20 Things Only Manhattan Moms Understand

  1. We experience no greater happiness than stumbling upon one of the city’s iconic street fairs while strolling outside with our little ones. “No thanks – I don’t like fried dough,” said no child ever.
  2. Spending a few days in the suburbs arduously loading our babies in and out of car seats gives us a newfound appreciation for the ease of running errands in the city.
  3. The UES Mommas Facebook group is our holy grail for parenting advice, product recommendations and exploitations of nannies behaving badly. And although we won’t admit it, we love watching the Oscar-worthy drama unfold when moms go head-to-head over the most controversial topics.
  4. We enter the bus at the rear so that we won’t have to fold our strollers. If the bus driver didn’t see it, did it even happen?
  5. We get annoyed when we see people leisurely walking down the sidewalk hand in hand. We know you love each other, but please don’t monopolize the only passageway separating me and my midget psychopaths from the tranquility of nap time.
  6. We are equally agitated by clueless pedestrians who stop suddenly in front of our strollers. People driving cars know such deviant behavior leads to getting rear-ended, but many pedestrians still remain oblivious. Learn some sidewalk etiquette and keep it moving, amateurs!
  7. Choosing between Uppababy and Bugaboo is a critical decision that requires multiple visits to Giggle or Buy Buy Baby, hours of second-guessing and countless revisions to our baby registries. After all, we need all-terrain vehicles capable of conquering demolished asphalt (thanks, Second Avenue subway construction), maneuvering around potholes and schlepping to Bloomingdales even in inclement weather.
  8. We’ve all been there – we reach the crosswalk just as the countdown clock arrives at single digits. Enter creepy pedestrian, abruptly violating our bubble of personal space while marveling at our sweet defenseless babies.  I’m flattered that you think my baby is adorable, but that doesn’t authorize you to caress her perfectly dimpled hand with your filthy meathooks. Within seconds my baby’s hand (and your germs) will be inside her mouth.  Gross!
  9. We can change a diaper anywhere, including the back seat of a cab, park bench or even on our laps . . . in the dark and with both hands tied behind our backs.
  10. The effort we put into our friendships with other moms is directly proportional to the child-friendly amenities provided by their apartment buildings.
  11. There is nothing more exciting than discovering a new restaurant that offers the ultimate brunching bonanza – both bottomless mimosas and high chairs.
  12. We attend the “Cry Baby Matinee” at the City Cinemas East 86th Street theater, a rite of passage for all East Side moms. Rather than sneaking in candy from Duane Reade, we arrive with an arsenal of sippy cups, Puffs and Cheddar Bunnies, all of which will most likely end up on the floor.
  13. We can multitask better than any of our suburban mom friends.
  14. The city sandbox is no replacement for the beach and we loathe this playground Petri dish. Really, what’s in that thing?
  15. We know the precise locations of every Mister Softee truck within a 2 mile radius.
  16. Summer marks the beginning of sprinkler season in most of Manhattan’s public playgrounds. In addition to water shoes, we buy several pails, shovels and watering cans even though our kid will most likely just poach water toys from other kids at the sprinklers.
  17. Our children think that “lobby” is a number between 0 and 1.
  18. We go to great lengths not to disturb our sleeping children – a note on our doors asking deliverymen to “knock softly,” expensive soundproofing of walls and windows, and then the doorman rings the buzzer to alert us to a food delivery, except we didn’t order food and he buzzed the wrong apartment, and now the kids are awake and screaming. Ahhh!
  19. We scoff at the ultra-competitive world of New York City nursery schools, but inevitably spend hours making spreadsheets comparing the philosophies of education, tediously filling out elaborate applications, writing extensive entrance essays, and subjecting our children to playgroup interviews.
  20. On rainy days, our children flock to this Upper East Side hangout, where they abandon their strollers and run like untamed antelopes through unassuming masses of people.  In this real-life representation of the Lord of the Flies, children often decimate everything in their paths, leaving behind a scattered trail of toys and books. Barnes and Noble, thank you for your unwavering patience and for graciously hosting even our most mischievous little ones.  Love, the Moms of the Upper East Side.

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Down with the Ugly Diaper Bags!

The diaper bag is arguably the most essential accessory for every mom on-the-go. As a busy mom of an infant and toddler in New York City’s Upper East Side, I know first-hand the importance of having a fully stocked diaper bag with me during every outing with my kids. Leaving home without a diaper bag is very much like a handyman arriving without his tools – extremely unprepared and amateur. A diaper bag contains all items needed for emergency diaper changes, spills on clothing, sanitizing of toys/dropped pacifiers, or any other unforeseen predicament. But let’s face it, most diaper bags are ugly. Rather than selecting a bag based on style or color, many moms choose diaper bags featuring the same pastel-colored zoo animals that often adorn the walls of their baby’s nursery. While it may momentarily seem like a cute idea, what woman really wants to tote around a bag covered in purple elephants? The diaper bags below are proof that moms’ most important accessory can be both practical and fashionable.  At many different price points, there is something for everyone.

     1.  The Thea Thea Indigo Diaper Bag in Navy – $145 at Thea Thea

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The Indigo diaper bag by Thea Thea features a chic quilted design with whimsy bow detailing. With 4 inner pockets and 2 outside pockets, this bag is roomy enough for all of your new-mom essentials. As an urban mom, I appreciate the value of rain-resistant accessories, especially when schlepping little ones to school and classes in the stroller. The denim-like fabric of the Indigo bag is water repellent, which will keep baby’s diapers, clothes and other contents protected from rain and snow. With it’s versatile design and removable stroller straps, this bag can also be used as a tote. And did I mention it’s only $145?

     2.  Rebecca Minkoff “Marissa” Studded Diaper Bag – $345 at Nordstrom

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Rebecca Minkoff really hit it out of the park with her “Marissa” diaper bag. Its quilted nylon exterior is gorgeously accented with golden studded hardware making this bag the perfect mix of femme and fierce. The nylon interior makes for an easy clean-up of any mess and multiple exterior and interior pockets make this bag  equal parts fashion and function. With stroller straps, removable tassel bag charm and a leather trimmed changing pad, this bag is a smart choice for trendsetting moms everywhere.
     3.  Timi & Leslie “Marie Antoinette” Diaper Bag – $139.99 (marked down from $169.99) at Timi & Leslie

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Exhausted? Scatterbrained? Running on only 4 hours of sleep yet desperately trying to appear sophisticated and fashionable? Enter: Timi & Leslie’s “Marie Antoinette” diaper bag.  This bag will keep even the most disorganized mom prepared for the whirlwind of parenthood, and she will even look chic changing diapers! This bag truly has it all. An insulated bottle tote, zippered pouch for wet clothes and changing pad with mesh pockets are just some of the features that differentiate this diaper bag from most others.  With interior credit card slots, key ring, matching clutch for Mom’s own small items, and detachable strap for cross-body usage, this bag eliminates the need to carry an additional purse. Is it just me, or does the Marie Antoinette diaper bag bear a striking resemblance to Miu Miu’s signature Matelassé nappa leather bags? See for yourself. 

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      4.  Storksak “Bobby” Quilted Diaper Bag – $195 at Storksak

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Also available in black, the Storksak “Bobby” diaper bag has a durable wipe-clean quilted exterior adorned with delicate bows that add subtle femininity. With four interior slip pockets, an interior pacifier case and detachable insulated storage bag for bottles and snacks, this bag is equally stylish and practical. The “Bobby” can be worn as a cross-body bag and comes with a luxury changing pad. 

      5.  Gucci “Original GG” Diaper Bag – $1150 at Gucci

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The Gucci “Original GG” diaper bag is absolutely fabulous and has been photographed on the shoulders of celebrities like Halle Berry and Nicole Richie. Made of durable GG monogrammed canvas and trimmed in leather, this bag is timeless and built to last. In addition to the tan/pink color, Gucci also offers the bag in a tan/blue combination as well as tan/brown and basic black. Although it comes with a hefty price tag, this diaper bag is a great investment for babies and future siblings to come.  I should know – I bought it (in black) when I was pregnant with my son and now I use it for my infant daughter. 

     6.  Kate Spade “Hildy” Baby Bag  – $189 (marked down from $378) at Kate Spade

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The “Hildy” is a diaper bag masquerading as a chic everyday tote bag.  Once a little one outgrows his/her need for a diaper bag, the Hildy easily transitions to an every day bag. Its classic silhouette and 14-karat gold-plated hardware exude understated elegance that make it a perfect choice for the posh mom on-the-go. It’s equally practical as it is polished with its wipe-clean nylon exterior, several interior pockets; two elastic bottle holders and adjustable stroller straps. Unique to this bag are metal feet on the bottom exterior that prevent scuffing on the underside of the bag. Marked down from $378 to $189, this bag is a steal and I anticipate it will sell out quickly.

      7.  Prada “Vela” Nylon Baby Bag – $1360 at Saks Fifth Avenue 6ab

Move over, ladies! This diaper bag indulgence is crafted from Prada’s durable classic nylon and is adorned with the brand’s signature triangle logo plate. With front and back zip pockets, large center pouch and interior zip and slip pockets, there is plenty of room to stash all of your necessities and signature jacquard fabric lines the bag’s interior and envelops your little one’s most shabby chic accessories. Fashion-forward meets functional with a washable changing pad, adjustable shoulder strap, and metal feet to protect the bottom. While this is the most expensive diaper bag on the list, it’s also a versatile option that even Dad would feel comfortable carrying. An instant classic, you’ll keep using it long after your baby is out of diapers.

     8.  Henri Bendel “West 57th” Baby Bag – $199 (marked down from $398) at Henri Bendel

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Henri Bendel is the quintessential playground of Manhattan’s modern woman, but who knew that Bendel’s also designs handbags for trendsetting tots? Meet the luxurious West 57th Baby Bag, Bendel’s tres chic diaper bag creation. The West 57th bag oozes high-fashion appeal and will add instant glam to any ensemble. The sophisticated silhouette is constructed from both Saffiano leather and water-resistant nylon, a combination that distinguishes this bag from most others. The purple sateen interior lining is fit for the most regal little darlings and the bag can also be monogrammed at no additional charge. With all of these lavish features people won’t even believe this is a diaper bag!

     9.  Mia Bossi “Tabitha” Diaper Bag – $280 at Mia Bossi

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Looking for something smaller? This petite diaper bag is perfect for moms of older babies who may not need to carry so many necessities. Its black quilted exterior (made from vegan-friendly faux leather) is embellished with gold chain link hardware reminiscent of vintage Chanel and its design is similarly sophisticated and timeless. A detachable shoulder strap makes this bag a wardrobe staple by allowing for it to be worn messenger style or carried as a satchel, à la the Louis Vuitton Speedy. With this diaper bag in tow, your baby will be only your second best accessory!

     10.  Nest Designs “Keira” Clutch – $85 at Nest Designs

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Who said that diaper bags have to be of mammoth proportions?  The “Keira” clutch is a refreshing departure from the cumbersome design of traditional diaper bags. On days when all you need are a few diapers and wipes, this bag’s got you covered. Made from genuine leather, this compact clutch surprisingly unfolds flat to reveal a full-size changing pad, making it possible to change your baby absolutely anywhere. With an enclosed wet wipes pocket and removable diaper pouch, the “Keira” is diaper bag simplicity at its best.  Wondering where you will stash your keys and cell phone? Fear not, for there is also a small pocket designed to hold some of Mom’s personal items.

 

Chugga Chugga Two Two – Adventures of a Toddler on the Second Avenue Subway

Like most Upper East Side moms and residents alike, I was absolutely ecstatic about the January opening of the mythical Second Avenue Subway project after decades of setbacks and delays. Aside from easing congestion along Manhattan’s East side and providing efficient transportation to other neighborhoods, the unveiling of the long-awaited project also provides unique opportunities for those of us with young children.

New York City weather is as unpredictable as the sale racks at Bloomingdales on Black Friday, and much to my chagrin, my rambunctious 2-year-old doesn’t share my affinity for hibernating indoors in sub-zero temperatures, torrential downpours or the most simmering summer heat waves. The 86th Street subway station has become a frequent fieldtrip destination for my kids, especially on days when either rain or severe temperatures prohibit outdoor play. The subway platform at the 86th Street station is 93 feet below street level and impervious to the city’s most severe weather elements. And unlike most other subway lines, a mechanical cooling system within the station will be activated this summer to maintain a comfortable temperature of approximately 10 degrees cooler than outside at street level.

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As my toddler approaches age 3, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep him entertained within the confines of our Manhattan apartment. Always on the hunt for new adventures and opportunities to assert his independence, he thrives in new environments and enjoys being an on-the-go tot. Because of his blossoming curiosity about the world, I present him with frequent hands-on experiences to keep him physically active and nurture his urge to know more. He’s been enamored with the Q Train since its Upper East Side inauguration and we can’t pass by its entrance without him pleading to go for a ride. The first order of business when headed to the subway is perhaps my toddler’s favorite part – descending via escalator deep into the cavernous station. I use this opportunity to teach and reinforce the basic safety measures of facing forward, holding hands, and being cognizant of what’s going on around us at all times. Although we always avoid rush hour, the escalator can be treacherous for toddlers and it’s imperative to take the proper precautions to avoid injuries.

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Once on the train platform, we eagerly await the arrival of the train. As it approaches, my toddler beams with excitement and his silky baby strands blow wildly in the breeze of the oncoming train. Years from now, I will remember him as joyful as he is in these tender moments. When the doors open and people file in, he knows to quickly locate an empty seat and sit down. And when the train starts moving, he’s in all his glory, squealing with delight as the train accelerates down the track. It’s not long before my toddler amasses a fan club of passengers who are enchanted by his playful demeanor and irresistibly sweet face.  A natural performer, he feeds off this attention and loves making new friends. It doesn’t matter where the train stops or what’s nearby; as soon as we exit the subway car and ride the escalator to street level, he’s ready to turn around and do it all again.

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Although he’s barely 2.5 yrs old, my toddler enjoys examining the large New York City Subway map in the train car and pointing out various locations around the city. He understands that the colored lines represent different trains and that straphangers ride different trains to get to different places. We’ve had many conversations about how the subway is a means of connecting people in different neighborhoods city-wide. I point out landmarks he recognizes (such as JFK Airport and his favorite parks) and we discuss which train line we would take to reach those points. Two-years old isn’t too young to be introduced to basic concepts of geography and by allowing him to take an active role in the discovery process, I’m laying the foundation for a lifelong love of learning. Next stop – the New York Transit Museum!

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