The mama: You might not know Rachel Baiada (mom to Nicolo, 4, Luna, 2, and Aurora, 7 months), but if you’re lucky, then you know her awesome pountine shops in Fishtown and Rittenhouse, Shoo Fry. Rachel, the co-owner and co-founder of Shoo Fry lives in Springfield, in Delaware County, where she also co-owns Cold Stone Creamery (mmm…) with her husband, Matt. But given the fact that two of her businesses are in Philly, and that she grew up in Delco (and Matt grew up in South Philly), she knows both the city and the ‘burbs backwards and forwards — and she’s got some awesome go-tos and favorites all over the place.
Where does your little one attend school? Our oldest, Nicolo, goes to The School in Rose Valley. It’s the most incredible place — built on an old apple orchard with something like nine acres of grounds and woods surrounding them. They really work on teaching and building the whole child as a part of larger community, not just learning your ABCs, so to speak. Nico has learned so much about the world around him and how he relates to it. They have sheep, chickens and their own garden where they grow some of the food used for lunch and daily snacks. Nico has even had weekly woodshop classes where they use real, full-sized tools. It’s a beautiful place to be a kid and to really jump-start that love of learning.
Favorite kids’ classes: We loved the Rhythm Babies music classes when the kids were small. Miss Julie is the sweetest, and the classes are great. After going for a while, the kids start to remember the flow of the class. I always loved when my son would get excited because he knew his favorite part was coming up (the bubbles and the parachute).
Best way to spend a Saturday afternoon as a family: Matt and I love to take the kids to Washington Square. We grab a bagel from Knead, walk around the park, and let the kids chase pigeons and play on the grass. If we’re looking to escape the city for a bit, we hop in the car and head to New Hope or Peddlers Village.
Date night: Oh, boy. With three kids now, I feel like we don’t get out for too many date nights anymore! But when we do, we always come into the city for dinner and to just walk around. Matt and I kind of consider it a personal mission to make sure we’ve checked off the Philadelphia magazine’s 50 Best list … it’s rare that we miss one. There’s just something so incredible about sitting down for a meal in this city. We’re so lucky to be surrounded by some of the best chefs in the country.
Hidden gem: This may not seem like a huge thing, but I seriously love Wolff’s Apple House in Media. They have little carts for the kids to push around and usually have fruit out to taste, which the kids love. Besides a huge selection of fruits and veggies, they also have prepared foods and a little area for fresh-baked goods. In the fall, it’s my go-to for pumpkins and mums, and they always have a great selection of succulents (which is the only plant I don’t kill immediately).
Rainy day go-to: Staying cozy at home. It’s not easy carting anyone anywhere in the rain, so honestly, I try to stay home and bake or something.
Holiday tradition (any holiday!): We celebrate the Epiphany on January 6th with the kids. In Italy, the tradition goes that a little old witch named Befana delivers gifts to the children overnight. It’s something I remember my grandmother, who is in her late 80s, telling me about. When she was a child she used to get dried fruit or nuts as a treat on the Feast of the Epiphany from La Befana. So now, on the eve of the Epiphany, the kids leave out a glass of wine (hooray!) and a treat for Befana, and in return she leaves them a little gift. It’s a really fun, whimsical little tradition that I couldn’t wait to start when we had a family.
Outing you avoid: Pumpkin Land on the weekends in October!
Outing you love: Matt and I love to go to festivals with the kids. With three of them, it’s a little more challenging than it used to be, but we’ve learned a thing or two from going to so many. Getting there early is key! If you can get in and out before the masses show up, you’re good to go. We recently went to the Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square — we’d never gone before — and that was awesome! We never miss the Passyunk Avenue events, like Spooky Saturday or the Tree Lighting. Those are always great!
Favorite app for parents, or favorite app for kids: For kids, I would definitely say the FreeTime App for Kindle. It’s incredible — I can set time limits and control the content, but it still gives my kids the ability to “buy” the games as my son calls it. A great puzzle app he loves is called Think Rolls — lots of problem-solving and forward thinking in that game. Luna really loves Endless Alphabet — it works on letter recognition and sounds while teaching great descriptive words. It’s the kind of game that is so fun she doesn’t even know she’s learning. For parents … can I say Uber Eats?! I mean, there’s nothing like getting the kids to bed and ordering our Indian food for delivery!
Favorite massage or spa treatment or some treat for moms: I don’t get to the spa a lot, but I do love getting my hair and eyebrows done. Nicholas Sebastian in Newtown Square is my go-to for my ever-changing haircuts and color. I recently treated myself to microblading at Ruthie’s Eyes in Havertown, and it’s an eyebrow game changer!
Family-friendly restaurant: We really love Stella or Talula’s Garden. We’re Italian, so whenever we feel like we need some good pizza we go to Stella — it always takes us back to our vacations in Italy, and the kids are crazy for pizza, so it’s a win-win. And we’ve had some really great experiences at Talula’s Garden with the kids when they were babies. It’s easy to feel like a pain when you’re carting an infant in a car seat around at a restaurant but we’ve been there A LOT and the service really stands out. It’s our “first date night out with baby” spot for sure.
Favorite cultural activity: Oh, definitely the 9th Street Italian Festival.
Favorite community service with kids: For the last few years we’ve asked for donations to Toys for Tots on Luna’s Birthday (she’s born on Christmas). Luna, who will be three this year, didn’t really get the concept of birthday gifts yet, and my kids are lucky enough to get more than they need from our families, so we had friends and extended family bring gifts for a child in need instead. Nico always helps me take them to the donation center. It’s a great way to help the kids learn a little about what means to do for others and appreciate how fortunate we are to have what we do.
Gear you can’t live without: A good baby carrier. I love my Boba or my Tula ring sling and Buddha Babe drool bibs, for sure. I don’t know what I’d do without my baby carriers, I’m almost always wearing the baby while I’m making dinner, usually with one of the older kids helping. It’s a must if I expect to do anything around the house. And my kids are pretty big droolers when it comes to teething, so I make sure they’re always wearing Baltic amber necklaces, but they also never go without Buddha Babe drool bibs. I’m so sad I didn’t have them for my son, but luckily when Luna started teething I met Tina from Buddha Babe (who is now my friend), and her bibs changed the drool game! I swear they’re the only bib that can be drooled on all day and it doesn’t soak through to their clothes. They come in any print you could ever want so you can coordinate with outfits. A must-have for sure. And they’re made right here in Philly!
Person/professional you can’t live without: Oh, gosh. I have a list as long as my arm of people I can’t live without. My parents, siblings, in-laws. Without their help I’d definitely never be able to keep it all together … also, my best friend (who has four kids — between us we basically have a kid at each age from age 7 on down) and, of course, my husband!
Indulgence you can’t live without: French macarons! I fell in love with them on vacation in Paris, like 8 years ago. La Colombe has good ones, and Matt drove to New York one holiday to get me some from Laduree in SoHo.
Place for baby/children’s gifts: Tildie’s Toy Box and The Nesting House on the Avenue.
Favorite children’s book right now: Have You Filled A Bucket Today by Carol McCloud. It’s all about showing kindness and love to the people around us by filling invisible “buckets” we all have. It’s a really great way to help kids see what it’s like to be kind versus unkind to one another.
Favorite outdoorsy thing to do with kids: Does the chasing pigeons thing count?
Fun kids party spot: Lulu’s Casita in Ardmore. We’ve had each of the older kids birthdays there before, and as a self-proclaimed control freak when it comes to party decorations and stuff, I’ve never been happier to hand off my idea or theme and let the Lulu’s staff do their thing. The space is so cozy and feels just like home. It’s a perfect indoor playground any day of week, but for parties, they seriously rock.
Best piece of advice you’ve gotten about parenting: Let it go. You know, like Elsa said. Just let it go. When I only had my son, I felt like everything was so “perfect” , then my daughter came along when Nico wasn’t even 2 yet, and it became a whole lot harder to keep it all together. After adding Aurora to the mix, my motto is definitely “let it go.” I just have to roll with it. The toys don’t always get cleaned up; I’m constantly trying to rearrange play rooms and that kind of thing. It’s messy and loud, but my kids are happy, and that’s what I try to remind myself is the most important part.
Favorite toy or kid entertainment in your house right now: Magna-Tiles and Magformers. Those little things are a blast and can seriously keep my 4- and 2-year-old busy for hours.
Best part of raising kids here: I think anytime you get to raise kids in a big city, you’re lucky. We get to expose them to so many different things all in one place. It’s awesome. Literally everything is at your fingertips — we’re really fortunate.