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Why I Didn’t Leave the City When I Had Kids

Twiniversity’s founder sounds off on city life with twins.

Why I Didn’t Leave the City When I Had Kids

I was born and raised in New York City. My mother was too. I am actually a fourth-generation Manhattanite that could never imagine living any place else.

I will tell you the truth, though: when I went for my 9-week ultrasound after my first round of IVF, and the doctor heard (and saw) a second heartbeat, my husband said, "We have to move!" I don't know if I was more in shock over that additional heartbeat, or of the prospect of having to leave the island that my family has called home since 1902.

So we looked. We looked in Brooklyn. We looked in Queens. We looked in Staten Island. We even looked in New Jersey. Some of the homes that we saw were quite magnificent. We even toured a renovated firehouse in St. George right by the Staten Island ferry. But, nothing compared to the bright lights and big city that is lower Manhattan.

We decided to stay. Sure, moving would've given us more space, but how much space do you really need? My grandmother raised seven children in a 350-ft. apartment on the Lower East Side. If it was good enough for her, it should be good enough for me! I never had a bathtub or a closet to call my own, so I figured that maybe my kids shouldn't either.

Once we stopped looking for a house, we started thinking about how to adapt our current living situation so it could accommodate two extra people. We made a ton of changes: we put up some walls, painted everything, and did what typical parents do when preparing for their newborns. Of course, I worried I wouldn’t have enough space. But ultimately, I always knew that this was going to be the better choice for me and my growing family.

I'm happy to say that almost 13 years after the arrival of my tiny little twinnies, we made the right choice. And yet, moving still crosses my mind from time to time. I had a recent talk with my kids about it -- high school is right around the corner and, in New York City, there’s an overwhelming amount of options. Maybe it would be time for a simpler life. Maybe they needed a breathe of fresh air.

And just like their mama did 13 years ago, my twins totally freaked out. They love living here. They love playing in a park filled with kids instead of a backyard, where there might only be the two of them. They love walking to get shrimp noodles in the morning or fresh mozzarella in the afternoon. They love the hustle and bustle. They love seeing random celebrities. They love being able to get pretty much anything they have ever wanted at any time of day. While they aren't spoiled, it's not the worst city to live in when your kids forget to get poster board for a project due in the morning at 9 p.m. at night. (Thank you, 24-hour CVS!)

But what I love about the city is so much more than the superficial -- the fact that I never had to teach the kids what "diversity" was; that the kids are amazingly open-minded; that they have kids in school with two moms, two dads, no dad, raised by grandparents, and every type of family in between. I love that they take seeing a giant Picasso in the street (near Washington Square Park) for granted. I love that they literally went trick or treating in Gucci. I love that they are so open, accepting and inclusive, that regardless of where they end up as adults, they will have tons of friends and very open hearts for all of them.

WAIT! Don't think that I'm saying that folks living in the 'burbs are close-minded. NO WAY! I'm just saying that the typical opportunity for exposure to different types of lifestyles is sometimes limited. Growing up downtown in the literal melting pot of the city (you saw Gangs of New York right? We live in the "five points") allows them to see, hear and even taste the different cultures and lifestyles.

I love this city and, sure, we don't have a bathtub, but we do have so much more to be thankful for. And most days, we have a typical life... even if it it may never seem typical to someone living outside of Manhattan. (You see us cooped up in 650-square feet. I see a small but cozy 3-bedroom that I can clean in about 20 minutes.) And anyway, my kids don't know the difference.

So if you’re on the fence about whether or not to raise your kids in the city, I hope I've convinced some of you to stay. But if you go, and have some extra room in your basement, email me because I'd love to store some boxes down there.

Natalie Diaz is the Pied Piper of twin families around the globe. Founding Twiniversity — the world’s leading support network for multiple birth families — in 2009, she’s become the global influencer for this small niche community. Reaching over a million families a week through Twiniversity’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube channels, moms and dads of twins flock to Twiniversity to find resources, ask questions, explore new products, and find community and support from other twin parents. Natalie is a true connector, bringing parents from all walks of life together, breaking past cultural differences, to share in the highs and lows of parenting twins. Natalie’s book, “What To Do When You’re Having Two” is a global bestseller in Twins & Multiples Parenting.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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