We live in New York City, in one of the busiest areas, mid-town Manhattan and there are many benefits to living in the city. The kids go, regularly, to museums. I walk 10 minutes to get to and from work. When the kids were babies, I was able to walk home and nurse them at lunch time, or we would meet in the park across the street if the weather was nice. I have a doorman who can accept any deliveries when I am not home. I can shop for my groceries on-line and schedule a delivery whenever I need to. On days where I am working late, I have hundreds of restaurants literally at my finger tips and can order any cuisine to be delivered.
There are also many cons to living in the city. We, the 4 of us, live in a 2 bedroom apartment, approximately 1100 square feet (102.2 square meters). I know in other countries this may seem like a rather large apartment, in fact, my cousin in France lives in smaller apartment than us with 2 boys. But in the US, where everything is bigger, such as the furniture, serving portions and cars, it feels small. Especially when I look at the house that I could buy, for the same price, in the suburbs. We don’t have much space for storage, which is probably not such a bad thing, since it gets me to purge lots of unused items.
The biggest downfall though, in regards to my children, is the lack of outdoor space. Sure, there are quite a few parks and playgrounds within walking distance, as well as the beautiful Central Park, which is either a short cab/bus ride away (or a long walk on a nice day). However, there is no backyard where the kids can play and run while I prepare dinner, or while I clean. So instead, I pop in a movie or turn on some favorite cartoons for the kids to watch while I do those things.
I have some ground rules set regarding TV watching: basically, no TV before 6 pm, and it is off when we start dinner. In the morning, they can watch something while I prepare breakfast, and on school days it’s off at 8am (on weekends, I allow it a little longer while we clean). The only exception to these rules are when there is a sporting event that my husband wants to watch during the weekend day, or if they are really too sick to do much else.
What I have noticed, is when you live in the suburbs, the kids run outside from the morning until night. In fact, my husband often says, that when he was a kid growing up on Cape Cod, he would be outside playing with the neighborhood kids all day, no matter the season, and only came in to eat. In the city, going outside to play is an event that you have to prepare for… make sure to pack enough diapers for the little one, make sure there are snacks and drinks packed for everyone, have a spare change of clothes for the kids, make sure to pack the hats and sunscreen in the summer, or hats and gloves in the winter, pack some park toys, i.e. balls, bubbles, coloring books, etc. Every time I leave home, I look like I am leaving on vacation, I have so much stuff! What choice do I have? The kids need to get outside and run around for a while, blow off some steam… it’s only natural.
Recently, my 6 year old has started saying (more like, whining) that he doesn’t like going outside. He doesn’t want to go to the park and he wants to stay home and watch tv or a movie! To which I always respond, that he doesn’t have a choice, we are going and it’s a beautiful day outside. I usually end up bribing him, by bringing his scooter along, which I would have brought anyway. Or with the prospect of getting a juice, which is really a special treat for the kids.
I worry, have I been too lenient with the electronic forms of entertainment? So much so that now, my son would rather stay indoors than go run and play? Would we be better off in a house where he could just play in the yard until it was time for dinner? Maybe the kids need a house. We certainly could use the room (every nook and cranny is stuffed with toys in our place). The kids will eventually need their own room, although they currently love to share the room they have. But, I love the city and all that it has to offer….. if we could take advantage of it all. Does that make me a bad mother? Well, if it does, consider me guilty as charged!
How easy is it for your kids to get out and play? Do you compensate with electronic entertainment?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Maman Aya of New York City, USA.
Photo credit to the author.