Author Archives: Stephanie Barnhart

About Stephanie Barnhart

Stephanie is a published author—featured in the New York Times, NY Metro Parents Magazine, PARENTGUIDE NEWS, as well as an #expertmom for MommyNearest.com, and contributing author to KidzCentralStation.com and Kidville.com’s Voices of the ‘Ville — author and speaker/consultant on motherhood and the importance of marketing and research in a business arena, specifically online. She also owns her own social media company, www.socialmindedmediagroup.com

5 Ways to Find the Perfect Music Classes for Toddlers

Maximo’s new favorite thing is to dance (well, can you call toddler bouncing dancing?) when his favorite songs come on the television. So, I thought it might be a fun idea to get him into some music classes – but where do you start? Thank goodness we book all our classes through KidzCentralStation.com, so we’re able to compare classes for his age, in his neighborhood, just for music right on the site!
But then you see a long list of all these different classes – which one is going to be best? Here are 5 tips on finding the perfect music class!
music classes for toddlers

5 Ways to Find the Perfect Music Classes for Toddlers

1. Free Demo Classes. Almost all music classes, or any class, will offer a free trial. Just like a car, you have to test drive it before you buy! You can book free classes through KidzCentralStation.comlike these free Rockin with Andy classes in downtown and Murray Hill. If you don’t see a free trial class, don’t be afraid to call and ask them – most classes will let you drop by for free!
2. Don’t be afraid to venture out. Just because you live in the Upper East Side doesn’t mean you have to stay in the UES! I actually live in Astoria, so we don’t let location skew our chance to find a great class! While you can find TLB Music classes right in your UES neighborhood, there are also awesomely fun classes by Lavender Blues in the Financial District. This way you expose your child to different types of music styles to find their favorite!
3. Avoid Stereotypes. Music class is not band class from your middle school days. Instead of sitting in a row of clarinet players, kids are exposed to tons of different musical instruments, usually multiple ones in one class. Then they dance and sing songs of different genres. One song maybe blues, the next one reggae, and they end with one by Lady Gaga. Music classes are sure to peak your child’s interest and get them excited about music!
music classes for toddlers
4. Options for Everyone. After you find a class that your child just HAS to attend every week, many places will offer semester and/or drop-in classes. That means, if you’d rather lock in a full couple months of classes you can. Or, if you don’t like commitment, and would rather just swing by when you’re “in the neighborhood,” you have the option to do that too! Eastside Westside Music Together,  and Music Together in the City  are great for semester classes, and for drop-ins, we love Music with James in Murray Hill (and the UES!)
5. Get into the Groove. As a parent, we’ve all caught ourselves dancing and clapping like fools to make our babies smile. Don’t be deterred just because you’re in public – the classes are meant for parents AND children. Many teachers will help you feel comfortable and include you in the class. Remember, when your child sees you having fun, they have fun too! A couple more “fun” classes I like to participate in are Kindermusik classes, andCreative Play for Kids.
So now that you feel ready to get out and test out the musical world for toddlers in NYC, head over to KidzCentralStation.com to book a class, and then let us know how you (and your child) liked it!

 

 

5 Reasons to Try a Soccer Class for Toddlers

Maximo just turned 18 months, in the middle of this polar vortex they’re talking about. Great. I have a very curious toddler and it’s -18 outside? In NYC??? We of course checked out our favorite kids’ class site – KidzCentralStation.com to see what we could find to cure this case of cabin fever. There are tons of options, especially for his age group, which has seemed to be a off-age for us. (Hard to find classes, clothes, and….) So we decided to try the Soc Roc Soccer Semester for the winter. It starts at 18 months, so even though Maximo would be one of the youngest, it sounded like a great “boy” activity to kick off the year!

5 Reasons to Try a Soccer Class for Toddlers:

soccer class for toddlers

1. Social Skills. 

Seriously, is there anything cuter than a room full of little boys all running around demolishing balls and cones together, and encouraged to do so? Maximo was in HEAVEN chasing around the other boys and coaches.

2. Exercise for Mom.

Don’t think you’re gonna just sit back and relax in a sports class – being a mom is a hands-on job! You’ll find yourself running up and down the “field” alongside your little mini me, and burning off unexpected calories for the upcoming bikini season!

3. Following the Rules.

Maximo is 18 months remember, so he’s best skills right now are NOT following the rules and listening to instructions. The best thing about this class is that it teaches the kids to do so. From “sitting on home base,” to learning to tap your feet and clap your hands, to using hand-eye coordination to kick and set up props, you’re getting more out of a soccer class than just exercise!

4. Real Soccer Skills.

soccer class for toddlers

If you sign up for a real class through KidzCentralStation.com, you are sure to find quality classes. This means real soccer players and coaches teaching your babies the basics. I just LOVED how involved the coaches were with the kids. They also made sure to find one-on-one time for each boy with lots of encouragement and high fives. Seriously, so cute. Maximo didn’t take long to warm to to this great interaction.

5. Learn Something New.

This class isn’t all about kicking balls – like mentioned above they actually teach coordination skills, and there were a lot of new things Maximo got to try out – and was really good at! If anything is good at entertaining a toddler, it’s new experiences.

Soc Roc offers a trial class before jumping right into the full semester, so maybe we’ll see you at class next weeK?

Click here to view the Soc Roc Soccer Class Semester

Click here to view more soccer classes on KidzCentralStation.com

5 Reasons Why You Should Try Art Classes for Kids

I recently attempted my first art class – ever. As in, I even cringed going to art class in middle school. But, I actually had an AMAZING time, and created some really cool art work for my son’s bedroom in the process.

It made me think – just because I myself am not a big painter, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t let my son try it and explore – he might really enjoy it!

5 Reasons Why You Should Try Art Classes for Kids

art classes for kids

1. Step Outside the Box. I realized it is always important to step outside your comfort level and try something new. You never know – you might really enjoy it! And in NYC, you can ALWAYS bring a friend along with you so you don’t have to feel alone. So imagine how fun it is for your kids to be running around with all the other kiddies with this weird stuff they call paint all over their hands!

2. It’s Relaxing. I learned that art is great for you to relax.  So it’s great for kids as well – to release stress, anxiety, whatever it may be, and just let go and paint. The next thing you know, you’re focused, chill, and hours have passed! Very therapeutic!

3. It’s Creative! This is a given – but if you’re like me, you don’t think you have a creative bone in your body to save a life. However, if you get the right teacher and class, you will see that EVERYONE can be creative, and you’ll probably learn something about yourself. How amazing is this for our kids? To let them be kids, and paint and create to find themselves. You might be surprised what your child is capable of!

4. Art Can Help Enhance Skills. Art opens up your self-expression, letting you explore things you didn’t know about yourself. This is great for little children who are learning and absorbing everything. It helps polish their social skills, helps them learn to be independent, as well as use creative AND critical thinking.

5. Because it’s Fun! Let the kids be kids! What is more fun that splashing paint, glitter and everything messy you can imagine onto a masterpiece. I know my son can’t do all that in our apartment, so it’s a chance for him to really get dirty and love it! I have also heard that studies say art helps students do better in school overall. And I believe it – why wouldn’t a child who is allowed to be creative and express himself be more interested in learning as well?

art classes for kids

I actually took my classes at The Art Studio NY, and they offer children’s classes as well! (You can read about my full experience here). Here are some other great art class providers you can find on KidzCentralStation.com:

– Let’s Gogh Art NYC

–  the JCC in Manhattan

– Gymboree Art Classes

– The Art Farm in the City

Winter Activities for Toddlers – 5 Reasons to Brave the Cold For Some Kids’ Classes

I get it –it’s cold. It’s REALLY cold when the wind catches you just right turning the corner around a big building. You don’t want to leave your house. But eventually you are going to have to step outside. (Okay maybe YOU CAN stay in all winter by ordering groceries and online shopping – but how is your baby/toddler handling it? As a mom myself of a VERY explorative toddler, I know I need to get him out of the house, even for a short walk, at least once a day. So if it’s too cold to play in the park – why not try one of the hundreds of classes offered right here in your backyard? Take advantage of NYC this winter with all the opportunities hiding away from the cold inside.

winter activities for toddlers

Winter Activities for Toddlers: Here are 5 Reasons You should Brave the Cold to Attempt a Kids Class This Winter:

  1. Socializing. Not only is it good for your toddler/baby to start learning how to interacting with other kids – it’s good for YOU to interact and socialize with adults. You can’t just talk on Facebook and baby talk all day. Your brain will mush. And other moms at class won’t mind talking about ‘mom stuff.’ You might even make a new friend or two.
  2. Exercise – Remember how you used to take phys-ed classes everyday at school? It’s healthy for kids to get out and be active – not just for physical health but for mental health as well. Bonus – letting them burn all that energy means they’ll knock out faster for bed. Plus, think of those extra calories you’ll burn on the walk there!
  3. The Enrichment – Sometimes it’s just better to learn in groups and let someone else teach. Yes you do a good job at home, and those Little Pim videos are awesome – but it’s good to switch it up and have an interactive activity from time to time.  Plus, you can sit back and relax a little on this one.

winter activities for toddlers

  1. Cabin fever – it’s easy to let it creep up on you during the winter – especially if you are a stay-at-home-parent or work-at-home-parent. But just like us, kids will get stir crazy if cooped up in a tiny little apartment watching cartoons day after day.  Do both of you a favor and take a tiny walk to a class to get some fresh air, sunshine and socialization! Winter blues is a real symptom!
  2. Learn Something New. Toddlers are in an explorative phase – so why not use classes to your advantage and let them find something new that they love? Maybe they love music, but haven’t done a lot of art. Or, maybe they love open play and running around but have never tried to bake a cake? And don’t underestimate the chance to learn something new yourself. Maybe you’ve never baked a cake in your tiny NYC kitchen either!

Using KidzCentralStation.com you can find all kinds of different classes – by age, by type of class, even by neighborhood. So you don’t HAVE to trek it all the way to 57th Street in the snow if you live in Tribeca! Most places also offer a free trial class, so you can try before you buy. We all know how picky toddlers can be – so this takes the stress out of commitment until you know they LOVE it! Plus, there are even reviews on site to see how other moms/toddlers liked the class as well!

What are you waiting for? Book a class today!

Introducing Our New Head Of The Class Mom Series!

Each week we will be featuring a local NYC mom who  deserves to be in the spotlight – is it you? Someone you know?

hotcmom

Every mom deserves an A+ for all the effort and love she gives her family on a daily basis. kidzcentralstation.com wants to highlight  amazing and inspirational moms, who are passionate about what they do on both a personal and professional level, have insights on  work/family balance and are great role models for our children.

We have met so many moms that are following their passions, have taken risks,  and have built both a family and a career that they find exciting and rewarding and we want to share their stories.

swimming classes

Email us at info@kidzcentralstation.com to apply today!

 

Birthday Places for Kids – NY Birthday Show Top Picks

Ahhh birthdays. Once you hit 30 or become a mom they just don’t matter anymore – I sometimes have to remember my age when people ask – I just started saying – early thirties 😉

But now birthdays have taken on a mutant form for kids – long gone are the days of cute little family get-togethers at home. They have morphed into enormous events that fall right below planning your wedding.

So much so that I even wrote an e-book to help you get started and try not to spend more than a four-year college fund. (you can download it here).

birthday places for kids

So when Queens Mamas threw a Birthday Show – I knew I had to swing by and see just what options were out there. Yes, a lot are extremely expensive, but here in NYC – you expect to be paying top dollar for quality, custom items. Don’t we do that everyday?

Here were my favorite Birthday Places for Kids (on my radar for next year’s birthday):

birthday places for kids

Big Apple Circus
(running through January 12th if you have a birthday coming up!) – if you’re a last minute planner and you have the holidays AND a birthday coming up – save yourself the hassle and just book the circus – even adults will love this venue!

Young Chefs Academy
This is actually out by me in Queens but their birthday classes look AWESOME – they were also ranked as Parents Magazine top 10 birthday chains! Think get messy, get healthy, educational and delicious all at the same time and you have a happy group of little kids! This is for older kids – at least 4-5 years and up, but I already have it booked in memory for Maximo in a few years and I can’t wait.

Coney Island Luna Park 
I think it’s written in your genes as a New Yorker to just love Coney Island. After Hurricane Sandy, they really revamped and opened back up this summer bigger and more fun than ever. Luna Park is great for any age as they have little kiddie rides and big kiddie rides. You also get the boardwalk, beach, and Nathan’s. Sounds like an awesome summer birthday party location to me!

Winter Village at Bryant Park
Again this one is only due to the holiday season – but they BOOK birthday parties – and if my birthday was in December as a kid, well I’m just saying – a skate party on the ice in the city is pretty hard to top. Plus, they had fake snow falling at their table…now I am excited for winter! You can get more information on booking parties on their website.

birthday places for kids

Gymboree (Lexington Ave location) ok this one wasn’t at the show but Maximo LOVES this indoor playground. I am including it because it’s indoor – if it’s raining, it’s too hot in July or your birthday is in January – maybe you want to book something indoors for the little ones. Plus, they have multiple locations around the city so you can be sure to find one close to your neighborhood.

Crumbs
Who DOESN’t love crumbs??? And now they have Colossal cakes – but I think a more appropriate name for them this time of year is monster-size cupcakes (aka cakes that look like monstrous cupcakes). They have pretty much every flavor combo you could dream up, and bring enough for the grown-ups. I will probably steal Maximo’s piece if it’s Crumbs. #sorrynotsorry

Carlos Bakery
Did you know Buddy now has a Manhattan bakery location? (located by the 42nd street Terminal) And they also deliver – so if you decide to get a cake that looks like this, you won’t have to tote it in a cab.

birthday places for kids

The Nature Company
This one might be more for the boys, or if you’re a tomboy mom like me, maybe you want to get your kids hands dirty with things they don’t see everyday in the city – like snakes. Okay, well, the ones that MIGHT flush up your toilet DON’T count!

birthday places for kids

Maximo loves animals and getting to pet and learn about different types is always a win in my book! I mean, we DID book his first birthday at the zoo! The Nature Company will come to any venue (including your living room) for your party – so why not! Who doesn’t want snakes and lizards in your home! Just don’t tell your neighbors!

Swimming Classes for Babies

swimming classes

Growing up in the country, we learned how to swim by jumping in our pond. You couldn’t see anything in the muddy waters – you just jumped and hoped you missed a frog and a rock. Once your feet hit the slimy, gushy ground, you were up, out and repeat. Even though the East

River presents the same look – dark, dirty and you want to jump and not land on anything – especially nothing dead or contaminated, I would rather Maximo’s first swimming classes experience not be so – well, adventurous.

So where do you go when you want to find the best (and cleanest) swim class in NYC? Kidz Central Station of course! And the popular vote went to Physique Swimming – with a huge rate of moms booking consistent classes. That must mean they like them!

This is NYC –  every mom knows some things CAN be questionable. So I took one more blind leap and booked Maximo’s first swim class.

Swimming Classes for Babies by Physique Swimming at the Mercedes Club

(original post and review found on MommyNearest.com – read the original post here).

swimming classes

First impression upon walking in
Very clean and fancy, but didn’t come off as very kid-friendly. It was an upscale, luxury sports club and I didn’t exactly see any other strollers lurking around. But the staff was extremely friendly and walked me into the locker room to show me where everything was and how to get to the pool. Strollers are big and bulky, and I got a couple ‘too bad you have a kid’ smirks from the young, rich clientele walking in with makeup, who could more likely use a cheeseburger instead of a treadmill. But I am never one to be intimidated, so I dressed Maximo into his suit via the stroller , rolled him right out to the pool area, and parked my City Mini. I always hate the feeling of not having to push myself and the stroller into areas where I’m not sure if it’s allowed. But I figure when it’s just me, and I have all this stuff and a squirmy toddler, it’s do first, ask later.

We walked over to the edge of the pool where I see one other mom and a little girl floating in the water already. I ask if they’re in the class and they’re excited there is another mom to join them! Well, at least we’ll get a lot of one-on-one attention!

The Class
The swimming teacher was super nice. She totally took into consideration that it was Maximo’s first time in the water and went slow to introduce him to floating and kicking. Luckily for me, Maximo loved it. It took him a few minutes to understand what all this water was – but once herealized I wouldn’t leave his side and he could float and kick happily – he was smitten.

We started with the basics – floating on his stomach and trying to kick. After that, floating on his back (definitely didn’t like this as much) and looking up and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Then we had a little floaty fish we would throw and ‘swim’ to get.

Then we played Maximo’s favorite – Humpty Dumpty. You sit them on the side of the pool, and lean them towards you. Count to three and have them jump into the water with you. Then – Maximo did something I didn’t expect his first time – he went underwater! (If you blow in their face right before they dunk, they automatically hold their breath.) He popped up and looked around – a little surprised, but overly excited to do it again!

swimming classes

Overall Experience:
I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a fluke experience. Our buildings pool is finally open for the summer, so I took him him down yesterday right before it closed to let him try out some of his newly learned skills. And he took to them just like a fish! In fact, he didn’t even want to get out this time. Ahh, to be a kid again! Talking to my other mom friends, the consensus is that all their kids loved the classes too – and they have started their babies as early as 6 months! Moms also let me know that they played the same games as we did – so it’s going to come down to WHO is teaching your class, not WHAT they are teaching. So make sure you and your baby like working with the instructor!

I highly recommend Physique Swimming classes for babies because they are totally professional and I felt safe with Maximo in the water.  They were really nice and patient – I never felt rushed or stressed. And they hold their classes in reputable, clean pools in the city – aka – no new germ friends to tag along home.

Author: Stephanie Barnhart
Stephanie Barnhart

Stephanie is a published author—featured in the New York Times, NY Metro Parents Magazine, PARENTGUIDE NEWS, as well as an #expertmom for MommyNearest.com, and contributing author to KidzCentralStation.com and Kidville.com’s Voices of the ‘Ville — author and speaker/consultant on motherhood and the importance of marketing and research in a business arena, specifically online. She also owns her own social media company, www.socialmindedmediagroup.com

5 Smart Tech Tips for Moms

The internet is changing faster than you can change a diaper these days. And with all the other priorities of being a mom – who has time to keep up? Well, you can with these tech tips for moms!

I am here to provide you with some simple tech tips for moms, to use your phone and social media to look like a pro all the other moms on the playground can look up to. You’ll look so smart and tech-savvy!

tech tips for moms

 Tech Tips for Moms:

  1. Find Other Moms. There are TONS of other moms online – but the problem is – how do you find them?
    1. Meetup.com –  Great for finding other mom groups and events in your area. Search by keywords like your neighborhood ex ‘astoria moms’
    2. Google and Facebook Groups – A growing hot spot for moms to pow wow. Again, look for key words to find local groups in your area. Sometimes you can even go broader, like “nyc mom groups” – just to stay in the know – remember word on the street is usually true – especially when MOMS are saying it!
    3. Twitter – A great way to find and personally reach out to other online-savvy moms and dads. Search for hashtags that are local like #astoriamoms to see what pops up. Twitter will also then make recommendations for you based on your search! I love Twitter because it is real time, so if anything exciting or news-breaking is happening in your area, you’ll know about it first here.
  2. Save Yourself Time. Time is gold in mom world, so use specialty websites and apps that make your life easier as a mom
    Kidz Central Station – a one-stop shop to find any and all classes and camps for your kids – you can filter by location, date/time, date, age, price and type of activity – etc! Why scour the web when they’ve done it for you? It’s free to sign up and they even offer trial classes at most locations, so you can go and see if your little one likes it before you purchase a full set! You can also sync your child’s class schedule to your personal calendar!

tech tips for moms

Mommy Nearest. The coolest app in NYC – and it’s FREE!! It’s location based, so you can whip out your phone anywhere in the city to find things like the closest changing tables, stroller-friendly restaurants, and hidden parks and playgrounds. Imagine how cool you’ll look to other moms when you know where all the hot spots are—with one simple click.

Mama411 – A great newsletter/email service that will email you ALL the cool up and coming events going on for the week  – so you don’t have to scour the internet to find them yourself! You can also log into their website to see all events at once as well. Wondering what carnivals are happening this week? Need something to do this weekend? They’ve already mapped it all out for you – all you have to do is show up!

3. Be Smart. If you are going to be on social media, make sure you are aware of the dangers. Turn off your location services if you are tweeting you’re away from home, at your child’s school, or even playground. You never know who can be lurking online from behind computer screens.

~ Don’t broadcast that you’re going on vacation to break-in artists. Make sure all your settings are private so only your friends can see your personal information, like addresses and phone numbers. Have you check your Facebook settings lately?

tech tips for moms

4. Best New Social Media Award goes to – VINE APP. Vine is a video sharing app – sort of like Instagram, only with 6-second videos. It’s super cool because you can press the screen and many times as you want to record different time increments in that 6 seconds (aka – it doesn’t have to be one solid video stream as if you were using your video camera on your smart phone). So it makes amazing little pieces of history. Highly recommended to document all those little moments of your baby growing up.

tech tips for moms

 

Written By: Stephanie Barnhart, Founder of Football, Food and Motherhood, a comical blog navigating the trials and errors  of pregnancy into motherhood  in the big city. She is also the Founder/Social Media Consultant at Socialminded Media Group, as well as an #expertmom for MommyNearest.com.  

 tech tips for moms

Follow Stephanie on Twitter @citymomsecrets and like her on Facebook here. You can also email her for questions on social media at Stephanie[at]footballfoodandmotherhood.com.