Friday, August 23, 2013

I took two toddlers to NYC and lived to tell about it

New advertising for the Big Apple? You decide. I should definitely get that on a t-shirt.

My grandfather loves visiting NYC and happily serves as an excellent guide through such a large city. We went on a Tuesday when the weather was absolutely perfect. Comfortable humidity, 80° temps, and even a slight breeze.

Now, for a two-under-four years survival guide for a day in the city.
-Snacks and water sippy cups will determine the success of your visit. If you are potty training or your child is newly trained, it is essential to plan out your toilet stops after you decide where you're going.

-My three year old loves museums. Our first stop was the Intrepid at 11AM. We took a bus from a park and ride shortly after the morning rush hour was over. Children under six? Seven? Are not allowed to go in the submarine so only my husband went in. The kiddos hung out with my grandfather and I and had snack time on nearby benches.

-Most people walking around the city (on a Tuesday) are probably tourists like you so people are very friendly and understanding. Also, there is not much English spoken in side conversations. I've never noticed that before the trip this summer.

-Make sure you know where you want to go and a general idea of how to get there. This will save you money on taxis in case you need a ride (we took a taxi from the PomPom Diner to Rockefeller Plaza. Grandpa informed us of how easy it is for a dishonest person to add a couple extra blocks to the trip if they know you don't know your way around.)

-Be prepared to carry your little ones for your day. Strollers are a nice idea just as long as you don't plan on seeing Times Square, Rockefeller Plaza, or any other hot spot. Rockefeller Plaza was ridiculously busy around one due to "the natives" being on lunch breaks/business lunches/lunch time for tourists.

-Unfortunately (or fortunately?) St. Patrick's Cathedral is undergoing renovation. We stopped to see anyway. It was so breathtaking I almost cried. True beauty will do that, even under major repair.

-We went to the Top of the Rock. Most beautiful view of the city, hands down. I've been on the World Trade Center, Empire State Building, and now Rockefeller Center. Top of the Rock has three observation balconies, the lower two of which have 10-ft glass walls to keep people from, you know, falling or jumping.

The third and highest observation area does not have glass so you can get phenomenal photos (photo below taken from that spot). The three year old did have multiple meltdowns once we ran out of quarters for the binoculars but overall it went pretty smoothly.
Empire State building just left of center.
In the Hudson River mid-photo of just right of center, Ellis Island
can just barely be seen.

-Times Square was our last stop. We took a subway during rush hour. Because if anyone in your family has never ridden a subway, it's NYC tourism 101. Yes, even during rush hour. Gotta get in a subway ride. The boys loved it. Then we were in Times Square during rush hour. I really don't recommend it. I've been there in the middle of the day and it was chaotic and swarming with people then. #1 freaked a little. It was also the end of a long day without naps in a crazy and unfamiliar place. I also don't think we would have left the city with both kids if we didn't have a third adult.  (I'm kidding, but how else would we get photos? My oldest listens to my grandpa very well, and my grandpa has the same child rearing methods we do, so when #1 started getting defiant, he would still follow rules if my grandpa was there.)

I threw my son on my shoulders and we began speed walking to the Port Authority, maneuvering threw hordes of people. My son began saying, "Mommy, me scared. Not like this. Scared Mommy!" He clutched tighter to my neck. I kept reassuring him that Mommy was taking him back to"great-grama's" and that he was safe because he was with me, and that it would get better soon. The baby was super chill about the whole experience.

-Snacks did not help the meltdown waiting for the bus to come. Fellow bus riders (businessmen, primarily) were very nice and commented on how they had kids and missed that age. You know. Making us feel less embarrassed about the tantrum.

At any rate, given all possibly terrible outcomes the trip could have had, the experience was not nearly as stressful as it could have been. I owe a lot of that to my grandfather's knowledge of the city, and good snacks. The overstimulation of everything going on had our little one napping as we waited for almost an hour to go up to the Top of the Rock.

My advice? It will be stressful. Be prepared, bring snacks, and don't forget the weather forecast! Plan out/actively locate bathrooms before going to your sightseeing hot spots. Lastly, seek out places where the kids can sit on a bench and snack or just stop for a minute to help them process everything around them (especially if they are not used to being in a huge city).