It’s Spring Break over here, so there is no school this week. The kids and I made a list of things we would want to do with our time and NYC was high on the list. We are very lucky to live a short train ride away (about 50 min.) so that made it an easy YES.
We had loose plans to take the train to NY Penn Station, walk to Madison Square Park, play and eat lunch, and then head to the Math Museum. But… the day was too beautiful to spend inside. Here’s how it all went down.
The big kids walked to the train station and Sloane scootered. She is six, and too old for a stroller. Her tiny little legs have a hard time keeping up with the big kids sometimes. Before we left, we talked about bringing the scooter. We called it her “commuter scooter” and we chatted about how riding a scooter in the city is WAY different than taking runs up and down out street. It’s different because we didn’t wear a helmet, which is usually a non-negotiable. It was different because instead of riding independently, she had to stay right next to me and if she wanted, I would pull her along. It’s so easy to “tow” your child with THIS scooter. Two feet on, and I can easily pull her along and steer.
We took an 10:38 train in. We got to the station a little early and I let the children each choose lifesavers or gum for the train ride. I know they’d be fine with nothing, but for me, it’s the little things in life, and I like to make our adventures special. We rode the train in and walked across town to Madison Square Park and ate at Shake Shack. The kids had never been there before, and it did not disappoint. Next stop in the plan was to go across the street to Mo Math, The National Math Museum, but the kids asked to go to the playground first. Sure, why not (see me being flexible over here?!)?
The kids played and I sat in the sun, feeling good. I watched them run, squeal and climb, when I suddenly decided that the weather was too perfect to head inside to a museum. Their favorite NYC playground is the one in Union Square but I wanted to try something new. I did a quick Google search and decided on The Ancient Playground in Central Park. I called the kids over and asked them if they still wanted to go to a museum or if they were up for a new adventure. Guess which one they picked?
We headed off to the Subway and hopped on. It didn’t occur to me before, but Sloane had somehow never ridden the Subway! She was mesmerized and it was the absolute cutest thing. Nate and Ruby played their favorite game of “spot the rats” in the tracks while Sloane asked me a billion and one questions about how the subway works. We got on and the train was pretty empty. The kids seriously had the best time holding on and riding the bumps. I fought my inner germ-phobe and went along with it. I am so glad I did. They LOVED it.
It was an easy trip into Central Park and we headed into the playground. Kids were off and running and again, I was sitting on a bench in NYC on this beautiful Spring day. Besides a few hiccups with Sloane, we could’ve stayed for hours, but I know from experience that it is SO important to quit while you are ahead. I knew we still had to get back downtown and get on a train back to Maplewood before the evening commute began. I enticed them with ice cream cones and off we went.
We made it back down to Penn Station and as luck would have it, a train to Maplewood was boarding. Thank goodness, because at that point we were all getting a bit tired. We made it home in one piece and I am so grateful for another adventure in the books.
Here are my quick takeaways:
Front end load. Pack snacks and water, wipes, and layer clothing. Knowing that basic needs are easily met means you can relax.
Follow your child’s lead. We literally went to the city to play at the playground. Could we have done that at home? Sure, but it was way more special this way. The kids had a blast and since they were happy, my job was much easier.
Quit while you are ahead. Remember NOT to stretch them to their limits. It can be tempting to stay when you are having fun, but ending on a high note is so much better.
Have a plan but be flexible. We switched it up today and instead of the museum, we hit up a new playground.
You know your child best. Think about what you will need to do in order to meet their needs and keep them feeling successful. For us, this was bringing along the scooter for Sloane. I knew she’d feel tired and frustrated trying to keep up on foot. The scooter was a total game changer.
Get out of your comfort zone and adventure with your kids! It will not always be as smooth as today was, but it is SO worth it. The adventures that don’t go well are learning experiences for everyone, and they will only make your next adventure easier.