Founder and CEO of clean hair brand Ceremonia, on reimagining self-care
Founder and CEO of clean hair brand Ceremonia, on reimagining self-care
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The New Year is here (yay!), and many of you may be thinking about next steps for 2023. Some parents are waiting for school application results to be announced (fingers crossed.) We are also at the mid-school year, which means time to set education intentions for success for your child in 2023 (page 12.)
Every New Year, there is an emphasis on resolutions - which are not unhealthy to make; goals are good. Still, you may want to make them on a level that works for you rather than sweeping changes. We chatted with Lifecoach Leah Wiseman Fink (page 8), who shared year-round tips on making shifts
in our lives. However, if quitting your job is definitely on a list, our piece, The Mom’s Guide to Quitting Your Job (page 24) from our sister site, Mommybites (mommybites. com), is worth reading.
We are excited to have Cover mom Babba Rivera ushering in 2023 as our first cover. The Founder and CEO of Ceremonia shares on paying tribute to her Latin culture as the founder of a world-changing clean hair brand, reimagining self-care, sustainability and what it means to be authentic.
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Lifecoach Leah Wiseman Fink shares some year-round tipsby Donna Duarte LaDD
How many times have you created a resolution and ooff you either forgot you made one or worse, you dont keep it, and you feel bad about it?
Leah Wiseman Fink, a Lifecoach who works with corporate leaders to new moms, believes that resolutions are overrated. Leah shares, “I understand why people get hung up on January 1st, but what does it mean anyway? Leah adds, “Whether it is January or June, why not think about where you want to be right now? You’ll get there anyway!”
We chatted with Leah about ways to change your life, regardless of the time of the year. This month, don’t worry if you do not have a laundry list of changes or goals you want to accomplish. Instead, focus on what is possible at any time of the year.
There is always this pressure to make sweeping changes in the New Year, what are small ways a person can start to feel good about where they are in life?
One thing I’d recommend is to think about what you can add instead of what you can subtract. For example - instead of thinking about subtracting pounds, can you think about adding some health goals? And to continue with the health metaphor, instead of trying to cut out all sugar, get to the gym every day, and stop drinking, can you do one out of the three?
Another thing I am a big fan of is the list of appreciation. I often have my clients write down a list of 10 things they are grateful for daily. It makes a big difference in the mindset of knowing what you already have, and being settled and appreciative of what you have will naturally catapult you to the next level.
When in a rut, the kind you don’t even know how to start to get out, what are the first steps someone can take to climb out?
Although being in that space is rough, a small change is all you need to get started. In terms of the specifics, here are some tips.
Identify where you want to be, phone a friend, and ask for help.
Pinpoint a goal, whether big or small and then take steps to get there. I always suggest tangible goals, like signing up for a race.
Feel free to plan backward; what are the short workouts you have to do to get the harder ones? And build up from there. This can be applied to anything: a career move, finding a relationship, or a big move.
Remember -the only thing that will keep you stuck is not doing anything at all, so take a deep breath; you got this, and whether it is enormous strides or small steps, you are moving forward.
What are examples of realistic goals a person can make to feel less frazzled mentally?
Carving out time for yourself is essential, even in small ways like not reaching for your phone first thing in the morning. Then, I urge people to block out time in their schedules for things that fill them up. Can you drink a glass of water and stretch instead of worrying even for five minutes? Is there a dance class you can take? Can you get your partner to watch the kids so you can get out and grab drinks with friends?
Try an afternoon nap or, even in a minor
way, a walk around the block. The chunks of time don’t have to be huge, but they do have to be consistent.
Many people, especially moms, have challenges with creating boundaries. What are some healthy ways to develop them?
I define boundaries by figuring out what you want and not letting anything get in the way. Boundaries can be tough because in keeping with what is best for yourself, you sometimes make another person uncomfortable. To reference the sometimes-overused analogy, you must put the oxygen mask on yourself before putting it on anyone else.
Fink holds Master’s degrees in Education Leadership and English Education with 12 years of a combination of work experience in consultancy, the NYC public school system, and higher education. As a Business Lifecoach, Leah helps women to figure out their path, see their worth and get their mojo back. Learn more at leahwisemanfink.com.
Thinking about overnight camp for your child? Attending overnight camp is an important experience for a child, helping them to gain independence, self-confidence, and resilience, which are all skills that are needed to become successful adults. But how do parents know when the right time is to send their child to camp?
Many parents focus on the age of their child to figure out when the right time is for overnight camp, however, age isn’t the only factor when considering readiness. While there is no specific sign that can tell you that now is the time, there are certain indicators that can signal that a child is ready for the experience.
“I don’t feel there is a specific age to begin
going to overnight camp. It’s more dependent on an individual child’s developmental levels and maturity,” says Marc Rauch, Ph.D., licensed psychologist and director of Camp Kinder Ring, a coed overnight camp in Hopewell Junction, NY. “It’s important to closely examine and explore a child’s overall functioning in differing environments, as well as their personality, social skills, temperament and how they handle change and different situations. Does the child have the ability to self-soothe, display effective coping mechanisms and effectively verbalize their needs and wants? Some other readiness indicators include a child’s ability to appropriately separate from parents, accept guidance and supervision from others, a desire to sleep at varying peers households, eagerness to have playdates and a child’s displaying of an ability to meet new successes when challenged.”
Bolstering your child’s confidence Often parents feel their child is ready to go away to camp, yet their child is hesitant.
Laurie Rinke, director of Camp Echo Lake, a coed overnight camp in the Adirondacks says, “The biggest factor that determines a camper’s readiness is their parents’ ability to let their child borrow their confidence that they are ready for camp. If a parent says to their child ‘we found the right camp for you, we trust the directors, we know you can do this, and we know you will love camp,’ children can use their parents confidence to bolster their own. When a parent gives a child the sense that camp is the right place for them, that helps a child feel confident.”
Renee Flax, camper placement specialist for the American Camp Association, NY & NJ feels there is a big difference between gentle persuasion and pushing a child to go to camp. “Taking your child to visit the camp so they can see for themselves what camp is all about and meeting with the camp director to have them talk to your child are both helpful tools. However, if your child is adamant about not wanting to go, you do need to listen to what their concerns are. Some of them are fixable
issues that can be resolved such as they don’t want to go for too long a period of time or they want to know someone at the camp.”
Once you make the decision to send your child to camp, preparing them for what camp will be like can help set your child up for a positive experience.
“Think about the things that your child will do at camp that they may or may not do at home like changing the sheets on their bed, combing their hair, applying sunscreen, and taking a shower independently,” commented Rinke. “Your child certainly doesn’t have to perfect these tasks and counselors will help them, but familiarizing your child with these tasks can allow them to feel more confident about doing them.”
Rauch says the manner in which a parent sets the stage for camp can ultimately seal the fate of whether or not the experience is successful. “Parents shouldn’t spend the entire academic year leading up to camp talking about it. The focus needs to be incrementally introduced to a child,
especially one who has some level of concern. When you talk about camp, always focus on the positives that lie ahead and don’t harp on how much a child will be missed, on how different home will be without them or on things that can go wrong. It’s also important for parents to work hard to not put their own anxieties about their children leaving home onto their children. The more comfortable a parent is with the overnight camp experience, the more comfortable the child will be.”
Other resources Camps also offer a lot of events and resources to help your child prepare for camp.
“There are new camper events, new parent events and Big Brother or Sister programs to give you and your child the confidence that they are going to love camp. I also encourage parents to read all emails, blogs, and parent information from your camp as there is valuable information that will help you and your child,” Rinke says.
Flax says: “The right time for a child to go to an overnight camp is when they are ready! Don’t worry what other people are doing – you need to assess how your child is doing emotionally and how mature they are before deciding to send them to an overnight program.”
“It’s important for parents to work hard to not put their own anxieties about their children leaving home onto their children. The more comfortable a parent is with the overnight camp experience, the more comfortable the child will be.”
Ahh, the new year is here—a time for making positive changes, and sticking with them! Now, as a parent, you know how important a good education is for your little student. So why not make some cool resolutions to help ensure a successful education for your child in 2023, and beyond?
Whether your child is struggling in school, has an A+ average or falls somewhere in between, there are so many ways to improve grades, test-taking skills and overall academic achievement at any age. You can set new goals, encourage reading, build a support system and so much more. We spoke with parents, education experts (and did some of our own online research!) to put together this New Year’s guide to help create and continue education success for your child throughout 2023. Save it, refer to it, and just keep it handy!
And don’t worry. Our resolutions aren’t all study, study, study. After all, we gotta have kids on board for their successful education, too. We’ve researched ways to make learning fun at any age, from toddler to teen.
(BONUS: Even as adults, you might learn a thing or two about how to increase your own wealth of knowledge!)
Ensure a Successful Education for Your Child in 2023
This is probably a no-brainer for most people, but education is important for a variety of reasons, including life success. And it doesn’t matter what kind of school your child goes to, whether it be public, private or any other type of institution. A lot of what can make a good education is what children, parents and teachers put into it.
Jennifer Cedro Puglia of Staten Island has two boys in Catholic school. To her, a good education leads to her kids being independent and focused on goals.
“A good education is a foundation for a better life and a better person,” she said.
Richie Blings, whose children attend NYC public school, agrees.
“I tell my kids that you’re an adult a lot longer than a child. So, go to school, learn and get yourself a great job,” Blings said.
A Resolution List for Preschoolers: Ages 3 to 5 Years
Pre-school age refers to kids ages 3 to 5 years.
These are important years for building a foundation for learning. And it doesn’t really matter whether you choose to keep your child home during these years, or enroll them in daycare or preschool.
But if your child does attend daycare or preschool, keep in mind they’re usually not given grades. They’ll also learn how to socialize, which can be tough to do at home. As Wendy Levey, an education consultant explains, preschoolers get assessments on
their attention span, focus, ability to count sequentially and share toys, and other factors.
If your child will be in preschool this year, whether he’s a new student or currently enrolled, Levey recommends the following resolutions for 2023:
Be Happy! Don’t leave your child at the door of his classroom looking like you’re about to cry. Wear a smile and go cry at Starbuck’s.
Homework : Find out what is going on in school and reinforce it at home. For example, if teachers have the kids washing their hands and dumping their snacks after finishing, do that at home, too.
Get Involved: Help with the school’s bake sell. Or go on a school trip. Things like this are not only beneficial for you, your child and the school...it’s also fun! And of course, parents/caregivers should arrive at school on time to drop their children off or pick them up.
Choosing to keep your kiddo home at this age? You’re not alone! Many parents choose this route for a variety of reasons. Check out these positive parenting tips from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that you can use to create your preschool-age New Year’s resolution list and help ensure a successful education for your child.
In NYC, kids enter kindergarten in the fall of the calendar year they turn 5. Elementary and middle school is the crux of their academic career, and should give them a great foundation for high school, college, trade school and eventually their chosen profession.
“I tell my daughter that her education is important for her success. There’s so much to be learned from school,” said Madeline Elena Vidal, whose daughter is in fourth grade. “Her education is important now, especially if she plans on going to college to further pursue anything. She also knows that college isn’t mandatory. Going to a trade school is also an option.”
Just like in preschool, it’s important to be involved in your child’s school work at the elementary and high-school levels. Gabrielle Gambrell, professor at NYU and Columbia University, says it’s important to devote time to talking about school to become invested in your child’s education.
“As both an educator and a parent, I know firsthand how important it is to show interest in your child’s education,” Gambrell,
who’s also the founder of Gift of Gabrielle, says. “This can be done by devoting time to discussing school with your child, their day, curriculum, classwork, homework, what they are excited about and beyond.”
There should be no interruptions with phones, electronics, or any other distractions. All emphasis should be on having sincere discussions about school and its significance.
“This time will also help you to identify what your child enjoys about school, learn their academic strengths, as well as if your child is struggling with anything or falling behind on their coursework,” Gambrell says. “Use this time to reiterate the significance of education and how proud you are of your child. When parents participate in their children’s schooling it makes a world of difference. During this time, be sure to remind your children to communicate their needs. This is a practice that children can learn early. It’ll help them throughout their academic journey.”
Here are some resolutions that will help your elementary, middle and high-school students this year:
Read Together : If you have younger children, read with them. Read books about starting the school year off right. Books with characters that your children can relate to can help boost their confidence about the year ahead. This allows an opportunity to discuss how your child feels about returning to school in 2023.
“It’s always wonderful to assess how your children are feeling and what they’re thinking about,” Gambrell says. “Be sure to show them that their feelings and thoughts are also your concern. Children should often be reminded
of how much their parents care about them. Reading together is a great way to start important and relevant conversations.”
Create an Environment for Learning : A dedicated home learning environment is instrumental to a child’s success. Does your child have a desk at home? Do you have a dedicated place for homework? Have a dedicated place where your children can sit and learn at home away from distractions.
Stick to a Good Bedtime (and Other Routines) : Routines are paramount to academic success. Setting a time and place for homework surrounded by all necessary supplies is pivotal to success. Receiving proper sleep is instrumental to be fueled for academic success.
“As we all know, getting enough sleep supports your child in feeling their best as it prepares them for a full day of learning,” Gambrell says. “Also, getting to school on time makes a difference in student success. Stay on schedule. The earlier children learn the significance of time management the better.”
Set Goals : Talk to your kids about what they want out of the school year, and what you want. Be a positive force in your child’s life. Affirm their successes. You can also reward your kids for doing well, getting better grades or just improving overall.
Ushindi Lewis, program coordinator at the New Jersey Youth Corps of Middlesex County New Brunswick Public Schools, underscores the importance of the role parents play in their child’s education.
“A parent can help reshape a student’s thinking about learning by encouraging the student to think of learning as a passion,” Lewis says.
Check Your Child’s Assignments : No matter what grade your child is in, parents should resolve to be actively checking assignment books and online assignment/ grading sites, explains Ryan Michele Woods, a teacher at Staten Island Academy with 18 years experience in the NYC Department of Education.
“Kids will often tell you they are on top of things, but in reality are having trouble organizing themselves and are overwhelmed,” Woods says. “Even if they say they can do it on their own, they may not be able to, and often aren’t. To be successful, parents need to be partnering in their accountability. This also prevents surprises at grading time.”
Woods added that this is especially important for upper elementary and middle school students.
“Use this time to reiterate the significance of education and how proud you are of your child. When parents participate in their children’s schooling it makes a world of difference.”
Bay r idge c atholic academy
365 83rd Street Brooklyn, NY 718-745-7643 bayridgecatholic.org Launched in 2020, Bay Ridge Catholic prepares students for optimal success in school and life. The school is centered on faith, arts and culture engineering. Students are taught the skills they will need to succeed in the modern economy. STEM Lab, foreign language in K-8 and cutting edge technology.
o ur l ady of trust c atholic academy 1696 Canarsie Road Brooklyn, NY 718-241-6633 oltca.org Pre-K3 (3-year-old program) through grade 8 instruction. Smartboard,
Computers, and Internet access in every classroom. Our Lady of Trust Catholic Academy provides all students with a Catholic faith-based education rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ. They strive to facilitate each child’s optimum growth and development – spiritually, intellectually, and socially. Under the guidance of Our Lady of Trust, the school fosters and creates an atmosphere of warmth and caring, a place where the development of confident, self-sufficient, responsible, moral human beings may flourish and grow. The school provides a safe, nurturing learning environment for each child. Academic principles serving children and reflecting their multicultural backgrounds.
Saint m ark c atholic academy
2602 E 19th St Brooklyn, NY 11235 718-332-9304 smcaonthebay.org
Saint Mark Catholic Academy, a faith community of students (ages 3 - grade 8), parents and teachers, is dedicated to personal excellence in the traditions of the school’s Catholic education heritage. The academy values the uniqueness and dignity of all individuals, and respects the diversity of nationalities, races and religions true to their Sheepshead Bay location. The academy stands committed to training analytical learners, critical thinkers, and responsible decision makers for further study in the 21st century’s global and technological society.
Saint Saviour c atholic academy
701 8th Ave Brooklyn, NY 11215 saintsaviourcatholicacademy. org
Saint Saviour Catholic Academy educates students from PK3 to Grade 8. They provide a nurturing and supportive environment where students grow academically and build a strong sense of community. The school’s focus is to encourage the child to analyze thoroughly, communicate effectively, grow in faith, and love learning.
St. edmund e lementary School
Sheepshead Bay 1902 Avenue 718-648-9929 stedmundelem.org email@example.com Andrea D’Enic - Principal
A co-educational elementary school serving students from Nursery through 8th Grade. The school endeavors to educate the whole child: Spiritually, academically, socially, and physically, to become responsible moral citizens in today’s society. The school envisions its program as an academic center founded upon solid Christian and academic principles serving children and reflecting their multicultural backgrounds. St. Edmund Preparatory High School is located next door, and they enjoy a close, ongoing relationship. Many of their graduates go on to high school at St. Edmund Prep.
St Joseph the worker c atholic academy 241 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY
SJWCA is a Catholic Elementary School serving PK3 through grade 8 in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. The school fosters spiritual development, academic excellence, responsibility to self, and service to others. SJWCA has a challenging academic core curriculum aligned with the NY State Next Generation Learning Standards. SJWCA provides students with a student-centered, socially responsive environment in which faculty is dedicated to supporting the whole child. In addition to the core curriculum, the students at SJWCA also take courses in Spanish, Art, Music, Technology, and Physical Education and are offered a wide array of enrichment classes.
As we go into a new year , you may be thinking about how life can flow more easily. How can home life be a bit more efficient in 2023? One area for many of us –is the food department. I am a good cook, but I need a break. And I am not looking for five-course meals but food that inspires me yet at the same time is healthy, delicious and will get eaten by the entire family. Something many of us parents do mentally at the end of the year.
A few months back, I stumbled upon a delicious solution—Stocked by Three Owls, founded by chef and cookbook author Suzanne Lehrer Dumaine. I had been running around all day, and while visiting a friend, I was offered a tasty vegetable dish that, along with a delicious dressing, was enough to linger in my foodie brain for months afterward.
I recently touched base with the reason for my epicurean delight, Suzanne Lehrer, to learn more about how this pandemic-era mom reshaped her business into a full fledge served at your door service of healthy food — perfect if looking for some nights off from cooking this new year.
What was your defining moment in going from a storefront with your business to focusing on delivering food in the tri-state area?
Sitting at home during lockdown with both a new brick and mortar business in Covid freefall, and a new baby, something just clicked for me to connect the two. I was an exhausted new parent wishing for prepared foods to magically arrive at my doorstep (despite being a trained chef), and also the owner of a shop that made the exact type of food I was craving. I saw a distinct hole in the food delivery space to accomplish what I was looking for; something closer to a marketplace model instead of single-serving subscription or a meal kit, where you could stock up for days with healthful food to mix
and match. Maximum flexibility, and the happiness of a full fridge. At your door.
I decided to take a leap and threw together Stocked in three weeks as a last-ditch effort to save the business I had worked so hard on. We did almost zero marketing, put up a Shopify site, and sent it out into the world. When the (then-shuttered) dining area of our shop was completely covered in food packing operations a few weeks later for customers all over NYC, I knew I was onto something and told myself to just keep going.
You are a pandemic-era mom; how did you handle reshifting Three Owls into Stocked by Three Owls and managing a baby in a pandemic(!)?
Becoming a first-time mom during the height of the first Covid outbreak quickly eroded any fantasies I had about what that newborn and postpartum experience would be like (visitors, for example!). But in the process, I built a new level of resilience that permeated
everything else I took on. The business I had started only a year earlier had also felt like my baby, an intensely personal endeavor, and I watched it take a sharp downward turn I didn’t plan on and couldn’t control.
Being an overwhelmed new mom gives you no other choice but to keep going, even when it feels impossible, and I felt the same about Stocked. I was going to give it all I got, trust my instincts that this was a product people wanted as much as I did, and if it didn’t work out, I now had a real baby that needed me, and a whole new dimension of my life to engage with that I was equally excited about. Feeling like I was somehow supporting other families wishing for an easier solution to the eternal “what should we eat” dilemma kept me motivated.
Since you feed New Yorkers, what kind of work goes into planning the meals you serve them?
As a mom, busy New Yorker, and a giant
fan of prepared foods, I plan meals based on what I wish was in my own fridge at home to get into the mindset of our customers. When we plan meals, we keep in mind that New Yorkers are always on the go, and usually so are their kids! They usually have less time to cook than they would like (and tinier kitchens!), and despite a sea of restaurant delivery options, they want something that feels homemade.
I’m also keenly aware that New Yorkers are spoiled for choice, and that makes them the world’s toughest critics. Our food has to be great to stand out here. We spend hours developing and testing recipes (and making sure we love them throughout the week in our own fridges at home), combing customer feedback for insight, and obsessing over getting the product up to a New York standard.
Can you share with us the foods that enlighten you as a chef and a mom that help to inspire you in the meals you serve to your customers?
When I’m “off the clock” cooking for my family on a lazy Sunday morning, or for a dinner party on a Saturday night is typically
when I come up with the ideas that inspire our menus. At Stocked, we have a rotating “vegetable pancake” every week that’s a bestseller for both parents and kids alike, and it stemmed from a Sunday morning spinach pancake recipe I made with my son at home, just messing around in the kitchen together.
Vegetables are at the forefront of many of our dishes, so I’m always pushing myself to get as creative as possible to develop new iterations of them every single week – for both adults and kids. I think ultimately proteins are easy, it’s working with vegetables, through the lens of “what will our families truly want in their fridge” that really pushes me to be a better and more thoughtful chef.
“Feeling like I was somehow supporting other families wishing for an easier solution to the eternal ‘what should we eat’ dilemma kept me motivated.”
New York City is full of bright lights, but nothing quite matches the glow of the night sky, and there’s no better way to appreciate it than stargazing. Stargazing is a great way to appreciate the night sky in a new way, especially if you have little aspiring astronomers in the family.
Getting started with stargazing might seem intimidating at first, especially if you don’t know much about stars, constellations or space. But you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy looking at the night sky! Stargazing can be a fun activity for the whole family, regardless of your level of expertise.
Here are some tips for stargazing for beginners, plus some spots in New York to stargaze as a family!
Get an idea of what the sky’s going to look like before heading out for a stargazing session.
It’s best to stargaze before a full moon, so look at the moon phase when you’re picking a date. You’ll also see different constellations depending on what time of year and time of night you go out, so look at a star map to get an idea of what you’ll be seeing.
While you’re at it, be sure to check the weather before heading out. Nothing ruins a night of stargazing like a sky full of clouds.
A stargazing app can be helpful as you and your family scan the sky. Many of them cost money, but there are plenty of free or cheap options if you’re more of a casual stargazer. Some good options for beginners include SkyView or Star Rover.
Having an expensive telescope is not a requirement for stargazing, especially if you’re just starting out. An old pair of binoculars will do the trick. They’ll be more
than enough to magnify the night sky and allow you to see things you may not have been able to see before.
Get to know the night sky before taking the plunge and buying a telescope. If you decide later on that you want to take your stargazing to the next level, do some research when deciding what telescope is best for you and your family.
You are going to need to dress for the weather when going out for a night of stargazing. New York nights are chilly until kate Spring, so be prepared to layer up with sweaters, cold gear, winter coats, scarves, hats, gloves and anything else you typically need to stay warm.
Bring a few blankets for extra warmth
and to give yourself some protection from the ground if you choose to lie down to look at the stars.
There are a ton of clubs for amateur astronomers, which are a great resource if you’re looking to get into stargazing yourself. For example, the New York-based Amateur Astronomers Association (aaa.org0 offers classes, lectures and public observation sessions throughout the year. Joining a group like this is a great way to get more involved with stargazing alongside a new community.
You can also follow astronomers on social networking sites like Twitter. Often, they’ll tweet about cosmic events coming up or where and how you can see celestial points of interest.
Stargazing Spots in New York
Believe it or not, there are some great stargazing spots in New York City. They’re not great for seeing the deepest objects in space, but they’re good for seeing a few bright spots in the sky. If you’re looking to see more in the sky, we’ve also included some spots outside of the city.
Pupin Physics Laboratories Columbia University, Manhattan Home of the physics and astronomy departments at Columbia University, Pupin Hall hosts public outreach astronomy events for the whole family. Drop in for rooftop stargazing every other Friday during the academic year. Check out their Family Astro events, hosted three times a year and targeted towards children with families ages 6 through 12. Be sure to check out their website (outreach.astro.columbia.edu) for the latest news and events.
Vanderbilt Museum & Planetarium 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport, New York 11721
The Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium at the Vanderbilt Museum on Long Island offers planetarium shows throughout the week and public stargazing hours in the Observatory on Friday evenings. Their website also offers a comprehensive list of astronomy resources for amateur astronomers of all levels.
Walkway Over the Hudson Walkway West (Highland) Parking lot address is 87 Haviland Rd., Highland, NY, 12528 Walkway East (Poughkeepsie)
Parking lot address is 61 Parker Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY, 12601
If coming on foot- the stairs entrance located at 131 Washington Street in Poughkeepsie This historic site is the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge and a great place to stargaze. Watch the stars shine against the Hudson River and take in the breathtaking views.
Montauk Point State Park 2000 Montauk Highway Montauk, NY 11954
This state park on Long Island is far enough
away from the bright lights of the city to give you a perfect sky for stargazing. If you go at the right time of year, you can even get a glimpse of the Milky Way’s core, which is visible from the Northern Hemisphere around February every year. Gaze up at the stars amid views of the Atlantic where it meets the Block Island Sound.
Harriman State Park
Seven Lakes Dr / Bear Mountain Circle
Ramapo, NY 10974
One of the closest state parks to New York City, Harriman State Park in Rockland and Orange counties is full of great locations for stargazing. It’s open year round, so you can always make a trip with your family for some stargazing.
Big Buck Mountain Multiple Use Area Putnam County, NY
There’s no formal trails at Big Buck, but there are 146 acres of land open for primitive camping and exploring. It’s a good choice for stargazing if you and your family are experienced with camping and being outdoors.
For most parents, child care is one of the most critical challenges they can experience when balancing work and home life. According to Zippia.com, 58% of working parents depend on childcare centers. They also shared that 20% of mothers who do not currently work would look for a job if they had better access to quality child care and companies average about $12.7 billion in lost business revenue due to child care issues. For we all know when we do not have child care, even for a day, it throws off everything.
We touched base with the founders of Vivvi, a growing child care company with 5 campuses around NYC that also offers employer-sponsored child care, Charles ‘Charlie’ Bonello and Ben Newton. Dads to little ones (Charlie has a 3-year-old and 15-month-old twins) and Ben has a 16-month-old); their mission is to support working parents across NYC and help companies set up child care solutions for their employees.
Read on to learn about these two dads!
Why child care? What was the issue you set out to solve?
Ch AR lie : Child care is the single biggest pain point for working families—it’s expensive and there’s not enough of it. For me, that realization came about 12 years ago when i co-founded my last company, which was in the technology and real estate space. At least once a week someone would come into my office and say “i’m pregnant” or “My partner’s pregnant” and ask about child care. Then they’d learn that the closest child care center was a half hour away from their home, and it was only open until 3pm, and there was a 15-month waiting list. About half of them never came back to work. And as i started digging in, i realized that this wasn’t just about us, or New York…it was the entire U.S.
The pandemic shed light on child care issues since it was hard to ignore all those children suddenly in everyone’s zoom meetings, but
honestly, it’s something parents have known for a long time: without affordable, accessible child care, you simply cannot work.
We created Vivvi to help bring families high-quality, dependable and flexible child care and early learning that works for the way parents work today. We designed our programs and offerings that account for the realities that parents face while trying to juggle parenting and a career. That means extended hours (we’re open 7 am-7 pm) that truly work for working parents, warm and passionate teachers, and beautiful spaces that are purposefully designed for learning.
BeN : We know that early education is so important for young children—95% of brain development happens during early childhood education. And yet, in New York City, there isn’t a lot of early learning support for parents who return to work after parental leave. Our mission is to provide the highest quality of child care and early learning possible so that parents feel
supported as they reenter their careers.
How has fatherhood changed the way you do business, both emotionally and logistically?
BeN : i’ve spent my career in education, from teaching middle schoolers down in New Orleans right after hurricane Katrina, to working on the founding team of a network of private schools called Avenues here in New York. My wife is in education too, so together, we knew a lot about what parents needed and how to serve them before we become parents. But now that i have levi, i can appreciate the daily decision points parents have around balancing work and care…it’s made me more empathetic, especially to families trying to balance it all while still feeling like a present parent. And it drives me to create a place where parents feel that the trade-off doesn’t need to exist.
Ch AR lie : My 3-year-old Grace has been attending our programs since she was 6 weeks old and that wasn’t enough for me, so i had
on the challenges of child care and why they founded Vivvi
twins a year ago. I’m really in it right now, and being a father drives everything I do.
My own father is an immigrant, and he was a stay-at-home dad while my mother worked full-time. He was deeply involved in our lives and modeled that being present matters. I think about that often as a parent—even though I’m not home with my kids full-time like he was, I try to make all the tiny moments matter. Grace and I do positive affirmations every morning on our commute, and she shares stories from her day on our way home. I remind myself that the habits that we build on a daily basis become a part of who they are as little people and, eventually, as adults.
Tell me about the educational program at Vivvi. What drives the learning model and why do you feel it is an effective way for kids to learn?
Ben : The curriculum at Vivvi is based on how young children learn best. We know from all kinds of research that they are naturally most curious about their own interests, so we use an “inquiry-based” approach that allows teachers to build units based on children’s
questions about the world around them. We train our teachers to own their classrooms, and be responsive to the needs and interests of their children.
So what that looks like might be something like this: A teacher notices a child in their classroom is excited about the traffic outside. So they’ll create a curriculum about transportation with opportunities to learn math from counting wheels or social skills through dramatic play in an imaginary car wash.
You will never walk into one of our classrooms and see a teacher reading curriculum from a binder. You won’t see a row of the typical cotton ball snowman project on the bulletin board. In our classrooms, students of all ages are pursuing their own interests, with student-initiated activities, and student-initiated artwork. For babies, that means helping to inquire and learn how to ask questions; for older children, it means supporting them as they develop their own questions and seek the answers. And at the heart of all of this learning is play, which we know allows children to make sense of the world.
What are your next steps? And when can more New Yorkers expect to find a Vivvi near them?
CHA rl I e : We have campuses in Tribeca, Hudson Yards, World Trade Center and Dumbo, and we’re working on openings in Midtown West and the Upper e ast Side. Over the next three years, we hope to see dozens of locations throughout the tri-state area, and soon we’ll be in nearby cities like Boston and Washington, D.C. too.
We’re also partnering with more and more employers to make child care accessible and affordable for working families. It’s our mission to support parents and caregivers so they can return to—and stay in—the workforce, and we know that offering child care as a benefit is the best way to do that.
As a father of three—including two daughters—I want to see my children to grow up in a world where they don’t have to choose between growing their careers and growing a family. I’m building Vivvi with them in mind, and I hope that more companies will step up with solutions and partnerships that make the world a better place for working parents.
If you’re going 100 miles per hour in a car and you try to smell the roses, you’re going to get whiplash. As a recovering workaholic, I should know. I spent fifteen years as an executive producer in national television news and the entertainment industry, creating content for Netflix, Fox, Us Weekly, Nordstrom, Target, AT&T, and more. For years, I was content being in the center of the rat race, until the day I was in the hospital delivery room, awaiting the imminent birth of my second child. Between the panting and the eagerness of this moment, I found myself on the phone frantically reviewing resumes after a messy corporate acquisition led to some of my 17-person staff fleeing the job. At that instant, as if a lightbulb suddenly turned on, I had my moment of truth: this was not the life I wanted anymore.
Working in media is a nonstop gig, and loyalties aren’t always reciprocated. I’d leveled up in the industry by saying “yes” to everything for more than a decade. Now, as a mother of two, I needed to start saying no and begin prioritizing myself, my family, and my life. And so, nearly cold turkey, I quit, finally removing myself from the neverending hamster wheel of the corporate world. While today I am happier than I’ve ever been both professionally and personally, the first year on my own was filled with doubt, confusion, and feelings of isolation. In the hopes that this advice will help you create a career path that leaves you fulfilled and happy, here are the things I wish I knew when making the decision to quit my corporate career.
1. Identify what you don’t like about your current work situation
Imagine it’s 90 degrees out, and your kids say they don’t like going to the beach or the pool. So then what? Sitting indoors all day will not actually bring them joy, despite
their insistence to the contrary. Likewise, slamming that metal door behind you and marching out of that gray office with no set plan will not bring you the life you want.
Ask yourself: is there something specific you dislike about your job? Or does it extend to your career as a whole? Do you want fewer hours, or would having a boss who doesn’t micromanage you solve your problem?
Answer those questions before handing in your resignation notice.
It was absolutely clear to me that I wanted to work for myself. I wanted control of my career and flexibility within my schedule. I didn’t want to sprint home from the office at 5:30 to steal an hour with my daughter before bed. I didn’t want to pretend to be at a doctor’s appointment to take my son to swim class. I was excited to leave office politics behind and focus on the work. I figured worse comes to worse, I could always find another job in my field if it didn’t work out. However, it still took me two full years to gather up my “3 C’s”: courage, confidence, and clarity, to really do it. It’s okay to take it slow, but not so slow that you’ll be ready to retire by the time you pull the ripcord!
2. Don’t use other people’s definition of success
Dr. Lisa Damour, PhD, host of the podcast Ask Lisa: The Psychology of Parenting says it’s important for you to define your own success:
“It is easy to look at the people around us and think ‘well if they can do that I should be able to do that. Or why am I not doing what they’re doing?’ The question is ‘Can you be your own yardstick’? Can you decide for yourself what would be gratifying?”
For me, in my grasping (and gripping tightly) for a more balanced life, I had some big realizations. I recognized that I had to give up a title and a job that perhaps seemed glamorous to the outside world. Once I removed my ego from the decision and focused on the fact that it was my choice, and that my overall hap-
piness and balance was more important than any title, I felt freer. Ironically, once I set those external measurements aside, that’s when I started earning industry awards!
3. Start networking! I don’t mean meetups in mahogany bars with sad peanuts in small bowls — actually any social interaction can be “networking.” Coffee, wine, volunteering, pickleball session, surfing… you get my point. Any time you’re connecting with others, you’re networking. In deciding how big or small you want to grow your business, and as you begin to price your services, utilize networking to get more insight into what your standards should be. Leadership coach Leah Wiseman Fink says, “Money’s not an ugly dirty topic. Ask your friends and industry peers what they charge, tell what you charge.”
Connect with your first, second and third degree contacts on social media and on email – they will be your biggest cheerleaders and referrers, at least at first. My first big client came from a referral from a professional contact. That led to a long term consulting project and gave me the confidence to tell myself, ‘I can actually do this.’
Networking (or socializing, as it should be reframed) may seem daunting when you’re in transition. Neha Ruch of Mother Untitled, a community for ambitious moms leaning in to family life, has advice on owning your story. When someone asks “What do you do?”, Neha recommends answering with “This is what I’m doing right now. I’m choosing to ___” (and fill in the blank with whatever path you’re on). This comes from a place of choice and a position of power, instead of a position where you’re not wriggling in your seat answering, “Um, I used to be… and now I am sort of …” Own your choice!
4. Get a mom posse Remember when you had your first baby and
you felt totally lost, wondering “How do I do this? What did I get myself into?” So you desperately befriended every mom with a stroller?
Find other moms who are working outside the 9-to-5. Your close friends who are climbing the corporate ladder may or may not understand your new challenges.
In my experience, when you tell people you quit your job, some of them will look at you like you have three heads. This is why you must find the people who will celebrate your choice and cheer you on! Other self-employed moms, consultants, stay-at-home moms with side hustles, they will be the ones texting you with balloon emojis when you land a client and grumpy emojis when you’re chasing
down an invoice. (Sorry, yes, those things sometimes happen!)
5. Remember your priorities
Panicking that you made the wrong decision? About to start job-hunting again? Tune out the noise! Sometimes I can still feel the buzzing energy of the ‘rat race’, but I’m trying to stay true to the reasons I decided to work for myself: I wanted more time with my kids and more control over my schedule. If I’m spending 60 hours a week ‘networking’ and posting on social media, why did I make this career change? Surely there is a different and smoother path?
Believe in yourself. You can do it. I promise.
My journey from burnt out media exec to founder of an award-winning video strategy company led me to launch Mom’s Exit Interview, a resource for moms who want to thrive without the 9-to-5. These tips and advice come from the awesome guests on our show – and myself!
Kim Rittberg is the host of Mom’s Exit Interview – http://moms-exit-interview.com and is a Gold Telly Award winner, Webby Honoree, a Content Strategy Expert and Creative Executive Producer in TV, digital video, and audio. She has been a speaker and instructor at PENN, Syracuse, and General Assembly and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School. Visit her website here: Kim Rittberg
Ever since I spoke with Babba Rivera (@Babba), Ceremonia founder and mother of two, I couldn’t stop thinking about something she said. When I asked Babba about self-care, she said: “It’s not a destination, it’s a way of living.” When I asked her about sustainability, once again, she said: “It’s not a destination, it’s a way of living.” In our modern day of TikTok wellness influencers who take us through their daily skin-care vlogs, to fashionforward Gen-Zers showing off their vintage wear on Instagram, we’re entering a new era. This era, one where self-care, sustainability, among other things, are seen as everyday practices to be the best version of ourselves, is one that Babba is already familiar with. In fact, she’s leading it in the beauty industry.
Babba is challenging the status quo in these spaces to encourage a new way of thinking– one that requires intentionality and flexibility to grow. Ultra-mini uggs are trending. So what? Glass bottles are a sustainability practice precedent. So what? I learned from Babba that just because something is popular now or was the standard before, doesn’t mean it’s the future, and it definitely doesn’t mean that it’s you. The new era that Babba invites us into is one where we can be our authentic selves, where we are encouraged to tap into our inner creativity and create our world accordingly. Read on to hear how Babba’s brand Ceremonia (@myceremonia) is innovating a lot more than hair care.
Let’s first discuss your Latinx heritage. How has your family and culture influenced your hair care brand?
I am from Sweden and grew up very closely connected to my culture thanks to my parents, both from Chile. I was raised in a Spanish speaking household where Tia’s and Tio’s would come and go as they pleased and salsa played on repeat. Rituals were deeply rooted in my upbringing.
I have many fond memories with my family pertaining to rituals - beauty in particular. My father was a hairdresser back in Chile and would spend hours braiding my long hair, and my mom and aunties would invite me to their beauty practices using natural ingredients they knew and loved from passed down customs. My mother also taught me self-worth by practicing it herself, carving out the space for two hour baths and showers unapologetically as a mom of two. She also led by example in how she treated her skin and hair with nourishing products focusing on moisture and care versus styling and masking. What I loved most was the strong sense of community I learned from home as well as the healthy relationship to beauty I learned from my family as a form of self-care. Through Ceremonia, I pay tribute to my Latin culture because there is so much to be celebrated. From the powerful ingredients that are native to the region, to the rich rituals around beauty as a form of selfcare and self-love, not to mention the attention to care that goes into beauty as a whole.
We also know that self-care is top of mind with your brand. Can you tell us a little more about how you envision wellness and self-care in Ceremonia?
Self-care and wellness, for me, it’s not an end destination. It’s almost a way of living. It’s easy to deprioritize when you’re busy, but that’s when you need it the most. So with Ceremonia, we try to create every day rituals that are attainable, that can be those little pockets of joy throughout your day. One of our best selling Duos, the Sunday Reset Duo, is a papaya scalp scrub and a hair mask with babassu. These two products have become my sacred Sunday reset. Every Sunday, I take a bath and I give myself this deep exfoliating cleanse with the scalp scrub, which is basically a shampoo but more of a treatment shampoo that I use once a week. Then I put on the hair mask, and I let it sit in my hair for 15 minutes. I need to wash my hair that day anyway, but through
this ritual, it’s become a more joyful experience. That’s really what we try to do with the brand: making it possible for people to find every day joy in things that they need to do anyway. Let’s upgrade that experience.
Sustainability is also top of mind for your brand. What does sustainability mean to you, and how do you see it shaping the beauty industry?
Sustainability is such a big topic. For me, it’s similar to self-care: it’s not a destination, it’s a way of living. It’s a way of constantly learning and iterating. There is so much innovation happening within sustainability, which obviously is super cool, but sometimes I feel like the solutions become very gimmick-y and actually not really impactful at scale. It’s more like a thing that consumers can feel good about, and the brands can get a lot of PR around, versus actually having a sustainable impact.
A great example is one of the most common questions we get is: “Why don’t you use glass bottles? That would be more sustainable.” The reality is, it actually is not. We use post-consumer-recycled (PCR) materials. The reason we do that is because when we look at the entire carbon footprint and the recyclability of PCR, it’s much more sustainable than glass. Glass is great if you refill. If you keep the glass bottle in its original shape and you use it over and over again, then it’s more sustainable. But if you’re recycling glass, it’s actually very energy intensive. Not to mention the shipping implications of glass versus something much lighter like PCR. There’s this idea that it’s better if it’s glass because that feels more sustainable, but actually when you look at the bigger picture, is it really? For Ceremonia, it’s a lot about having that balance between perception versus reality, and we try to stick to the reality part. Even though sometimes we spend 5 times more on a solution that is not perceived, necessarily, as super sustainable and we don’t get any “green points”, we know that
we’re doing the right thing. We see sustainability more so as our responsibility towards the Earth, not a marketing tool.
How has motherhood influenced your dayto-day life?
It’s influenced me so much. It’s the greatest joy. I never thought those words would come out of my mouth, to be quite honest. I was so focused on my career and really terrified of motherhood. I was worried that becoming a mom would compromise my identity and career. What I found is that it’s only been additive. It’s been an addition to my life, versus a limitation. I feel more confident than ever in my own skin. There is this sense of confidence that settles when you have your own children, like nothing else matters. Worst case scenario, I still have my children. It doesn’t matter how this career goes, or I don’t even care if someone is mad at me. I have my children. It’s a very powerful and grounding experience. It’s also made me more productive than ever. I have many more boundaries, and I almost feel like nothing can get to me…except for something with my kids. If my kids are sick, then I’m so worried. So the downfall of motherhood is you’re always worried about your kids. But the plus side is you’re never worried about anything else.
What advice do you have for womxn, particularly those of underrepresented backgrounds, who are thinking of starting their own businesses too?
Do it. The reality is, just like with kids, there’s never such a thing as good timing. I don’t think it’s wise to wait for the perfect time to present itself, because usually you just have to decide for yourself that this is the perfect timing. That’s how it goes with any decision. There are no decisions that are right or wrong. It’s just how you decide to perceive them.
About starting a business though, I will say that it’s liberating, but also very intense. Ask yourself why you want to run your own business. What’s the mission behind it? What’s the purpose? Then make sure you’re setting yourself up for success to live up to that purpose. There are people that start businesses because they want to work less. That’s fine, then you’re setting up the business according to that. Then there are people that start businesses because they want to make a lot of money. Okay, how will you do that? Just be honest with yourself about why you’re doing it, and that will help guide all of the decisions.
This article has been edited for clarity and brevity. To read the piece in its entirety, please visit newyorkfamily.com.
keeper for a Day: Sharks when : Saturday, Jan. 7, 2-4pm where: New York Aquarium, 602 Surf Avenue, Coney Island ageS: 3 and older what: Explore what it’s like to be a shark keeper, go behind the scenes, and meet a small ocean animal up close. want to go?: $30; $24 members. 800-433-4149, nyaquarium.com
greencycle Post- holiday Swap
when: Saturday, Jan. 7, 12-3pm where: Town Square BK, N. 15th Street and Nassau Avenue, Little Poland ageS: All what: Bring your loved, but no longer needed clothes, books, toys and more, and come away with something new to you!
want to go?: $10 suggested donation per family, townsquarebk.org
celebrate martin luther king Jr. when: Jan. 14-16, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 10am-5pm where: Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 145 Brooklyn Ave., Crown Heights ageS: All what: Celebrate the life and legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through interactive performances, protest marches, community art programs, and volunteer projects!
want to go?: $13; $12 grandparent; free for babies younger than 1 year, brooklynkids.org
the rock and roll Playhouse plays the music of coldplay for kids + more when : Sunday, Jan. 15, 12pm
where: Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg ageS: All what: Your kids will feel like they’re in Paradise when listening to the music of Coldplay. want to go?: $15. 602-3848869, brooklynbowl.com
Day of Service: Dr. martin luther king Jr. Day when : Monday, Jan. 16, 10-11:30am, families only; 10am-1pm ages 14 and older where: Prospect Park at Music Pagoda, Lincoln Road Park Entrance, Prospect Lefferts Gardens ageS: 4 and older what: Honor Dr. King’s legacy during this day of service and help beautify the park. want to go?: 718-965-8951, prospectpark.org
Disney on ice presents into the magic
when : Jan. 18-22, Wednesday and Thursday, 7pm; Friday, 11am and 7pm; Saturday, 11am, 3pm, and 7pm; Sunday, 12pm and 4pm where: Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave., Prospect Heights/Park Slope ageS: All what: Go on an expedition across raging seas, snow covered mountains and more with the stars of Disney’s Moana, Frozen, Coco and Beauty and the Beast with other beloved Disney characters. want to go?: Tickets start at $20, disneyonice.com
my first Brain Quest with Debbie Brukman
when : Tuesday, Jan. 17, 11am-12pm where: Books Are Magic Montague, 122 Montague Street , Downtown Brooklyn ageS: Newborn-5 what: Celebrate the launch
of My First Brain Quest with a reading and performance by local children’s musician Debbie Brukman. want to go?: 718-246-2665, booksaremagic.net
when : Sunday, Jan. 22, 10:3011:15am where: Old Stone House, 336 3rd St., South Slope ageS: Newborn-5 what: Children and their families can experience and enjoy the wonders of classical, jazz, bluegrass, and more! want to go?: $37. 718-7683195, mozartformunchkins.com
the PBr monster energy Buck off
when : Jan. 6-8, Friday, 7:45pm; Saturday, 6:45pm; Sunday, 1:45pm
where: Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, Midtown ageS: All what: See the Top 35 bull riders in the world compete against the fiercest bucking bulls on the planet, providing thrills, heart pounding adrenaline and edge-of-yourseat excitement.
want to go?: Tickets start at $20. 212-465-6000, msg.com
the thunderbird american indian Dancers in concert
when : Jan. 13-22, Fridays and Saturdays, 8pm. Children’s matinees Saturday and Sunday, 3pm where: Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue, between 9th and 10th Streets, East Village ageS: All what: This event will feature dances, stories and traditional music celebrating our first Americans.
want to go?: $15; $1 ages 5-12 during children’s matinees performances when accompanied by a full price paying adult, theaterforthenewcity.net
Discover Boating new york Boat Show in manhattan when : Jan. 25-29, Wednesday-Friday, 12-8pm; Saturday, 10am-8pm; Sunday, 10am-6pm where: Jacob Javits Center, 655 W. 34th St., Chelsea ageS: All what: Experience the best of the boating life with travel
talks, indoor water activities, and hundreds of boats on display and ready to be explored by kids of all ages. want to go?: $20; Children 12 years and younger allowed in FREE with a paid adult admission, nyboatshow.com
all aboard with thomas & friends when : Jan. 7-16, Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays, 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm; Fridays, 10:30am and 12:30pm where: The New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx ageS: All what: Everyone’s favorite train is returning to NYBG as the star of a mini performance that everyone will enjoy!
want to go?: Tickets start at $15 for adults; $7 for students with ID and seniors 65 and older; and $4 for children 2-12; free for children younger than age 2, nybg.org
family art Project: freedom Quilters of gee’s Bend
when : Jan. 14-15, 10am–1pm where: Wave Hill, 4900 Independence Ave, The Bronx ageS: All what: Create your own fabric collage out of bountiful squares of fabric scraps to honor Dr. King’s Birthday and the inspiring women quilters of Gee’s Bend.
want to go?: Included with admission: $10; $6 students and seniors 65 and older; $4 ages 6 and older. 718-5493200, wavehill.org
free Pajama Storytime when : Saturday, Jan. 21, 10:30-11:30am where: Bronx Library Center, 310 East Kingsbridge Road, Bronx ageS: All what: Wear your favorite pajamas for a morning full of songs, rhymes, and stories. want to go?: nypl.org
when : Dec. 10 -Feb. 26, Wednesdays-Sunday,
10am-5pm where: New York Hall of Science, 4701 111th St., Corona ageS: All what: Experience the magic of winter indoors thanks to this eco-friendly, polymer-based rink. want to go?: $10. 718-6990005. nysci.org
free Discovery hike: winter wildlife when : Sunday, Jan. 15, 10-11am where: Rockaway Beach, Beach 86th Street & Boardwalk, Rockaway Beach ageS: All what: Go in search of animals that call Rockaway Beach their home, including waterfowl, shorebirds, mammals, invertebrates, and even the occasional seal. want to go nycgovparks. org
lunar new year celebration when : Saturday, Jan. 28, 12-4pm where: Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St., Flushing ageS: All what: Celebrate the Year of the Rabbit with lion dance performances, zodiac-themed crafts and storytime, and more! want to go?: $5 suggested donation. $15 parking rate in effect. 718-886-3800, queensbotanical.org
As we move into winter, I have been spending my free time researching sports classes and extracurricular activities my kids will be doing this season.
I hadn’t planned it this way. I am a former Sports Mom, think stage mom of all things sports and after school, and this would be me. My mother never pushed my sisters and me to do sports. But my father was outdoorsy, and we did everything from track and skateboarding to racquetball and volleyball. And when my oldest son was a toddler, I enrolled him in his first soccer class. Watching him and his teammates figure out where exactly the ball was to go and why they couldn’t tackle or eat the netting was adorable.
Then it got serious. As the kids became older, they became more passionate, which meant more practice time and all-around parent involvement wasn’t just for a Saturday morning -practice weekdays were required. After soccer, we did basketball, flag football and then gymnastics. My son excelled in gymnastics, and I started to think – Olympics. Gold! But he hated it. He felt he was being pushed too hard, and the truth is, he was.
My youngest, who is autistic, had significant needs post-pandemic, requiring a lot of educational catch-ups and one on one time. And privately, as this ‘super sports mom,’ I was becoming unhinged with all that was on my plate. So we took some time off. This move was the best thing we could have done as a family. We focused on the youngest, his therapies and getting him into a specialty school. My oldest still participated in his afterschool activities, but as far as anything extra, we ceased it all for a bit. Having this time off also helped me get some perspective and realize it should always be about the kids and doing things they love.
And now, post-pandemic, post-time off, we are back. And here is why...we missed it. The practices, the running out the door early on Saturday mornings, even the snow days where I used to curse the weather as we trudged through the snow. But the truth is these kids wake up at dawn. Why not get out the door and be productive? And participating in a sport or an extracurricular
activity has enormous benefits.
Participating in a sport or extracurricular activity helps our kids to learn to communicate better, something they lacked during the pandemic. I can’t think of a better way for them to work on their social skills and come together with a group of kids of the same age (some from different schools!) and be part of a team or fine-tune a craft. Also, activities are not just sports; this is New York, where art, dance, theater classes (and more!) are plentiful. I am excited and nervous about all the future running around and the evening practices. But we’re ready and prepared to go with the flow and enjoy the ride. See you there!
Here are a few tips I learned during our hiatus:
For kids old enough, keep them involved . I never asked my son what he wanted to do. When one activity wasn’t his thing, we just moved on to the next. I never considered that maybe he didn’t like sports. He was excelling in afterschool classes of theater and dance and yet I continued to put him in sports classes. During our year break, I stopped pushing, and now he lets me know what classes he would like to try.
Step back if you have overscheduled your kids . If the classes, activities or weekend sports leave you or your family feeling like you’re losing it, step back. This doesn’t mean quitting. Skip a game or two. Talk to the coach and tell them you’ll miss a few classes. Take some time to ask why this is not enjoyable. Finish the class if you can, set new limits and work within the limitations you set up for your family when choosing the next set of classes and activities.
We need to lighten up as parents, and I am as guilty as the next. In the past, my husband was the assistant coach for my son’s soccer team, which put added pressure on my son. The games, especially if the team lost, could be intense. Have fun. It’s only worth the stress if you have a future NCAA player and your kid is determined to make this something more. Work on having a healthy sense of competitive balance, especially in sports, so your child sees you are happy, win or lose.
Know your bandwidth . Learning from past mistakes — I am scheduling classes and activities close to home and maybe mixing it up, some afterschool fun, a weekend here and there, or a one-off or two class.