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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.


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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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