With all the press about the mom who got arrested for leaving her nine-year-old child unattended in a park, and the resulting outrage, it’s raised the question across the country: What's an appropriate amount of freedom for kids, and what is not? Growing up in NYC in the '70s, my friends and I played outside and roamed around independently from an early age even though the city, in general, was not as safe as it is now. We learned street smarts and independence that, undoubtedly, spilled over into other areas of our lives.
For many reasons, parenting seems different today. There's a lot more pressure to constantly supervise children, even older kids. It can be hard to imagine that our "babies" will ever be ready to go out into the wide world alone. But with the start of a new school year, the reality is that many children will begin traveling on their own or with a group of friends. With my kids—a teenager who is fully independent and a tween who is just learning to navigate the city on his own—I've modified the '70s-style figure-it-out-on-your-own approach to include today's more stringent safety consciousness to develop a training course my kids must complete before being allowed out on their own.
Here's how I taught my own kids to be street smart city kids from an early age:
It can be difficult to explain the events of September 11, 2001 to our children; they're still hard for us to fully grasp. As we near the 13th anniversary of the day that changed our country forever, here are some helpful ways to commemorate with your family. Visit a memorial site or exhibit, volunteer together, read a book to younger kids to help them understand or even visit the new 9/11 Memorial in downtown NYC. There are many ways to mark the day together.
September is almost here and the carefree days of summer are drawing to a close. Fortunately there’s still plenty of fun to be had in the Garden State, with many great fairs and festivals on the calendar this month. Explore nature at the NJ Wild Outdoor Expo, chow down on delicious seafood at the Atlantic City Seafood Festival or listen to some exciting tales at the NJ Storytelling Festival. Check out these eight not-to-be-missed festivals and visit our Events Calendar for more fabulous ideas.
My daughter has tried everything from dance lessons to cooking classes, but the one activity that has kept her interest for the past 6 years is being a Girl Scout. We started the scouting journey together when she was in kindergarten. She was an adorable Daisy Scout and I became an enthusiastic troop leader. For the past 6 years I have had the pleasure of watching a group of girls mature from wild 5 year olds, who spent meetings crafting and giggling, to enthusiastic young ladies who have learned the values of friendship, the outdoors and community service. Just this year, the girls in our troop earned the Girl Scout Bronze Award for creating an organic garden and donating the crop to the local food pantry. In addition to teaching valuable lessons, Girl Scouting is just plain fun. Who doesn't love earning patches, selling cookies and making new friends? Read on for some great information on getting involved with Girl Scouts in New Jersey. For more great after school activities, check out our Classes and Activities Guide.
Here at Mommy Poppins, we enjoyed spending quality time with our kids during our SUMMER OF PLAY CHALLENGE, and we're thrilled that it resonated with our readers, too. Hundred of parents from across the country shared photos of their playtime adventures with us on social media. We loved seeing so many pics inspired by the ideas in our SUMMER OF PLAY GUIDE; some folks transformed old cardboard boxes into really nifty playtime items, like the cool plane in our photo gallery. Other families played dress-up, fashioned and flew kites, made a mess and buried each other in the sand. We also saw some ideas we're going to have to try next year, like sticking snowballs in our freezers in the winter and then breaking them out on a hot summer day (our NYC editor Raven thought of that one, but it takes advance planning). Click through the pics above to see some of our favorite SUMMER OF PLAY moments. You can see all of the awesome photos submitted throughout the season on our Facebook page.
Dining out should be a enjoyable, bonding experience for the family. However, kids and restaurants don’t always mix. Waiting for food or sitting still at the table can be a challenge for little ones. When crayons just don’t cut it, bring the gang to one of these family-friendly favorites on their scheduled “kid’s night”. From magicians to characters to balloon animals, the following restaurants offer fun entertainment and events for kids during the week. Also, check out restaurants that offer Kids Eat Free specials.
Extracurricular classes and activities are a great way for kids (and parents!) to develop skills, try a new hobby or just meet new friend and socialize. Check out our ever-growing list of awesome Kids' Classes, Mommy (and Daddy) and Me, and fun activities exclusively designed for parents, who need a break too. And if you're in the mood to cross the Hudson for your tutelage, check out Mommy Poppins awesome NYC Classes and Activities Guide.
Read on to find our round-ups and reviews of cool classes for NJ kids, all written by local moms. And make sure to check out our Classes Directory where you'll find detailed listings of even more kids class options.
Welcome to Mommy Poppins New Jersey! The free online resource for parents and kids where you’ll get the scoop on what’s fun, unique, outdoorsy, indoorsy, artsy, bouncy, sassy and splashy in the Garden State. Come play with us, won’t you?