Everything You Need to Know About New York City with Kids

New York City with kids is an experience. Whether you are visiting or relocating to one of the 5 boroughs it is important to start with that knowledge.

Like everywhere we’ve lived, there is good and bad.

New York City is overwhelming and exciting.

It is loud and busy and full of opportunity.

It is smelly and dirty and also glittery and full of light.

New York City is an experience.

New York City with Kids

What I love most about moving as much as we do is the opportunity to really delve deep into wherever we are living. It’s kind of like immersive family travel.

We know wherever we are now is temporary and so we explore and see as much as we can and just experience it in a way we might not if we were settling in for good.

When we moved to New York City we were determined to experience the city as much as we could. This is the culmination of our year and a half living in one of the greatest cities in the world.

New York City with Kids

Resources

Things to Do

I divided this area up by borough to hopefully make it more navigable and helpful.

Start with: 10 Must Do Things for Families in New York City

Manhattan

Brooklyn

Queens

The Bronx

Seasonal Events

Complete Guide to New York City with Kids

4 Steps to Prepare Kids to Move: NYC to CA

Moving with Kids

Preparing kids for a move…honestly I feel a little silly writing this because even though this is our 5th move with kids in 6 years I still don’t feel like I have answers.

Moving is hard.

I’m a grown up and moving is still really hard for me.

That being said, since this is the 5th time we’ve moved with kids I do feel like I have learned some things that make me feel more prepared this time around. Hopefully they will be helpful for your family too.

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The Move

Are you thinking “Wait, you’re moving…again?”

Then yes! – we are moving! My husband got offered an awesome job in San Diego so we are headed west to sunny California in January.

It will be really hard to say goodbye to New York City – especially so much sooner than we had planned. Living here has been a completely unique experience and I’m so grateful we’ve had the past year and a half to explore one of the greatest cities in the world.

More than anything, it will be hard to say goodbye to the fantastic people we have met. You hear so many awful things about rude New Yorkers and while yes the pushing on the subways during rush hour and the alarming amount of honking for little reason is hard to explain, New Yorkers in general are wonderful, welcoming people. We have made great friends here and that makes moving away so sad.

However, moving we are so we need to prepare.

4 Steps to Prepare Kids for Moving

Does anyone have the perfect answer to this? I still struggle with how to prepare myself and generally exist in a state of denial for much of the prep time, but I do try hard to talk to the kids about what is coming up and how they are feeling about it.

Here are the things we have found to be helpful in easing the move for our kids.

1. Children’s Books about Moving & Conversation

I have found reading books about moving really helps start conversations about their fears and other emotions involving our move. This is the list of books I use.

Asking open ended questions also helps to open a dialogue about the move and what they are concerned about. Some questions we have found helpful are;

  • What are you wondering about (new city)?
  • How are you feeling about our move today?
  • What are you going to miss the most about this home?
  • You seem sad today. Can you tell me about it?
  • How do you think we could stay in touch with {insert important friend’s name}?

2. Here and There: Mapping Our Move

mapping our move with kids

A dear family friend heard about our move and sent us a huge map and guidebook about coastal California from AAA. I paired this with our 50 States book.

  • First we found New York City on the map and San Diego California.
  • We found San Diego in The 50 States Book.
  • As we figured out the route we were going to take to CA we started mapping that and also read about the places we would be stopping.
  • When their Dad went out to San Diego to hunt for a home we also mapped his trip. We found their new school and home on the map and added little dots. We talked about other things like where the closest library is, how we might drive to the zoo, and best of all the shortest route to the beach.

Family Road Trip Activity Tips

3. What to Pack in the Car

If you are moving across town or in a U-Haul then your belongings are all coming with you – but in our case our things are getting put in a huge semi and then disappearing for somewhere between a few weeks to a few months.

With this type of move in mind, here are the things I recommend packing in the car although I think some of it would be comforting to a kid no matter how short or long your move.

  1. Clothes. I pack like we are going on a week long trip. This gets a little more complicated when you’re moving from Winter in New York to warmer weather in San Diego, but I try to cover a week’s worth of clothes and pajamas and such and then plan to do laundry. (Bringing some detergent is also helpful – a few of these pods is easy to pack!) Don’t forget swim suits – there is at least one perk of living in a hotel for a while!
  2. Activities for the car. (In this case a LOT of activities for the car)
  3. A box of children’s books to rotate through over the next couple of months.
  4. A box for each child with their absolute favorite stuffed animals and toys. I let them help fill this up. This is whatever is most important to them so they are comforted by the fact that it is in the car with and not disappearing onto a truck. The box stays in the car until we get to the hotel or new home and tides them over until the rest of their toys arrive.
  5. A backpack of a few things they want to use in the car and then I sneak in some other surprises the night before.
  6. Food. Snacks for the car and some basics to start our pantry stocking when we arrive. I also pack a case of water.
  7. Pillows, blankets, and sound machines. We find it comforting to have our own pillows and blankets with us when we’re living out of a hotel for a while.
  8. Scooters, soccer ball – some kind of active outdoor gear to pull out of the car and get in a little gross motor on long car days.
  9. License Plate Game – if there was ever a time we might get all 50 I think this is our shot!

4. Saying Goodbye to People & Places

This is the hardest part. I hate goodbyes and I’m generally pretty terrible at them. I am however good at staying in touch with people after we move, so I feel like “see ya later” is a pretty truthful statement and I prefer it.

Make a list with your kids. What do they want to do one more time before you leave?

What’s on our list this time?

Places and People to Say Goodbye to in New York

  • Playdates with friends.
  • Central Park. Narrowing down which playground to play at was hard!
  • Play at the playground down the block.
  • Ride their bikes on the Coney Island Boardwalk again.
  • Fingers crossed – getting to see snow one more time.
  • See their uncle one more time.

4 Steps to Prepare Kids for a Move

And here we go…

We will be leaving for San Diego in a few days. To say we’re ready would be a stretch, I don’t think you ever really feel ready for something like this but we are as prepared as we can be.

Follow me on Instagram to keep up with us as we cross the country and I will share more details here when we’re settled in San Diego.

20+ Best Things to do with Kids in the Jackson Area

21 Best Things to Do in Jackson MS with Kids

 

What is there to do in Mississippi with kids?

I remember wondering this same thing before we moved. We were pretty content in the Midwest, so when my dear hubby announced that he had gotten a position in Mississippi I was a little stunned. He cheerfully told me that at least they didn’t have cold weather and started bringing home empty boxes. Two weeks later we found ourselves in Madison, Mississippi where we have been for the past almost two years.

Despite my initial concerns, Mississippi in many ways has amazed us.

The weather is indeed wonderful. Their idea of Winter – if you’re used to northern seasons – is hilarious. This isn’t tropical island weather, but you can certainly get outside year round in Mississippi. This is one of the things I will miss the most when we move again in a couple short months back to the cold up north. 

The best thing about Mississippi however isn’t the weather. The best thing is the people.

We have made fantastic friends that we will miss dearly, but it goes further than that. My favorite thing about Mississippians is how much they adore children. Almost everywhere is child friendly and there are so many, many things that are specifically for kids. The Fall church festival season alone is quite astounding.

So, what is there to do with kids in Mississippi? A ton!

20+ Best Things to do with Kids in the Jackson MS Area

I went with Jackson and the surrounding area when making this list. Jackson is the major city and where a lot of the bigger attractions are, however it is not a huge metropolis and it is pretty easy to move between the city and the suburbs that surround the city. The list below is divided into indoor and outdoor activities for kids and focuses on places you can go with kids any time of the year.

Outdoor Activities for Kids

Visit a Playground, our favorites include;

  • Winner’s Circle Park – Flowood MS
  • Liberty Park – Madison MS
  • Strawberry Patch Park – Madison MS
  • Freedom Ridge Park – Ridgeland MS
  • LeFleur’s Bluff State Park – Jackson MS
  • Old Trace Park – Ridgeland MS

Ride Bikes along the Reservoir at Old Trace Park

The Barnett Reservoir is one of our favorite spots. About once a week we take our bikes to Old Trace Park. My kids ride and I walk or run and we make frequent stops to explore. The Reservoir is beautiful and the path is smooth and wide. In the summer there are also festivals and various events at the park. Now there is also a playground here which is beyond awesome.  View Website.

Bike Ride or Walk on Natchez Trace Parkway

The Trace is part of the National Park Service and stretches all the way across the state of Mississippi. It is primarily a scenic highway with various historical stops, but there are also some trails and parks integrated along the way. In the Jackson area, primarily near Ridgeland there is a nice spot to park your car and hop on the trail. You can bike ride all the way until you over look the Reservoir and further. This is a lovely shaded spot to run, walk or push a stroller as well. View Website

Clinton Nature Center

This is about a half an hour drive from Jackson, but in my opinion entirely worth it for so many reasons. Once a month they have a preschool program called Nature Nuts which is incredibly well planned and executed by lovely staff and volunteers. The Nature Center also has nice nature trails and an outdoor natural playground which is tons of fun, especially in the warmer months when the water section is turned on. A membership is reasonable and gives you free access to their preschool program and special events. View Website

Jackson Zoo

My kids love the Jackson Zoo, but it is likely more because of the train ride than the animals. It is a smaller zoo so it is easy for little legs to explore. In the summer there is also a fantastic splash pad you can use with admission to the zoo. The zoo also has some fun events throughout the year so make sure to check their event calendar. View Website

Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum

Honestly when we showed up at this one I wasn’t sure what to expect, but my kids loved this museum. The majority of it is outside, but there are some indoor parts as well. It is not the newest museum in town, which is somewhat noticeable if you also visit the children’s museum across the street, but there is a lot to do. There is a small historical town, farm animals, a large indoor model train display, and more. Many special events, including Jazz Fest and Irish Fest are also held on the ground throughout the year. View Website

Mississippi Petrified Forest

If you’re looking for a nice easy hike for young kids, this is a winner. For adults there is also some added history that is kind of fun. View Website

Highland Village 

This is a darling old outdoor mall that my twins love to explore. It is filled with little nooks and funky wall art. I can’t honestly explain how we manage to kill hours walking around but we get lunch and then wander and they love it. In warmer months there is also a monthly storytime in the courtyard near Beagel Bagel – look on Facebook for details. View Website

Play Ball at the Park

Fun often comes in the cheapest of packages. Bring baseball gear or a soccer ball to Liberty Park in Madison and you can have a blast running and chasing and developing gross motor skills on a nice day.

Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, MS Children’s Museum, and Art Museum all have outdoor sections.

see details below

Indoor Activities for Kids

Mississippi Children’s Museum – Jackson MS

We adore the children’s museum and highly recommend a membership if you live in the area. Make sure to check out their calendar for awesome weekly activities and special events. I have been blown away by their special events – their annual New Years Eve party for kids and Book Festival are two of our favorites. There is also an outdoor space for all those lovely weather days. View Website

Mississippi Museum of Natural Science

The Natural Science museum has been another of our favorite spots for BOTH indoor and outdoor fun. The indoor part isn’t huge but for kids 0-5 it is perfect. They always have a visiting exhibit and then you can check out the fish tanks and turtle area and other displays. There is also a small preschool play area for children 0-5 that my kids love. Outside there are trails of varying difficulty and length to explore. And DO NOT miss their special events. We have loved them all from NatureFest to Cajun Christmas. View Website

Library Storytime

Throughout the city there are preschool story times at the various libraries. Our favorite is the Flowood Library. They have the best children’s book area in the city, kind librarians, and several storytime options. They are also down the street from Winner’s Circle Park and it’s awesome playground.

Deep South Pops

If you just need to get out of the house for a little bit or what a delightful treat, stop by Deep South Pops in downtown Jackson. The popsicles are amazing (and there are a lot of dairy free options), the staff is friendly, and the shop itself fun. View Website

Barnes and Noble and the Renaissance Mall 

This isn’t unique Mississippi, but it is still a fun way to pass a few hours. This Barnes and Noble has a huge kids area and a little train section for play. Our kids love playing and browsing for books. Check the website for brief storytimes as well. Across the street there are fountains to splash in on hot days and there is plenty of space to wander and run in this outdoor mall. Five Guys and Panera are also conveniently located in the mall. View Website

Mississippi Museum of Art

Truthfully the art museum is on the small side, but if you have preschoolers or early elementary schoolers they have a fabulous FREE event on the third Friday of every month called Look and Learn with Hoot. Someone from the staff reads a story and then the kids get to create something in the art studio. The art museum also has water fountains outside to splash in on hot summer days and a small, but lovely garden to wander through. View Website.

Bouncy Houses

Our favorite is Bounce Palace – mostly because of its convenient location. There is also a Pump It Up in Brandon MS and High Heaven in Flowood MS. These are just fun places to let loose and move wiggly bodies on super hot or rainy days.

Northpark Mall Indoor Playspace

This isn’t huge, but as far as mall play spaces go this is a nice one. It is enclosed on three sides, clean, and quiet on most weekdays. View Website

Lemuria Bookstore

This is a cozy little bookstore in Jackson. There is a section in the back for kids with a great selection of books. It is also housed in the same building as a cute little lunch spot. If you follow them on Facebook you will occassional spot some child friendly events as well. View Website

Panera in Flowood

There are now two Panera restaurants in the Jackson area which I am inexplicably giddy about – but our favorite is the one in Flowood. It has a huge chalkboard and small place space off to one end of the restaurant. Grab lunch or a snack or even just a coffee for you and the kids can play for a bit on a rainy day.

Little Giants Center 

This sweet little playspace in Madison is perfect for the 3 and under crowd. They do have some classes for older kids, but the space is ideal for the youngest set. You can get a membership or pop in for some sessions at low cost. View Website

21 Best Things to do with Kids in Jackson MS

52 Things to do with Kids in San Diego

52 Things to do with Kids in San Diego California

We are moving to San Diego with our two kids! If you’re following me on Instagram I kind of already let this secret out because I’m terrible at keeping secrets, but regardless – we are moving…again. 

As sad as I am to say goodbye to New York City and our wonderful friends and family in the area, there are a lot of things to look forward to in San Diego and not just the sunny southern California weather.

Here are the 52 things we are excited to explore in the next year as we settle into our new home. I will update links and share our adventures as we go!

52 Things to do with Kids in San Diego

  1. Go to the beach. Or lots of beaches.
  2. Visit the San Diego Zoo
  3. Go to Old Poway Park early on a Saturday morning
  4. Visit the Living Coast Discovery Center
  5. Watch the Seals at Children’s Pool Beach in La Jolla
  6. Visit the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park
  7. Eat and wander in the Gaslamp District
  8. Go to Safari Park in Escondido
  9. Splash at Waterfront Park
  10. Play at Lake Murray Playground by the baseball fields
  11. Go to a Kid Friendly Brewery like Chuck Ale K, Stone Brewing, or Lady Ale House)
  12. Watch a Movie in the Park or a Show at Moonlight Amphitheater.
  13. Paddle board and Kayak in Mission Bay
  14. Play at Kit Carson Park
  15. Hike Mt Woodson (Potato Chip Rock)
  16. Visit the Wells Fargo Museum
  17. Take the Ferry to Coronado and play at Coronado Tidelands Park
  18. Play at San Dieguito County Park in Del Mar
  19. Go to a Farmers’ Market such as Hillcrest Farmers’ Market
  20. Visit the Seaport Village
  21. Explore tide pools at Point Loma, Ocean Beach, and Shell Beach November-March
  22. Hike in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
  23. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art (bonus: free for military families & kids under 25)
  24. Get our passports stamped at Cabrillo National Monument and Visit the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.
  25. Visit the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute of Oceanography
  26. Go to the USS Midway Museum
  27. Play at Cottonwood Creek Park in Enchinitas
  28. Visit the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park
  29. Eat at Station Tavern and linger while the kids play
  30. Play at Kellog Park in La Jolla
  31. Visit the San Diego Model Railway Museum in Balboa Park
  32. Eat Tacos at Tacos el Gordo
  33. Eat at Breakfast Republic in Ocean Beach for delicious Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
  34. Visit the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park
  35. Visit the San Diego Botanic Garden
  36. Play at Mission Bay Park Playground
  37. Bike Ride the Boardwalk between Pacific Beach and Mission Beach (3m total)
  38. Hike at Torrey Pines State Park to the Del Mar Beach
  39. Visit Carlsbad Flower Fields
  40. Go to a Pumpkin Patch
  41. Create art at the New Children’s Museum
  42. Watch for Whales in Mid-Dec-April (Blue whales Mid-June-Sept)
  43. Visit Sea World
  44. Kayak the Sea Caves at La Jolla Shores Beach
  45. Ride the Rides at Belmont Park
  46. Visit Legoland
  47. Make S’mores at Coronado Central Beach
  48. Watch the Sunset from Sunset Cliffs Natural Park and from Scripp’s Pier where you should eat from The Taco Stand while you wait.
  49. Watch the Sea World Fireworks from Marine Bay
  50. Hike in Mission Trails Regional Park
  51. Walk across the Suspension Bridge located down the street from First Avenue and Spruce Street.
  52. Hike Annie’s Canyon Trail. Trail head is at the end of N Rios Ave.

52 Things to do with Kids in San Diego California

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15+ Best Things to do with Kids in the Madison Area

15+ Things to do in the Madison WI Area with Kids

I grew up in Wisconsin, but I admit when we first moved to Baraboo (about an hour north of Madison) I had no idea what to do with my two little kids. A Milwaukee native, South-Central Wisconsin was a mystery to me.

Fortunately, between the Dells to the North, a surprising number of things to do in Baraboo, and the wealth of family-friendly ideas in Madison we kept quite busy for three years. I still miss our quiet mornings at Devil’s Lake and busy ones at the Madison Children’s Museum.

Here are our favorite things to do in the Madison Area with young kids.

15+ Free & Cheap Things to do in the Madison Area

Outdoor Activities for Kids

1. Go to a Lake, our favorites include;

  • Lake Monona – Madison WI. There are several access points, but we like the beach and trails in Governor Nelson State Park.
  • Devil’s Lake State Park – Baraboo WI. There are two beaches and lots of trails. I loved the South beach the most.

2. Visit a Playground. There are some awesome ones in the area. 

McKee Farms Park in Fitchburg is my favorite. It is huge, full of places to climb, and walking paths that wind through the park. There is also a fantastic farm themed splash pad to cool off in during the Summer.

3. See the Animals at the Henry Villas Zoo. 

It’s FREE and completely awesome.

4. Ride the Merrimac Ferry

This is about a half an hour north of Madison and runs during the warmer months. It is completely free and doesn’t take long. I recommend parking on one side so you can walk on the ferry. Ride is across and back so your kids can see the lake. Pack a lunch to eat on the shore to make a day of it if you want or get ice cream at the little shop on the Merrimac side.

5. Watch a Mallards Game

A cheap night out with lots of fun baseball, food, and people watching. Younger children will not understand or appreciate the baseball-ness of the activity, but they will be fascinated by everything going on around them. There is also a kids play area inside the stadium. See Website.

6. Visit a farm. 

We love visiting farms to pick apples, pumpkins, blueberries…whatever is in season. We love:

  • Green Thumb Farms in Prairie du Sac
  • Eplegaarden Apple Farm just outside Madison.

7. Dane County Farmers’ Market

This is a huge Farmers’ Market the forms around the Wisconsin State Capitol Square from 6am to 2pm every Saturday. On nice days it gets super crowded but it’s worth it.

8. International Crane Foundation

This is a little hidden gem in Baraboo WI. It’s small but is easy for kids to wander and has quite a collection of cranes. You’ll pay $10 for yourself, but kids under 5 are free. See website.

Indoor Activities for Kids

9. Madison Children’s Museum – Madison MS

This is a fantastic children’s museum. While one trip is not cheap, I highly recommend a membership. If you have kids under 5 you could find yourself here at least once a month. View Website.

10. Library Storytime

Throughout the city there are preschool story times at the various libraries. One of our favorites is the main branch in downtown Madison. It has an amazing children’s area full of great books, interesting nooks, and kid friendly technology. Check online for a storytime there or near you.

11. Barnes and Noble

This isn’t unique to Madison, but it is still a fun way to pass a few hours. There are several branches in the Madison area, but each has a wonderful children’s area. Our kids love playing and browsing for books. Check the website for brief storytimes as well.

12. Olbrich Gardens

Looking to warm up on a cold day, this is a great place to do it. The indoor dome is steamy and small enough for little legs to wander on their own. We also love the Christmas Trains Exhibit.

13. Kids in the Rotunda

On Saturdays, the Overture Center puts on delightful free family events. They vary, so check the schedule, but in our experience they are all awesome. View Website.

14. Mall Play Area

If you aren’t in the midst of a terribly flu season, the indoor play areas at the East Towne and West Towne malls are fun places to play. Visit in the early morning to avoid the chaos of lunchtime and afternoon.

15. Visit the University of Wisconsin-Madison

There are plenty of kids friendly things to do at the U. You can eat custard at the Babcock Hall Dairy, bowl at the bowling lanes, or climb on the climbing wall in the lower level of the Student Union.

16. The Chazen Museum of Art

This is a museum on the UW campus. They have some fun events for children and their caregivers. Check the website for dates.

17. UW Geology Museum

This FREE musuem on the UW campus is a fun place to visit. There are also storytimes on the first and third Thursday of each month. See website for details.

18. See Play at the Children’s Theater

For the three years we lived in Baraboo, WI we went to several productions at the Children’s Theater in Madison and were impressed each time. One of my favorites was their production of Anne of Green Gables. I love when a beloved book comes to life. Movies are great, but there is something extra magical about a play being performed live in front of your eyes. In general the theater is a lovely place to visit. Clean, comfortable, and full of helpful, welcoming staff.

15+ Free or Cheap Things to Do in the Madison WI area with kids

How to Survive the First Three Years with Twins

Parenting Twins Series on Bambini Travel

“That looks like a second heartbeat.” Those are life changing words.

In my experience, if you have heard these words you will react in one of two ways. Delight, followed by some panic, or simply panic.

Two babies? One baby is a lot, right? Just ask any parent of a newborn and they will nod their tired head at you.

The idea of having two babies at once is difficult to imagine. It is, however, completely do-able. In a few years you will likely even find yourself thinking that this was the best possible thing to have happen.

Right now you are panicked by the idea of twins.

You have to buy double of everything. You have to contemplate how to carry two babies, feed two babies, send two babies to college…You can very quickly get overwhelmed.

Before you start plotting an addition to your house and buying a mini-van, take a breath.

“Enjoy it! I cried when I found out I was expecting twins. My mum had twins when I was 12 so I knew they were hard work. The truth is, they are more hard work than just one (doh! there are two of them!) But they are great fun and so cute together. It’s an awesome ride. There’s no going back so enjoy it!”
Orlena Kerek. Twin Mom. Blogger at Snotty Noses

“It’s going to be great. You can’t even imagine how awesome it is going to be to watch your twins run around and play together, lay and whisper together, come up with surprises for you together…
It’s going to be hard, but it will get easier and easier and easier.”
Adrienne Danielson. Mom to Twin 5 year olds.

Focus on those first few years.

The first few years with twins are a little like boot camp. This is maybe not the optimism that you were looking for, but it is honest. The optimism is this: you will survive boot camp.

You can get through those first few years and I know exactly how to get you there.

Like millions of twin parents before me, I am on the other side. My twins are four and a half right now. They are energetic, they are busy, and they are currently in their room bouncing on their beds boycotting laundry folding, but they are delightful.

The advantages to having twins are huge if you were planning to have more kids.

You get two with one try. They have a playmate. It is easier to plan a vacation, buy toys, and plan a schedule around two kids at the same age rather than two of differing stages.

What about if I wasn’t planning to have more? This one was supposed to be my only or be my last? I still say that twins are awesome.

Your twin has a playmate. This will in the end be far less work for you. The bond between twins is fascinating and fun to watch. This might not be what you planned, but it will be good. You just need to get through that first year and a half.

So, how do you do that?

Below are my simple guidelines, along with amazing advice from some fellow twin mamas. They will take work to implement (remember the boot camp reference) but they will carry you through to the other side. The magical point when your kids will scamper off to play together and you will drink a cup of tea. I did that for like a whole 10 minutes this morning. It will happen for you too.

“Get as much rest as you can and take care of yourself – a twin pregnancy is hard work! Twins are awesome, don’t be scared.”
-Laura Rizer. Twin Mom. Blogger at Sunny Day Family

Attack Parenting as a Team

Everyone always talks about twin moms. If you are a single mom you are officially being elevated to super woman status and I highly recommend reinforcing a support system. If not, get your partner on board with double teaming your twins.

This can mean a lot of different things, but starting with your relationship is key to surviving life with twins.

Then arrange more help. Some people want help with the babies. Some people want help with the house. Some people need help with meals.

Whatever that means for you, try to arrange help before the babies come. For me, some to bring me dinner and someone to occassionally watch the kids is what I needed the most.

“Enlist help now! Who will be with you in the beginning? It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a metropolist to raise twins!
Erica McCool, Mom to twin 15 month olds.

Expect the Unexpected

From the moments that second unexpected heartbeat pops up on the monitor life with twins is never dull. Surprises are a part of parenting but you seem to find yourself in uncharted waters more frequently with twins.

Your pregnancy will be different than others you have had or the ones you read about in books. Their birth is not likely to follow your birth plan. Bedrest, NICUs, preemies…these are all frequent words in the multiples world.

This is scary, but I share this not to scare you but to just point out the extraordinary surprises that go along with being a twin parent. Even as toddlers and beyond, life with twins deviates from singleton parenting. It is often unexpected. Most of this is truly in the best way possible.

Twins can be the most tiring and awesome experience you will ever have. Be prepared to spend the first 3 years of their life answering the question “Are they natural?” Come up with your own sarcastic answer and own it (My go to: No, they are robots, aren’t they lifelike?”). If your twins are identical choose a method to know who is who until you can tell them apart (we chose specific colors for our boys). Find the parenting/feeding style that works for you. For us we set a schedule, and it was a lifesaver, but find what works for you and don’t be afraid to keep with it.”
Ticia Messing. Twin Mom. Blogger at Adventures in Mommydom

Get Them on a Schedule

The need for a schedule cannot be emphasized enough.

I am sure that there are some parents that manage to parent twins without a schedule, but I have no idea how.

Get those babies on a schedule. Get them sleeping at the same time, eating at the same time, playing at the same time and you have hope. You have a chance of eating and even getting some sleep.

This takes work. HARD work. The first few months it will seem impossible, but push through that and you will be so glad you did.

“Put them on a schedule as soon as possible. When one is hungry feed them both. When they are a few months old they will be ready to be coaxed into napping on the same schedule as well.”
Adrienne Danielson. Mom of twin five year olds.

 

Buy Smart

Start with a good double stroller. I used a stroller considerably more than my friends with one baby who could carry them into a building on their hip. Buy one that will last and is easy to fold and push.

Then consider the other things you will need. This might be less than you think, but there will be some things you need in double. Here is my list of twin essentials.

Our number one rule when purchasing things for our twins was to think long term.

Buy convertible car seats. Buy high chairs that grow into toddler chairs. Buy cribs that convert into twin beds. Think ahead and you will save yourself money in the long run.

“Invest in the Step2 Choo Choo Wagon, Britax Convertible Cars Seats, Magna-tiles, a ring sling, and a mei tai carrier, you won’t regret it.”
-Kristen Stehli. Mom of 7 Year old twins. Blogger at Epic Childhood

“Get a car seat/stroller system that you can lift and maneuver easily. This is different for everyone. Side by side works for me, while my cousin with twins swears by tandem. Try them out in the store and buy what works for you otherwise you will never want to leave the house. AND YOU NEED TO LEAVE THE HOUSE.”
Erica McCool. Mom of 15 month old twins.

Take Care of You

I think this is important advice for all pregnant and new moms, but it definitely applies to twin moms.

Take time for yourself.

Make rest during your pregnancy a priority. Once the babies come, find a way to take a break. Have two friends over to hold your babies for an hour or two. Take a moment to quickly shower, drink a cup of coffee, or whatever it is you need to feel somewhat human.

An exhausted parent is no good to anyone.

Twins are truly remarkable but you will have days when you have no idea who is who and if you will ever get a shower. My advice is to fill your freezer with things you can eat with one hand. Muffins, mini meatloaves, banana bread etc. Start compiling a list of people will come over and truly help. You will need extra hands for so many things. Schedule them in now because they will be your saving grace. And, get out when they are babies and don’t move – dinners, shopping, short trips – they are great little travel companions and getting out of the house provides stimulation for them and you! And when people ask if they are twins, declare it was a 2 for 1 sale!” 
Kerrie Mendoza. Twin Mama. Blogger at Family Food and Travel

Trust Your Instincts

It is normal for parenting to feel overwhelming. Whether you are having two kids, five kids or 15 kids, parenting is hard work.

There is no one right way to do this. There is no one perfect magic way to make children behave or produce happy off spring.

There are a million ways to do this right and only you know your kids. Only you can decide what is best for your children. I’m giving a lot of advice here and you will get countless more suggestions over the years, but you are the parent. Do what feels right. Follow your gut and it will all be okay.

“Don’t get too caught up in what books say or other people’s advice, you are still a mother and you will have a motherly instinct just like everyone else. Twins are hard work, but the first time you witness your babies giggling together or holding hands you will quickly realize what an amazing gift you were given.” 
-Meredith Magee Donnelly. Twin Mom. Blogger at Homegrown Friends

“Don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go how you think they should. They will be fine even if you never make it to one “Mommy and Me” class with them.”
-Adrienne Danielson, Mom of 5 year old twins

  “You may need a c-section and you may not be able to exclusively breastfeed your twins. Come to terms with it now. I was stoked to have a vaginal delivery and pretty upset when nursing didn’t work out. MOVE ON! Do what works for you and babies…Get Amazon Prime if you don’t already have it…Your heart will ALWAYS be fuller than your hands. My twins have taught me to chill out and not sweat the small stuff. Today they learned to march and kick while dancing to Christmas music. Last year at this time I didn’t know my name! It goes quickly and twins are a unique joy for only the luckiest of moms!!!
Erica McCool, Mom of 15 month old twins.

How to Survive the First Three Years with Twins . Advice from Moms of Multiples

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10 Must Do Things on a First Family Trip to New York City

New York City might seem intimidating to some, but I am here to reassure you that it is absolutely family friendly.
I went a few times as a kid and we visited one blustery November with our 4 year old twins. Then in 2015 we moved our 5 year old twins to New York.
With all of these experiences we have had the opportunity to see New York City with kids in many different ways and although there are SO many wonderful things to do for families in the city but these are the 10 things I would most recommend for your first trip.
affiliate links are included below

10 Must Do Things for Families in NYC

1. Central Park

A castle. A zoo. A carosel. 20 Playgrounds. Need I say more? Central Park is an absolute must.

2. Ride the Staten Island Ferry

I was shocked to learn that this is completely free. My kids love all forms of transportation so this was a fun adventure for them and I loved the spectacular views of the city and the Statue of Liberty.

3. Ride the Sea Glass Carousel

This gorgeous carousel is unlike any I have every seen. It is located in Battery Park right near the Staten Island Ferry.

4. Eat a Bagel

If you are a bagel fan anywhere else, this is a must. I promise you won’t regret it. Pop into a hole in the wall shop and get a bagel for breakfast or a snack.

5. Ride the Subway

I hope this is a given, but ride the subway! It is absolutely the best way to get around New York, not as intimidating as it might seem, and our kids LOVED it.

The main thing you need to do is pay attention to the signs that tell you which direction your train is going – they will tell you things like “Manhattan” or “Brooklyn” to tell you the direction. 

I know what people say about New Yorkers, but if you avoid the super crazy rush hour scene on the train, people will most likely be super friendly and willing to help you navigate where to go.

6. Visit Grand Central Station

I think this is beyond cool and my kids seemed to agree. It is huge and bustling and filled with neat little shops. My kids love Grand Central Station.

7. One World Trade Center Memorial and Tower

It is up to you if you want to go up in the One World Trade Center, but I would definitely make time to at least see the 9/11 memorial, walk through the Oculus and stare up at the WTC. The 9/11 Museum is amazing, but I wouldn’t recommend this for families with little kids.

8. American Museum of Natural History

The favorite show in our house right now is Dinosaur Train and our kids also love Ocean Animals so this was a great spot to visit. They also have exhibits on other animals and outer space. Truly something for everyone.

9. Eat a Nathan’s Hot Dog

Personally I don’t get the hot dog thing, but this is high on my son’s list of favorite things about New York. What kid doesn’t love an amazing hot dog? You can find a stand on pretty much any corner in Manhattan and all throughout Central Park – although be prepared to pay way more than you think is reasonable for a hot dog depending how touristy the area is.

10. Something Seasonal

New York really knows how to celebrate a holiday. Now matter the time of year, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Spring, Summer, there is always something fun to do in New York. 

Been here before? Here are our other top recommendations!

 

A Visit to the Museum of Math in New York City with Kids

There’s a museum of math?! I was rather incredulous when I first heard of this lesser known New York museum, but then in a city that truly has something for everyone I am not sure how I could be surprised.

The Museum of Math is a fascinating museum for those intrigued by Math – and even for those less Math inclined (raising my hand). I recommend it for anyone ages 5 and up.

Located across the street from Madison Square Park and a few blocks from my beloved Flat Iron Building it is centrally located and easily accessible from the N Q R or W 23 Street Subway Station.

When you enter, you are greeted by this track for square bicycles. My kids found this endlessly entertaining. Truthfully so did I.

read also: Everything guide to nyc with kids

 

On the main floor there were also several areas with manipulates to explore how shapes work. I loved the open ended nature of these opportunities.

One of my favorite parts about the museum was the inventive uses of technology. This area above encouraged you to make patterns on the wall with a projector.

There was also an awesome gross motor number challenge that involved full body movement and technology. All of us ages 5-63 gave that one a try.

Our favorite nook was probably the pattern painting shown below.

These were all found on the first floor. You can head downstairs for more fun, but the ideas down there are more complicated and aimed at older children and adults. Our kids still had a lot of fun down there but needed more assistance and understood the concepts a little less.

This is one of the few museums that we have visited that had something for kids and teens and adults. We all found something that fascinated us.

A truly unique museum.

 

5 Baby Products New Twin Moms Need + One to Skip

Parenting Twins Series on Bambini Travel

I remember walking through the aisles of the baby store completely overwhelmed by the touring shelves of baby equipment. I was wondering what on earth I actually need for the twins growing in my belly.

There are things that all babies need – a place to sleep, some clothes, some burp cloths, feeding source, a few board books, etc. There are also a few things that parents of multiples need to consider when registering and shopping for their unique situation.

For twin parents the daily logistics of getting out of the house with two and feeding two are so much easier if you have a few essential baby products.

Here the five things that are essential for all twin parents – plus one I’d advise you skip!

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5 Essentials Baby Products for New Twin Parents

1. Awesome Double Stroller

This is hands down the most important thing for a mommy of twins.

Although I spent a fairly ridiculous amount of time carting two carseats (you get really strong arms!), carrying two babies for any length of time is impractical.

This is the stroller that we used from newborn through age 3. We loved that it grew with them (you can start with your babies in their car seats with these adaptors and our children still fit at 3. We wanted a front and back so it would fit through doorways, which this does without any problems. My one and only criticism is that although it folds down fairly flat, you have remove one of the seats and when folded the stroller does not stand on its own well.

Here and here are a couple more that I’ve had recommended to me by other twin mommies.

2. Large Diaper Bag

With two babies, obviously you are going to have to carry more stuff. There are a lot of adorable diaper bags out there, but make sure that you have one that is big enough to pack full of diapers, wipes, extra clothing, toys, and feeding supplies for two babies.

3. Serious Pump and a Portable Pump

If your twins are going to drink breast milk this is a serious job. You need a serious pump for home.

This is the one that I used and loved. I would also highly recommend a small portable pump, like this one to throw in your diaper bag.

We used this a lot when we were traveling or out of the house. It is often difficult to find somewhere to nurse two babies. I often pumped for one baby and then someone could feed that infant, while I nursed the other one.

4. Double Breastfeeding Pillow

Speaking of nursing, if you are attempting this super woman feat – you will need one of these. There are other ways to do it, but this is the easiest, quickest way to get comfortable and support two babies.

5. 2 Boppy Pillows

boppy pillow would go on my list of must-haves for one baby too, but I think I used it more because we had two.

These are wonderful for propping up babies while you feed two at one or for babies with reflux after they eat. When they got a little older, I could prop them up facing each other and they could bobble a little, without me worrying about them falling onto the floor. I also used them to hold the babies while I got situated before nursing.

In general, they are handy to have with little ones, plus they come with all kinds of adorable covers.

What can you skip?

The rocking chair. We had one and I did love it, however it is completely impractical for feeding or rocking two infants.

You will end up propping yourself up on the couch, your bed, or a huge arm chair and wondering why you spent the money on that comfy rocker that’s taunting you in the corner of the nursery.

5 Baby Products New Twin Moms Need and One to Skip

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on Getting Out of the House with One (or More!)

 

Brooklyn Botanic Garden with Kids

New York City is known for it’s towering skyscrapers and historical sites. When people visit they make plans to be entertained on Broadway, peer out from the top of something tall, or breath in the bustle of Times Square.

The incredible parks throughout the city are rarely included on the tourists must dos, except for Central Park. (For good reason, it is awesome).

When you go to New York City with kids (and possibly even without) there will be moments when you want to escape the bustle. If you live here that is even more true.

Fortunately there are many spots where you forget, just for a moment, that you are in a huge city.

Spots where your kids can run free. Spots where it is quiet(ish). Spots where green outweighs horns and hurrying.

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is one of our favorite such spots.

4 Things to Do with Kids at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden

1. Scope out their events

Their event calendar is often busy with fun things for families. One of our favorites is FREE tuesdays! Children under 12 are always FREE however so this is a relatively inexpensive adventure any day of the week.

2. Visit the Children’s Garden

We usually start our visit at the Children’s Garden. It is a delightful, thoughtfully laid out space for kids to explore. It does tend to get more crowded as the day progresses so starting here affords us some quieter time to move about as we want.

Often there are stations for kids set up in this area – check the calendar. On this particular morning there were instruments to try of all kinds.

There were various booths set up around the child gardens. Each had a theme and all were staffed with attentive, wonderful staff, but our favorite was the booth about Monarch Butterflies. Even I learned something and our kids loved every bit of it. From completely the butterfly life cycle to pretending to be butterflies themselves.

Read Also: Our Favorite Things to Do with Kids in New York City

3. Have Lunch

There is a nice spot near the conservatory for lunch. They have yummy (slightly expensive options) and spots to sit outside. Picnicking is not otherwise allowed in the gardens. Bathrooms are located in the building next door for a convenient toilet try break!

4. Wander the Gardens

After lunch we venture into the rest of the gardens which are HUGE. Walking around you wonder how this can all possibly be tucked into Brooklyn between the busy streets.

One of our favorites was the Rose Garden. There we saw beautiful roses (of course), bees and butterflies. Perfect for a Spring Adventure!

I usually treat walks in gardens the same as hiking and remember the 2 essentials to keep my kids engaged.

Before we know it most of the day has flown past. Our feet are tired but we are happy for a day of exploring and nature.

This is a truly wonderful spot for families. I highly recommend it if you are in Brooklyn with kids.