New York Family - May 2024

Page 1

Glowing L egacy

Latham Thomas on The Soft Space, advancing maternal health, watching her young adult son soar, and how she is an 'Open Nest,' not an Empty Nester

What iS Book tok?

What parents need to know the Win-Win of caregiver Support

may 2024 established 1986 newyorkfamily.com Specialty c ampS & Summer programS
224 Watchung Fork, Westfield, New Jersey 6 Bedrooms | 5.2 Baths | $3,495,000 #LoveWhereYouLive Frank D. Isoldi, Broker Sales Associate Coldwell Banker Realty 209 Central Avenue, Westfield, NJ 07090 Cell 908.787.5990 Office 908.233.5555 Web theisoldicollection.com Facebook @theisoldicollection X @HomesWestfield Instagram @frankdisoldi SCAN HERE © 2024 Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. All rights reserved. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Operated by a subsidiary of NRT LLC. 785 Lenape Trail, Westfield, New Jersey 6 Bedrooms | 6.2 Baths | $3,495,000 315 Jefferson Avenue, Westfield, New Jersey 6 Bedrooms | 5.1 Baths | $2,395,000 UNDER CONTRACT 925 Wyandotte Trail, Westfield, New Jersey 5 Bedrooms | 3.1 Baths | $1,699,900 976 Cherokee Court, Westfield, New Jersey 4 Bedrooms | 3.1 Baths | $925,000 805 Saint Marks Place, Westfield, New Jersey 4 Bedrooms | 2.1 Baths | $829,000 UNDER CONTRACT UNDER CONTRACT UNDER CONTRACT UNDER CONTRACT

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• • • • • • • • • • • • •

F eature S

8 | Tech

5 Substack newsletters to follow

12 | childcare

New study shows how to support employers with caregiving benefits

18 | Teens N yC and Talkspace roll out free virtual mental health

20 | m om Stories my battle with postpartum depression

18 | Teens

Helpful tips on parenting teens

36 | cover

Glow m aven Latham Thomas

42 | Tech

What parents need to know about BookTok

StorieS & column S

6 | editor’s letter

16 | a sk the e xpert How to manage emotional labor in your home

24 | c amps Specialty Camps for your summer explorer

30 | family Day o ut a sensory-inclusive Harry Potter

34 | family Day o ut Sculpture Gardens to check out

40 | c alendar all the fun activities for m ay

on The cover

Photo: Yumi Matsuo | yumimatsuostudio.com

Hair & Makeup: Buffy Saint Marie Hernandez | buffysaintmarie.com

Produced by: Donna Duarte- Ladd

Shot on location at: The Soft Space by Mama Glow

4 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024 May 2024 NewYorkFamily.com contents
Family F un
pg. 36 pg.42 pg. 24 pg. 40 pg. 20

CAMPS

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The Art of Mothering

May is a busy month, and it is also includes Mother’s Day.

Many know becoming a mom affects us all differently. In Mom Stories (page 20), our Deputy Editor, Jeannine Cintron, shares her Battle with Postpartum Depression and how she still works through the struggle of depression and anxiety.

This month’s cover mom (page 36), Latham Thomas of Mama Glow, has continuously honored mothers by educating doulas and nurse care managers, working to advance maternal health via community and academia, and more. She recently opened The Soft Space, where people can engage in well-being experiences. Latham gives us all the details of this new space and shares about

watching her young adult son soar and why she is an open nester vs an empty nester.

What would parents’ work lives look like if all employers up the ante? A study reveals why Caregiving Benefits Improve the Family and the Employer (page 12).

Big news Witches, Wizards and Muggles. The Harry Potter Exhibition (page 30) “SensorySundays” will turn the lights down, lower the noise on specific dates!

May also means summer is near; if you are looking for a unique camp we have a helpful roundup of (page 24) Specialty Camps and Programs and more in this issue!

Publi S her: Clifford Luster

eD iTorial Direc Tor: Donna Duarte-Ladd

aSSociaTe Publi S her: Erin Brof

aDver Ti S ing Direc Tor: Stacie Goldberg

DePuT y eDiTor: Jeannine Cintron

DigiTal eDiTor: Kaitlyn Riggio

e venTS manager: Shara Levine

aSSociaTe DigiTal eD iTor: Thalia Fernandez

eD iTorial aSS i STanT: alexa Lutter

Par Tner S hi P manager S : Lauren alperin, Lauren anchin, Joan Bergman, mary Cassidy, Suzanne Cirigliano, Chris Cunnington, Lori Falco, Shelli Goldberg-Peck, Lynnmarie Hanley, Lisa Herlihy, Nicole miller, Janine mulé, Nina Spiegelman, Gwen Tomaselli

marke Ting & STraTegy Direc Tor: Rosalia Bobé

marke Ting & e venTS aSS i STanT: a shley Rivera

Sale S & marke Ting a SS i STanT: Elana Cantor

marke Ting aSS i STanT: Tilejah Gilead

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ar T Direc Tor: Leah m itch

web Develo P er: Sylvan m igdal

g raP hic De S igner S : a rthur arutyunov, Connie Sulsenti

eD iTor S aT large: Serena Norr, Cris Pearlstein

eD iTorial conTribuTor S : Jana Beauchamp, m ia Salas

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6 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024 editor’s note Share your feedback and ideas about family life in New york! Email us at editorial@newyorkfamily.com and tag us at #newyorkfamily g ET i N TO uch
New York Family is published monthly by Queens Family Media, LLC. Reproduction of New York Family Media in whole or part without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. All rights reserved. ©2024 Queens Family Media, LLC n ina g allo Photography 2023
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5 Substack Newsletters to Follow Written by Women

During the pandemic, a lot unfolded. Sure, it was a chaotic time, but it also sparked creativity, leading many of us to cultivate or seek genuineness while we schooled kids, worked, and juggled our day-to-day. Amidst this, digital newsletters emerged. Sure, there are those newsletters we never signed up for that mysteriously plant themselves in our inbox that do not relate to our lives. Go away! Yes, those newsletters. These were different. These offered authenticity as the main narrative, and while some have started before the pandemic or post-lockdown, we have begun to hear more about these exceptional newsletters.

Some are from our favorite sites or podcasts, where newsletters are an opportunity to provide you with valuable and helpful content daily or weekly. Sign up for those and read them because they are most likely being curated by an editor with excellent credentials- gathering and sending this valuable content your way.

Another form is Substack, where you can browse a variety of newsletters, sign up for one or more, and manage what is sent to your inbox.

What is Substack

Substack emerged around 2017 and allows writers to publish and circulate their newsletters. Most come from working editors, journalists, or people who wish to share more about a particular subject; this is a welcoming forum where they can do it.

It’s a revolution for many writers as it allows journalists, editors, and authors to do what they are passionate about (writing) while being provided tools to create and manage their subscriber lists. Authors can even charge subscriptions for access to their content, and

fans can read beyond what is shared on a writer’s social media handle. It is a way to stan out on someone you admire while not flooding your beloved mailbox with content you don’t want to read, a win win for all involved.

Here are 5 worth checking out Resilence with Alexa Wilding . New York Family’s former cover mom (October 2022), Alexa Wilding, is also a great writer. After years of sharing her life via Instagram as a writer, singer-songwriter, twin mom, cancer mom, survivor, and advocate, she has started a Substack.

When I was just a fan of her IG handle, her raw essays led me to get to know her, which led to an NYF cover. Whether she shared from her earthy home upstate or at the hospital while one of her twins and then herself fought (and won) their cancer battles,

her writings were profound. Even in the saddest moments, there were layers of hope and a love for the energy and mystique of life. I am excited to read more about her journey and, most importantly, resilience in her new newsletter!

Gratitude Journal by Alex Elle. Alex is my therapist; she doesn’t know it, but she may since she has a following of over a million plus on Instagram alone, and most of her followers hang on to her every phrase, wordfor-word. This New York Times bestselling author, breath coach and more- has posted words that have lifted, consoled, and given me hope. Her newsletter, Gratitude Journal, is a resource of hope and growth where you can find posts on Growing through Grief and Gratitude , Lessons are Blessings and Gratitude for Boundaries , and more. This is for all

8 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
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her free subscribers; Alex also offers paid subscriptions from $7 a month to $70 a year, which provides different benefits.

Scraps by Carolina Gelen. It all started with a can of tuna for me with Carolina Gelen. I was searching for a suggested feed on Ig, and this delicious (and affordable!) recipe where one can make tuna benedicts, tuna burger, and more in just a few minutes became my lunch and dinner staple. Her newsletter is full of delicious recipes that feel easy to make and doable for my family in this expensive food economy; her newsletter is called SCRAPS, and her goal is to work hard to churn out recipes that won’t break the bank. I want to, and so will you, make everything she cooks up, like her Sweet & Saucy Apricot Chicken and her 30-Minute Creamy Caramelized Fennel Pasta

Les Undressed. There used to be a time when I dressed pretty cute; as I write this post, my big toe wiggles out of the hole of my well-worn sock. While I still have my style moments, they have become few and far

between as I now work full-time remotely. Sure, not having to worry about getting dressed up daily has its financial and time benefits, but I grew up loving style. While New Yorkers are pretty stylish, Parisian style hits differently. They have that je ne sais quoi when it comes to their wardrobe.

Someone I found who inspires me is Sylvie Mus. This human could wear a sack and look fabulous, so let’s get that right out in the open. Her twist on classics reminds me of what quiet elegance looks like. Initially from Rwanda and now living in Paris, Sylvie’s newsletter focuses on wardrobe building and

WHY WAIT?

insider tips, and her approach to dressing is more simplified, which is where I am personally at right now in my life. It also doesn’t hurt that she shares some of her day-to-day life, which gives me a dose of everything France I adore.

Hi, It’s Your Older Sister. One of the coolest things about newsletters authored by a friend or colleague is that they offer a unique glimpse into the things you already admire about that person and a window into their thoughts and experiences. Whether it’s a heartfelt reflection on life, insider tips, or candid musings on motherhood, it is refreshing to read authentic content. It harks back to the days when blogs first started to pop -up, before people became influencers, and the waters began to get mucked with what is real and what is staged.

Hi, It’s Your Older Sister. Cris Pearlstein shares genuine tips and honest mom advice, such as rejection and identities. Many of us can relate to these subjects while adulting and mothering. It is also nice to know that your older sister still has your back.

10 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
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Caregiving Benefits childcare

New

study shows how support from employers strengthens families — and businesses

The phrase ‘caregiver benefits’ might seem completely foreign to many parents. Unfortunately, the modern parent has to contend with a barrage of work/home confluences as they navigate childcare, work schedules, kids’ schedules, illness, and much more. While hybrid/remote work has become a part of the norm since COVID, many parents still have to piece together childcare, which sometimes feels like piecing together an impossible puzzle. From using vacation time for kids’ illness to using PTO days, many parents simply need flexibility – and employers who value and understand that –to make it all work.

On top of figuring out schedules, parents also have to allocate enough funds – and make enough money – to pay for childcare. In some instances, childcare is so costly where some parents may find themselves working to essentially pay for childcare. This causes many parents stress and unease. Many even leave the workforce and/or can’t take on challenging roles such as leadership roles because the stress outweighs the potential positives.

However, a recent white paper study, “The R.O.I.(Return of Investment) of Caregiving Benefits” from Vivvi, a company that provides child care and early learning for children and families, in collaboration with The Fifth Trimester, found that family-friendly caregiving practices can boost earnings, productivity, and leadership potential. Thus, caregiving benefits can lead to an improved work environment and profit to employers. In fact, childcare benefits are so vital, respondents from this recent study said they ranked having childcare benefits more than having a 401k!

“In 2024, support for caregivers at work – benefits, training, culture, or all three – is no longer ‘bells and whistles’ but a vital

pillar of profitability, with calculable R.O.I.,” says Lauren Smith Brody, founder of The Fifth Trimester, and author of the report. “For years, we’ve known that this progress is the right thing to do, but now we can see – with real numbers – that it’s a business imperative.”

Featuring six months of quantitative and qualitative research and data, the survey measured more than 300 caregivers and 10

individual case studies in a diverse range of industries, demonstrating how support can drive profits. Read on to check out more about the survey and its surprising findings.

Quite simply, caregiving benefits can include non-monetary and monetary benefits such as offering flexible schedules, providing discounted or complimentary childcare services, offering extended leave time, and/or offering respite care, to name a few options.

12 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
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May 2024 | New York Family 13 E n r o l l N o w f o r F a l l 2 0 2 4 ! 1 7 W e s t 6 0 t h S t r e e t SCHOOL THE SHEFA W e a r e e x c i t e d t o a n n o u n c e t h a t w e a r e m o v i n g t o o u r n e w h o m e o n t h e U p p e r W e s t S i d e ! C o n t a c t u s : w w w s h e f a s c h o o l o r g Register Today For Our 2024 Summer Camp! Check out @ustanationaltenniscenter on Instagram and Facebook for more information on our offerings! www.ntc.usta.com | ntcprograms@usta.com Come and enjoy the fun-filled tennis camp with group instruction led by certified tennis professionals! Our Indoor/Outdoor Tennis Camp is great for players of all ages, levels, and features: Tennis Olympic Tuesdays Wet Wednesdays (featuring the Dunk-a-Pro tank) Talent Show Thursdays On-site lunch available Additional on and off-court activities (tennis trivia and MORE!) Scan to Register! Follow us! Early Bird Special until May 1st! Half-Day Camp (10 and Under) 830amPM Camp 430pm Full-Day Camp 830am High-Performance Camp 1030am

Key Findings in The R.O.I. of Caregiving Benefit

Caregiving benefits not only benefit parents but provide retention for all. When parents are treated with belonging and equity in a company, other employers also benefit. The survey found that 42% of respondents who considered leaving their job in the last year say that they stayed because of their employer’s support of their caregiving; while 59% of respondents say that if they had back-up or subsidized child care they would be likely to stay in their job for at least four years.

Candidates are actively looking for family benefits. Being a parent is no longer something caregivers have to hide or figure out on their own. Survey findings show that 9 out of 10 respondents say that they’d rather have an ongoing child care subsidy of $10,000 than an immediate $10,000 cash bonus. Incredibly, respondents ranked having child care benefits more important to them than having a 401k. Candidates are also looking for paid family leave, on-ramping programs,

Caregiving benefits can include non-monetary and monetary benefits such as offering flexible schedules, providing discounted or complimentary childcare services, offering extended leave time, and/or offering respite care.

and fertility benefits when looking for a new role, even if they won’t use them yet.

Productivity is boosted with parent-friendly policies. Quite simply, when parents don’t have to worry about childcare they are better able to be focused and motivated. According to the survey, 69% of respondents said if their employer had backup or subsidized child care they would work in person more often than required. Additionally, 57% of respondents said that if their employer had backup or subsidized child care they would take on higher-level work.

Leadership can be unlocked with childcare benefits. The survey also found that childcare benefits may offer companies better gender balance. Thus, allowing more women in

leadership positions.

Improvement of ROI and profits. One case study showed that every $1 invested in caregiving benefits drives $18.93, for an R.O.I. of nearly 18x.

“This new report makes it clear that parents are driven to stay, grow, and create progress and profit for their employer,” says Lauren Hobbs, Chief Marketing Officer at Vivvi.

“There is no single way to support caregivers in the workforce; but rather, so many accessible strategies—each with measurable R.O.I.—that companies can implement regardless of their size, structure or industry.”

The full survey results of “The R.O.I. of Caregiving Benefits” and the 10 case studies can be found here.

14 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
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May 2024 | New York Family 15
The Ailey School First Steps. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor
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How to Manage Emotional Labor in Your Home

Scheduling appointments, making the grocery lists, managing disagreements between siblings. There’s a seemingly endless list of things that go into running a home, especially when you look beyond physical tasks like chores and getting kids where they need to be.

Recently, more and more people have been talking about emotional labor, the often unseen work that goes into making sure life runs smoothly, whether that’s at home or at work.

Emotional labor often takes the form of everyday tasks, so it’s easy for them to be overlooked, but no household would function without it.

Oftentimes, emotional labor falls more on one spouse over the other, which can get exhausting over time.

We sat down with Dr. Yasmine Saad, clinical psychologist and founder and CEO of Madison Park Psychological Services about how parents can manage emotional labor more effectively at home.

How would you define emotional labor at home?

Emotional Labor was initially introduced by Arlie Hochschild in her book “The Managed Heart” (1983). This theory explores how individuals manage their emotions to meet the demands of their roles, initially in professional settings but later extended to personal and family contexts.

Emotional labor in the home context refers to the management and regulation of emotions to maintain harmony and meet the emotional needs of family members.

This includes a wide range of activities, from showing empathy and support, to managing the emotional climate of the home, to ensuring everyone’s needs are met in terms of love, care, and attention. Examples of emotional labor in a family setting can vary widely but often include:

• Listening and providing emotional support: This involves being there for family members during times of stress, sadness, or

celebration, offering a shoulder to lean on, and providing comfort and encouragement.

• Anticipating the emotional needs of family members, such as knowing when a partner had a tough day and needs space or when a child needs extra attention.

• Maintaining a positive home environment by mediating conflicts, maintaining morale, and fostering a sense of security and belonging.

• Ensuring family activities foster positive memories and bonds

It’s not uncommon for the distribution of emotional labor to be uneven at home, with one spouse doing more than the other. What effect can this have on a relationship in the long term?

The distribution of emotional labor in homes is often uneven, typically with one partner, usually the one who is most maternal, taking on a greater share of this emotional role. Fathers or mothers can occupy that role.

The uneven distribution of emotional labor can have several long-term effects on a relationship, including:

• Resentment and frustration: The partner carrying a larger share of emotional labor may feel overburdened, unappreciated, and resentful, eroding relationship satisfaction.

• Emotional burnout: Constantly managing others’ emotional needs can lead to emotional exhaustion, reducing one’s capacity to manage one’s own emotions effectively.

• Decreased intimacy and connection: As one partner feels increasingly burdened and the other potentially oblivious or disengaged, the emotional distance can grow, affecting

intimacy and connection.

How can spouses make sure emotional labor is evenly distributed?

To ensure a more even distribution of emotional labor, spouses can take several steps:

• Open Communication: Regularly discuss the distribution of emotional labor, acknowledging its presence and importance. Share feelings and experiences openly to foster understanding.

• Recognition and Appreciation: Recognize each partner’s efforts in managing emotional labor and express gratitude for these often invisible tasks.

• Shared Responsibility: Actively work towards sharing the emotional load, which may involve redistributing tasks, setting boundaries, and proactively offering support.

• Develop Self-awareness: Encourage each other to become more aware of one’s own emotional needs and capacities and how one’s actions affect the emotional climate of the home.

• Seek External Support: In cases where the imbalance is significant and difficult to address, seeking the guidance of a therapist or counselor can be beneficial.

Additional considerations include the importance of modeling healthy emotional labor practices for children, as this sets the foundation for their future relationships and emotional well-being.

Also, understanding that the dynamics of emotional labor can vary widely among different types of families and cultural backgrounds, and what works for one family may not work for another.

16 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
ask the e xpert

Rella’s Spielhaus Summer Camp

Guten tag ! Rella’s Spielhaus Summer Camp is New York’s premier German Summer Day Camp, and they are thrilled to be back for the tenth summer in a row!

Located on 50 West 97th Street, a half block from Central Park, Rella offers nine exciting weeks of summer camp. At Rella, children gain a lifelong love of the German language and culture while enjoying a summer experience they will remember for years to come.

When the day begins, children will be immersed in activities tailored to their age group and level of German. From their favorite “Fussball,” an introduction to the mighty music of Mozart, to a magical week of wizardry during “Abrakadabra,” campers are immersed in singing, dancing, arts & crafts, and reading and writing, all tailored to their age group and level of German.

In the second part of the morning,

campers head out to nearby Central Park to participate in fun outdoor summer activities.

“Rella’s is awesome!” says one parent

whose child attended camp last year. “We started off with Saturdays and now our three-year-old daughter is going to the summer camp every day and loves it. The entire team, led by Barbara, genuinely cares and the level of thought and attention to detail put into each week is incredible. The kids spend so much time outside, are active and come back home happy and excited. We couldn’t ask for more!”

Camp runs between June 24 and August 30. Parents with children ages 1 to 12 are invited to enroll them week-by-week and a sibling/twin discount is available. The camp’s daily schedule is Monday through Friday, 9am to 3pm. Early dropoff is available Monday to Thursday starting at 8:30am and aftercare runs Monday to Thursday, 3-5pm.

Any level of German is welcome and no potty training is required, as younger kids nap while older kids play and learn!

Call today; wir freuen uns !

Manhattan’s First German Nursery & Preschool

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•Native German Teachers

•Deeply caring environment

•Weekly soccer class

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•Weekly library book

•Regular day trips

Call today: 646 837-6777

May 2024 | New York Family 17 Rella’s Spielhaus German Nursery & Preschool Enroll now!
www.rellasspielhaus.com | (646) 837-6777 | willkommen@rellasspielhaus.com New York FamilY partN er

Where Teens Talk It Out

NYC and Talkspace roll out free virtual mental health therapy program for teens

From relationships to social media and school work to body image, teens today face many challenges as they come of age. It is hard for parents not to worry about their child’s well-being, but there is some good news in the Big Apple. The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recently launched NYC Teenspace, a virtual mental health therapy program for teens in the city.

The program is managed by Talkspace, a digital therapy platform that has been helping patients of all ages since 2011. Jon Cohen, M.D., CEO of Talkspace, wants parents to know this digital resource is available for kids right at their fingertips and with a few swipes on the phone. As many parents bittersweetly realize, kids want to talk about their problems, but not usually with their own moms and dads.

“It’s a partnership we have with the city to provide mental health therapy to roughly 465,000 teenagers between the ages of 13-17 access to mental health support,” Cohen said “It’s one of the largest teen initiatives in the country.”

Through the program, teens in NYC have access to a mental health therapist by way of talking, texting or making video calls.

About NYC Teenspace’s Virtual Mental Health Therapy

Launched only in November 2023, NYC Teenspace has already helped thousands of teens in New York City with so many mental health problems and challenges, many of which adults likely recall from their own childhoods.

“It’s not going to be a surprise,” Cohen said. “It’s depression, anxiety, relationships, issues around bullying.”

Those relationship problems could be about family members, friends or others, Cohen said. Academic stress and substance use are other problems teens discuss with Talkspace’s network of more than 500 licensed therapists in the city.

Issues Around Suicide and Self Harm

Sadly and alarmingly, thoughts of suicide are common among teens. According to Cohen, the national rate runs around 10% of kids actually attempting suicide.

“It’s a huge part of why mental health is the greatest threat to the life of teenagers more so than cigarette smoking right now,” Cohen explained, citing a U.S. Surgeon General’s report.

It is hard for doctors to pinpoint why, exactly, suicide rates are so high, but Cohen believes social media addiction is a big factor. Kids spend an average about eight hours each day on social media, the doctor explained.

And the negative impacts the addiction leaves behind can be profound.

“For girls, it’s definitely about body image, weight and eating disorders. That all gets propagated on social media platforms. Bullying for both boys and girls is a pretty big issue.”

Complimenting its mental health expertise, Talkspace has technology that will alert a therapist if a teen might be in danger of self harm. The therapist will then take the necessary steps, whether it be therapy or more immediate action that follows specific protocol if there is a sense of imminent danger, Cohen explained.

The centerpiece of NYC Teenspace is, of course, its online therapy, but Talkspace staff go into the field to make an impact, too. They hold events at schools, talk to

parents, teachers and principals, and do lots of marketing to spread the word about their services.

“We do everything we can to get kids on to the platform. That’s our commitment with the city,” Cohen said.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams helped launch the program when it was announced in November.

“When we took office nearly two years ago, we promised all New Yorkers that we would build a healthier city together, and invest in not just our physical health, but our mental health as well,” Adams said. “Our young people shouldn’t ever feel alone. We’re here for them, and together I know we’ll build a healthier, stronger city together.”

How to Use NYC Teenspace

Teens visit talkspace.com/nyc to start their virtual mental health therapy. To register, they will enter their birthday and NYC address. They will then be asked to answer a few intake questions about themselves and their preference for therapy.

NOTE: Teens will have to enter a parent or guardian’s email address for consent, but there can be exceptions to this based on special circumstances. More information on this is available on the website.

Teens will be matched with a therapist within hours, so there is no long wait for help. Messaging therapy is unlimited. Video conferencing is available on a monthly basis, but must be scheduled in advance.

18 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
teens Brand ambassadors sharing more about n YC teenspace with city students theatreMAMA NYCTeenspace
May 2024 | New York Family 19 EARLY LIFE MANHATTAN East Harlem 1951 Park Avenue New York, NY 10037 early-life.org/1947-park-ave/ Sugar Hill 510 West 145th Street New York, NY 10031 early-life.org/Harlem-510-516-W-145-St/ QUALITY EARLY CHILDCARE IN NEW YORK CITY High Quality Curriculum & Learning in an Inclusive Environment ENROLL WITH US TODAY! EARLY LIFE MANHATTAN East Harlem 1951 Park Avenue New York, NY 10037 early-life.org/1947-park-ave/ Sugar Hill 510 West 145th Street New York, NY 10031 early-life.org/Harlem-510-516-W-145-St/ Services provided by Lutheran Social Services of Metropolitan New York through funding by the Now hiring head teachers & maintenance workers! Apply here * Weekly in-home guitar lessons for kids * Monthly group guitar classes �������������������������������� 10 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE PROVEN TRACK RECORD OF SUCCESS: REGISTER TODAY AT www.willanacademy.com | 646-838-3990 info@willanacademy.com @willanacademy IN-HOME SUZUKI GUITAR PROGRAM ������������������������������������������������

My Battle with Postpartum Depression

Depression is a funny little illness. Because you look and feel like you’ve been through the spin cycle of a washing machine, yet everyone keeps telling you that you’re totally fine. You’re fine, your family says. You’re fine, your friends say. You’re fine, the doctor says. You’re healthy, your family is healthy, and everything is perfectly fine in your life.

If you’re supposedly so fine, then why don’t you feel fine?

Why, instead, do you feel like every moment awake is an assault on your mind and body, like the very act of taking air into your lungs is earth-shatteringly terrifying, and like you are no longer even living inside of yourself, but instead just functioning as a separate, mindless entity, numbly hovering over your former self in the meager hope that someday you can return and feel, dare I say, normal again?

And all the while, as you’re feeling increasingly un-fine, the world around you is spinning away. People are still living their lives, still going to work, still caring for their children, still eating and sleeping and smiling and laughing every day. They’re doing all the things you did back when you really were

fine. Except now, everyone else is fine. They go right on living while you teeter dangerously on the brink of insanity, wondering how you’ll make it another day, another hour, even another minute.

I had my miscarriage in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. I had watched the parade in the morning, dressed my son in his holiday finest, then drove over to my mom’s house in Brooklyn and sat down with my family at the table to eat. Sometime between my first stuffed mushroom and second slice of turkey, I began to feel the stabbing pangs of labor pain. Two terrifying hours later, I emerged from an emergency room bathroom stall with a tiny, balled-up fetus wrapped inside of a sanitary napkin. Horrified and shaking, I handed it to the triage nurse, who told me I was running a fever and needed to calm down.

Please don’t feel sorry for me. My story is only seemingly dramatic because hospitals, blood, and death tend to fill me with dread, and retelling the events of that day is simply impossible to do without conveying just how dramatic it all felt at the time. But in reality, I’d been only eight weeks along, was quite optimistic that I could conceive again soon, and honestly thought I was going to be okay. I mean, much worse things have happened to

people much more misfortunate than myself. So after about ten miserable hours in a dim hospital room, I went home and crawled into bed, exhausted and sad but feeling that the worst of it was over.

Or so I thought.

I did not know, at that point, that postpartum depression could happen after a miscarriage, even one occurring in just the first trimester. I didn’t know that the overflow of hormones coursing through my body after this event – combined with the severe loneliness brought on by a harsh winter, a young child who needed more from me than I could possibly give at the time, and a hardworking husband who was never home – would lead me into a frightening downward spiral so intense that I am still recovering from it today.

My husband used to leave for work around 6a.m., and I’d wake up at 5a.m. just to savor the only adult company I’d enjoy all day until he returned, already half-asleep, around 9p.m. Those mornings I’d sit on the floor of the foggy bathroom while he showered for work and we’d chitchat back and forth. It was the closest to normal that I would feel all day. Then I’d climb back into bed when he left, around the same time my son would usually wake up, and we’d watch cartoons together until the sun came up. And then I’d brace

20 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
mom stories

May 19, 2024

myself for a very long, lonely, dreary, anxietyridden day.

The darkest period of my life was like one, long, drawn-out anxiety attack. I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life, but never like this. My days were spent pacing the floors of my three-room apartment for hours at a time, fingers tearing at the hair behind my neck and pulling until it bled. I’d clutch the phone in my hands and cry, praying for it to ring, wishing for someone to talk to, anyone at all who could distract me from my personal hell for a moment or two. I’d open every shade and curtain in the house, hoping the daylight might flood my home and chase my shadowy demons away. I’d wait by the window, praying, begging, pleading for my husband to pull up in his car and save me from the bitter, paralyzing loneliness.

One morning, after I’d gotten out of bed, I fainted as I poured my son’s breakfast cereal. It could have been from dehydration, or anxiety, or maybe just plain hunger, as I hadn’t been able to force down more than a slice or two of bread in about two days. I quickly awoke to find my son, confused and

I’d open every shade and curtain in the house, hoping the daylight might flood my home and chase my shadowy demons away.

visibly upset, pleading with me to get up. At that point, I really needed help. For my little boy, my sweet, innocent, scared little child, I had to come out of this. I simply had to. There was just no other way.

Recovery was a gradual process. With the help of my family, some medication, and a whole lot of self-discovery, I eventually began to feel like myself again.

The following March, I was thrilled to learn that my daughter was on the way. This was a blessing for more than just the obvious reasons, because it forced me to stop taking my medication and learn to heal entirely on my own. Honestly, I didn’t even think I was capable of healing on my own until I had no

other choice. So I believe my little girl saved me from what might have been a different kind of downward spiral.

You don’t need to be a parent to find yourself coping with depression, although I know many are. You don’t need to be married, divorced, employed, unemployed, grieving, sick, healthy, rich, or poor. You don’t need to have any reason at all. For many of us, depression and anxiety are simply things we struggle with every single day. They’re as real to us as breathing. Today, I still battle depression and anxiety, although it looks and feels much different when hormones aren’t involved as much.

Your depression affects everyone around you, whether you realize it or not: your family, your children, your friends, your job. Sometimes people understand, but most of the time, they don’t. If you’re lucky, someone will see you struggling, and they’ll reach out to you. If you’re really lucky, you’ll find a place within yourself where healing can begin on its own – where you can realize how much the people in your life need you – and you can learn to be you again.

and digital
for engaged parents in New York
22 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
mom stories Check us out Online! We’re the #1 print
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NJ

westfield, NJ is the perfect haven for families seeking a welcoming community and endless activities. Kids will adore the vibrant parks, such as Tamaques Park, a local gem sprawling across 106 acres.

If craving a close-knit community is huge on your new home bucket list, you’ll appreciate that Westfield’s allure extends beyond its parks, offering something special for every family member. Explore charming mom-and-pop shops, incredible restaurants and absorb the culture this town offers, such as live jazz music and the world of books at local libraries and bookstores.

Here in Westfield there are top-rated schools known for their exceptional academics and diverse extracurricular offerings. Broker Sales Associate of Coldwell Banker and Westfield expert Frank D. Isoldi shares that famalies looking to move in this area will find a range of charming Cape Cod homes to stately traditional Colonials, whim sical storybook Tudors to majestic Victorians, and

even modern new constructions making this an exceptional choice for families.

224 Watchung Fork, Westfield, NJ

6 Bedrooms | 6.2 Baths | $3,495,000 Exceptional home on over an acre of gorgeous grounds in highly sought after Indian Forest. 1st floor includes formal living room & private office sharing a double-sided fireplace. The Great Room overlooks the backyard & extends to a built-in bar area, perfect for entertaining. The gracious dining room is perfect for larger, formal gatherings. The EIK offers every amenity incl SS appli-

ances, granite center island, breakfast bar & separate breakfast area. The kitchen opens to the family room featuring an arched ceiling & double-sided fireplace. A convenient 1st floor bedroom, full bath, powder room & laundry room complete the 1st floor. The 2nd floor is home to the primary bedroom w/fireplace, balcony, sitting room, dual WIC’s & gorgeous private bath. An en-suite bedroom w/full bath, 2 addl bedrooms, bedroom/nursery, 2nd office & full hall bath finish the 2nd level. The expansive finished lower level includes a game room, rec room, exercise room, bonus rooms to fit your needs, powder rm & a full bath. Outside the spectacular grounds include an expansive bluestone patio, covered porch, fireplace, circular drive & attached 3-car garage. Ideally located to schools & downtown Westfield for dining, shopping & NYC trans, this one-of-a-kind home awaits!

Frank D. Isoldi . Coldwell Banker

May 2024 | New York Family 23 New York FamilY partN er
frankisoldi@gmail.com,
908-787-5990
Westfield,
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Specialty Camps & Summer Programs

Summer is near, and you may still be searching for the perfect camp for your child. We get it! We all want that memorable experience for our kids. Summer is about creating memories, connecting, and making new friends. It is about providing your child an opportunity to build on a hobby or skill or introducing them to something new that you know will be an incredible adventure.

We have 14 unique specialty camps in the Arts, STEM, sports, and theatre right in and around Manhattan and worth checking out!

Atlantic Acting School Summer Camps

76 Ninth avenue, Ste. 313 admissions@atlantictheater.org atlanticactingschool.org/kids-and-teens/ summer 212-691-5919

At Atlantic Acting School, children foster creativity and make enduring friendships. Their program encourages play, creation and camaraderie. Young actors not only develop characters and scripts but also cultivate the

skills needed to produce their own projects. Classes cover a spectrum of disciplines, ranging from musical theater to sketch, improv, scene study, film/TV and beyond. Grounded in the Atlantic Technique, each session offers a unique focus. Let your kids explore their passions, refine their talents, and embark on an artistic journey! Classes are available for ages 6 to 18.

Ballet Academy East

1651 Third ave.

212-410-9140

info@baenyc.com

balletacademyeast.com/summerprograms

212-410-9140

Ballet Academy East’s much-loved and very popular Summer Dance Camp is back this summer! Summer Dance is a fun-filled program for children 3-7 years, designed to foster imagination and inspire a love of the arts. Activities include a variety of dance forms, arts and crafts, drama, musical theater, cooking,

origami, and much more. For older students, BAE offers two intensive programs: the Junior Summer Course and August Intensive. These programs are meant to inspire dancers, ages 7-19, to reach their next level of achievement through a carefully designed comprehensive curriculum. Admission is by audition only. Children ages 18 months to 14 years may also enroll in weekly summer classes in the Young Dancer Division, Primary Division, or Children + Teen Division. Flexible week-to-week registration is available.

Camp Level Up

48 Pocono Springs Way East Stroudsburg, Pa 18302

gamer@camplevelup.com

camplevelup.com

Camp Level Up is a 1-week sleepaway camp experience for campers entering 4th to 11th grade who want to improve on their gaming skills, all while enjoying the traditional camp activities that a sleepaway camp facility can offer. Located and powered by the team at

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A two-week exploration of college living and learning designed for students currently completing grades 9, 10 and 11.

July 14-27 , 2024

May 2024 | New York Family 25
On the campus of
at SIMON'S ROCK in Great Barrington, MA. simons-rock.edu/curiositycamp LEARN MORE & REGISTER TODAY! curiositycamp@simons-rock.edu curiosity at SIMON'S ROCK CAMP + + +
Bard College

Pocono Springs - a premiere private sleepaway camp in the Poconos (75 miles from NYC), Camp Level Up offers a hybrid program of esports gameplay and traditional camp activities. Campers spend 50% of their day participating in competitive gaming and the other 50% immersed in an assortment of traditional camp activities including sports, adventure, arts and aquatics/lakefront. Campers of all gaming skill levels are welcome!

Curiosity Camp at Simon’s Rock

84 alford Rd. Great Barrington, ma 01230

curiositycamp@simons-rock.edu

simons-rock.edu/curiositycamp

Curiosity Camp at Simon’s Rock is open to inquisitive and motivated students interested in exploring their academic and creative interests in a college environment while they are currently completing grades 9, 10, or 11. Students participate daily in Simon’s Rock’s signature Writing and Thinking Workshop along with a Seminar, and arts and science courses to experience diverse and exciting academic offerings. The program’s cohort of 30 students allows for small class sizes where students and professors can collaborate and engage in dynamic discourse in this academic summer camp. Students live on campus in the college’s residence halls. simons-rock.edu/ curiositycamp

D.A. Summer Connection Camp

44 East 68th St., 212-744-0195 dominicanacademy.org

admissions@dominicanacademy.org

D.A. Summer Connection Camp offers an enriching and dynamic experience for young learners during the summer break. Nestled in a scenic environment, this camp provides a diverse range of activities designed to foster personal growth and academic engagement. Campers will explore new interests and build valuable skills. Led by experienced educators and current D.A. students as counselors, the program emphasizes teamwork and learning. Campers will forge lasting friendships while each day is filled with excitement and exploration. D.A. Summer Connection Camp is the perfect blend of fun, education, and personal development, ensuring campers return home with cherished memories and newfound abilities.

iPianoLab Keyboard Club

224 E 95th St., 347-816-5193 help@ipianolab.com ipianolab.com/summercamp

What’s the coolest thing kids can do this summer? Learn piano or keyboard with iPianoLab! The unique iPianoLab method is featured at some of the top schools in NYC, including Hunter College Elementary, Lower Lab, Town School, Chapin, Convent of the Sacred Heart, and many more. iPianoLab students learn all the keyboard basics while learning awesome tunes from Taylor Swift, Imagine Dragons, even Bach and Beethoven. Each camp runs three hours per day for five days with a recital for parents on the last day. Each camp is limited to just five campers, so make sure you sign up now.

Launch Math + Science Centers

Summer Camp

Two UWS locations in manhattan 212-600-1010

launchmath.com

info@launchmath.com

Launch Math + Science Centers offers exciting and educational one-week STEM summer camps for kids from rising kindergarten to 7th grade. With a 4:1 camper-to-staff ratio, children at Launch’s exciting specialty summer programs explore the adventures of archaeology, discover the details of robotics, reveal the wonders of chemical reactions – and that’s just the beginning. Launch camps offer recreational activities to ensure a well-rounded experience! Kids and tweens (grades 2-4 and 5-7) spend half of the camp day outside in Central Park engaging in tech activities and classic camp games for the perfect mix of fun. Juniors (Grades K-1) unwind, socialize, and build meaningful relationships with friends through indoor game play and active, collaborative projects. Launch Math + Science Centers will ignite your child’s intrinsic desire to learn and love STEM!

Manhattan Mandarin

153 East 70th St., 917-261-6538

Jamie@ manhattanmandarin.com

manhattanmandarin.com/summercamp

Manhattan Mandarin is the largest provider of after school and private Mandarin tutoring in New York. This summer, Manhattan Mandarin will be offering an immersion Mandarin camp at their offices on the Upper East Side. This half-day program is designed for children ages 6-12 looking to start or continue their mandarin journey through the summer. Camp hours are 9am-12pm with dedicated hours to language learning, arts & crafts, and culture classes. 15 minute breaks will be included between each class. Students will be separated into different language learning

groups based on previous background and exposure. Each day they will target a different city and explore its culture, art, and history all in Mandarin!

Montauk Golf

631-668-1100

angtocco@gmail.com

montaukdownsgolfcourse.com/juniorprograms

Elevate your summer with the Montauk Downs Golf Program! Offering an immersive golf experience four days a week, it’s more than just a camp; it’s a gateway to golfing excellence! Tailored for all skill levels, from newcomers to seasoned players, their program focuses on fostering a love for the game, honing fundamentals, and advancing skills through dynamic training and mental conditioning. Age Groups: 6-12 Coed, July 8 to August 30 (see the website for options), Mondays to Thursdays 9:00 am to 12:00 pm OR 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, $650.00 per Week. Enjoy 10% off for siblings or with a local permanent address (Discounts cannot be combined). Plus, unlock additional savings with their exclusive parent discount code: “SUMMER FUN” & perfect for families enrolling multiple kids!

Music at Mannes

55 West 13th Street

mannesprep@newschool.edu

cpe.newschool.edu/youth-and-precollege/music-at-mannes-prepgrades-3-5, 646-909-3855 Music at Mannes, the summer intensive for Grades 3-6, provides young pianists and instrumental students the opportunity to enhance their skills and expand their musical interests. Each morning, students will engage in interactive music and movement classes. In the instrumental ensembles, participants will hone their ensemble skills through daily rehearsals, while the afternoon choral program encourages vocal development. This immersive two-week experience culminates with concluding performances in the recital halls of the Mannes College of Music. The program runs Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm, July 29 to August 9, 2024.

NY Kids Club Adventure Summer Camp!

Locations throughout manhattan/NyC Summer 2024 is here and it is time to head to Paris, France to participate in the Summer Games Around the World. Each week campers will visit a different country from Peru to Australia, Jamaica, Kenya, Greece,

26 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
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iPianoLab is the fresh, fun way to learn piano or keyboard. Learn all the keyboard basics WHILE learning favorite tunes from Taylor S ragons, Super Mario, even Bach and Beethoven!

iPianoLab is featured in some of the top public and private schools in NYC, including Hunter College Elementary, Town School, Lower Lab, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Yorkville Community School, PS 198 M, St Joseph’s, St Stephens, & many more!

Camps meet 3 hrs per day in Yorkville (95th St & 2nd Ave) for 1week, with a recital at the end of each week! Perfect for beginners! Just $249 per week! All books, music, and learning materials included.

No keyboard? Special starter pack includes 1 week c a Yamaha or Casio fr eet to keep for just $338!

May 2024 | New York Family 27
Reach. Grow. Achieve. Summer 2024 registration is now open! Programs and classes for children ages 18 months - 19 years SCAN TO LEARN MORE BalletAcademyEast.com 212-410-9140 | info@baenyc.com Reach. Grow. Achieve. Summer 2024 registration is now open! Programs and classes for children ages 18 months - 19 years

and Japan. Campers will celebrate and learn about different countries through thematic gymnastics, sports, science, art, theatre, dance, architecture, engineering yoga, music, and puppetry. Summer camp is an immersive theatrical experience that will keep campers moving, creating, laughing and learning. Campers will develop new skills and new friendships, along with an appreciation for cultures around the world and the determination, confidence, and heart it takes to be a champion!

Play On! Studios

263 W 86th Street

info@playonstudios.com 347-709-4149

playonstudios.com

Play On! Studios offers theater day camps on the Upper West Side that are guaranteed to give kids a summer full of acting, music, and fun they won’t soon forget. Young actors will rehearse and perform in a full production, work with professional NYC actors/teaching artists, build up their skills in a nurturing, non-competitive environment and play lots of

drama games. A welcoming camp atmosphere is perfect for beginners and also more experienced actors. Creative Drama Camps are perfect for kids entering grades K-4, and multi-week Musical Theater Camps are aimed at kids entering grades 4-9. Sign up for one week or more - there’s a new show every session! Spots are limited, so sign up today.

TADA! Youth Theater Week-Long Musical Theater Camps

15 W. 28th St. 3rd fl., 212-252-1619 ext. 4. education@tadatheater.com tadatheater.com/summercamps

TADA! Youth Theater Week-long Camps bring young people together to enjoy the magic of musical theater. Children create, rehearse and perform an original minimusical each week; engage in musical theater training; explore their interests and identity; share their voices; and receive individualized attention and solo opportunities. On the last day of class, friends and family are invited to attend the debut of the campers’ original mini-musical. Camps take place from June 17 through August 23. Campers will be divided

into groups by their ages and each week will have a different theme. Children ages 4-5 attend 9am to 1:30pm and children ages 5-8 and 8-12 attend 9am to 5pm.

The Wayfinder Experience

61 O’Neil St Kingston

(Camp Office only, Locations vary in the Hudson Valley)

845-481-0776

WayfinderExperience.com

Info@WayfinderExperience.com

Wayfinder offers the chance to engage with stories in a new light! Campers build characters and play out fantastical adventures, slaying dragons, saving the world, and making friends along the way. Set in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Wayfinder is sure to provide campers with a unique summer camp experience. Helping them to build problem solving skills, learning to make lasting relationships, and building themselves up all through the fun and magic of LARP. They have day camps starting at age 6 and overnight camps starting at 11. Voted Best In The Hudson Valley 7 years in a row!

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MONTAUK DOWNS

REGISTRATION IS OPEN

May 2024 | New York Family 29
J o i n u s
GOLF CAMP

A SensoryInclusive Harry Potter

The Exhibition welcomes all witches, wizards and muggles to its “Sensory Sundays”

On a recent Sunday, we did something rare as a family and headed to Harry Potter: The Exhibition. This meant there was no tag teaming, with one parent going out with one kid while the other stayed home with our Autistic son. Without the pricey airplane ticket to LA or Florida, we headed into the world of Harry Potter.

The mystical world of Harry Potter is enchanting, charming, and, for kids (and parents!), magical. But for kids with Sensory Processing Disorders, regardless of the charm and like many other entertaining places -it can be overwhelming.

Web MD describes this disorder as people with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things in their environment. Common sounds may be painful or overwhelming.

There is more to this disorder, but in a nutshell, this condition can affect the entire family. As visiting spots may not be tangible for your child with a sensory processing disorder, some feel it is better to skip rather than overwhelm your child. This is something I get as a mother of an Autistic eight-year-old.

Thankfully, the wizarding world of Harry Potter: The Exhibition which has been showing New Yorkers this world, since May 2023, has partnered with KultureCity and obtained its Sensory Inclusive certification. Until August, “Sensory Sundays” will turn the lights down and more on specific dates. Guests exploring the exhibit will be minimal and manageable, meaning kids can check out it at their own pace. If loud noise triggers you or even smells- these will be reduced. If you

or your child needs a little extra, KultureCity ® Sensory Bags will be readily available. In these packs, which are of no extra cost, remember to give it back so others can use it after your visit; you’ll find strobe reduction glasses, noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, and more.

What is KultureCity

This non-profit organization offers and partners to make spaces more sensoryinclusive so people with sensory processing disorders and unseen disabilities can experience what is happening around them.

Key Highlights of the Harry Potter: The Exhibition Book to Screen : Whether you need a recap or are just ready to get the show going, you can sit and watch a video and literary quotes from Harry Potter movies and books. Don’t forget to check out the first edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

The Great Hall Gallery : is a space that allows visitors to celebrate magical seasonal moments in its iconic architecture.

The Hogwarts Houses Gallery : kicks off the exhibition fun, giving guests a chance to dive into their chosen Hogwarts house during preregistration. Even if one house is working its spell for you to select it, this gallery lets you explore them all! Imagine this: a festive hall with the legendary Sorting Hat as the centerpiece, begging for photo ops. And don’t miss the newly designed house crests gleaming on stunning stained glass windows.

Hagrid’s Hut and The Forbidden Forest: Kids will love this fan favorite. Go on a fantastical adventure with an interactive Patronus delightful experience. Then, get ready to uncover legendary creatures like centaurs and Acromantula hiding in the forest, and step inside a replica of Hagrid’s Hut for an adventure you won’t forget!

My youngest loved videos but was mainly enamored with the carpet and chose to experience the magic from the floor (no one batted an eyelash). My oldest enjoyed the entire experience; there were no teenage eye rolls or sighs; he was super involved and happy to finally experience the exhibition. It reminded me that going to sensory-inclusive events and spaces is not only for the sensorysensitive person but also for the family, who may miss fun experiences, making it a winwin for everyone.

Harry Potter:The Exhibition

50 W 34th St., New York, NY 10001 across the street from Macy’s Sensory Sundays coming up: May 5, June 2, July 14, and August 4, 2024, 9am-11am

Tickets: Kids (ages 3-15) $32.66, Adults (ages 16 plus) $43.55, Children under 3 free

30 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
family day out

Join us for an exclusive Open House event where you can explore our beautiful facilities, meet our dedicated staff, and learn more about the extraordinary care and dining services we provide. Studios, 1 bedroom, and 2 bedroom apartments available.

May 11th (1pm – 3pm)

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RSVP: Today or just stop by! Discover exceptional and

Where: 1844 Second Avenue (between East 95th & 96th Street)

May 2024 | New York Family 31 Scan to visit our website! bedroom apartments available. Angela DeWood Deputy ExecutiveDirectorfor CommunityEngagement 646-438-8009 Short-Term Stays Available! Our short-stay opportunities provide exceptional support program and to primary caregivers needing a respite.
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Tips on Parenting Teens

Parenting teens can be equally challenging and amazing. As your kids are growing up, they are navigating a new terrain with extended responsibilities, questions about life, and simply finding their way. In some instances, teens might rebel, act out, or shut down. Others might be dealing with mental health issues, or simply feel overwhelmed by the many things they have on their plates. As parents it’s important to be there for them as well as to allow them to explore and find themselves. Below, we are sharing some tips on parenting teens and how to navigate this time.

keep the communication open and be a good listener

Teens, in general, are sometimes known to

shut down. This can include closing you off from the conversations and/or giving you limited-to-no responses. Try not to take this personally as teens are also figuring out who they are as well as what they believe in.

Establish an open dialogue with them so they know that they can go to you. It’s important not to stress out or force conversations, but rather be open to their journey and listen. Teens need parents to listen as a way to feel understood, which can help to forge a closer connection. Sometimes this might even involve walking away from a conversation or revisiting it if anger comes into play.

let them explore and encourage them

Teens, unlike younger kids, are figuring out their interests and/or what they enjoy doing. Give them the space to figure out their inter-

ests/passions as well as support their journey, even if you might noy completely understand it. It is important for them to feel your support and know you are there for them.

Provide guidance and give clear guidelines

You want your teen to know what is acceptable about where they are going and/ or who they are hanging out with. This is a good time to discuss values,making good choices, and any challenges that might arise. Make sure they know - and understandthe consequences if they don’t follow the guidelines. This could be anything from breaking curfew to drinking to being grounded.

respect their values

Your teen might not have the same values/ views as you. Show them that you respect what is important to them and ask them to explain why it is important to them if you are conflicted. Showing that you care about them/

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teens

respect them will go a long way as you address your concerns while still supporting them.

Spend time together

Despite what they might think, your teen is still a child who needs you in a different way. Show them that you care and you’re interested in them by doing things together. This could be you enjoying something that they love and/or you involving them in one of your favorite activities. Be consistent and make it a point to show up for themfocusing on activities without the clutch of devices or technology. Try activities such as yoga, hiking, or even simply enjoying a meal together.

Share your experiences

Even though they might not say it, they look up to you. Share your lived experiences, including some hard life lessons you had to learn at their age. They will appreciate - and maybe even be shocked - at how human you are.

b e a role model

Your teens are watching. Model traits that

you would want them to embody such as kindness, thoughtfulness, curiosity, confidence, patience, and more. It is also important for them to see you being passionate about what you do. This can also include your volunteer work and how you show up in the family. Even if they might not be expressing these traits now, they are absorbing everything.

m ake sure teens get enough sleep

Teens may think they can operate on little sleep, but as we know sleep is vital for everyone to function and be in a better mood. Set realistic goals around bedtime, including an electronic curfew or no screens after a certain amount of time. Also, make sure they get up at a decent time on the weekend.

reach out for support

While you can do all of the “right” things, there’s still a level of complexity when it comes to parenting teens. Know that this is all part of their journey and will take time for them to find their way. Find local parenting support groups - with a focus on

teen parenting as well as teen specific issues to communicate your struggles with others in a similar situation.

In NYC, check out Parenting Teens in NYC, NYC Parents with Disabilities, and Raising Teenage Girls Is HARD! Parenting Teens Support Group by Teen Thrive on Facebook.

check in your teens mental health

We are in a mental health epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control, “more than 4 in 10 (42%) students felt persistently sad or hopeless and nearly onethird (29%) experienced poor mental health.” This problem is continuing to heighten with common pressures, social media, and issues at home and school.

Check in with your teen to see how they are doing. Some ways to monitor this might be assessing their energy levels, digestion issues, headaches, increased anxiety, anger, eating issues, memory problems, and more. If you are concerned, contact your local doctor and/or find a support group or therapist, and of course be present for them.

May 2024 | New York Family 33
We’re s� S�cial Follow us @newyorkfamily on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and tag us #newyorkfamily in your NYC adventures!

8 Sculpture Gardens

New York City and nearby

New York City is known for its art museums, but what if you want to bring your love of art outside? Visit a sculpture garden! While the selection of sculpture gardens isn’t quite as vast as the selection of museums, there are still plenty of sculpture gardens around NYC and nearby to explore.

Sculpture gardens blend art and nature together, making them a perfect getaway from the city when you need a second to breathe. Plus, many of these sculpture gardens are free to visit!

Here are 8 sculpture gardens in New York City and nearby to explore.

n ew york ciT y Museum of Modern Art 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, located in the Museum of Modern Art, has been one of the city’s most beloved green spaces since it opened in 1939.

The space has been used for different purposes over the years and currently showcases works by Picasso, Hector Guimard, Isa Genzken and more. Keep an eye out for virtual and in person events related to the garden!

High Line

Gansevoort St to W 30 St between Washington St and 11 Ave

One of the better-known public green spaces in Manhattan, the High Line is home to both art installations and robust, vibrant gardens.

The High Line is almost a mile and a half long, so there’s tons of space to explore. Find a new favorite piece of art or quiet corner of a green space to get away from the rush of the city.

The Noguchi Museum

9-01 33rd Rd, Queens, NY

Found in Queens, the Noguchi Museum is the first museum in the United States to be established, designed and installed by a living artist to show their own work.

It includes a sculpture garden, which

serves as a culmination of Noguchi’s exploration of Japanese garden design. Visitors can enjoy year-round Noguchi’s sculptures as well as selected plantings native to the United States and Japan.

Socrates Sculpture Park

32-01 Vernon Blvd, Queens, NY

Socrates Sculpture Park features a rotating selection of works from early-career and world-renowned artists alike. Enjoy the variety of exhibitions that are displayed throughout the year and drop in for programming for all ages. Admission to the Park’s grounds, exhibitions and programs are always free!

long iS lan D

Nassau County Museum of Art

1 Museum Dr, Roslyn, NY

Explore over 40 pieces of art across the Nassau County Museum of Art’s 145 acres of fields, woods, ponds and formal gardens.

Officially known as the William Cullen Bryant Preserve, the grounds house sculptures as well as a living collection, including an arboretum, nature trails, a native plant garden and a formal garden. Looking for a guide to tackling this space? Check out the museum’s outdoor adventures sculpture guide!

LongHouse Reserve

133 Hands Creek Rd, East Hampton, NY

A 16-acre garden in East Hampton, the LongHouse Reserve is meant to inspire a creative life and provide a sanctuary for Long Island and beyond. The Reserve serves the community through programs in art, nature and wellness. LongHouse Reserve is open during the week and on the weekends April through December, so you and your family can enjoy the tranquility of the garden through the rest of the year.

rocklan D & we STche STer

Rockland Center for the Arts

27 S Greenbush Rd, West Nyack, NY

The Rockland Center for the Arts is home to the Catherine Konner Sculpture Park, a 10 acre outdoor space featuring rotating displays of outdoor sculptures. The Sculpture Park gives artists the chance to exhibit large-scale projects and gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy art in an outdoor space for free.

The Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens

700 Anderson Hill Rd, Purchase, NY

Who knew the PepsiCo Global Headquarters were home to an open-to-the-public sculpture garden? Donald M. Kendall, former chairman of the board and CEO for PepsiCo, imagined an atmosphere of stability and creativity, and these gardens are his brainchild. The collection contains works by major artists of the twentieth century.

34 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
family day out
in
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THERE

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IS STILL TIME TO ENROLL!

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This summer, see your young artists shine as they learn from the best professional teachers and artists in a magical woodland campus.

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Choose from 1-, 4-,and 8-week day programs for K–12 with 50 classes in music, dance, creative writing, chess, theater, recreation, and more!

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Register for a free campus tour on May 5 and 19

Register for a free campus tour on May 5 and 19

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Wheatley Heights, Long Island

Wheatley Heights, Long Island

May 2024 | New York Family 35

Glow Maven Latham Thomas

on The Soft Space, advancing maternal health via community and academia, watching her young adult son soar, and how she is an Open Nest, not an Empty Nester

Our cover this month is by happenstance. Latham Thomas of Mama Glow unveiled a stunning new space in Brooklyn, and I was eager to feature it. The Soft Space embodies community, education, and support, among other things—but more on that later.

Our New York Family team had quite the agenda on the day of the shoot. Our Events Editor, Shara Levine, kicked off her day celebrating Women’s International Day by dancing with Julianne Hough and Latham at a KINRGY X movement class. Then, our crew arrived to photograph the space and our April mom. While our cover mom, Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, was getting glammed up, photographer Yumi Matsuo and I got to work, absorbing the energy of the space and capturing its loveliness. Latham’s infectious energy filled the room, precisely what our winter-weary bodies needed.

After we saw the captured pics, we couldn’t resist featuring this new space and celebrating Latham on the cover, for I have personally watched her care and advocate hard for mothers and families. She champions maternal health through advocacy, teaching, and breaking barriers.

Support is crucial at the beginning of becoming moms and even more vital as we journey through the many phases of being women. May celebrates Mother’s Day, and Latham sincerely honors mothers.

We are excited about this new space as she continues to grow personally and professionally while continuing to be a foundation for women.

I chatted with Latham about expanding Mama Glow, tools moms already possess for a mental regroup, watching her young adult son soar, and how she is an Open Nest, not an Empty Nester.

For all the parents new to Mama Glow, can you share how Mama Glow supports mothers and families?

I’m the founder of Mama Glow, a global maternal health and education platform that educates and professionally develops doulas and nurse care managers to serve in our healthcare system to improve maternal health outcomes. We have trained nearly 3,000 doulas across the USA and 6 continents. Our market leading training program, the Mama Glow Doula Homeschool Professional Training Program is the first of its kind to be embedded as an Ivy League University course where I was appointed Visiting Professor of the Practice of Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brown University. My commitment to advancing maternal health is grounded in community and academia. We recently wrapped a national Doula Competency training program we designed for CVS Health and Aetna nurse care managers for CEUs. This means that nurses are also learning how to integrate the doula model of care to support families.

We offer doula matching services to families in different ways, some are private pay, others come to us through the Mama Glow Foundation for pro bono doula services. We also offer educational programs for parents.

The Mama Glow Foundation leads efforts in education, advocacy and the arts as well as research and scholarship. At the Foundation we welcome and mentor University fellows through our partnership with Brown University and support Doula clubs on 5 campuses, supporting university doula collectives. The Mama Glow Foundation also provides pro bono doula services across the country through partnerships with companies like Carol’s Daughter and the Love Delivered Initiative, and through the Citywide Doula Initiative, where the Mama Glow Foundation is the largest provider of pro bono doula services in New York City.

It’s been a deep pleasure to elevate and celebrate this work through our platform, including: The Doula Expo by Mama Glow, our annual culture shifting festival that celebrates a vision for the future of birth work, this past Spring, we held the Doula Expo at Hudson Yards in a

36 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
May 2024 | New York Family 37
Photo by Yumi Matsuo
“I would invite you to pour energy into the small things that bring you pleasure and punctuate moments of pleasure throughout the day.”

60,000 square foot space and welcomed nearly 2,000 guests. This is how we show up in the community and now folks will be able to also join us for lectures, workshops and events and community support at The Soft Space by Mama Glow as well.

As someone who spends her life supporting mothers/ women, do you have any advice for an overwhelmed mother on how she can make space for herself when she feels she lacks the time and, in some circumstances, the funds to reboot mentally?

It’s really important to listen to your body. Self-care is about checking in with yourself on a moment-to-moment basis and meeting your personal needs. Community is so critical as we navigate the challenges of new parenthood. I encourage folks who are feeling overwhelmed to tap into their support system, your sister circle, and practice asking for help - by the way; it can be difficult to ask for help when you’re the person everyone depends on. Having a group text check-in having some folks you can ask to come over and watch the kids while you go for a walk alone, can be really helpful in reducing stress. All of the self-care and stress management tools I use are free: I journal, practice deep breathing, turn on the music and move my body, I water my plants, I go outside for a walk… all of this helps me stay calibrated. I would invite you to pour energy into the small things that bring you pleasure and punctuate moments of pleasure throughout the day, even those of us who are busy can choose to make this time for ourselves.

It is no secret that New York Family loves you; this is your third cover! Your first cover featured you and your then-tween son on the cover, who is now in college. How is parenting evolving for you as your son transitions into adulthood, and what lessons have you learned along the way?

I’m honored for my third cover! Parenting is amazing at every stage. My son is now 20 years alive and I have an Open Nest. I wrote a post when Fulano headed off to school where I spoke about the potency of this new life phase and what it was like to move away from birthing and caring for someone for nearly two decades and then sending them out into the world. My son went on to attend Berklee School of Music in Boston and is now a junior in college. While it’s just a 3 hour train or car ride away from Brooklyn, it’s still far enough away that I am reminded of the distance. It’s good for him because it allows him to spread his wings. I learn so much as a parent about trust. When your children begin to soar, you have to activate your trust and faith in ways previously unimagined, you have to trust that all of the lessons you gave and the messages you shared were encoded. You have to believe that you have raised

a person who carries their values in their heart and makes good decisions without your direct and daily influence. And that mutual trust is the pulse of your relationship. I am an evolved version of myself, I became anew when I gave birth to my son and I shed a layer of myself when he entered this new life phase. I don’t say ‘Empty’ nest because I don’t feel empty; I feel whole, alive, and full. I have been so creative during this time, and I’ve given birth to so many projects during my open nesting phase. Open nesting is a rite of passage that I honor and celebrate.

What was your inspiration behind creating The Soft Space?

The Soft Space by Mama Glow is a 2,300-squarefoot wellness, education, and live events oasis in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The concept was born out of the collective need for ease, softness, and recalibration in response to the challenging times we are living and is a dream realized. I have been affirming women and doulas around self-care modalities and contemplative practice to improve mental health and wellbeing for years. This is a space where you are welcomed home. And this space is one where folks can engage in high touch experiences anchored in optimal wellbeing. I am inspired by birth workers and women who support women. I wanted to create a space where I didn’t want to leave, a space that beautiful and comfortable. I wanted it to feel like home.

How does The Soft Space align with Mama Glow’s mission and values?

The Soft Space by Mama Glow is an extension of Mama Glow, just like the Doula Expo by Mama Glow (doulaexpo.com) or The Mama Glow Foundation (MamaGlowFoundation.org) are all brand extensions and part of our overall vision. It is a physical gathering space to bring our grater community together and also to allow us to expand our programming that continues to evolve and touch more and more people!

What unique offerings can visitors expect to experience at The Soft Space?

We host book signings, lectures and thought leadership, symposiums, retreats, blessing ways, product launches, pop-ups and so much more. We have hosted a few retreats, including a private wellness retreat for companies looking to create community building and team building for their staff. We have several brand partners booking the space out for product launches and events for press and influencers as well. Our shop features boutique wellness products from over 40 women and femme owned brands with a focus on Black and POC products. Our library nook features literary ancestors like Audre Lorde and Nora Neal Hurston. Our kitchen features an herbal apothecary full of medicinal plant allies, you can get an herbal tonic after your class and read a book on the couch in our library. We have hosted photo shoots and even shot video content. The

38 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024

space is a great backdrop for content creators to film content so we are happy to welcome those folks into the space to have a gorgeous space to film their wellness, lifestyle, beauty or food related content.

How do you envision The Soft Space fostering community and wellness for the community?

It’s our intention to welcome like-minded brand partners, organizations, and individuals to host their life moments and experiential gatherings at the Soft Space. I am really excited for all of the incredible experts, authors, and thought leaders in wellness, women’s health, mental health, and beyond to join us and bring their programming to the Soft Space. We want to welcome folks exploring and navigating the reproductive health continuum for content, community, and support. We want to continue to nurture folks and center their mental health and bring them into a safe space where they can breathe deeply, have fellowship, and be at ease. We are a wellness destination and events space with soul!

How will The Soft Space support the physical and mental well-being of its visitors?

Guests are welcomed home in our front reception area, where they can remove their shoes and prepare for their experience in the space. Our shop features boutique wellness products from women and femme owned brands, with a focus on Black and POC products. Our kitchen features an herbal apothecary full of medicinal plant allies. We have a private treatment room is available for 1-on-1 client services like reiki, talk therapy, acupuncture, massage, etc. The Sanctuary features vaulted ceilings with skylights, and a landscaped window garden. The sanctuary seats 80 guests, so it’s great for any type of event and folks can convene in community in this space. It is so inviting! In addition to drop in programming we have a group mental health series we are launching in partnership with Kate Spade NY, who we work with to improve mental health outcomes for women. The space is providing a platform where folks can shut off their phones and just be present.

What types of programming are available at The Soft Space?

The programing is really special, we have everything from our professional doula training programs, to wellness and self-care programming like, Full Moon Sound Baths, Crystals for Fertility, Sacred Belly Dance, Womb Healing and more. What’s been really great is that a lot of brand partners have come to the space to activate, so we have hosted events with folks like Juliane Hough and KINRGY, CVS Aetna, where we hosted a retreat for their Women’s Health team, Nanit hosted a day long activation for parents. We are hosting a Retreat for Doulas and Caregivers, something we love to do most, is pour into our community. The space is really versatile and we look forward to bringing even more amazing offerings to the community as we head into the Summer months! Stay

tuned to our site and mailing list for program updates!

How do you envision The Soft Space contributing to the cultural and social fabric of Brooklyn?

I see the Soft Space being a community destination in Brooklyn. We are in Williamsburg which has been gentrified for a long time. I love that we are a Black-female led business that is conveniently located conveniently 1 block away from the Bedford Avenue L train station, the space is easily accessible to all. We are offering a soft place to land for everyone who is ready to embrace a new way of thinking about wellbeing. We focus on platforming BIPOC healing artists and wellness practitioners and welcoming. We are bringing innovative programing and curated experiences but also a space for folks to come celebrate their life events. BIPOC folks who often feel left out of wellness spaces. We have already developed some great partnerships with local businesses as well, we hope to continue to be a home for folks to experience the magic of Mama Glow.

Handles: @Glowmaven, @thesoftspace.bk @mamaglow

May 2024 | New York Family 39
Photo by Yumi Matsuo

calendar

Manhattan

Summer on the hudson: locomotive lawn live!

when : may 2-June 27, Thursdays, 10:30 – 11:15 am where: Locomotive Lawn in Riverside Park South, Hudson River Greenway & W 62nd St., Upper West Side ageS: 8 and younger

whaT: Foster a love of reading with musical stories, interactive musical storyboard, and danceable original music.

wanT To go?: Free. nycgovparks.org

Spring centennial celebration at the morgan when : Sunday, may 5, 11 am – 3 pm

where: The morgan Library & museum, 225 madison ave., murray Hill

ageS: all

whaT: Celebrate the morgan’s 100th birthday with a special celebration for all ages featuring live music, exhibition tours, artmaking, scavenger hunts, and more!

wanT To go?: Free. themorgan.org

children’s Day: kodomo

no hi

when : Sunday, may 5, 12:30 –3:30 pm

where: Japan Society, 333 E 47th St., murray Hill

ageS: 3 – 8

whaT: Take part in traditional activities like carp streamer making, samurai helmet origami, pose for pictures with life-sized samurai armor displays, and more!

wanT To go?: $18. japansociety.org

STemusical rosie revere, engineer & friends live when : Saturday, may 11, 11 am – 1 pm

where: BmCC Tribeca Performing arts Center, 199 Chambers St. Tribeca ageS: 4 – 10

whaT: This fun new musical is based on the books Rosie Revere, Engineer; Iggy Peck, architect; and ada Twist Scientist by andrea Beaty, which spotlights the STEm curriculum.

wanT To go?: $40. tribecapac.org

musical explorers family concert

when : Saturday, may 11, 12 – 1 pm & 3 – 4 pm.

where: Carnegie Hall, 881 7th ave., midtown manhattan ageS: 5 – 8

whaT: Discover music from around the world in this vibrant, highly interactive concert.

wanT To go?: $18. carnegiehall.org

Japan Parade

when : Saturday, may 11, 1 pm where: Parade begins at W, 81st Street and Central Park West, Upper West Side ageS: all

whaT: Celebrates the friendship between NyC and Japan with floats, music, performances, community leaders, and more.

wanT To go?: Free. japanparadenyc.org

free Second Sundays

when : Sunday, may 12, 10:30 am – 6 pm.

where: The Whitney museum of american art, 99 Gansevoort St., meatpacking District

ageS: all

whaT: Enjoy artmaking, activities, tours, classes, and other special events that celebrate Whitney exhibitions and community events.

wanT To go?: Free. whitney. org

18th annual Dance Parade

when : Saturday, may 18, 12 – 7 pm

where: Parade begins at 6th ave. and 17th St., Greenwich Village ageS: all

whaT: This annual celebration of dance boasts tens of thousands of dancers and spectators, more than 100 styles of dance and nearly 200 dance groups.

wanT To go?: Free. danceparade.org

fleet week

when : may 25-27, all day; Friday, may 24, 7 pm; monday, may 27, 10 am.

where: The Intrepid Sea, air & Space museum, Pier 86, New york

ageS: all

whaT: Come out for musical

40 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
t he annual dance parade leaps into Greenwich Village on may 18. leonard rosmarin

performances, activities, and demos from the military, including the U.S. marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, Office of Naval Research and many more!

wanT To go?: Free. intrepidmuseum.org

Skate night

when : Friday, may 31, 4 – 5:30 pm

where: Tanahey Playground, Cherry St. & market Slip, Lower East Side ageS: all

whaT: Dance and enjoy outdoor roller-skating with music, jumbo games, and much more!

wanT To go?: Free. nycgovparks.org

Bronx

Pop into Spring

when : Weekdays, 1:30 – 3 pm, Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am –3 pm, through may 17.

where: New york Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., Belmont ageS: 3-10

whaT: Explore the wonders of spring by learning about bees, flowers, and pollination and create a seed ball to grow Bee Balm—a pollinator-friendly plant for your neighborhood.

wanT To go?: Included with admission: $4-$35. (718) 817–8700, nybg.org

family art Project: flowers for mother’s Day when : may 11-12, Saturday and Sunday, 10 am – 1 pm. where: Wave Hill, 4900

Independence ave., Riverdale ageS: all

whaT: Send someone special your own loving message by creating a bouquet of paper flowers. WaNT TO GO?: Included with admission: $4-$10. wavehill.org

bronx week Parade & fair when : Sunday, may 19, 10 am where: Parade begins at 1 Fordham Plaza, Belmont ageS: all

whaT: This annual event showcases local groups, talent and Bronx Pride with marching bands, cheerleaders, sports teams, youth groups, advocacy groups and the best of the Bronx.

wanT To go?: Free.

bronxboropres.nyc.gov

Broo K lyn

open Stages 2024 when : may 11, 3 – 7 pm where: Brooklyn Conservatory of music, 58 Seventh ave., Park Slope ageS: all whaT: Stoops, schoolyards, parks and local cafes throughout Park Slope will host 150+ inspiring artists sure to amaze the whole family.

wanT To go?: Free. (718) 622–3300, bkcm.org

Sound & color! Spring festival

when : Saturday, may 18, 11 am – 5 pm where: Pier 5 – Brooklyn Bridge Park, 334 Furman St., Downtown Brooklyn ageS: all whaT: This celebration of colors, culture, spring and unity features live musical performances, food vendors, kids activities, kite-flying, and more.

wanT To go?: Free. brooklynbridgepark.org

bluey’s big Play when : may 25-26, Saturday and Sunday, 11 am & 3 pm. where: Kings Theatre, 1027 Flatbush ave., Flatbush

ageS: 3 – 8

whaT: See Bluey and co. like never before when they come to life on stage!

wanT To go?: Tickets start at $40. kingstheatre.com

Queen S

Sheep Shearing festival when : Saturday, may 11, 11 am – 4 pm

where: Queens County Farm museum, 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy., Glen Oaks ageS: all

whaT: NyC’s only sheep shearing festival features farmer-led tours, sheep shearing demos, live music, hayrides, kids crafts, and a scavenger, and more.

wanT To go?: $15; $12 ages 3-11; free for ages 2 and younger. queensfarm.org

Queens international children’s festival

when : Saturday, may 18, noon – 5 pm

where: Jamaica Performing arts Center, 153-10 Jamaica ave., Jamaica ageS: all

whaT: This fun-filled event brings families arts performances , craft activities, live music, dance performances, games, arts and crafts, and more!

wanT To go?: Free. jcal.org

May 2024 | New York Family 41 MAY calendar
Bmcc tribeca performing a rts center hosts stemusical rosie revere engineer and friends on may 11. celebrate at the Japan parade on the upper West side on may 11. Jeremy Daniel Photography

What is BookTok?

and what parents need to know

BookTok, a niche community on TikTok focused on books and literature, has been gaining traction recently. Its reach has even expanded beyond the app: you can find displays in Barnes and Noble’s and other book stores dedicated to showcasing BookTok’s current favorites.

With over 29 million videos posted to the BookTok tag, more people than ever are getting book recommendations from TikTok, including plenty of young adult readers.

But there’s no real way of controlling what books get put on your child’s For You Page, and many of the most popular books on BookTok may not be suitable for young adult readers.

What do parents need to know about BookTok? And how involved should parents be in what their children are reading, especially as they get older?

We sat down with Dr. Erin O’Connor, chief of education for parenting platform Cooper, to talk about BookTok, how to find appropriate books, benefits kids of reading books of all kinds and more.

How the rising popularity of BookTok is impacting young adult readers

O’Connor says one of the best things about BookTok is that it’s getting teens and adolescents to read.

Reading helps teens and adolescents develop important emotional and cognitive skills. It allows kids to process more emotionally sophisticated content more easily than if they were accessing this content on the ever-moving world of social media, for example.

There are countless benefits that come with pleasure reading for teens and adolescents, so “there’s just a huge upside” in creating a space “where it’s cool to be discussing books and be engaging in these sorts of interactions,” O’Connor says.

While BookTok is beneficial because it’s getting teens and adolescents to read, it should still be approached with caution.

Like many other social media sites that teens and adolescents use, there’s not a lot of control

over what content is put in front of users. As a result, book recommendations from BookTok don’t have the chance to be vetted by parents.

“Some of these books have a lot of adult, mature themes around unhealthy relationships, violence, things like that, that are hard to judge outside of the context of reading,” O’Connor says.

How much should parents be involved in what their kids are reading

The degree of how much a parent should be involved with what their child is different for every family. But it can never hurt to have knowledge about what your child is choosing to read, especially for adolescents and young teens.

O’Connor recommends sites like Common Sense Media if you’re looking for a more researched opinion on what a book contains.

Or, you can get on BookTok yourself and see what’s out there.

“That’s a good way to just get a quick sort of understanding of what your young adult is seeing and what their interest is in a book,” O’Connor says.

It’s also important to remember that even when young adult readers start to gravitate towards more mature books, O’Connor says it’s “not always the content that we’re worried about that they’re interested in.”

“[Adolescence is] a challenging time in terms of friendships and identity and sexuality and all these things that children are often seeking information out about anyway,” O’Connor says.

When dealing with teenagers, give them some space and privacy about what they’re reading.

“If they seem to be enjoying the book and able to handle the content, you can talk to them

about some of the themes, but you don’t necessarily have to be reading along with them,” O’Connor says.

But for younger children, reading the same book at the same time as them can be a great way to start a conversation with them about themes they may be reading about.

O’Connor recommends being aware of series or books by the same author, where the maturity level and themes might “ramp up” as they go on. For example, maybe the first two books in a series are okay for your 13 year old to read, but you may suggest that they hold off on reading the next books until they’re 16.

While there may be temptation to shield children from more mature themes, remember that censoring what they read may not stop them from encountering them. “A lot of these themes and topics, they’re going to be seeing them on Youtube, TikTok, Instagram,” O’Connor says. “And reading is a good way to digest that material in a little bit more of a removed way.”

O’Connor says it’s important to, as a parent, encourage open communication and be ready to discuss these mature themes when teens and adolescents come across them.

There are many benefits of letting young readers read books of all kinds

O’Connor says reading a variety of books can help with empathy development, especially in teen and adolescent readers.

“I think it’s really the exposure to not only diverse voices in terms of the authors, but also diverse experiences in terms of the characters, and seeing and understanding the thought processes that they go through as they make decisions,” O’Connor says. “And thinking about yourself and how you make decisions can be very viable.”

42 NewYorkFamily.com | May 2024
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