An exclusive parenting blog for the 5TJT
On my way to shul yesterday, I decided, “Wouldn’t the world be so interested to know all these thoughts rumbling through my head?” Well, we’ll test that theory out now with my first blog, and the 5 Towns Jewish Times’s first parenting blog.
I chose the name based on the movie “Mommy Dearest.” I never saw the movie but I think she did something bad with wire hangers. I use plastic hangers, so I guess I’m a better parent. But I definitely have those moments where I just know my children are looking at me and thinking, “Why can’t I have my friend _____’s mommy. She never yells or needs a break or anything.” Of course that’s because _____’s mommy has what I call a stunt-double mommy–a nanny who steps in as soon as the going gets rough. The mommy has nice loving moments with her children, and as soon as there’s a hint of kvetch, it’s, “Oh, Maria, please take the children out to play.” I don’t have that; my children know all of me, the good and the bad, for better or worse.
I decided not to use my name so that my children would not suffer any repercussions for what I have to say. I’m sure some of you will figure out my identity anyway. For those who won’t, I am a 5’7”, blonde, former model for Elle who finished medical school but decided not to practice so I can stay home with my beautiful children. I have four children under the age of eight–two boys and two girls.
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So all your friends are going to Florida, Punta Cana, Mexico, and other places that end in vowels. Well, I am here to tell you that you can still have a good time right here in good old Five Towns, Brooklyn, or wherever else you currently live. After all, you chose to live there and decorated it to your liking–you must like it at least a little bit.
But you want to feel some form of escape. I understand. Here are a few “life hacks” to turn your home into a vacation spot:
- Go to the car wash. (A) This will make you feel vaguely like you have a new car for the week, and (B) seeing how hard those men work and for so little money will wipe any self-pity right out of you.
- Treat yourself to a new towel and body wash. Turn your bathroom into a hotel bathroom. Personally, my favorite part of hotels is the bathroom. You can even fold over the toilet-paper end to complete the effect.
- Enjoy a fancy Shabbos. A friend of mine pointed out this hack: You can buy two $50 Traditions gift cards at Costco for a total of $79.99. (Check my math, please.) The $40 Shabbos special is all the food you would normally see at a kosher catered hotel. And you didn’t cook it yourself.
- Enjoy lunch out each day. You would be doing this on vacation anyway (plus dinner) so it’s not really “extra money.” Most restaurants have lunch specials which make it a cheap extravagance. To complete the effect, avoid pizza. Go to fancier places you would not normally eat at. They will probably be near empty anyway, so no worries about the children being out of place.
Oh, right, the children. We need to entertain them also during this time, and they also have their own feelings of “my friends are going away and why aren’t we?” Luckily, children are fairly easy to please if you put in a little effort. Any sort of long drive feels like a trip to them, so here are a few tips for them as well.
- Begin with a trip to a non-local library. You’ve probably been to your local library often enough. Try out a new one–a big, fancy-looking one. Your children can feel like kings exploring the new terrain, playing with the new gadgets or features, and loading up on books for the week ahead. Maybe they will even have an event going on you can attend. And you haven’t spent a penny.
- One place to consider that puts the “free” in “freezing” is Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. It’s free in the winter and has some tropical indoor parts. The visit will be much shorter than in the summer so consider combining it with a trip to Grand Army Plaza library (see above). Note that only New York City residents can borrow books from that library.
- Another place to consider that thankfully hasn’t gotten the memo regarding inflation is Chuck E. Cheese’s. I don’t know why this place got left behind, but I’m glad it did. With an online coupon, $20 buys enough tokens to last an entire family a few hours. Bonus: the ice cream in the machines is kosher (last time I checked–check again to be sure) and also very cheap.
- Families can get great use out of reciprocity agreements between museums. The New York Hall of Science offers a family pass for $85 a year. It’s a nice museum with a great spot for little ones to play and a unique playground in good weather. But even better, it includes free visits to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (again, refer to that naÃ¯ve driving-far feeling), the Intrepid, even Liberty Science Center on some days. If you actually do go away somewhere, it includes admission to places all across the country. We used it for Franklin Institute in PA and it was terrific.
- I just noticed that Crayola Experience has a great deal on annual passes: $99.99 for a family of four. It’s not close, which adds to the allure, but I think it’s a great boost to feel like you did something different. They recently revamped the whole place so if you’re judging by how it was a few years ago, give it another try.
- Don’t consider parks off-limits in the cold. If your children can swim on their own, but are under bar mitzvah age, I would recommend taking them to Echo Park in West Hempstead for indoor swimming. It is very cheap. Grant Park in Hewlett has a cheap ice-skating rink.
- Finally, don’t underestimate how much children love to express themselves. Roll out some paper, give them markers or washable paints (put garbage bags over anything you want to protect), and let them loose.
This is truly what memories are made of–not waiting for luggage at airports or fighting over directions in a new locale.