Family Magic with The Smith Family
Growing up in a warm, sunny climate, I always wanted to experience seasons. I’m one of those people who actually can’t wait for the fall. But as a mother of a teenager and a special needs seven-year-old, I find challenges in what we can do. The teenager is, well, a teenager and doesn’t want to do little kid things, and any place we visit, even a park, with my Autistic child must be something I research before we arrive.
I have been following Jodenny Smith (@theyoungsmiths) since we were part of an Instagram mom chat that our mutual friend Denise Nicole founded. This group introduced me to some pretty cool moms; some have even become covers on NYF! I love that Jodenny shares all of her and her two babes’, Yaya, 11, and Idris, age 7, adventures. The kids seem up for anything, and the trio hits the city with crazy energy to delve into their family experiences! Although I am an editor specializing in parenting in New York, it is often other parents’ tips and advice that I cherish and helps me navigate all the treasures the city (and beyond) offers.
This issue is full of what to do as we head into fall, but New York Family wanted to know the Smith’s favorite things to do; read on and follow them on their adventures at @theyoungsmiths.
Are there any hidden gems you and your kids love in the city? Could you share a few with us?
I think not enough people visit Governors Island, and we LOVE IT there! It feels like you’re no longer in the city, and you can make a whole day out of it. You can rent bikes, relax in the hammocks, enjoy some delicious food from the vendors, or pack your own and have a nice picnic with beautiful views of the city. Another gem, which, if you follow me, you know we love, is Industry City. We love going there, and there’s always something fun to do. We love all the colorful art installations as a creative; the whole place sparks my creativity. You can eat, shop, picnic, or catch one of the many free, family-friendly events they put on throughout the year.
What are some of your favorite playgrounds your kids enjoy?
We usually just hit local ones in our neighborhood, but outside of that, two come to mind when I think of places the kids have enjoyed. The first is the playground at Domino Park. It has something for both kids to enjoy, being that there is a five-year age difference, and they enjoy different things. A bonus is that we can follow the playground by cooling off at the splash pad, which I love! Another one we recently discovered is Battery Playscape. We stumbled upon it during an event at Battery Park, and the kids had such a blast. The slides were so much fun; the little rock climbing wall and all the different play structures kept them busy for quite a bit. A bonus when you visit this one is you can also stop by the sea glass carousel, which is also a favorite of ours.
You love to explore the city with the kids. Are there any neighborhoods you find exceptionally kid-friendly?
We really like Williamsburg. I feel like it has a lot of different things to see and do. It’s also easily accessible via the ferry if you don’t drive or simply want to avoid traffic, which; we love. I like that we can have a fun day at Domino Park, find a good lunch spot, and then go for some ice cream. And they have so many options for both of these, depending on what you’re in the mood for. And hey, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even grab your groceries while there, Trader Joes has parking!
You’re a single mom, and you mentioned that you often overcompensate when it comes to parenting and that you are learning to go a bit easier on yourself. Is this an evolution for you as a mom who seems to always be out and about and to do it all?
Yes, it truly is. I’ve come to understand that there is no need to add that pressure on myself to feel like I have to overcompensate. I feel like when I approach parenting with that mentality, I’m just making things harder on myself because then, if I don’t do all the things, I feel as though I’m falling short for them. For instance, this summer, we had lots of fun and did lots of cool things, but I often turned down plans to stay home and rest. I’ve gotten way better at saying no and not loading my days with a gazillion things to do. It isn’t fun when you do everything and you’re left feeling drained. I feel like it takes away from the experience. A big part of this has been working on communicating these things to the kids, too. I am super honest with them, and I tell them, “ok we are doing this and this, but not this and that, because if we do all of the above, Mami will be too tired.” And they get it! There were times lately when I wanted to do things, and they expressed just wanting to stay home, and I listened. It’s a really good balance for us all.
I love your IG handle (@theyoungsmiths) for your tips on finding balance and learning to give yourself some breathing space. With fall here and holidays approaching, do you have any suggestions on how parents can also take time for themselves?
Thank you!! Honestly, lately, I have been leaning on my tribe. I’m usually hesitant to ask for help with the kids, but lately, I’ve been turning to family and friends to take little breaks when possible. To just recharge and regroup. As parents, we often think asking for help will burden others, but in reality, those people in your life who love you and your babies understand that sometimes we parents need little breaks. I understand that this is not always an option, though, so sometimes simply carving out time at home works too. I sometimes explain to the kids that Mami needs a break, and I go into my room, play some soft music, and lie down for a bit. I don’t close the door all the way, so they know if they need me, I’m there. You’d be surprised how even a quick 15-minute little escape in your own home, to allow your brain to enjoy a little silence or slow pace, can make a difference. Like a mami time out). I always feel when I do these things. I show up as a better version of myself for my babies.