewarding good behavior and allowing them to burn off some energy after all of their “hard work.” Physical activity also lengthens my son’s attention span and helps him sleep better at night. Fortunately for us, The Westchester had just revealed a brand new interactive play area complete with colossal step-and-play keyboard, fluorescently lit Magna-tile station, wall-mounted bead mazes and a baby-friendly arena with soft, colorful gym equipment. My son had so much fun in this play area and can’t wait for his next shopping adventure at The Westchester!
Kids sure do work up an appetite (even from a smallish spending spree) and stopping to refuel is critical. Incorporating a fun dining experience into a busy shopping day is an effective method to keep kids distracted and happy while simultaneously providing parents an opportunity to relax. Stopping for lunch also breaks up the day and can actually extend your shopping trip and your toddler’s patience. Mariposa, the newly remodeled restaurant at Neiman Marcus Westchester, serves sumptuous New American cuisine in a fine-dining atmosphere. The sophisticated eatery is surprisingly kid-friendly and offers a traditional children’s menu. As soon as we entered, the waitstaff were warm and welcoming and quickly supplied my son with crayons, paper, and juice. Our waitress was extremely patient and understanding and eagerly brought clean spoons to my daughter as she repeatedly dropped them on the floor. Mariposa was the perfect backdrop to our lovely laid-back lunch!
While none of these strategies are foolproof, their execution will almost always buy you at least a few more minutes to peruse the shoe department in peace. Children react well to positive reinforcement, so be sure to praise them for even the smallest good behaviors. With a little planning, patience, and realistic expectations, a trip to the mall can be enjoyable excursion for the whole family.
The onset of winter weather elicits a multitude of feelings amongst New Yorkers, some of which include fear, dread, and the desire to hibernate indoors for several months. But for die-hard fashionistas, the extreme cold and heavy snow merely present an exhilarating opportunity for layering and extra accessorizing. It is possible to survive arctic temperatures without looking like an urban Eskimo, even while gallivanting around the neighborhood with a toddler and infant. This winter I traded my maternity long johns and unflattering layers for cozy cashmere, luscious furs, vibrant jewel tones, and luxe footwear. Pictured above (and described below) are my most adored pieces from my own winter wardrobe.
OTK boots are the hottest shoe trend of the season and can instantly elevate your look from drab to chic and sophisticated. I fell in love with these “Breley” boots by Marc Fisher the moment I laid eyes on them and knew I had to have them. Made from rich caramel-colored suede, these boots ooze luxury. The neutral color beautifully compliments any color palate and their silhouette is universally flattering. OTK boots accentuate legs by making them appear longer and leaner and can be paired with skinny jeans, a mini dress, or even an oversized shirt. These boots are made for walkin’!
This chilly-day companion from Bloomingdale’s exclusive Aqua collection is crafted from thick luxurious cashmere and provides mega warmth without the need for several layers. The vibrantly colored skull design adds edge to an otherwise feminine piece. Lauren Moshi is another designer whose unique cashmere sweaters are embellished with rock & roll themed designs (think Guns N’ Roses meets Breakfast at Tiffany’s). I am currently loving the relaxed-fit “Hollis Heart Breaker” cashmere pullover from her current collection.
This classic never-goes-out-of-style cardigan made by C by Bloomingdale’s strikes the perfect balance between comfort and chic. Its elegant design, delicate hardware and white contrast trim pay homage to Coco Chanel’s classic designs. I usually wear this sweater with skinny jeans, but it can also be paired with leather pants and heels for an easy day-to-night transformation. This is a fashion statement that will last you for years to come.
This lacquered nylon puffer comes from the Italian-based brand known best for their luxury outerwear – Moncler. Although this form-fitting jacket comes with a hefty price tag, it’s an investment piece worth its weight in gold. In a city where temperatures frequently dip below 20 degrees, freezing fashionistas need to sashay down the sidewalks in style.
This Jocelyn genuine fox fur patchwork vest is EVERYTHING! From school drop-off to grabbing drinks with the girls, this piece is the ultimate winter wardrobe investment. An undeniably chic way to bundle up, this vest makes heads turn every time I wear it. The multicolored fox section vest with hood by Blue Duck Shearling is extremely similar and at 60% off it’s an absolute steal. Buy it now!
The Australian Luxe Collective “Foxy” wedge boot is sheepskin done right. An elegant alternative to the long-established Ugg boot, these have a hidden 2 1/2 inch wedge heel and are adorned with authentic, opulent Fox fur. Never before has comfort looked so decadent!
The perfect addition to any winter wardrobe, the J. Crew Stewart Plaid Quilted Lady Jacket is the answer to my prayers. What sets this jacket apart from others is the attention to detail and quality of craftsmanship. The cuffs, edges and pockets are framed by fringy braided trim and the tailored silhouette makes for an ultra-polished look even when paired with distressed denim.
In the city that never sleeps, not even an apocalyptic ice storm could keep New Yorkers indoors. For Manhattan residents, winter brings with it a plethora of exciting seasonal activities, including ice skating at Bryant Park Winter Village, sledding down Pilgrim Hill in Central Park, sipping hot chocolate at Serendipity, and shopping for the perfect resort wear. Manhattan is picturesque in the winter, but braving the great outdoors in frigid temperatures with little ones takes a great deal of planning and preparation. It can be downright exhausting to dress fidgety babies and toddlers in multiple layers, hats and gloves and ultimately tuck them into stroller blankets. But with all of the focus on the children, who’s making sure that Mom has everything she needs to endure the frosty temperatures? Below are my Manhattan mommy winter must-haves that will make venturing out in a winter wonderland as enchanting as it sounds. Don’t leave home without them!
Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood is home to more families with young children than any other region of the city. Our sidewalks are lined with stroller-striding moms who systematically weave in and out of sidewalk traffic as if they could do it with eyes closed. Dressed in our heaviest down puffers and thermal accessories, we are often multitasking while running our daily errands. It can be difficult to reach into our wallets, answer our phones, grab a burp cloth or anything from inside the diaper bag, or even touch our babies while wearing cumbersome winter gloves. Continuously removing them and putting them back on is not only an inconvenience, but also a needless time drain. Introducing stroller hand warmers, the no-fuss accessory that keeps your hands warm on the coldest of days while simultaneously making it effortless to attend to our babies needs. Unlike conventional gloves that always seem to go missing, these mitts are securely attached to the stroller handlebar and impossible to lose! Thanks to these innovative gloves, moms no longer need to choose between warmth and convenience. Who said we couldn’t have it all?
Smart phones are pocket-sized computers designed to utilize various communication modalities to simplify our daily lives. Their development has revolutionized the way we keep in touch with family and friends and has literally put the entire world at our fingertips. But why is it that we can’t operate our devices while wearing our finest winter accessories to keep our hands warm? How can a thin layer of cashmere suddenly cut us off from the outside world? I didn’t know either until I did a little digging. Apparently, when we swipe our finger across the touch screen it produces an electrical current that allows the user to interact directly with what is being displayed on the screen. When we wear gloves, the fabric interferes with the passage of this electrical current, rendering us unable to operate our smart phones. I don’t know about you, but nothing comes between me and a good online sale, not even my favorite winter accessories! This fall I embarked on a quest to find the perfect tech gloves, the kind with coated fingertips that transmit the electrical current from your body to the device. I was afraid my efforts wouldn’t bear fruit as I sorted through pair after pair of uninspiring options that reminded me of shoddy juvenile mittens. And then, just as I was about to give up, I discovered the Echo tech gloves with fur cuffs. These beauties, still available at Bloomingdales, are made from the most buttery soft leather and are equally warm and sophisticated. Most importantly, they are compatible with iPhones, iPads and other touch-screen devices. You really can have your cake and eat it too!
Aquaphor healing ointment is the first line of defense against your baby’s minor cuts and scrapes and for this reason it’s a staple item in the diaper bags of most moms. It’s best known for its use in healing baby’s sensitive skin and the treatment and prevention of diaper rash, but unlike most other baby products on the market, Aquaphor’s uses extend far beyond the nursery. It’s a multipurpose ointment that can be used to promote healthy skin for moms and the entire family. Flakey chapped lips are a common cold-weather complaint for everyone in a cold climate, especially Manhattan moms who spend a great deal of time outdoors transporting children and running errands. Sure, you can apply layer after layer of balm to your lips, but this isn’t an effective long-term solution to a chronic condition. Aquaphor, on the other hand, not only moisturizes severely chapped lips, but also adds shine and keeps lips soft by acting as a barrier against cold winter weather. This is one item I cannot live without. Grab some of your baby’s Aquaphor and pucker up, Moms!
Insulated Coffee Mug
Rain or shine, Manhattan moms are always on-the-go. We schlep our little ones to classes and play dates even in the most frigid temperatures. We arm ourselves with coffee to warm our bodies from the inside out, but how many of us have taken a big gulp of a venti Starbucks latte only to discover it’s quickly gotten cold? We’ve all been there. A durable, well-insulated, and spill-proof coffee mug is an absolute must-have for java-drinking Manhattan moms. The LifeSky mug keeps coffee piping hot for 8 hours and features a one-hand opening mechanism, perfect for stroller-striding moms who don’t have use of both hands. Fill your mug with delicious brew and drink it at your leisure because this mug will keep your coffee piping hot for an impressive 8 hours. You can buy your own here.
All fashionista moms would agree that the one thing sabotaging their perfect blowouts this winter is none other than the traditional winter hat. There is nothing worse than arriving for an event and removing your hat, only to discover that your perfectly tousled tresses have fallen victim to “hat head.” But what is a Manhattan girl to do in a city plagued by abysmal winter weather? Earmuffs and thermal headbands are cold weather accessories that won’t wreak havoc on your hairstyle like hats do. From cozy cashmere to luxurious furs, there are plenty of options in all styles and price ranges. I received a pair of Surell ear muffs for Hanukkah and never leave home without them. Get yours here.