It’s amazing how winter always leaves you yearning for cherry blossoms, lighter jackets and the sound of birds-a-chirpin’. We definitely feel like that here in Bay Ridge. All of the mommies hibernate with our cubs for months. We need to get out and let these kids run —finally.
What to do on a day out during springtime in Brooklyn
When the first nice day of spring rolls around, no one feels surprised. We’ve been checking our phones for the past six months waiting for “70” to appear in our weather app. When it finally does, everyone comes out to welcome the warm sunshine that has been missing from their lives.
We did all the spring things in one fabulous day. Well, at least we did the things our neighborhood has to offer. Some spring days in Brooklyn give you all the feels — and then some. The day didn’t go completely as planned (surprise, surprise). However, as we meandered through our streets, I couldn’t help but be overcome with gratitude to be living in this marvelous place.
Stop for smoothies at FUEL
By some miracle, I actually got the kids out the door before 10:00 a.m. I put the toddler into my vehicle of choice (AKA stroller) and walked up to the smoothie shop, while reminding the big boys to “look out for driveways” and “stop at the corner”. Our favorite smoothie shop FUEL is about 6 blocks from us, which is wonderfully convenient. However, the first 3 blocks are uphill, which often causes drama before we’ve even left our own block. Luckily the bribe of a Summer Slam is an effective one and the thought of a Monster Kale is motivation enough for me.
On our way to the park, my ears were met with many a squeal as the toddler objects to having to share a smoothie with his brothers. We were also met with the challenge of learning to hold a smoothie while scooting along 3rd Avenue. I feel like it shouldn’t have been that difficult, but my kids tried to convince me otherwise. We opted to sit on a bench to drink half of our smoothies and played a few quick rounds of “I spy” before continuing on.
Visit Owl’s Head Park
Owl’s Head Park is probably my favorite in our neighborhood. With 24 acres, a playground, a sprinkler park, basketball courts, a skate park, a beautiful courtyard and a dog park – what’s not to love? Big oak and maple trees tower over portions of the grassy hill providing perfect areas for a picnic on a hot summer day. In the springtime, the cherry blossoms make my heart sing. However, as my scooter gang rolled into the park, all I could envision was one of them catching a wheel on a stray rock, tumbling head over heels and the rest of them following like dominoes with Summer Slam smoothies going everywhere.
Honestly, it’s the same thought I have whenever they scoot downhill. Once again they stayed upright and careened into the playground at full speed. Swings, monkey bars, slide, fireman pole, slide, swings, fireman pole. Repeat. We come to this park week after week, and the kids have just as much fun (maybe more!) as the first time. It’s certainly a relief to me. There are days when I need to do something simple with them, and this is our go-to park. Even though coming here makes things easier for me, that doesn’t mean that they’re not having fun. Actually, they’re having a blast.
Don’t forget your five-minute warning
After an hour at the park and a dozen two-minute conversations with the other mommies, I gave the five minute warning. It’s time to go home for lunch and the glorious naptime (because, survival). I scooped the baby up into my arms and as he started to protest, I used one of the oldest tricks in the book: bribery. “You want some goldfish?” Obviously the answer is yes, so he settled into his stroller so nicely and patiently waited for his treat as I buckled him snugly. That was easy.
I’m constantly amazed at how different each of my boys are, and I was reminded that if this were child number three, the situation would have unfolded much differently. Spoiler: we would have had crazy kicking, ear piercing screams, sweating and frustration all around. Thank God we’re out of that phase…mostly. As we were exiting the park, we took a break from scooting to pick a few flowers (man, I love these boys) and make a pit stop for a bathroom emergency. This phase, I fear, will never end.
Back home for lunch
The baby fell asleep in the stroller before we arrived home. It’s not far from the park to our apartment, but he was just extra tired. (I knew skipping a few naps due to busy vacation schedules would eventually catch up to you, kid). I unlocked the doors for the big dudes and they hauled their scooters up the stairs while I, as carefully as possible, unbuckled the littlest and lifted his sweaty, chubby body up to mine. He barely budged as I carried him up the stairs and placed him into his crib. In that moment all I wanted to do is lie down with him and take a nap myself. I wanted to snuggle next to the toddler who, so it seems, was just an infant yesterday but duty called in the form of PB&Js. I don’t like to brag, but I’m an amazing PB&J maker.
“Mom can you not cut mine?”
“Can I have the superhero cup?”
“Mom, can you cut mine once”
“Mama can I have water?”
“Can I have the blue cup?”
“Mama, can you cut mine into triangles”
“You had the blue cup last time!!”
The battle rages on.
Do what you can to hold onto nap time
Within ten minutes, sandwiches are finished, and it’s time to put the 3-year-old to sleep. He’d rather drop his nap, but since I’m clinging onto it for dear life I decided that the best way to accomplish naptime is to lie down with him until he falls asleep.
I gave the big boys the usual instructions — play a game, no arguing, do a puzzle, read 5 books, don’t answer the door — and tried my best to get Squirmy McSquirmerson to fall asleep and avoid his kicks, rolls and chokeholds (or, “hugs” as he likes to call them). Eventually, I had to resort to bending my body in a way that only a contortionist would recognize, and then I slithered out of bed like a slug without making a sound. If you’ve done it, you know what I mean.
Vacation week means better post-nap afternoons
Post naptime is never awesome for us. Usually we have to rush right out the door to grab the big kids from school. My kids are much like me upon awakening — grouchy and sloth-like — which make for a unpleasant scenario. However, this day was different. There are no schedules during vacation week, so after playing some of the big kid’s games during naptime, the littles woke up.
We spent some time letting them acclimate to the idea of being awake instead of throwing them straight into the stroller upon opening their tired eyes. With a much more relaxed trajectory than usual, their moods lifted. We were able to get them dressed and out the door again without a glitch. It was glorious. It might have been close to 5 o’clock when we left, but it was glorious nonetheless.
Enjoy Grandma’s Pizzeria for dinner
This day lacked no good thing. There were smoothies, giggles, sunshine, scooters, naps and lastly, Brooklyn’s finest: Pizza from Grandma’s Pizzeria. As a family of six (five of whom are male), we can easily finish an entire large pizza and still have room for more, so we rarely walk to grab a mere slice. Instead, I assigned the task of ordering a large cheese pizza to the man of the house, who planned to meet us at the pier.
As we rolled on in, avoiding runners and fishermen, we rested for a second at an empty table. The cool breeze refreshed the sweaty, helmet-headed boys for a moment. But it wasn’t long before we saw a familiar silhouette in the distance, carrying our dinner of choice. I’m not sure if the little dudes were more excited about the pizza or their daddy. However, as they quickly devoured their meal, I’m convinced it’s probably a little bit of both.
City views from the pier
As we packed up our things and made our way home, I couldn’t help but notice the skyline in the distance. The Empire State Building, the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty appeared distinct and beautiful as magic hour approached. Every time we come here (and that’s multiple times a week) I’m taken aback by how remarkable the city is.
She can be disheveled, yet she’s beautiful. The city doesn’t discriminate; she houses people of every language and color. She’s fierce, yet welcoming, a concrete jungle and a botanical garden. She’ll keep you on a tight schedule, or let you lounge on a park bench. Jay-Z and Alicia are right: These streets will make you feel brand new. Big lights will inspire you. Springtime in Brooklyn is no exception to that.
Have you visited Brooklyn in the spring? What was your favorite part?
Rhianon Hoffman contributed this post. Rhianon is a mom of four young boys; Hudson (7), Wyatt (5), Amos (3), and Brooks (19 months). She loves to honestly share about the challenges of raising small children, funny observations, daily unfortunate mishaps, and creative ways to engage with your kids. She loves being as authentic and transparent as possible, and hopes to create an encouraging space in which readers can reflect and reimagine their identity as parents. Rhianon and her husband Seth live in Brooklyn, NY with their little dudes.