There is no greater adventure than urban parenting--every nook and cranny of New York City is ripe for exploration when you’ve got a baby in tow. Even the most seasoned city dweller can attest: all those familiar city streets (yes, even the path to the grocery store) look fresh and new through the eyes of your little one, and your list of neighborhood discoveries--and conquests--grows with every excursion. To celebrate the launch of Bugaboo’s innovative new Runner, we’re letting you in on some of New York City’s best terrain to explore with your kids, from lush parks to sandy beaches to a jaw-dropping waterfront framed by bridges and skyscrapers. And we’re introducing you to some of NYC’s coolest parents, who are as passionate about their paths in the wellness world as they are about their kids. In honor of New York Fashion Week and that huge September issue you’ve probably got on your coffee table, we’ll start with Vogue’s Lauren Mechling. As senior editor at the magazine, she oversees Vogue’s health and fitness coverage; as a Brooklyn mom, she oversees two adorable and active toddlers. And while neither role is less than a full-time job (let alone both!), she still manages to schedule in weekly workout time for herself and her little ones, from rooftop yoga to toddler Crossfit. We recently caught up with Lauren for a jog with her daughter Louisa in Prospect Park and got the dish on motherhood, magazines and how her busy life really runs. Why are you so passionate about fitness? The answer has changed over time. When I was in my twenties, I went to the gym because I felt guilty if I didn’t. Now, however, I find that I actually enjoy exercise--to the point where I crave it. In addition to the health benefits, I love the space that it gives me to daydream and problem solve. In what way does running give you a feeling of freedom that other fitness activities can’t replicate? It’s the only exercise I do where I’m not in an enclosed studio. I never take the exact same route twice; I watch the seasons change, I see which local shops are closing and which ones are replacing them. It’s a way to reconnect with the neighborhood. How do you fit in time to care for yourself between parenting and your career? I probably exercised five times a week in my past life; now it’s more like three. Sometimes on the weekends I’m tempted to stay home, but I think it’s important that your children see you thriving and taking care of yourself. What are some things you hope to teach your little ones about being active? That it's not an either/or thing—you don’t have to be super-sporty or opt out and be a root vegetable. Exercise can be part of a balanced life, and you take a playful, dabble-y approach. I’ve taken Henry, my four-year-old son, to tennis, yoga, soccer, karate, swimming, dance, and ballet classes. We even tried out Toddler CrossFit! (It was just as bizarre as it sounds.)We travel as much as we can by foot or scooter (our fast-paced 1.5 mile walk/scoot to school each morning gives new meaning to the term “school run”). What are some of your favorite NYC spots to get out there and get active with your kids? My husband and I both grew up in the city, and we love re-exploring it with the children. Some of our go-to spots are the sculpture garden at MOMA, Prospect Park’s Long Meadow https://www.prospectpark.org/visit-the-park/park-map/points-interest/points-interest-long-meadow/, and Pier 6 Park. I recently went to a yoga class held on a roof in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which was utterly incredible, like a cross between an after-hours sculpture park and the moon. I expect we will take a family field trip there soon. Sometimes we all need to unwind. When you’re done hitting the pavement and the kids are tucked in bed, what does a perfect end to a day look like? I cook. I read novels. I might occasionally shop for shoes online. If you could give expectant parents who are worried about losing their freedom some words of encouragement, what would they be? Put down the parenting books. There is no one way. Photography by Justin Borucki. Lauren's activewear courtesy of Bandier. This post was brought to you by Bugaboo.
Jessica Pallay is the director of event programming & operations at Motherly and the co-founder of the pregnancy community Well Rounded, which was acquired by Motherly in 2019. She's an experienced writer, editor and content marketer, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Vogue.com, Cheddar and more. She lives in Brooklyn with her two daughters, Libby & Elsie, and her husband Andrew. You can follow her here.
Things We're Loving
Mama of three, Casey Huff, recently shared a touching post about her son growing up too fast on Facebook. In it, she described how she crossed aisle, from the toddler sizes to the big kids sizes and how hard that was on her mama heart. The post has gathered over 65,000 shares and 8,000 comments from other parents sharing how fast their little ones are growing and how they wished they could slow down time.
The viral post reads:
"I crossed the aisle today.
You know, the one that separates the toddler sizes from the big kid sizes.
If you're shrugging your shoulders and saying "so what?" it's probably because you haven't done it yet.
The other morning our 4-year-old was standing in the kitchen when I noticed how short his 5T pajamas were getting on his tall frame. It was obvious he needed the next size up, so I made a mental note to grab some for him the next time I went to Target. Not a big deal.
Except it WAS a big deal to this mama's heart.
I was standing right smack dab in the middle of the toddler section, between the Cat & Jacks and the Carter's, when it hit me that there was no such thing as 6T.
Because once a kid is big enough to be in 6T, he's actually ready to move on up to boy sizes.
Not baby. Not toddler. But boy. Like, KID boy.
Across the aisle.
I realized in that moment I've been living in denial.
I see my boy growing up before my eyes. I've noticed the edges of his face becoming less round and more mature. I've heard the witty things he says. I've noticed the way he pours his own cereal and makes his own bed. I've listened as he tells me more and more often, "No thanks, Mom. I don't need help this time."
I've had a front-row seat to his metamorphosis, but I haven't accepted it—not really.
Because in my mind, he's still a baby. That sweet, smiley, precious little baby—the first one we ever brought home from the hospital.
My heart hasn't been ready to admit that now he's a boy who will be starting school in the blink of an eye. A boy who is officially outgrowing the remnants of toddlerhood. A boy whose height apparently requires his mama to make her first trips across the aisle.
As I stepped foot into the big boy section, my heart physically ached at the reminder of passing time.
I felt a spark of hope when I saw how big all of the clothes hanging on the racks were. They were HUGE—surely he wasn't really big enough to wear those yet. Surely it wasn't time.
I grabbed a pair of Spiderman pajamas and made my way to the checkout, hopeful we'd have to store them in the closet for a while until he grew into them.
On the drive home, I thought about newborn giggles and determined first steps and the way it sounded the first time he called me Mama.
Then I thought with pride about all of the things he's doing now. Playing basketball, learning to read, soaking up the world around him.
And last, I thought about all the things his future has in store. And I smiled through teary eyes.
At home, his eyes lit up when I handed him the bag, and even though it was only 4:30 he ran off to his room to change. I watched him go and swallowed the lump in my throat.
He's growing up, this beautiful first blessing of mine—but we're both gonna be okay.
And those boy-sized Spiderman pjs?
They fit perfectly."
We've been there mama, hugs.
It was a historical moment for the world and a scary moment for a woman who had just become a mother for the first time. When the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out of the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital on July 22, 2013, with her new baby in her arms she was happy—but understandably scared, too.
Kate Middleton recently appeared on Giovanna Fletcher's Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast and when Fletcher asked her about her postpartum debut Kate said she felt a little freaked out when she stepped out with her newborn.
"Yeah, slightly terrifying, slightly terrifying, I'm not going to lie," Kate said.
During the podcast the Duchess opened up about her pregnancy and birth experiences, explaining how much hypnobirthing helped her and that she didn't know whether she was delivering a prince or princess until Prince George was born as she'd opted to be surprised.
She was surprised and thrilled when she met her son, and looked forward to post-pregnancy life after spending her pregnancy quite ill with hyperemesis gravidarum (a seriously debilitating form of extreme morning sickness). She was happy, but was also (very understandably) overwhelmed. In addition to all the pressure new moms feel, Kate had an army of photographers waiting outside the hospital for her.
"Everything goes in a bit of a blur. I think, yeah I did stay in hospital overnight, I remember it was one of the hottest days and night with huge thunderstorms so I didn't get a huge amount of sleep, but George did, which was really great," she explained. "I was keen to get home because, for me, being in hospital, I had all the memories of being in hospital because of being sick [with acute morning sickness] so it wasn't a place I wanted to hang around in. So, I was really desperate to get home and get back to normality."
Kate wanted to get home, but she also did want to share her baby boy with the public who had been so supportive of her young family, she explains.
"Everyone had been so supportive and both William and I were really conscious that this was something that everyone was excited about and you know we're hugely grateful for the support that the public had shown us, and actually for us to be able to share that joy and appreciation with the public, I felt was really important," she shared, adding that "Equally it was coupled with a newborn baby, and inexperienced parents, and the uncertainty of what that held, so there were all sorts of mixed emotions."
"All sorts of mixed emotions."
The now-iconic images of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge exiting the hospital with their firstborn have gone down in history, but so has Kate's bravery that day.
There's been a lot written about whether those pictures put pressure on other moms who might not feel ready for heels and blowouts right after giving birth, but one thing critics of the photos often miss is the positive impact it had on other young women.
Yes, Kate looked beautiful, but she also looked like a woman whose body had just given birth—and the iconic images of her in that polka-dot dress taught a generation of women that the female body isn't an elastic band and that recovering from birth takes time.
"I, myself remember being really surprised when Kate Middleton came out of the hospital holding Prince George," Tina, now a mom herself and a model of postpartum realness in Mothercare's "Body Proud Mums campaign" explained last year.
Tina recalls how Kate's postpartum appearance showed her a reality society hadn't: "She had the baby bump, and I remember being surprised that your belly doesn't just go down after giving birth. I also thought how stupid I was to have ever thought it would. I guess pre-children you just have unrealistic expectations."
Tina wasn't stupid, she just hadn't been shown the truth.
So thank you, Kate, for stepping out of that hospital in 2013, despite being terrified, and showing the world your beautiful baby and your bump.
But there's some good news, which is that parents who pay for preschool or daycare while they're at work may qualify for a credit that can help you save money on taxes this year. Here's what all parents should know before filing their returns.
Is preschool tuition tax-deductible?
The sum of your child's entire preschool tuition is not tax deductible, but you may be able to get something better than a deduction: a credit called the Child and Dependent Care Credit, worth up to $1,050 for one child and up to $2,100 for two or more kids.
How do I know if I'm eligible for the Child Dependent Care Tax Credit?
There are a few criteria to be eligible for the Child and Dependent Care Credit:
- If you have someone take care of your child so you can work or look for work
- Your child is under the age of 13 at the end of the tax year (no age limit if they are disabled)
- You must be able to claim your child as a dependent
- Your filing status must be single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a qualifying child, or married filing jointly.
Does preschool tuition count as dependent care?
Yes, it does count if you are paying someone to take care of your child so you can work or look for work. Day camps, such as summer camps and sports camps, count as well, but overnight camps don't.
How much could I potentially get back on taxes for preschool tuition?
If you are able to claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit, you may be able to claim up to $1,050 for one child and up to $2,100 for two or more children.
The great thing about credits is they are a dollar for dollar reduction of your taxes. So if you owe taxes of $1,050 and have one child, you may qualify for a credit of up to $1,050 and wipe out the taxes you owe.
The credit is based on a sliding scale: Depending on your income, your credit is 20%-35% of your childcare expenses up to $3,000 (or $1,050), and 20%-35% of childcare expenses up to $6,000 (or $2,100) for two or more kids.The bottom line: While this tax credit is unlikely to completely cover your child's preschool tuition for the year, don't miss out on this tax credit if you're paying for preschool or daycare for your child so that you can work. And remember to check your eligibility for other tax credits and deductions for families, including the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Credit.
Celestial baby names are flying high right now, and the brightest star of them all? Well, it's actually Luna, the name of the Roman goddess of the moon, and the Latin word for "moon."
At #23 in the US in 2019, Luna's rise has been, well, astronomical ever since it re-entered the Top 1000 in 2003, for the first time in almost a century. That was the year that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was first published, featuring the kooky but courageous Luna Lovegood.
The once-unique baby name has since been picked up by stylish celebrity parents such as Penelope Cruz, Uma Thurman and John Legend, and now ranks in the Top 100 in at least 18 other countries, including Australia, Chile, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway and Slovenia.
But if Luna's meteoric rise to the top of the baby name popularity charts puts you off, here are 100 more magical, moon-inspired baby names to consider.
Baby names that mean moon
Girls' names that mean "moon" include a multitude of attractive Turkish names containing the element ay, meaning (you guessed it!) "moon." These range from rising international star Ayla to popular picks like Miray, Belinay and Aysima, which are all in the current Turkish Top 50 for girls.
Boy names that mean "moon" include dozens of dynamic Japanese names like Michika, Reito and Tsukio, which can all be formed from different kanji combinations to give various moon-related meanings.
Moon-inspired girl names
- Aruna: This pretty Japanese name, which can mean "moon love" (depending on the kanji characters used), is a perfect underused alternative to popular A-sandwich choices like Aria and Aurora.
- Esmeray: A beautiful Turkish name with the evocative meaning of "dark moon", which might appeal to lovers of rapid riser Esme.
- Lusine: Also spelled Lucine or Lusineh, this sophisticated Armenian choice could make for an unexpected route to Lucy or Lou.
- Mahina: A moon goddess in Hawaiian mythology, whose attractive name literally means "moon" in the Hawaiian language.
- Sasithorn: This poetic word for the moon is also used as a name in its native Thailand, pronounced "sah-see-TAWN". Sweet short form Sasi also means "moon".
And here are a few more of our favorite lunar names for girls from around the globe:
Moon-inspired boy names
- Ainar: This strong-sounding Kazakh name is actually unisex, meaning "male moon", "fire moon" or "pomegranate moon" (what a great image!).
- Isildur: A literary lunar name from J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium, in which it belongs to a heroic king.
- Jerah: A rare Biblical boys' name with a contemporary sound, which could make for a great underused alternative to the likes of Noah and Jeremiah.
- Mani: Properly spelled Máni, this energetic mini name belongs to the personification of the moon in Norse mythology.
- Vikesh: A strong and striking Hindu name which is fairly common in India, but virtually unknown elsewhere.
And here's a selection of other great moon names for boys from around the globe:
Galactic moon names
We recently reported on the rise of planetary baby names, as well as of mythological names relating to the heavens, like Apollo and Zephyr: Greek gods of the sun and the west wind, respectively.
But how about the names of other moons? There are some stellar options out there, mostly drawn from myth, legend and literature—right on trend, but rarely used.
Galactic moon-inspired girl names
- Amalthea: A moon of Jupiter, named for the goat (or goat-keeper) who raised the infant Zeus. It would make a lovely longer form for the fashionable mini-name Thea.
- Calypso: A fun-filled name with a lively rhythm and musical links to the West Indies. Callie and Cleo could make for great nicknames.
- Leda: The name of the beautiful mother of Helen of Troy in Greek mythology is surprisingly underused, despite its simple, international appeal: it was given to just 17 baby girls in 2018.
- Thebe: Far rarer than Phoebe, but with the same light and simple sound, Thebe is another moon of Jupiter.
- Skathi: This tiny moon of Saturn is named for Skaði, the Norse goddess of winter and archery.
And here are a few more appealing faraway moon names for girls:
Galactic moon-inspired boy names
- Ariel: This handsome Hebrew name may have become far more popular for girls in the US, thanks to a certain Little Mermaid, but it's a truly unisex choice in Israel: #4 for boys and #23 for girls in the last year on record (2016).
- Fenrir: The name of a monstrous wolf in Norse mythology, and of an evil werewolf in the Harry Potter books—but if Wolf itself can catch on…
- Hyperion: One of the Titans in Greek mythology, Hyperion lends his majestic name to another of Saturn's moons.
- Narvi: Also spelled Narfi, this quirky Norse mythology name belongs to the father of Nótt, the personification of the night.
- Umbriel: A moon of Uranus, named (along with Ariel and Belinda) for a character from Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock. The name was probably inspired by Latin umbra "shadow."
And here are more magical moon names for boys from myth and legend:
This post by Emma Waterhouse was first published on Nameberry