The mom: You can consider Philly native and Fairmount resident Sarah Schwartz something of a baby-wrangling expert … and not just because she has three little ones of her own (Ella is 4, Dylan is 2, and Charley is 6 months). Sarah is a trained parent educator who teaches Our Baby classes to both expecting and new parents on topics that range from infant sleep to tips and tricks for the early days to making the transition back to work after giving birth. “I love helping parents connect with each other to offer support and advice, and helping them to feel confident in their new role,” she says — and is doing exactly that in a whole bunch of classes that are both currently running and also upcoming at Ali’s Wagon. You can check ’em all out here.
Where does your little one attend daycare/preschool/school? Ella attends the Schuylkill Center Nature Preschool, and we absolutely love it there! It’s a bit of a drive for us (carpooling helps), but it’s so worth it! It is a play-based school that focuses on nature and being outdoors. They go exploring on their vast grounds every single day – no matter the weather. Ella loves it, and it such a nice compliment to the city living lifestyle that she’s grown accustomed to. We can’t wait to send Dylan next year!
Kids’ class: We love the drop-in classes at the Fairmount Art Center. They have a fun weekly theme with an art project and story time. We also love to rock out at The Lara and Joe Show – a drop-in music class.
Parents’ class: Besides the ones I teach ;), I really loved the drop-in classes when I was a new mom: the new moms’ group and breastfeeding group at Ali’s Wagon, and the breastfeeding group at Pennsy and the one at Center City Pediatrics. There are so many more of these groups now, in all the different neighborhoods of the city. I think one of the best things parents can do is find groups/classes/anything where they can meet and socialize with other parents. Becoming a parent is crazy awesome, but also crazy hard and can be lonely. Finding your mom squad is essential!
Special Find In/Near the City: The Wissahickon! We love to go for hikes, and an added bonus is that you can bring bread to feed the ducks.
Rainy day go-to: The Academy of Natural Sciences. I love that it’s a small, low-key museum for us to explore. The kids can run down the open (and often empty) halls or spend lots of time playing and exploring upstairs in the kid’s room.
Favorite app for parents: I really like the Wonder Weeks app. It tells you all about the developmental leaps that your baby goes through. When Charley is acting even crazier than usual, I often use that app to discover that it’s because she’s going through major developmental milestone. It helps me get through those tougher times knowing it’s because her brain is working overtime!
Favorite spa treatment: I recently discovered Kym Berrien of Berri Healthy. She works out of Bryn Mawr and Media, but she was WELL worth the drive. I am not exaggerating when I say it was one of the best massages of my life. I went for a much-needed deep tissue massage and I left feeling like a new lady. She is amazing. She does prenatal massage too, and I wish I had known about her when I was pregnant.
Kid-friendly restaurant: Sabrina’s is definitely a favorite for our family.
Must-have gear: All my baby carriers! Especially now that I have multiple kids, wearing them has been so helpful. I especially love the Moby when the baby is tiny, and the Ergo and Ring Sling when I’m out and about or doing things around house.
Place for baby/children’s gifts: I love Ali’s Wagon right in my neighborhood. They have lots of quality and adorable stuff.
Best piece of parenting advice you’ve gotten: Well, I love the guiding principles behind the classes I teach, and I remind myself of them regularly! Specifically: Trust your instincts, and there is no right or wrong way to parent – if what you are doing works for you, keep doing it! If not, you can always make changes. Sometimes it seems that there are so many ‘expert’ people out there with conflicting opinions about the absolutely right and wrong ways to raise kids, but in reality it’s not like that! It’s okay go with your gut, and let what feels right for you and your family guide you.
Best parenting book you read: Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Laura Markam. It’s the most recent one I’ve read, and I found it really helpful!
Favorite toy in your house right now: My kids seem to love playing with all things that are non-toys. Right now, my 2-year-old spends lots of time singing into his “toy microphone” – our toilet paper holder. Cardboard boxes are also a favorite, and we have lots of them this time of year!
Best part of living in Philly with your kids: I love that I can walk out my door and so easily access so many playgrounds, museums, kid/parent classes, and fun people to spend our days with!
Want more like this? Check out all of our Wee One-On-Ones with moms and dads from around the city.