Back to School Blues

New York City schools start next week. Like many kids, my children have mixed feelings about that. Two are excited to get back to their old schools, see friends and start the routine – school, hockey, soccer, etc. The eldest starts a new school and is anxious about making new friends, what the commute will be like and the work load.  So, to lessen the stress of the transition, we are filling the next few days with fun activities and “honey dos.”

  • Beach trip – Jones or Lake Welsh
  • Hair cuts. OK, not so much “fun” but necessary.
  • Bedroom refresh, which comes along with a trip to IKEA; that’s always a hit!
  • Prepping, eating and enjoying the season’s fresh veggies and fruit. That sounds odd but each child has their favs so I’m encouraging them to eat as much as possible when we’re “in season.”


  • Cleaning the car. We have a summer of sand and dust inside and out. Yeck.
  • Shoe shopping – camp did in their sneaker!

What do you do with your children to ease the transition back to school?

NYC Area Beaches

Most people wouldn’t think of New York City as a beach city, but sitting right on the Atlantic with natural environments nearer than most would think, it does have some awesome beaches with easy access by subway or bus. Water quality conditions are analyzed on a regular basis and reported online so you can pick and choose what’s a good fit for you on any given day.

Jones Beach is a family favorite. Yesterday we took the cousins and stayed the day. We bring boogie boards, rashguard shirts, sunscreen, an umbrella, lunch and enjoy the sand and waves for as long as we can.

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Cooling off in New York City

Cooling off in New York City

Look out New York City – the temperatures are climbing!  We’re looking at 90°+ degree weather this week and you’re gonna want to keep cool.
Here are some of your options…
Head to NYC Parks summer outdoor pools. There are over 50 free public pools across the boroughs, so there is bound to be one in your neighborhood. The majority of the pools are 3-4 ft deep so even if you can’t swim you can stand and stay cool.  Outdoor pool hours are from 11:00 a.m. through 7:00 p.m., with a break for pool cleaning between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. This page on nycgovparks gives you full the run-down on what you need to know about going to a public pool from what to wear, what to bring and what not to bring.

Jones Beach is a family favorite with miles of sandy beaches.  Even if you don’t have a car you can get to the beach through the LIRR and a shuttle

Jacob Riis Park Beach
in The Rockaways is about a 30 minute subway ride from Manhattan and is kept relatively clean, thanks to the National Park Service. Did you know its NYC surfer’s beach?

Great Kills Park in Staten Island is a little less well known so the beaches are less crowded and more private. The MTA will get you there, via the Staten Island Ferry.
When the heat index is predicted to be dangerously high, New York City opens cooling centers in air-conditioned public community centers, senior centers, and public libraries to offer people relief from the heat.  Individuals who have no ready access to a cool environment, and particularly those at risk for heat-related illness, should use the cooling centers during a heat wave. You can call 311 for the location near you or click here.

Post Hurricane Irene Beach Blues

This past week, in the wake of Hurricane Irene, has been a bit frustrating.
No, we didn’t sustain any damage, but the beaches we frequent did.  State parks have struggled to get power and water back on, clean up park roadways of fallen tree limbs and mud.  Its hard to complain about the beaches being closed when so many people have been hit badly from Irene, but it was the last week of summer – the last week to hang by the water, soak up the sun and have some fun.  It was frustrating not being able to enjoy the great NYC area beaches.

Thankfully, Jones Beach opened yesterday and we spent a full day enjoying the surf. Jones Beach usually has a strong set of waves that break on the shore but it seemed even stronger this visit.  It was a perfect day – 80F – with beautiful sunshine, and those waves made for great boogie boarding.

The local press came out to cover the re-opening of the beach, just in time for the long weekend. Our child was on camera talking about the benefits of the results of shifting sands left behind from Hurricane Irene – a little lagoon on beach area 4, just perfect for younger children to paddle about it.


More good news. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced last night that another family beach favorite – Lake Welch Beach in Harriman Park – will be open for the long weekend. Weather holding, that’ll be Sunday or Monday’s family trip.