Having kids is hard. Having kids in the summer in the City is harder. Between staying cool and filling the long days with things to do, it can be hard to wrap your head around anything other than just parking your family at a pool all day. But even lounging by the pool gets old because, let’s face it, no lounging gets done when you’re with your kids. So this summer try breaking up the season with a few days spent exploring NYC. Our no-fail mom hacks will help you prepare everything you need for a successful day.
TIP #1: Lighten your load
It’s really important to be smart about the bag you decide to carry for your big day in the city. Your regular diaper bag is probably too bulky, and your everyday purse is way too small, try a backpack! The backpack you choose for a full-day excursion should be three things: lightweight, roomy, and washable. Here are our two favorites.
LeSportSac Basic Backpack features adjustable padded straps, multiple exterior pockets and a double zipper closure for easy access. Plus, it’s made of lightweight ripstop Nylon fabric and has a relaxed, retro vibe that we love right now: $ 95
Rebecca Minkoff Julian Nylon backpack is a mom-friendly take on the widely-loved leather version. This bag features adjustable straps, a roomy interior, and three exterior zip pockets, including one on the back for added security. We love it because it has all the comfort and functionality of a backpack but doesn’t scream “mom bag.” $89
TIP #2: Leave the wide load at home
We’ve covered how you’re going to schlep your stuff, now let’s talk about how you’re going to schlep your kids. You probably love your oversized everyday stroller for its durability and ample cargo space, but do yourself a favor and leave that beast at home. Instead, try an umbrella stroller or go light and opt for just a baby carrier. Here are our favorites:
The UppaBaby Minu is the newest member of the UppaBaby family. At under 15lbs this umbrella stroller is perfect for any travel you will do with your little one, whether that’s on the subway, railroad, or even a plane. It also boasts a one-handed, one-step fold which is so necessary when you’re juggling kids, babies, and bags on the streets of New York. Despite its compact size, it still has ample room under the seat for storage and also includes a visor shade with UPF 50+, perfect for on-the-go naptime. $399.99
The Colugo Compact is another great lightweight, easy-to-fold option. This stroller comes with a rain cover, a carry backpack, and a machine washable layer. The carry backpack means you can fold it up and easily throw it over your shoulder for smoother subway riding. We also love the fun, out-of-the-box prints available like the leopard print, tie-dye, and camo. $ 285
If you want to skip a stroller altogether, baby-wearing is a great option. We love the ErgoBaby Omni360 carrier because of the lightweight, breathable mesh fabric and the UPF 50+ hood cover. Plus, even though it’s ready to go for newborns, it also has front-facing, side hip and backpack-style carry options for older babes up to 48 months. $ 180
The Baby Bjorn Carrier Mini is a lighter option meant for newborns to 12 months in shorter baby-wearing sessions. It’s smaller than many other models, and so it easily fits into your backpack or under your stroller when you take it off. It is made of cotton, jersey, and soft mesh which ensures a cool and airy experience. $ 79.99
TIP #3: Load up on snacks
Every mom knows the secret to a good time with your kids away from home is in the snacks. For a long day in the city – where anything can happen- you have to be ready for the unexpected. The more snacks, the better. But in the hot and humid NYC summer, you don’t want to just throw Babybels in your backpack and hope for the best. Check out our favorites here.
The PackIt Freezable Classic lunch box means you never have to wrestle with annoying ice packs again. The lunch box is the ice pack—freezable gel make up the walls of the bag and keep the inside chill for hours—so all you have to do is throw it in the freezer the night before you need it. Oh, and did we mention it’s collapsible to squeeze into the tightest freezer easily? $19.99
If you’ve got the kind of kid who always wants something to dip his baby carrots or pretzels in then the Bentgo Kids lunch box is for you. It has five leak-proof compartments lined with rubber edges that are the ideal portion sizes for kids ages 3 to 7. The tray is dishwasher safe and pops out for easy cleanup. And although these boxes are known for being indestructible, the brand offers a 2-year warranty which is always nice to have for that one instance where you back over it with your car: $ 27.99
TIP #4: Take a load off
- There comes the point in the day when no matter how many snacks you’ve packed, you need to sit your crew down and eat real food. But where to go with amped-up, hangry kids that won’t kick you out or spit in your food? The Infatuation, a website dedicated to finding the perfect place to eat for your needs, has the answer. You can type “kid friendly” in their search bar, or click on their “kids” tag for a list of restaurants organized by neighborhood and price.
- If it’s a particularly hot day there might be no better idea than to get your kids to a sprinkler and you to a park bench. But sprinkler parks are like Starbuck’s—everywhere when you don’t need one, nowhere to be found when you do. Luckily the folks who run the nyc.gov website predicted this and built a page made for a mom with sweaty kids in tow. It’s called Find a Sprinkler Area in a Park, and it’s straightforward to use.
- For a mom who’s breastfeeding, no restaurant or park will do the trick. Eventually, you’ll need to find a safe and clean space to feed your child (or pump) which is, unfortunately, harder than it sounds. New York City still has a long way to go in this category, but what’s worse is that the available places are almost impossible to find. The one website that’s trying to remedy this situation is MomsPumpHere.com. It’s not fancy, but it works. Plug in your zip code, and it populates a list of establishments that have either proper lactation rooms or spaces that can serve the purpose. For a nursing mother in a pinch, it’s a must-click.
TIP #5: Stay light on your feet
The only way you’ll truly survive your trip is if your feet aren’t killing you by the end. Forget your old flip-flops that offer your feet zero protection or your beat-up ballet flats that provide no support. You know you’ll be miserable before the day even gets going. We’ve narrowed it down to the three favorites that we stand behind. The shoes you wear are so crucial because if your feet are happy, you can be happy.
Sometimes when it comes to fashion, it’s best to rely on the classics — case in point, Birkenstock sandals. While the iconic sandals have been around for over 50 years, a newer style made of EVA is what we recommend. It’s super lightweight, ultra-flexible, waterproof, and washable. The best part? It’s less than half the price of the traditional Birks. $39.95
The most comfortable sneaker award goes to the Camper Drift sneakers. These cult favorites boast an Ortholite insole which offers extra cushioning and moisture management. They’re also lightweight and flexible. $143.80
If breathability is what you’re looking for, Allbirds Tree Runners are the sneaks for you. They are made of eucalyptus tree fiber that is breathable and has a cooling effect. Plus the insole is lined with merino wool which has moisture wicking and odor reduction properties. Bonus? The brand uses sustainable materials and environmentally safe practices. $95, allbirds.com.
TIP #6: Download to get around
- Navigating around the streets (and subways and buses and ferries) of New York can be confusing. Of course, you can use Google Maps to see what subways stop where or to figure out east from west, but it doesn’t truly paint the full picture. The best app to help you get around is Citymapper. With this app, you can compare all transit options in real time (including ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft!). It provides the cost associated with each mode of transportation so you can decide what’s in your budget. Another plus, it has a whole section for “wheelchair accessible” routes, which of course is perfect for any mama with a stroller.
We know it can be overwhelming to think about spending an entire day with your kids away from your home base without all your creature comforts. It’s enough to make you want to stay home and draw the shades! With the right amount of preparation, the right gear, and the right state of mind, you will master this whole city-with-the-kids thing. We swear. And while you’re out and about this summer hashtag us those summer pics! #NewYorkFamily