New York Family - January 2023

Page 1

Babba Rivera

Founder and CEO of clean hair brand Ceremonia, on reimagining self-care
Education Goals for the New Year Forget the Resolutions!
expert tips on how to
Don't miss our C a MP FaIR See page 35
get unstuck and move at your own pace — at any time of the year

Study the liberal arts and . . . SCIENCES.

Start college after 10th or 11th grade and earn your Bachelor's degree two years early.

Simon’s Rock offers dual degree programs at Columbia Engineering Program (BA/BS), Dartmouth Engineering Program (BA/BE), Levy Economics Institute Program (BA/MS), Vermont Law Environmental Policy Program, and SUNY Upstate Medical Center Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program.

Bard College at Simon’s Rock is the only college in the country specifically designed for students ready to enter college after the 10th or 11th grade and begin working on their Bachelor’s Degree two years early. Simon’s Rock offers a curriculum in the liberal arts and sciences, taught by supportive, highly trained faculty, who are leading scholars in their field. The College grants degrees in more than 35 majors. Great Barrington, Massachusetts

4 | January 2023 Janua Ry 2023 contents FE aTURE s 28 | cover: Babba c r ivera The founder of the clean hair brand Ceremonia, reimagining self-care, sustainability and what it means to be authentic 26 | c areer The mom’s guide to quitting your job 34 | e xtracurricular activities Balancing sports and activities sToRIEs & ColUM ns 6 | editor’s letter 8 | a sk the e xpert Forget the resolutions and try these expert steps 10 | c amps Is your Child ready for Sleepaway Camp? 14| Spotlight reframing the family meal with Suzanne Lehrer of Stocked by Three Owls 16 | education n ew year’s Education Goals: How to set intentions for success for your child in 2023 20| Spotlight Charles Bonello & Ben n ewton on the challenges of child care and why they founded Vivvi 22 | family n ight o ut Where to see stars 24 | Travel Find aloha spirit at Mauna Lani Fa MI ly FU n 32 | c alendar all the fun events and activities for January D IRECTo RIE s 19 | c atholic Schools listings on The cover Photo: Yumi Matsuo | Hair & Makeup: Buffy Hernandez | Cover Story Written by: Mia Salas Produced by: Donna Duarte Ladd pg. 28 pg. 22 pg. 16 pg. 32 pg. 14
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Moving Foward

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 16.)

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 26) 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.

xo, Donna


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Forget the Resolutions!

Lifecoach Leah Wiseman Fink shares some year-round tips

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.

Leah Wiseman

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

8 | January 2023
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January 2023 | New York Family 9 Advanced Placement (AP) Classes Co-Taught Classrooms Special Education Team English Language Learners (ELLs) program 20+ School Clubs Basketball Flag Football Volleyball Track & Field Social Work Team & Interns School Counselor Adolescent Health Center for Medical & Dental Care Summer Youth Employment (SYEP) Work, Learn & Grow (WLG) After School Arts College Advisement Internships SAT Prep Legal Services & more Why Broome Street Academy Charter High School? We are a diverse, equitable, inclusive community with a focus on student voice. Rigorous Academic Programs Athletics Programs with Championship Teams Social Emotional Support Holistic Programs via Partnership with The Door CONTACT: Ms. Ruth D. Caraballo (hablo español) or at 929.285.3176, M-F 9AM-4PM TRAINS: 1/6/A/J/N/Q/Z to Canal • C/E to Spring • B/D/F/M to Broadway-Lafayette • R/W to Prince BUSES: M20/M21/M55 555 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013 APPLY TODAY! 9th Grade Seats AVAILABLE FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Is Your Child Ready for Sleepaway Camp?

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?

It’s more than age

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

10 | January 2023


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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.”

Preparation is important

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.”

Sleepaway Camps Meet & Greet – Everything You Need to Know

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023 at 1:00 PM

Finding the right Sleepaway camp can be a daunting task. Let New York Family help by introducing you to 5 amazing Sleepaway camps. Our panel of camp directors will introduce their camps and tell you about the fun options in store for your child this summer. Moderated Q & A session to follow the webinar. Sign

12 | January 2023
up now. Space is limited.
c amps
“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.”

“We collect some of the brightest minds in NYC who aspire to be bigger and better achievers. The friendships created among staff lead to the creation of study groups, ���������������������������������������������������������� tunities outside of working at the center.”

of 2023 When Frances Kweller founded a learning center in her childhood neighborhood, she knew it would have a massive community impact. Her creation, Kweller Prep Tutoring and Educational Services, Inc., soon became a staple of the Forest Hills community and drew families from all ������������������������������������������������ foot center situated above the Midway Theatre ����������������������������������������� floor, owner and founder Frances Kweller has tirelessly made a difference for students alongside her devoted team for over 15 years. Now, the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce is proud to award Frances Kweller as the Forest ���������������������������� ����������������������������������������������������������� �������������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������������������� ���������������������������������������������������������������� year, and the prep school continues to navigate everything from elementary to high school to the college application process. “Kweller Prep has a very intentional, dedicated mission to help immigrant and minority children advance to higher education, including placement in highly competitive environments that build their careers,” said founder Frances Kweller. “We place students on track for success.” ���������������������������������������������������������� a student whose Stuyvesant acceptance beat so many odds ��������������������������������������������������������� ����������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������������������ Hill High School. body.
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Reframing the Family Meal

Talking with Stocked by Three Owls founder

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

14 | January 2023

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.

Bard College at Simon’s Rock is the only college in the country specifically designed for students ready to enter college after the 10th or 11th grade and begin working on their Bachelor’s Degree two years early.

January 2023 | New York Family 15
. . . in Great Barrington . . . at SIMON'S ROCK
“Feeling like I was somehow supporting other families wishing for an easier solution to the eternal ‘what should we eat’ dilemma kept me motivated.”
the Berkshires
Apply today!

education Education Goals for a New Year

How to set intentions for success for your child in 2023

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

16 | January 2023

The IDEAL School of Manhattan

NYC’s Only

Belonging is a big part of children’s education– feeling included, welcomed, and supported. That is precisely why The IDEAL School of Manhattan was founded in 2005. Three families were looking for an independent school that offered differentiated instruction, would celebrate each child’s unique identity, and would welcome their kids into the community.

After not finding an elementary school that would provide their children with individualized attention and smaller class sizes, the families decided to start one themselves! Finally, there was an independent school committed to teaching children of all backgrounds, socioeconomic levels, ethnicities, genders, cultures, sexual orientations, learning styles, readiness levels, and abilities together in an inclusive setting.

While IDEAL has certainly expanded

School Is Relocating to the Financial District

older and younger students, and partake in inclusive arts programming.

IDEAL’s founders intended for the school to be as diverse and dynamic as NYC itself, and that’s exactly what they did. After years of success fostering an inclusive environment, IDEAL’s founders and trustees have signed a 33-year lease at 5 Hanover Square to unify the school’s community in one building.

since, now a K-12+ program of about 200 students, including the Next Steps Transition Program for ages 18-21, inclusion has always been at the heart of what they do. Students regularly present research at a Civil Rights Community Day, hear from disability rights activists, engage in American Sign Language collaborations between

The 63,000 square foot, 5-floor space features a test kitchen, art and music studios, therapy suites, and more! The new space will not only allow IDEAL to open its doors to more students, but bring the IDEAL community together like never before.

Interested in an open house or tour for NYC’s only K-12+ independent inclusion school? Give them a call at 212-769-1699 x10105 or send an email to admissions@

Upper School (Grades 6-12)

February 3, 11:30 AM-12:30

Lower School (Grades K-5) February 13, 8:30-9:30

January 2023 | New York Family 17 New York FamilY partN er
Independent Inclusion
At IDEAL, we believe that differentiated learning is the key to academic excellence. We offer a supportive environment where all children are valued and celebrated.
Join us for an open house or a personal tour. Call us at 212-769-1699 x10105 or email for more information and virtual open house links.
Open Houses
Open Houses
AM Virtual
and 18
and 15 A small school that’s BIG on inclusion NYC’s only K-12+ independent inclusion school Relocating to our new home in the Financial District in September 2023!
January 13
February 10

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’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.

A Resolution List for Elementary, Middle and High-School Students

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.

18 | January 2023
“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.”

c ardinal Spellman h igh School

1 Cardinal Spellman Place, Bronx ny 718-881-8000 x206 admissions@cardinalspellman. org

Cardinal Spellman High School is a coeducational, college preparatory, Catholic high school located on a 13-acre campus in the Bronx, ny. Offering 20 aP and college-level courses, students can earn up to one year of college credit. Spellman has a 100% graduation rate and college acceptance rate. The Class of 2022 was awarded 76+ million in college scholarships. Spellman is home to 30 championship-winning sports teams and 50+ clubs and activities. Learn more at

St. Joseph’s Schoolyorkville

40 East 87th Street, new york 212-289-3057

Founded in 1880, St. Joseph’s School - yorkville, is located on the upper East Side of Manhattan and serves the five boroughs, upper counties of new york, and new Jersey.

St. Joseph’s is an inquirybased learning environment that nurtures and challenges every child, Pre-K 3 to 8th grade. Dedicated to the education of a diverse student body,the staff and faculty work within the framework of Catholic values. Early DropOff; after-School and Enrichment Programs; free breakfast and lunch; Early Childhood Playroom, Gym, Music and art rooms. Library; tech lab; K-8 Enrichment program includes: Physical Education, Music, Visual arts, Drama, Cooking, Foreign Language, and Choir; CyO Sports.

The Montessori School of New York International

Wisdom through Knowledge

Where Learning Comes to Life!

Half Days (9am to 12pm), Full Days (9am to 3:30pm) & Extended Days (8am to 6pm) for working parents

Accelerated Track for Gifted Children Music, STEM, Art, Foreign Language, Dance, Yoga

Summer Day Camp Programs

January 2023 | New York Family 19 ���������������������������������������������������������������
Nursery through
Junior High (Ages 21/2 – 14)
for September 2023
C aT hol IC s C hools D IRECT o R y Special Advertising Supplement

Charles Bonello & Ben Newton

For most parents, child care is one of the most critical challenges they can experience when balancing work and home life. According to, 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

20 | January 2023
KB for Briar Rose Photo
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.

January 2023 | New York Family 21

Where to See Stars

Helpful tips and cool places for stargazing in New York

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!


What’s In the Sky

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.

Download an App

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.

Expensive Equipment Not Required

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.

Dress and Pack Accordingly

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.

Find An Astronomy Club

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.

22 | January 2023
Family night out

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 ( 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.

January 2023 | New York Family 23
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Find Aloha Spirit at Mauna Lani

A family getaway in Hawaii

Do you daydream of taking your family to a faraway, tropical paradise without needing a passport? Aloha! Hawaii, is the perfect spot for an epic family vacation and a resort to look into is Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, on the Island of Hawaii. At Mauna Lani, families come together in the most stunning place for rich culture and heritage, beautiful sand beaches, delicious dining, volcanic adventures, and magical memories to last a lifetime. When you arrive and get a lei greeting from the warm and welcoming staff, you will feel like a part of the whole, big ohana (Hawaiian for family). Prepare for endless adventures and to soak in the Aloha Spirit.

Find Your Piko

Mauna Lani is ideally located in the piko (center) of five mountains and the majestic property has it all. The resort welcomes generations of families, treating them like the Hawaiian royalty that frequented its lush lands. There are countless highlights like a sunrise canoe paddle; the timeless tradition of the luau; stand-up paddle boarding with Mika, the resort’s pup resident; sinking your toes into white, black, or green sand; and a dinner at the Canoe House.

The guestrooms are spacious and offer multiple options for all different types of families like traditional rooms, family suites, and private residences. Parents will appreciate the complimentary gear, including cribs, pack-and-plays, and rollaway beds, and kids will adore the amenities to welcome them and celebrate special occasions.

Family Friendly Fun in Paradise

There are endless activities in the most spectacular setting for big and little explorers that guarantee that even the smallest travelers feel like a really big deal. From the keiki (meaning children in Hawaiian) beach and infinity edge pool with ocean views and adjacent giant lawn

games to the Holoholo Kids Club with days full of fun, new friends, and traditional Hawaiian experiences, like hula dance and learning about the origins of green sand.

Grown-ups can find the perfect balance of family fun and adult-only amenities. Make a tee time at the Wikiwiki Course, a pristine nine-hole course that’s perfect for the whole family, or play world-class golf as a double on the North and South courses. And let’s not forget some self-care-indulgence at the Auberge Spa, where treatments feature the benefits of local oils, herbs, honey and flowers from the Island of Hawaii. There is also a serene adultsonly infinity pool.

Families can swim, snorkel, kayak, and play all day at the picturesque white sand beach. Then snuggle up together in the private, plush Halau just steps from the ocean. Listen to the waves crash as you savor every sip of your favorite Hawaiian beverage served in a carved pineapple because it makes every sip even sweeter.

Culture and Heritage

Start your day in the most invigorating way

with a sunrise canoe paddle in a traditional Hawaiian-style outrigger canoe. It’s a perennial fan favorite. Then explore historic sites like Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve, one of the largest and last heiau built in Hawaii with more than 3,000 ancient petroglyphs. Visit Honu Pond to learn the historical, environmental, and cultural significance of honu, and paint in paradise with the artist in residence. Carve out time to talk story with Danny Akaka, the resort’s knowledge keeper, and enjoy his tales of Old Hawaii, including about Pele or Maui, all while he plays the ukulele and families make authentic leis.

The Hale Hoaloha Lu’au, a Hawaiian experience that that is steeped in history and culture, embodies the simple yet invaluable pleasures of togetherness and celebration. There’s storytelling, a traditional feast, hula dancing, and fire dancers. Dine on locallysourced classics like lomi lomi salmon, ahi poke, huli huli style chicken, and kiawe broiled steak while being mesmerized by the stories of Old Hawaii and the graceful hula dancers. The most jaw dropping and breath-

24 | January 2023

taking performance is the fire dancer who steals the show and was literally on fire— touching and eating the fire as he performed his bold fire dance. This all happens while the sun sets making a picture perfect evening and creating memories to last a lifetime.

Lava Lakes

No trip to the Big Island is complete without a visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes. Kailani Tours express tour is the perfect family adventure to the Kilauea Volcano at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with a few brief stops on the way like Rainbow Falls and Big Island Candies. They make it easy for families since they provide expert guides, park fees, catered meals, and private access to some of the island’s greatest treasures so families just show up ready for a volcanic adventure. Their National Parkcertified guides are highly knowledgeable on volcanic and Hawaiian, preparing families for everything on this epic excursion. Thanks to Kailani’s telescopes and other high tech

equipment exclusive for the tour, families get a real birds-eye view of the volcanoes in action. There are only six volcanoes in the world with known lava lakes and if Kilauea is erupting, those lucky enough will see one of these extraordinary, active lava lakes glow at night with lava jumping and flowing. There will be too many ooh and ahhhs to count.

Eat Your Heart Out

Savor every bite of Hawaiian specialties at the five-open air restaurants on property, highlighting local ingredients caught and cultivated by local fishermen and farmers. Try Hawaiian favorites like poke bowls, spam, shaved ice, banana bread, and pineapple. Start every day with Kona coffee, fresh pineapple juice, insanely delicious ube pancakes, and the most spectacular views at HaLani.

There are also carefully curated keiki menus with traditional and local kids’ favorites. The Surf Shack is ideal for lunch at the beach or pool, Ha Bar serves lighter lunch and dinner, and The Market has great grab and go options and an array of local specialties and bespoke gifts by local artisans (don’t miss the ube syrup and macadamia nut butter). Dine with your loved ones at The Canoe House, the legendary oceanfront, island dining spot that lives up to the hype of its months-long wait list. The Canoe House presents Japanese-inspired dishes showcasing ingredients sourced mere minutes from Mauna Lani in incredibly innovative ways.

Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection 68-1400 Mauna Lani Drive, Waikoloa, HI 96743

January 2023 | New York Family 25

The Mom’s Guide to Quitting your Job

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

26 | January 2023

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 – 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

January 2023 | New York Family 27

Babba Rivera

On paying tribute to her Latin culture as the founder of the clean hair brand Ceremonia, reimagining self-care, sustainability and what it means to be authentic

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 fashion-forward GenZers 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 self-care 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.

In terms of wellness for me, a lot of it is about taking care of myself and connecting mind and body. I really believe that it’s all so connected, from what we eat to what we consume– both visually, like what content we consume, and also the products we put on our

28 | January 2023
January 2023 | New York Family 29
Photo by yumi m atsuo

Babba's Faves

must-have ceremonia product?

100% our aceite de Moska. It’s a scalp remedy oil. It’s the one single product that will have the greatest impact on your hair over time. It’s incredible, true miracle oil.

favorite place to shop in nyc ?

I’m really excited about one of my favorite Swedish brands, Toteme, that recently opened up a store in SoHo. They do the most effortlessly chic, elegant, minimal, work-woman fashion.

favorite thing to do during the holidays in nyc ?

I love ice skating and drinking hot chocolate. That’s a perfect holiday date for me.

Date-night spot in nyc ?

The place that we always go

to is aBC Kitchen. I think it’s a classic. you can’t go wrong–they have good veggie options and also non-alcoholic options.

l atinx role model who you look up to?

J. Lo. She just carries so much power. When my brand entered Sephora earlier this fall, they gave me a spotlight on the Sephora Times Square billboard. It was me, Selena Gomez, and J. Lo, and I literally dropped to the floor. That’s when I realized I have a girl crush on J. Lo.

skin. When we think about hair, what most people don’t always realize is that good hair truly begins at the scalp. The scalp is one of the most absorbent parts of the body, so if you’re going to go clean somewhere in your beauty routine, it should be the scalp, if you ask me. That’s where you’ll see the greatest impact on your hair health.

I love how you frame self-care as a way of living. Yes, it’s not about getting a massage once a year. It’s giving yourself a mini 2-minute face massage when you put on your face oil. I’ve been without coffee now for 2 years, and I started doing a matcha routine in the morning. That has also brought me so much joy– this moment of pausing and seeing the little green herbs dissolve. It’s really finding joy in those small moments.

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.

What kind of research do you use to determine what is sustainable?

I think one of the most important factors is considering what the customer will do with this product. There’s a lot of companies that do biodegradable materials, but to actually get the product to degrade, you need very unique, special facilities. They’re not usually accessible for the average consumer, so they end up in the trash. And then it defeats the purpose. So for us, it’s asking ourselves: what is the most accessible way for a customer to do the right thing?

A great example is people asked us for mini products for the longest time. In the beauty industry, single-use products are the most unsustainable thing. Instead, we created travel sizes that are made out of 100% PCR, and they’re also refillable. You can buy a travel set from Ceremonia and the plastic is postrecycled, so it’s using plastics from the landfills and creating something new with it, and then you can refill it from our full-sized products, so it has a longer shelflife. We try to meet consumer needs with solutions like these. We understand this is what the customer wants, how can we do it in a way that lives up to our sustainability mandates? It’s sometimes very simple. A lot of beauty brands think that in order to create an iconic brand, they have to create these weird shapes for the packaging. All of that is custom-made and oftentimes you have to use virgin plastic to do those kinds of things. We use a lot of default packaging, which means that we’re able to use things that are already produced a lot, making it really easy to recycle.

Shifting gears a bit, what about your (amazing!) personal style…We see it on IG, but how would you

30 | January 2023

describe it? What tips do you have for finding your own style?

I just love fashion. For me, it’s a tool for selfexpression. I don’t dress to impress. It’s more so a creative expression for me and my mood. My best advice is really to dress for a certain feeling instead of over-indexing on whether it’s on trend or what people will think. Just focus on: How does this garment make you feel? Do you feel like you can be truly you? Do you feel free? Do you feel sexy? Do you feel powerful? I try to really hone into the feeling. This is also why I couldn’t care less about size. People think they have to fit into a medium or a small or whatever. No one knows what size you’re wearing except for you. The only thing that matters is that the clothes fit you, you don’t need to fit the clothes. So really dressing for comfort and for feeling the best version of yourself.

Beyond being a founder, advocate for inclusivity and sustainability, and tech savvy influencer, you’re also a mom. 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.

Remind me, how old are your kids?

My oldest is 2 and my youngest is 6 months. It’s definitely a hustle to make it all work, but as I said, I feel more productive than ever. I’m giving myself permission to be unapologetically me, in every area of my life.

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.

January 2023 | New York Family 31
Photo by yumi m atsuo


M an H aTTan

winter colorland

when: nov. 17 - Jan. 29, See website for schedule where: Color Factory new york, 251 Spring St., Soho aGeS: all whaT: Lift your spirits, grab your sleds, and slide into some winter whimsy during this limited-time holiday experience. wanT To Go?: $38-$45,

wonderland Dreams by alexa meade

when: nov. 28 - april 8, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 12-7:30pm; Fridays, 10am-8pm; Saturdays, 10am8:pm; Sundays, 10am-7:30pm where: Wonderland Dreams, 529 5th avenue, Murray Hill aGeS: all whaT: Fall down the rabbit hole into a world of secret rose gardens, mad tea parties, in a living gallery that puts you inside the artwork.

wanT To Go?: Tickets start at $27,

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-your-seat excitement.

wanT To Go?: Tickets start at $20. 212-465-6000,

2023 chinese new year fiesta - immerse in Suzhou culture

when: Sunday, Jan. 8, 1-4pm

where: China Institute, 125 E. 65th St., upper East Side aGeS: all whaT: Celebrate the year of the rabbit with authentic Chinese cultural experiences including the lion dance, workshops, activities, and more. wanT To Go?: $15; free for students and members,

The Thunderbird american indian Dancers in concert

when: Jan. 13-22, Fridays and Saturdays, 8pm. Children’s matiness 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 matiness performances when accompanied by a full price paying adult,

musical explorers family concerts

when: Saturday, Jan. 14, 12pm and 3pm (pre-show activities 1 hour before performances) where: Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh ave., Midtown aGeS: 4-8 whaT: Meet artists from around the world with magnetic personalities who lead this vibrant, highly interactive concert for children.

wanT To Go?: Tickets start at $15,


when: Sunday, Jan. 22, 2pm where: Galli Theater ny, 74 Warren Street, Tribeca aGeS: 3-12

whaT: Experience the magic and wonder of this classic fairy tale live on stage!

wanT To Go?: $25; $20 for kids,

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 for all ages, and the largest selection of new boats and marine gear in the tri-state area.

wanT To Go?: $20; Children 12 years and younger allowed in FrEE with a paid adult admission,

32 | January 2023
check out the musical explorers Family concerts at carnegie Hall on Jan. 14.

B R onx

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 2,

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,

B R ooklyn

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: This family program lets you 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,

celebrate martin luther king Jr.

when: Jan. 14-16, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 10am5pm 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.

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,

19, 2023, 4 p.m. ET

Modeling a Loving, Equal Partnership for Your Kids With American sexologist Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D. Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, 5 p.m. ET


January 2023 | New York Family 33 FREE
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Past Forward: The Legacy of Racism in Modern-Day America With Jeffery Robinson and Khalil Gibran Muhammad Thursday, Jan. Visit the Wonderland dreams by a lexa meade experience in murray Hill this month.

Balancing Sports and Activities

The right fit for your child

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.

Ease up during the classes and games

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.

34 | January 2023
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