The mama: Ana Laura Gelman, mom to Sebastian, 5, and Camila, 2, is a Queen Villager by way of Brooklyn. (And before that? She went to college in Boston, and before that, she grew up in the Kennett Square/Chadds Ford area … and before that, she was living in Buenos Aires, where she was born. Her family immigrated to the U.S. when she was four!) Still, after a decade here, she considers herself a “happy Philadelphian.” Ana, who’s a psychotherapist, works with the lovely Perri Shaw Borish at Perri’s practice, where they focus on mental health issues in general, but specialize in maternal mental health, including perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, perinatal grief and loss, transition to parenthood, and infertility. “It is an exciting time to work in maternal mental health because there’s been a lot of visibility and normalizing of the great challenges facing new parents,” Ana says. “There is still a lot of work to do in terms of de-stigmatizing, connecting people to resources, and educating professionals, but this field is full of hope, resilience, and inspiration.”
Favorite kids’ classes: The programming at the Charles Santore Library is wonderful. Our son loves the chess club, and both of our kids have loved story time with Ms. Lindsay. Sometimes the best things in life are free!
Parents’ class: Anything at Mama’s Wellness Joint.
Date night: We love going to weddings! Other than that … Dimitri’s in Queen Village has always been our go-to. My faves are the grilled octopus, branzino, and baba.
Hidden gem: I don’t know how hidden this is, but Cheu Noodle Bar’s brisket ramen (it has matzo ball, kimchi, and a nice kick) has forever changed my life.
Rainy day go-to: South Bowl for happy hour is awesome. Kid-friendly and adult-friendly food. It’s also great to meet up with other friends with kids there. My husband works very hard to hide his embarrassment of my horrendous bowling skills.
Holiday tradition: Sang Kee Peking Duck House on Christmas
Outing or event you avoid: We plan on waiting until our kids are a little older for Eagles games.
Outing or event you love: Phillies and Flyers games. The Pitruco pizza truck on Thursdays at Palumbo Park is a warm-weather and fall favorite. Also, we’ve always loved the Headhouse farmer’s market.
Favorite spot to exercise: Philadelphia Sports Club, Society Hill. They have babysitting and an outdoor pool, and the pricing is very reasonable.
Favorite app for parents, or favorite app for kids: Calm. Meditation is the most important self-care piece of my life. I use the app with my family.
Favorite spa treatment (or some treat): I love Sanctuary on 2nd. They’re well- priced, talented, and do a heck of a prenatal massage.
Family-friendly restaurant: Pizzeria Stella.
Favorite cultural activity or event in Philly or ‘burbs: We’re big Franklin Institute fans. My son’s school also attends Sound All Around (Philadelphia Orchestra). I got a chance to chaperone once and loved it. The kids’ programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art are also remarkable.
Favorite children’s book right now: I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love, by Nancy Tillman. Also, the Marvel 5-minute stories have really grown on me.
Favorite outdoorsy thing to do with kids: Longwood Gardens & Wissahickon hikes.
Trick for getting everyone out the door in the morning: Oy, this one is tough. I’d say sticking to a routine and not changing things up. Also, when I don’t hit snooze and get up before my kids, things go much more smoothly.
Best piece of advice you’ve gotten about parenting: I get a whole lot of parenting advice because my mom is a family therapist who specializes in parenting … but maybe my favorite piece of her advice is to shower them with love and affection, listen to them, be in the moment with them, and also set limits and be consistent with boundaries.
Any mom’s groups you love? I’d say the informal group of amazing mamas I know in my neighborhood. I treasure these women because we’ve got each other’s backs on so many levels and in so many ways … and we also have a great time when we go out.
Favorite parent hack: This is for first time parents- when you have a new baby and someone calls and asks if you need anything— always say yes. Yes, hold the baby while I nap. Yes, we could use some more groceries. Yes, you can do a load of laundry for me. And yes, you have to wash your hands before you hold the baby. The people who love you are happy to help, so let them!
Favorite toy or kid entertainment in your house right now: We are all pretty Lego-obsessed in Casa Gelman. I think all of the years of putting IKEA furniture together in my 20s was just training me for this.
Toy or book you’d like to lose forever: Anything where you can hear Elmo’s voice. Sorry, Elmo.
Hardest part of raising kids here: The weather.
Best part of raising kids here: The sense of community in Queen Village is amazing.