A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

No Basements or Spare Rooms: The Joys of City Living With Kids

I have a lot of parent friends who are making their way out of the city in favor of greener or more suburban pastures, and I get it. Though it’s possible to live in a borough of my city, New York, for a somewhat affordable amount of money, you don’t get nearly as much space as you would outside the city, for even less money.

Living in a city can be inconvenient. If you, say, have a car and like to park your car in the same spot every day, or if you don’t like to lug your groceries on the bus, or if you don’t want to think too hard about what school your kid is going to attend and whether you are zoned for it, or whether you need to move ASAP, or if you’d rather deal with rush hour behind the wheel and not in a subway car.

When you stack it up, living in the city with kids is a slog for most of us. So why do we do it?

I do it, in part, because basements and spare rooms scare the crap out of me. Look, I know I’m in the minority, but hear me out. It’s not a monsters-under-the-bed kind of fear – although when push comes to shove and I’m by myself in a large home… yeah, I can be convinced that there are otherworldly creatures lurking under bed frames and around corners. Really, though, for me it’s more of a how-do-I-fill-the-abyss thing.

I’ve written before about how I’m not so into saving stuff, so I’ve always considered small, efficiently laid out apartments to be dream living spaces. In my current apartment, there is a place for for all that I need but no more.

A house, however, demands more. You must furnish all the rooms, even the ones you hardly spend any time in, and if you’ve got a basement, a garage, an attic, then by god, you better have a bunch of boxes ready to store that you won’t look at for years, even decades.

Also, I like chasing my kid around city streets, those precarious, sometimes icy, sometimes crowded, never dull city streets. But chasing my kid around a house, through the basement and the spare rooms and the hallways, all those hallways?

On city streets, you can employ a stroller, a baby carrier, whatever, and nothing needs to be cleaned up because nothing gets rifled with or taken out in the first place. There are store windows to peer into instead of cupboards to deconstruct, and trees to stare up at instead of curtains to yank down. Managing my children in a small corner of a larger metropolis is the only way that makes sense to my compact sensibilities.

You parents who can confidently occupy a dwelling that has more than three closets and any number of sets of stairs have my respect and awe. I don’t know how you do it, how you know where everything is and where it will go? Why would you want to know such things?

How do you not feel like a child yourself wandering through an oversized Wonderland on a day to day basis? How do you vacuum that many rooms? I can hardly get it together to vacuum monthly and I live in the kind of place where if I stand in a certain spot, I can see every room.

To be fair, I grew up in a big house three and a half hours from where I live now in Brooklyn, and I loved it. My sister and I spent many an evening marching an army of Barbies around a massive basement made up of several rooms, only one of which was under-lit and terrifying.

Sometimes on Sundays, we used our dad’s Camcorder to film short experimental plays and dreadful infomercials about Tupperware in a pristine and rarely occupied living room and dining room. We ran barefoot around a backyard with swings and a hammock and easy access to all our neighbors’ yards.

I had a blast, I realize now because I wasn’t responsible for taking care of a slip of it. I could chuck handfuls of Barbie dolls into a bin at the end of the night, but I never had to scrape up the centipedes that gathered like a garnish around the perimeter of the basement carpet. I probably will never have to do that.

Maybe I will. Maybe one day, I’ll wake up, climb out of bed and immediately slam my foot against the dresser that stands just a few inches away. Maybe, the stub will be the final straw that ejects my little family from our Marie Kondo-approved urban existence out into the sprawling suburban dreamscape.

Until then, in our cozy shoebox, we remain. Someday, I’m sure, my son will buy a farm the size of two avenues and the generational living space cycle will begin again.


Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

We've had some struggles, you and me. In my teens, we were just getting to know each other. It was a rocky road at times, like when people referred to you as "big boned." I was learning how to properly fuel you by giving you the right foods. How to be active, to keep you strong and in good shape. I wish I knew then what I do now about you and what a true blessing you are. But that's something that has come with the gift of motherhood.

In my 20's, we became more well-acquainted. I knew how to care for you. After I got engaged, we worked so hard together to get into "wedding shape." And, looking back now, I totally took that six pack—okay, four pack—for granted. (But I have the pictures to prove it.)

Now that I'm in my 30's (how did my 30's happen so fast, btw?) with two kids, I'm coming to terms with my new postpartum body.

Keep reading... Show less

If there are two things a mama is guaranteed to love, it's Target plus adorable and functional baby products. Target's exclusive baby brand Cloud Island has been a favorite destination for cute and affordable baby clothing and décor for nearly two years and because of that success, they're now expanding into baby essentials. 🙌

The new collection features 30 affordable products starting at $0.99 and going up to $21.99 with most items priced under $10—that's about 30-40% less expensive than other products in the market. Mamas can now enjoy adding diapers, wipes, feeding products and toiletries to their cart alongside clothing and accessories from a brand they already know and love.

The best part? The Target team has ensured that the affordability factor doesn't cut down on durability by working with hundreds of parents to create and test the collection. The wipes are ultra-thick and made with 99% water and plant-based ingredients, while the toiletries are dermatologist-approved. With a Tri-Wrap fold, the diapers offer 12-hour leak protection and a snug fit so parents don't have to sacrifice safety or functionality.

So when can you start shopping? Starting on January 20, customers can shop the collection across all stores and online. We can't wait to see how this beloved brand expands in the future.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

You might also like:

Many people experience the "winter blues," which are often worst in northern climates from November to March, when people have less access to sunlight, the outdoors and their communities. Another 4% develops Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of clinical depression that often requires formal treatment.

If you have the winter blues, you may feel “blah," sad, tired, anxious or be in a worse mood than usual. You may struggle with overeating, loss of libido, work or sleep issues. But fear not—it is possible to find your joy in the winter, mama.

Here are eight ways to feel better:

1. Take a walk

Research has shown that walking on your lunch break just three times per week can reduce tension, relax you and improve your enthusiasm. If you are working from 9 to 5, the only window you have to access natural sunlight may be your lunch hour, so head outside for a 20 minute brisk but energizing walk!

If you are home, bundle up with your kids midday—when the weather is often warmest—and play in the snow, go for a short walk, play soccer, race each other, or do something else to burn energy and keep you all warm. If you dress for the weather, you'll all feel refreshed after some fresh air.

2. Embrace light

Research suggests that a full-spectrum light box or lamp, which mimics sunlight, can significantly improve the symptoms of the winter blues and has a similar effect to an antidepressant. Bright light at a certain time every day activates a part of the brain that can help restore normal circadian rhythms. While light treatment may not be beneficial for everyone (such as people who have bipolar disorder), it may be a beneficial tool for some.

3. Plan a winter trip

It may be helpful to plan a getaway for January or February. Plan to take it very easy, as one research study found that passive vacation activities, including relaxing, "savoring," and sleeping had greater effects on health and well-being than other activities. Engaging in passive activities on vacation also makes it more likely that your health and well-being will remain improved for a longer duration after you go back to work.

Don't overschedule your trip. Relax at a beach, a pool, or a cabin instead of waiting in long roller coaster lines or visiting packed museums. Consider visiting or traveling with family to help with child care, build quiet time into your vacation routine, and build in a day of rest, recovery, and laundry catch-up when you return.

4. Give in to being cozy

Sometimes people mistake the natural slowness of winter as a problem within themselves. By making a concerted effort to savor the slowness, rest and retreat that complement winter, you can see your reduction in activity as a natural and needed phase.

Research suggests that naps help you release stress. Other research suggests that when your brain has time to rest, be idle, and daydream, you are better able to engage in "active, internally focused psychosocial mental processing," which is important for socioemotional health.

Make a "cozy basket" filled with your favorite DVDs, bubble bath or Epsom salts, lemon balm tea (which is great for “blues,") or chamomile tea (which is calming and comforting), citrus oils (which are good for boosting mood), a blanket or a favorite book or two. If you start to feel the blues, treat yourself.

If your child is napping or having quiet time in the early afternoon, rest for a full 30 minutes instead of racing around doing chores. If you're at work, keep a few mood-boosting items (like lavender spray, tea, lotion, or upbeat music) nearby and work them into your day. If you can't use them at work, claim the first 30 minutes after your kids are asleep to nurture yourself and re-energize before you tackle dishes, laundry, or other chores.

5. See your friends

Because of the complex demands of modern life, it can be hard to see or keep up with friends or family. The winter can make it even harder. While you interact with your kids throughout the day, human interaction with other adults (not just through social media!) can act as a protective layer to keep the winter blues at bay.

Plan a monthly dinner with friends, go on a monthly date night if you have a partner, go to a book club, get a drink after work with a coworker, visit a friend on Sunday nights, or plan get-togethers with extended family. Research suggests that social interactions are significantly related to well-being.

Realize that given most families' packed schedules, you may need to consistently take the lead in bringing people together. Your friends will probably thank you, too.

6. Get (at least) 10 minutes of fresh air

A number of research studies have shown positive effects of nature on well-being, including mental restoration, immune health, and memory. It works wonders for your mood to get outside in winter, even if it's just for 10 minutes 2 to 3 times per week. You might walk, snowshoe, shovel, go sledding or go ice-skating. If you can't get outside, you might try these specific yoga poses for the winter blues.

7. Add a ritual

Adding a ritual to your winter, such as movie night, game night, hot chocolate after playing outside, homemade soup on Sundays, or visiting with a different friend every Saturday morning for breakfast, can add beauty and flow to the seemingly long months of winter. Research has suggested that family rituals and traditions, such as Sunday dinner, provide times for togetherness and strengthening relationships.

8. Talk to a professional

Counseling, which helps you identify the connections between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, can be extremely helpful for the winter blues (especially when you are also experiencing anxiety or stress). A counselor can assist you with identifying and honoring feelings, replacing negative messages with positive ones, or shifting behaviors. A counselor may also help you indulge into winter as a time of retreat, slowness, planning, and reflecting. You may choose to use the winter to get clear on what you'd like to manifest in spring.

The opposite of the winter blues is not the absence of the winter blues—it's taking great pleasure in the unique contribution of a time of cold, darkness, retreat, planning, reflecting, being cozy and hibernating. Nurturing yourself and your relationships can help you move toward winter joy.

Weary mama,

You are incredibly strong. You are so very capable.

Keep reading... Show less
Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.