Posted by Deirdre // 07-15-2013
I think I stumbled upon Sheri Silver’s great blog Donuts, Dresses and Dirt through twitter, or maybe she found me first. I don’t know for sure, but over the last year or so we’ve become virtual friends. I asked her to do a guest post for us because I am constantly inspired by her amazing outings with her now 4 year old – and those she takes on her own as well. She manages to do all of the cultural things in and around the city that we always have on our list but often don’t get to (tell me we’re not the only ones who do this) and she lives in Westchester!
I was thinking, maybe leaving Brooklyn can make us appreciate the things New York has to offer more than we do now? I will insert a When Harry Met Sally reference whenever possible, so now seems like a good time: when Sally admits that she and her ex, Joe never did have sex on the kitchen floor, despite being childless: “Not once. It’s this very cold, hard Mexican ceramic tile.” Do we take advantage of our situation — that the kids can take dance lessons from Mark Morris and we can go to MoMA on Thursday nights and see first run movies and be regulars at franny’s? In our case, the answer is more no than yes.
So I thought Sheri could provide some guidance and a bit of assurance to those of you who fear leaving the city will sever ties to all possibilities of the things that you will actually do occasionally — that afternoon jaunt to the High Line or ride on the Roosevelt Island Tram or Summer afternoon at PS 1, as well as the associated delicious food and cool factor. Because she does it. ALL of it. And not in a crazy type-A way, in a fun, let’s-take-in what-we-can way. Here, she tells us how.
Hi all! I’m Sheri, and I write the blog Donuts, Dresses and Dirt. And I’m so thrilled to be here on Brooklyn or Beyond.
Although I grew up in Brooklyn (Canarsie), and even went to college there (Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture), I’ve been living in the suburbs since 1987.
I’ve raised (and am raising) my children here. My business is here. And I’m now living in my fourth home here.
I’m a suburban girl, for better or worse. And I do appreciate all of the benefits and niceties of life here. It’s clean, spacious and easy. My car is right outside my door, along with my big backyard. The public schools are fabulous.
Yet I’ve held tight to my ties to the city, and take full advantage of our proximity on a regular basis, both alone and with my kids. For me, the food, culture, parks and activities of the city usually surpass whatever is going on locally, and I get in as often as I can, all year round.
So how do I do it?
Between raising 3 very different kids (now ages 22, 17 and 4), and having my full share of failed outings, I’ve learned how to maximize the potential for a successful visit:
Start with you. Art, design and food are important to me – and that enthusiasm spills over to my kids. Try to choose activities that you are genuinely interested in (and farm off the rest to the grandparents).
It’s about the journey. I almost always drive in to the city. I like having control over my schedule, and Noah will almost always nap on the way down (which he’d never do on the train). That said, he DOES love the train and that is often as big a deal as our destination. A Metro North ride to Grand Central, a visit to the transit store and a snack before heading home has filled many a winter afternoon. Trams and ferries are favorite activities too.
Keep it short. It’s exhausting hauling yourself, your little(s) and all the necessary gear around (another reason I drive). So don’t burden yourself with the pressure of “making a day of it”. A drive downtown, a bike ride along the west side, and an hour or so at the Pier 25 playground is just right. Don’t feel compelled to do a marathon. The city’s not going anywhere.
Rely on the experts. Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do without my Time Out New York Kids. It is hands down the best resource I’ve found, and I spend time on the site each week to make note of what’s upcoming and what we might like to do. It’s resulted in some of the most fun afternoons we’ve had in the city.
Have one “sure thing”. Last weekend I went to see the PS 1 “Party Wall” exhibit in Long Island City, followed by a stroll over to the new Long Island City Flea. I didn’t know if Noah would enjoy the exhibit, but I knew that if we had to cut it short we could stroll over to the Flea, treasure hunt and have a snack.
It may take a few tries to find to your groove (and figure out what you need to pack) but once you have it down you’ll be more inclined to head in and take advantage of everything you love about the city. A walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, a spin through Central Park or a day at the Museum of Natural History are all my preferred choices for a weekend with my kids, and I’m grateful to have the “best of both worlds” here in the burbs.
And if you are thinking of heading up this way (either for a visit or for something more permanent), I’d be happy to supply you with more info – we’ve got our share of fun things to do here too!
Sheri lives in the River Towns – Irvington, to be exact. Leave a comment here or you can get in touch with her through her blog, Donuts, Dresses and Dirt.