Saturday, 7 July 2012

Living in the Big Apple

Meet Tessa Egan.  She's a mother of two living in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan.  Yes, you read that right.  1 bedroom, 4 people, living in the heart of New York City!  What an adventure!  I love reading her blog because I'm always amazed by the ways she makes home life happy and functional.  I remember when she first moved to NY.  They had to replace their only car with a nice double stroller and get rid of most of their possessions just to fit in their new apartment.  She now takes the subway to get to and from the grocery store (and everywhere else for that matter.)  Her pace of life is just so different from mine.  And yet, amongst all the hustle and bustle of a big city, she manages to see the beautiful and uplifting details in life.  I'm just so impressed with her.

Out of necessity, she has found lots of tricks to streamline family living.   Here is what she has to say:

The snack bag (I use an insulated lunch bag): Very important in NYC. I pack it every morning with a variety of snacks, and usually some PB&Js if we're not going to be home in time for lunch. I just toss it in the stroller basket and keep it there. We're always on the go, so it really helps to be able to just pull stuff out when the kids are hungry. And when we spend the morning at the park and the kids have already eaten their PB&Js as well, that means, I get to put them straight down for their afternoon nap when we get home. Also, I always keep a last resort treat snack in the stroller (for when the kids break down on the subway), maybe not the best parenting idea, but by that point, I'm just trying to survive.

Packing a stroller: I have to make sure I have everything ready to go in the stroller so I am prepared for whatever comes our way on our little adventures. In the summertime I keep a gallon-size Ziploc with swim shorts for the boys, sunscreen, and mini towel for the park, and usually sand shovels and stuff. In the wintertime, I pack extra gloves, scarves, hats, and usually the stroller gets filled up as we shed layers throughout the day. I always have a water bottle, my wallet, sunscreen, lotion, hand sanitizer on a key ring, the snack bag, a diaper clutch with fresh diaper and wipes, and band aids. I bought a stroller handle organizer so I don't have to carry a purse around with me and so I can grab what I need quickly.

Keeping kids entertained in a tiny apartment: Still trying to figure this one out. What has worked so far: I have a drawer of art supplies that Joseph and Dan love to go to and experiment with. I keep it at kid-level so they can access it when they feel like it (therefore I do not include markers, adult scissors, finger paints, or anything that would need more adult supervision). Joseph loves Crayola crayons, watercolors, paint with water books, playdough, gluesticks and child scissors. And Dan will usually do what Joseph does, but not for as long. During Dan's morning nap, Joseph gets some computer time if he's been good. He gets to play preschool games on PBSkids or Disney online.  

Keeping clutter at bay/saving money: De-cluttering seriously feels great and relieves a lot of stress for me, even though it does take a little time. But it's well worth it. It feels so good to have a few less things in your space that weren't very useful anyway. When we were moving, my rule was to get rid of everything we hadn't used in the last few months (some exceptions of course like sewing machines, personal treasures, files, etc). And honestly, I can't remember what most of those things were. Now we live in such a tiny space that my trick before I buy something is to think in my head of exactly where I'm going to put it. If I can't think of a place and it's not worth making a place for, I don't buy it.
And if I buy an item of clothing for me, I usually switch out something I don't wear any more and give it away. I periodically go through my closet and grade my clothes. The A's get to stay. The B's, I can think about keeping. The C's and D's and F's (as far as how much I like them, or how l look in them) definitely have to go. Then it's not as hard to get dressed in the morning because there aren't too many clothes to go through and when you put something on it will usually look great.  I once heard a rule to follow when shopping (I don't remember where I heard it), but now I use it a lot: If you don't NEED it AND you don't LOVE it...definitely don't buy it. If I'm buying something I don't need, I try to only get it if I can give it a grade of 100%. Or else I'll just end up getting rid of it later:)

Other decluttering tricks:
When I'm sick of a toy, I get rid of it. Sometimes I notice that for the last few weeks I've been stubbing my toe on the same old thing that gets played with for 3 minutes, so out it goes. Sure, there are a few toys that I wish maybe I'd have kept, but usually I don't notice, and then we're left with toys that we really like.
I do make room for children's books.
I limit sheet sets, towels, cleaning supplies, tablecloths, dishes, etc to what we actually USE, because we just don't have room for more. BUT, I do wish I could have room for more:)

Little tricks that I don't really realize I do:

Put my exercise clothes and shoes right by my bed at night so it's that much easier to get dressed and run out the door for exercise in the morning. 

Buy Joseph shoes that he knows how to put on himself. Makes getting out the door so much easier. 

When I'm at the end of my rope: Turn on some fun music or go in another room and close the door for a few minutes while the kids are watching a show. Or if Brandon's home, have him take the kids outside while I clean/cook/eat chocolate all by myself.

When both kids are crying, just get out the door even if they're crying the whole way. Everyone's happier once we get out.

FHE lessons: The Gospel Art Kit is great when we don't have a plan. We let each kid pick a picture and we tell the scripture story.

Pre-mix waffle batter night before for easy breakfast and to add waffles to the snack bag.

Roll cookie dough into balls and put on cookie sheet. Freeze 'til the dough is hard enough and put all of the cookie dough balls in a freezer bag. Pull out how many you need and bake as needed. Easy for last minute dessert/visiting teaching/last minute company coming over.

Keep diaper wipes in the kitchen and bathroom for quick clean-ups.

Wash toilet, mirror, sink in bathroom while the kids are in the tub. Might as well do something useful while I'm keeping an eye on them.

When I have a new baby I like clear shower curtain liners so I can put the baby in the bathroom and still see what's going on while I'm showering.

My favorite mom-rejuvenation trick: When the kids go to bed, it's my time to watch a show, eat a big bowl of fruit, and a piece of dessert. I'm happy to have Brandon join me.

(a note from Emily) Alone time:  her husband takes the kids every Saturday so she can have some time to herself to explore the city or get things done.  Brilliant and necessary!**

1 comment:

  1. Love it Emily! And thank you for all of the nice things you had to say:)