When jet setting to Miami for the winter isn’t an option, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do. From rockin’ the best cold weather gear to planning an adventure by bus to making the most of a grocery run, this survival guide has 25 ideas to help you conquer the winter blues. (Spoiler: Watching Frozen is not one of them.)
Photo courtesy of Dan Nyugen via Flickr
1. Master winter weather gear – If you want to survive strolling in freezing temps, get the necessities like footmuffs that create a cocoon for your infant or toddler inside the car seat or stroller and handmuffs that keep your hands toasty while pushing your beast of a stroller. Available locally at Giggle (120 Wooster St. between Prince & Spring, 1033 Lexington Ave. at 74th St., and 352 Amsterdam Ave. between 76th & 77th St.) or BuyBuyBaby (410 East 61st St. and 1st Ave. or 270 Seventh Ave. at 26th St.).
2. Make a craft emergency kit – Fill it with stickers, pipe cleaners, play dough, crayons, notecards, clothes pins, pom poms and other goodies found at your local craft store. Break it out when winter boredom strikes. The mother-load of craft stores, Michael’s carries every crafty material you can imagine and also offers drop-in crafting sessions for kids ages 3 and up. Make a Mardi Gras mask or frame for your Valentine. (675 Avenue of the Americas or 808 Columbus Ave.)
3. Plan mommy (and daddy) happy hour – Who says you can’t bring a baby to a bar? Bring the kiddos to these indoor beer gardens that welcome kids. They’re spacious enough for the kids to stretch their legs while you throw back a couple cold ones. Not to mention, the kids will love the German soft pretzels, popcorn, and other snacks. Check out Spiritzenhause in Greenpoint, Die StammKneipe in Fort Greene or Pony Bar on the Upper East Side.
4. Give and you shall receive – We all know indoor play space memberships can cost a pretty penny. So share the wealth. Offer a guest pass to a friend and hope for one in return. After all, NYC has the best indoor playgrounds to help the kiddos (and you) overcome cabin fever like Playgarden, AppleSeeds or Kidville. And don’t forget to say thank you!
5. Seek out the sun – On a clear winter day the sun peaks between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Soak up some warm rays before the sun sets at 4 p.m. Check out Manhattan playgrounds that have the least amount of shade like the ones Washington Square Park or Madison Square Park.
Photo courtesy of Kris Arnold via Flickr
6. When the strolling gets tough, the tough ride the bus – It may take longer to reach your destination but the ride is half the fun. Make it an adventure. You can even play I spy or create a scavenger hunt as you go. Take the M11 bus up 10th Ave. and hop off near the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Take the M1 bus up Madison Ave. to the Museum of the City of New York and take part in their family programs. Ride the M1 bus down Fifth Ave. to the Children’s Center at the New York Public Library. Hop the M20 bus down 7th Ave. to Battery Park where you can taste the new food vendors at Hudson Eats at Brookfield Place. Then, stop by the skating rink or movie theater next door.
7. Make a play date …and another …and another – It takes a village, remember? Rely on the company of friends to make it through cold winter days. Let the kiddos play at a friend’s house, while the moms sip on coffee or wine. Make it fun for moms too by adding a theme. Bring desserts one day and comfort food the next and exchange recipes. Even better, meet in free community play rooms in condo buildings. Some are pretty cool like the ones designed by Citibabes. So make friends with someone who lives in one of these buildings or petition to create a Citibabes playroom to your own building. No space in your apartment for a big group? Plan a meet-up at one of NYC’s best indoor spots that welcomes moms and playgroups.
8. Grab the popcorn – Get off your sofa and head to one of these kid-friendly theaters showing a mix of new and old, age-appropriate movies for tots to tweens. Pass the time at Sunshine Cinemas (143 East Houston St., between 1st and 2nd Ave.), the IFC Center (323 Sixth Ave. at 3rd St.), or Sony Wonder Technology Lab (56th St. and Madison Ave.).
9. Celebrate! – Do you truly need an excuse to party? Get your friends together and celebrate Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day and even Earth Day! Check our events calendar to find local drop-in celebrations. Or keep it simple and celebrate with your kiddos at home with themed crafts, games, and homemade cards for grandma.
10. Get a tune up – Strollers take a beating in the winter. The sludge and salt wear on the tires and your coffee drips all over the sunshade. When you need a tune-up, don’t hesitate to call the folks at Baby Bubbles. They offer free pick up and delivery service and top to bottom stroller cleaning.
11. No sleep ’til Brooklyn – If you’re looking for all day entertainment, you can’t do any better than the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. With a water play area, art studio, building zone and even special play spaces dedicated to tots and babies, they’ll will be worn out in no time. Then, check out these other Brooklyn play spaces – no membership required.
Photo courtesy of WCS
12.Grin and bear it – Brave the cold to see the two new grizzly bears at the Central Park Zoo. Betty and Veronica will be glad you did. You can also see the indoor penguin and puffin exhibit, steamy rainforest exhibit, and 4 D theater. Plus, check out the family fun days for all ages including costume parades, live theater performances, and animal encounters. If you need to warm up after your wild afternoon, grab a bite at the nearby Plaza Food Hall on the lower level of the hotel. And if you still have time to spend (and you’re feeling desperate), you’re right next to FAO Schwarz.
13. Go to the mall – Did you know NYC even had a mall? Channel your inner suburban mom and stroll through Manhattan Mall in Herald Square or Atlantic Terminal Mall in Brooklyn. Your kids can pass a few hours playing games with a giant mouse at the Chuck E. Cheese’s at Atlantic Terminal Mall or playing with toys you won’t buy at the Toys “R” Us in Manhattan Mall – just have an exit strategy planned in advance. Cheddar bunnies in the stroller, perhaps?
14. Explore Grand Central Station – Kids love trains – you get it. But did you know about Grand Central Terminal’s other kid-friendly entertainment? Discover the whispering gallery, the zodiac on the terminal ceiling, the holiday train show (through Feb. 22), tasty treats from Magnolia Bakery and Shake Shack, plus over 68 shops for you.
15. Hit the ice – If you’ve watched Frozen more times than you can count, it’s time for some real ice action. Take the kiddos to one of the many ice skating rinks where they can slide around until they turn “Elsa blue”, while you nosh on delicious comfort snacks and (spiked) hot cocoa before calling it a day. If you want to avoid ice burn, some rinks offer lessons including South Street Seaport or LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park or The Standard Hotel Ice Rink.
16. Geek is chic – Geek out at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. With over 450 exhibits, demonstrations and activities that explain science, technology, engineering and math, you can play all day. And you’ll be learning something, too. Attend the special family program for younger kids called Little Makers to do crafts like tie dye, bath crayons and handmade paper.
17. Allow some screen time – Here’s the plan: go to a kid-friendly coffee shop, connect to free wifi, sip a cup of joe, and let the kids play games, watch movies, or read books online. The Queens Library has links to free online children’s books. The good news is you’re out of the house.
18. Visit a library for story time or any time – Let’s face it – it’s free entertainment outside your home all day long. You can read endless books, play with their toys, make arts and crafts and even watch movie screenings. Haven’t discovered your neighborhood library yet? Find the closest branch by checking out the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library or Queens Library.
19. Bring a class to you – Forget leaving your cozy apartment. Bring the fun to you with private classes that come to your home including the teachers, supplies and clean up. Invite your friends over and make music, create art or practice a new language. It’s instant entertainment!
20. Spend the night at the museum – Are your kids begging for a change of scenery? Here’s a big change – The American Museum of Natural History hosts mammoth size sleepovers for ages 6 to 13. How cool is it that your kids can spend a night at the museum, just like the movie.
21. Make groceries fun – Take advantage of all that your neighborhood Whole Foods has to offer. The Tribeca location (270 Greenwich St.) boasts a family seating area upstairs with kids’ toys and a play kitchen, kids’ cooking classes and art classes. Brooklyn’s Third Street location (214 3rd St.) hosts Friday story time in the 2nd floor cafe.
Photo courtesy of Dan Rosenthal via Flickr
22. Let it Snow – Avoid the piles of sludge on the city streets, and take your little eskimos to the best sledding hills in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens. Who said you need your own backyard? Be like Ralphie and pack on the warm layers for an afternoon of wintery bliss.
23. Call in back-up – Whether it’s the girl next door, your favorite UrbanSitter, or Grandma, give yourself a break. Plan a full day where you get out of the house for some much needed me time or couple time, while the little ones enjoy a fresh face. Remember when you used to spend your Saturday at bottomless brunch or shopping in SoHo? Find your happy place.
24. Get out of town – Explore the winter fun that awaits outside the city and check out a nearby winter destination. You’ll find ski mountains, sleigh rides and a wolf sanctuary less than three hours away. Take a day trip or spend the night – either way, you’re filling the winter days with fun.
25. Lastly, run for your life – Pack your bags and run, drive, or fly to warmer weather. It’s amazing what a little Vitamin D can do for your frozen family. Imagine white sandy beaches, blue splashy pools, and refreshing cocktails. Make like Olaf and pretend it’s “SUMMMERRRRR…..”.
How will you make it to April? Share your winter survival secrets in the comments below.