By: April Hetzel
A little over two years ago, my husband and I began the process of moving from our suburbia home in Raleigh, NC to a high rise apartment in New York City. Did I mention we had three small kids (6,4,1) and I was pregnant with #4. We work with a ministry organization called Cru and we believed God was leading us to make a difference in a place that influences our country, culture, and world. I often get asked about what it is like to navigate NYC with 4 kids and no car…here are my tips for traveling through NYC with 4 kids.
Always carry an emergency kit – In suburbia, I usually carried a diaper bag, but now I call it an emergency kit (snacks, entertainment, band-aids) because you never know when that subway will get stuck or your child will get her foot caught on an escalator – true story! You can’t swing by a store when you’re stuck underground. Don’t leave home without it.
Prepare to potty – Kids have to take a potty break and you have to walk forever to find said potty (very few stores or restaurants have bathrooms that the public can use). Make sure to take kids potty before you leave. We carry a portable potty around the city with us until they can hold it for long periods of time.
Lower your expectations – Everything takes 5x as long with kids in the city. Inevitably there is a long line somewhere or a train doesn’t show when it should. I once went to drop a sample by the lab and send a fax at an office store. It seemed simple, right?….4 hours later, I arrived home with all 4 kids (my sanity got left along the way).
Know where you are going – with no car, you can’t get off on the wrong subway stop one mile away from your destination because kids can’t walk that far. I actually check for elevators ahead of time at subway stops so I’m not left carrying a massive double stroller up the stairs by myself.
Teach your kids the dos and don’t before you go. Single file line down subway stairs so others can get by. Stay behind yellow line that runs next to train tracks. Don’t complain if you don’t get a seat. Hang on to the pole. Keep your voices down because this is people’s commute to or from work – they like quiet and some are sleeping. Don’t take up the whole sidewalk because someone will want to pass us. Don’t stare at homeless people or people talking to themselves. Our kids have to be strapped into strollers until they learn our commands. Helping them learn these things goes a long way!
If you would like to follow more of April’s journey, go to http://www.edandapril.com.