Social 'norms' for SAHMs with toddlers in New York City - and recommendations for playgroups!(14 Posts)
I'm moving to NYC with DH and DD1 2.5yrs and 6 week old DD2. I will be a SAHM for the first time since my short maternity leave with DD1 and am getting a bit nervous, especially as DD1 has not got places in the various playgroups / activities I had registered for .
I love a good routine, and think that having a daily pattern will be the only way I'll cope with the two of them at home . As with DD1, I'm hoping that DD2 will take to a predictable napping pattern with a 7pm bedtime to allow lots of grown up time in the evening.
But chatting to friends who have spent time in NYC (with older children) lots of socialising seems to happen in local parks and shared BBQ areas throughout the day and in the evening, and I'm getting cabin-fever already at the thought of being cooped up in a tiny apartment on the 15th floor during nap times.
Obviously it is impossible to generalise, and every child / family is different, but I'd be really interested to hear what the general attitude towards routines and early bedtimes is in NYC. Does the heat make everyone a bit more laid-back?
And also if anyone has any tips for local casual playgroups on the Upper East Side / Midtown areas - I have found lots of structured 'classes' for toddlers where caregivers are present, but no cheap drop-in groups as are commonplace here in UK?
I don't live in Manhattan but am nearby. I have a 4 year old and haven't found any casual, drop in classes or events and am always envious of my British friends who mention the ones they go to. There are drop in playgrounds but they are expensive (I think the City Treehouse - for example - is $40 a time) so we have done structured classes that you have to sign up for for a fixed period and I went to meetup.com and found a local group to meet people. We would then meet up in the park or at each others' houses. I found Gymboree great so find out if there's one near you if you haven't already. It's a franchise though so the feel of it depends on the individual owner.
We're in a very diverse area and I've found that South Americans are more likely to keep their kids up a bit later but bedtimes between 7 and 8 are usual, so similar to the UK I think? I'm in Jersey City and evening socializing isn't a thing here but maybe it is across the river!? I'll only keep DS up for special occasions as I like grown up time too much too May be more popular for older kids but we're not quite there yet...
To be honest, just from what you've written here, I think you'll slot right in. To the extent you can generalise about these things, you will probably find that most people schedule their and their children's lives like crazy: nap times, bedtimes, play dates, classes, date nights, nursery etc. So you will probably fall into a routine based around your DD1 which your DD2 will have to learn to live with (napping in sling or stroller), and your socialising will largely happen around that. Once everyone's kids are in bed it's totally acceptable and the done thing to go out for adult time.
Check out the NY Kids Club and Gymboree to begin with. But there's no dearth of options on the UES, you'll find any number of classes to suit your schedule.
And yes, the reason everyone spends so much time outside and doing stuff like crazy people is because everyone goes mad cooped up in little apartments with small children.
There are no casual drop-in style places, incidentally. Places like Gymboree and the kids club do "play passes": you buy these and can use them to drop into any open play session, no notice required. They work out around $10/session. V popular with nannies.
I am not in NYC but in another US city. I think you should:
1. find the local playground nearest your apartment and go there regularly every morning. Talk to the other parents/carers there. ask about drop in groups/activities in the area etc.
2. Go to your local library branch, register and ask about toddler book readings etc. join up.
3. Start looking at flyers posters etc in the library and in the playground about local groups
4. See if your local Y or Boys and Girls Club or high school has gym classes or swim classes for toddlers (lots of them do so the swim/gym team can earn some money) and join up.
5. If you have a religion, join the church/mosque/temple associated with that religion in your neighbourhood. If you have none but are not adverse to one, maybe join a unitarian church nearby and go along to meet people, get your toddler into the toddler group etc.
you basically need to find all the local neighbourhood ways people get together.
Are you planning on being in NYC when your toddler starts pre-school/school. Because that is a whole other experience.
It's not easy. I'm in Hoboken and its why there are so many SAHPs here. We have lots of options for those who are staying home. JC has Gymboree plus the Catholic Church has a very affordable mommy and me class schedule. Our YMCA is hopeless. When doing stuff in Manhattan I end up on the mommy poppins website.
I second going to the playground and asking others who are there. Expect most to be nannies which is great because the nannies are the one who know what's really going on and what's worth doing.
Amazing and useful replies all thanks so much!! though that drop in playgroups really don't seem to exist, I thought it might have just been that I was looking in the wrong places on the web...the cost of activities must really add up but that's a whole other thread!
You should see if there is a facebook page for mothers in your local community. Often there is a mother who posts about meeting up. If they are a loon you have not lost too much! I forgot to post that I would def go to the library and see what they have going on.
I'm in Texas and meetup.com is very popular here, might be the same in NY?
There is a Facebook group called Upper East Side Mommas. Join that and ask there.
We lived in Jersey City most of last year and, like others have said, cheap drop-in groups are not common here. I did, however, find that during the summer months there were lots of fabulous playparks, splash pads and sandpits. I also found that other parents were much more likely to chat and try to get to know you than is typically my experience in this UK. This enabled me to sort play dates etc and to get invited to group meet-ups etc.
We also found that getting membership to certain places was really handy, as it gave me good options when I was stuck. I had it to the Liberty Park Science Museum, but depending. How far you are away, places like the CMoM do goo options and have regular drop-in activities.
I'm also in another US city - from what I've found here, there just isn't the SAHM market for drop in classes and so on that say SW London has. Nannies abound! We pay a fortune for classes here aren't amazing and that would have been either free at a Sure Start centre or under £10 back home. $30 seems about standard for a 45 minute music class IME. Library story times seem to vary in terms of quality. I'd second Meet Up. Or try International Moms Club.
On a recent trip to NYC, we visited the Children's Museum of the Arts. Great value and they run classes, as well as all manner of arts and crafts sessions too. My 3yo and 1yo loved it. Good luck.
Check this out lovetaza.com/category/nyc-guide-series/
You should get well acquainted with the nannies you will meet as some of them might be up for evening babysitting or may know friends who are available.
American parents in general are much more relaxed about leaving babies and small children with babysitters than British parents are imo. There are lots of colleges and universities in NYC and often students are up for babysitting. DD1 did a lot of babysitting when she was in university there. Ask for references and check them out. You may end up chatting with people in Ohio or Utah or wherever the students lived as teens... Often students will have had a great deal of babysitting experience -- American teens frequently babysit from their early teens, and even though they may not be studying childcare or education, etc., many will still have a good deal of experience with babies and small children.
You don't want to be tied to the apartment from the DCs' bedtime onwards. A lot of couples socialising goes on in the evenings, plus it's nice to get out with your H especially when he is the one with the job and you are at home. There is a tendency for couples to grow apart in that sort of circumstance, with you occupying a domestic world and H dealing with a new work environment, new people, new culture. It's a very good idea to have frequent dates and especially to socialise with the people DH works with if the opportunity arises.
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