Starter Guide for Jersey City Newbies

Moving is never easy, especially with kids. It’s easy to see how newcomers to the downtown Jersey City or Hamilton Park neighborhoods could get a bit overwhelmed with the bustle of the area. Here’s a starter guide to get started, but be aware that Jersey City is a buzzing and growing city that continues to evolve before our eyes, so it’s by no means comprehensive. Feel free to add your own ideas to our Facebook page, or in the comments section!

And also, WELCOME! All of us at JCFamilies were new in town once too – we know and completely understand the mix of excitement, trepidation, and confusion that can come with a big move. We hope you’ll introduce yourself to us at our next event!

Shopping

While it might be less daunting to order everything online, there’s real value to getting outside and seeing what you see. Every time you step out, you will feel a little bit more confident and more comfortable in your new neighborhood.

There are several grocery and foodstuff stores within walking distance, but all of the following listed below also have parking lots (except Key Foods) so you don’t have to walk if you don’t want to. Key Foods, however, is the only one nestled right inside the neighborhood, meaning you won’t have to cross any multi-lane super-busy streets with your stroller.

  • Key Foods – 574 Jersey Avenue
  • Shop Rite – 400 Marin Boulevard
  • Acme – 125 18th Street
  • Target – 100 14th Street
  • BJ’s – 396 Marin Boulevard, right next to Shop Rite

Having a housewarming party? We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that there’s a giant booze warehouse open until 10 pm daily (except Sunday) which also has a parking lot, a create your own six pack craft beer section, a massive wine selection, and discounts on quantity.

  • Buy Rite – 575 Manila Avenue

In addition to the stores already mentioned, don’t forget that one of the biggest benefits of living in a major metropolitan area is that we don’t have to go to big box stores if we don’t want to. There are bodegas, corner stores, wine shops, and food trucks all around you. The Jersey City consumer is so selective, and has so many options, that you can be confident that any and all of those corner stores will be stocked up on the necessities and will operate in a clean and professional environment. We are proud of our ability to shop local – it’s great to have milk and eggs at the end of the block.

Entertainment – Family Friendly

Do yourself a huge favor and have a date night in the nearby bars and restaurants without your kids. There are hip and trendy options that are trying hard (and succeeding) to keep your dollars in Jersey City. That said, there are also lots of options for days and evenings with the kiddos.

  • The Liberty Science Center has four floors of entertainment. Get a membership. When the winter arrives, you’re going to need a place where the kids can run and feel the freedom that they feel outside without the wind whipping into their little faces. The science center is that place. There are always at least two exhibits/rooms for little ones, one which changes and one that stays the same. Right now the rotating exhibit is Curious George. There’s also a section with animals – the Eat and Be Eaten exhibit – and another area where there are giant fish tanks. Explore. You won’t regret it.
  • Hamilon Park & Newport Green. These are both parks with lots of outdoor space to run around, playground equipment to climb, slide, and swing on, and programming including farmer’s markets and movies in the park. Both are beautiful any time of year (ok, maybe not in the snow…), and are always full of friends. Friends are everywhere in Jersey City – chat someone up today!
  • Hudson Play is a new member to our downtown community. It’s a

    family playspace with activities that focus on interactive entertainment and fitness. Its design encourages dynamic play with its specialized areas for toddlers, state-of-the-art activities for preschoolers and a challenging Ninja Warrior Course for everyone else.

    Transportation

    There are many ways to get around downtown Jersey City, and so many of us are grateful for the walk-able design of the neighborhood. For those times we can’t walk to where we need to be, there are lots of options that are oftentimes easier than driving your own car.

  • PATH has stations at Grove Street, Newport, and Exchange Place. All of these will take you into lower Manhattan in minutes and operate around the clock.
  • There’s also a ferry into Manhattan.
  • The Light Rail takes you around New Jersey above ground. I’m know I’m not the only parent who gets on the Light Rail to go no where in particular, just rides the train wherever with my little ones. Kids LOVE the Light Rail. They don’t need tickets, but you do. Be sure to STAMP your ticket after purchasing it so you don’t get fined if they check tickets.
  • CitiBike doesn’t have child seats but it is a fun and easy way to get around if you’re on your own.
  • Ridesharing companies like uber and lyft have gotten really popular in the past few years. Jersey City has seen a huge increase in their use because many times it’s easier to get a car service than to figure out where you’re going to park.

Education and Daycares

There are so many options for day cares and schools in Jersey City that we couldn’t possibly list them all here. Some things to know and/or think about when starting your school search:

  • Jersey City provides a free public school option beginning at age 3. Since there is limited space in the local schools, JC outsources their pre-k program to contracted child-care centers. All of these contracted child care centers use the High/Scope curriculum.
  • In addition, many downtown and Hamilton Park families choose private, Montessori, religious, or cooperative education options for their young children because they allow parents more flexibility and can be closer to home than the public option.
  • Nannys and au pairs are also very common for parents who choose in-home care for their babies.

Did that help?

Like I mentioned at the beginning, this is not a comprehensive list. Jersey City is dynamic and transforming as you read this. But there’s some comfort in knowing the basics, and in making some friends in the know. We’re pleased you found us! Keep us in the loop – we’d love to hear about your experiences here!

Mel Kozakiewicz blogs at www.urdoingitright.com and has been living in Jersey City since 2003.

Chitra Mittal: Innovator and Proprietor of Liberty Physical Therapy

Chitra Mittal: Liberty Physical Therapy In Jersey City

Tell me about yourself.

I’m a physical therapist. I’ve been in Jersey City for 5 years. I was a travelling physical therapist for about 5 years before that, switching cities every 3-4 months. I got to see what’s out there.

Are Jersey City patients unique?

Jersey City has highly educated people who are motivated to do the right thing.

Be honest – You love it here, right?

Absolutely. Jersey City is home. And so is this office.Chitra Mittal: Liberty Physical Therapy In Jersey City

Do you have children? 

Not yet.

Want ‘em?

Maybe one. I don’t know. It’s tough.

Is your extended family in Jersey City?

My family is in India, so my husband is all I have here. And work keeps me too busy to visit more than once a year.

I understand. It’s tough. So your work has your heart.

Right. We started in November of 2011 in a small room. We’ve already expanded twice and now we’re the largest outpatient facility in Jersey City.

Why do you think you grew so quickly?

We treat each patient individually. It’s always one on one. I think patients see the value in that. We can make sure patients are doing the exercises the right way, which is important because if they’re not doing them correctly, it’s a waste of time. And there are no cookie cutter programs. They’re tailored to the patient’s specific needs. The services we offer here are very different, very cutting edge. They’re not offered anywhere else.

Chitra Mittal: Liberty Physical Therapy In Jersey CityReally? Like what?

Dry needling, for example.

Sounds scary.

(laughs) No no! There are trigger points in muscle. When muscles are in spasm, there are points that get activated. To alleviate that, you can either sustain pressure or use a needle. Patients love it. It’s very effective. And we also have the women’s health program.

I’m not sure what that means in terms of physical therapy.

One of the most common injuries for women is in the pelvic floor. So for example, during pregnancy, the body goes through significant changes. The hormones change but also certain muscles are overstretched, or a C-section is also traumatic to the body. The role of the pelvic floor is critical. Your bladder is there, your vagina is there, your bowels are there, the bone alignment is there, and the muscles are working hard to hold you up.

If a woman thought she had an injury in her pelvic floor, how would she know?

Is she having pain? Is there weakness-

Wait – you could fix that?? Isn’t that an…inside problem?

We do internal evaluations. We assess muscles internally. Depending on what has happened during pregnancy, women may be experiencing painful sex, spasms, weaknesses in the hips, or the problem might be that the pelvic muscles are simply working too hard. We assess which muscles are working and we create a plan to solve it.

Chitra Mittal: Liberty Physical Therapy In Jersey CitySo you can fix it. You’re saying these aren’t permanent damages?

It is definitely a fixable problem. I hear women say things like, “It’s ok to leak a little bit because I had a baby,” No! You don’t have to leak in any way. It’s completely fixable.

I feel like you might save some marriages doing this kind of work.

I’d love to. Actually a lot of spouses do call in for new (and busy!) moms.

So let’s say a mom has pain, like during sex. And two years later –

Don’t wait two years. Wait six weeks to eight weeks.

So this is completely normal to you.

Completely. Not just to me. In France, pelvic floor physical therapy is covered and routine. Dysfunctions develop when time passes. Avoid the limp, so to speak.

Tell me the signs. What are women looking for?

Is there pain? Are you not able to sit for longer than fifteen minutes? You mentioned painful sex – that’s very common. Or leakage of urine, or if the stream is slower or if you’re having trouble in any way, schedule a visit. Anything that’s different or painful.

This feels like it could be a difficult conversation to have.

Listen – pregnancy is a trauma to the body. There are changes that happen in your body due to the pregnancy. You can revert back. It is a taboo, sure. Women don’t want to tell their friends that they’re having trouble having sex with their husbands. But this is fixable.

Are there easy changes women can make on their own?

Yes. Start with simple things like breathing. Take the time to breathe correctly. Take five minutes to breathe all the way down to the pelvic floor. Your breath should reach all the way down. Uncross your fingers, close the door, and zen out. Close your eyes and imagine your breath is reaching all the way down to the floor and relaxing it. It makes a world of difference.

How can women get more comfortable with their bodies?

Remember that it’s your own body – don’t have such a disconnect. Your body will be there for you so be there for your body, take care of it!

Chitra Mittal: Liberty Physical Therapy In Jersey CityCan we talk about your work day? Do you talk about this stuff from sunrise to sunset?

Haha. Yes! I need to disconnect a bit from work my husband says! I usually get to work around 10, maybe 10:30. I do a little bit of work at home first and I’m usually here until 7:30. For the sake of my marriage I try to leave at 7:30. But we’re open until 8:30.

What does your husband do?

He works here!

For you?

With me! He manages the business aspect. Billing, finances – I can’t do it all. He’s better qualified than I am to do that. As an entrepreneur I have learned that you can’t be the best at everything. You have to build a really fantastic team. That’s the only way you can grow. I learned that the hard way. Now I delegate whatever someone else is better at than me.

Your advice is invaluable. What else you got?

As long as you’re honest with yourself about where you need to improve, you’re good. But know you own strengths and weaknesses. It’s critical.

Give us one more for the road.

If you haven’t exercised in a while, see a physical therapist before you go to the gym to avoid injury. That one’s for the men too.

Halloween Tips and Tricks for Moms Who Just Can’t

Halloween Tips Jersey City

Now that we’re clear into October, if you haven’t started thinking about Halloween, you’re late. Costumes and candy are about to explode all over town and if you’re not ready for it, duck and cover.

Lots of our kids won’t know what they want to be. Some are too young to understand the concept entirely, and some will change their minds multiple times prior to the date. If you have a kid who has their heart set on Elsa or a Paw Patrol hero, consider yourself lucky. Don’t push the envelope. Log onto amazon RIGHT NOW and order the pre-made cookie cutter costume. Job done. There’s no reason to create drama where there isn’t any.

But if your kids fall in one of the other categories, here are a few things to consider:

    • Use make up, masks, and even hats sparingly. Anything on the face or head probably won’t make it more than a few minutes unless your child is over the age of 4.
    • No appendages. Enough said.
    • If your kid is a wild maniac (which is probably why you’re reading this) – excuse me, I mean: If your kid is high energy, costumes that look like clothes are best. Ultimately you want your kid to forget that they have it on until they look down and Surprise! I’m wearing a costume! Superhero t-shirts, for example, with sweatpants or leggings (for boys too) are great examples of this.
    • Consider costumes that double as dress-up/imagination play that can extend beyond Halloween. Melissa and Doug has a line of dress up clothes that work for this purpose, including doctor and firefighter outfits.
    • Take the easy way out. Go to Target or BJs or some kind of costume shop (but go soon while they still have sizes and options) and let them pick something. Unless you’re super-passionate about Halloween, there’s no need to have the best costume on the block. No one cares that much, especially the little ones.
    • Let it be fun. Don’t stress yourself out about finding the perfect ensemble unless it’s truly enjoyable for you AND your child.

Halloween Tips Jersey City

  • Consider consignment stores. It’s a bit of a drive out to Once Upon a Child in Fairfield, but if you can get something gently used for $5 or $10, you can grab a couple of things and feel comfortable having choices without breaking the bank. (Also you can stock up on jeans or light jackets while you’re out there. Or boots! Snow! OMG! Focus – Once Upon a Child only have name-brand stuff that’s in great condition. It’s worth the drive.)
  • Check Facebook groups for parents who hung onto last year’s costumes. Again, start doing that soon too because people jump all over the good ones in that arena. (Next! Next! Next!)
  • Family costumes are so cute but they’re also a lot of work. If your plan is to put your husband in a Big Bird costume, you’re going to want to start working on that (and him) now.
  • When all else fails: tutus & sparkles, capes & swords. For some kids, that’s all that matters anyway.

(P.S. Wine, anyone?)

Education Fair Shows Possibilities for Families

Education Fair In Jersey City by JCFamilies

Now that we’ve officially entered October, we call breathe a sigh of relief that the school started without a hitch. (At least not one that shut us down.) Routines set, at least for now, we can reflect on that pile of papers, folders, and pamphlets we collected at the JCFamilies Education Fair. (SO GLAD I didn’t have to do all that research on my own.) But first – the magic.

Education Fair In Jersey City I hadn’t seen a magician since I was a kid, so when I saw the line up, I invited the neighbor’s kid to join me and my two. (He likes witches; I figured this was up his alley. It was.) To say that they (boys, ages 3 & 4) were mesmerized would be inaccurate; mesmerized is quiet. In fact, my crew was so excited that their little bodies looked like popping corn or tiny fireworks. None of the kids could sit still. Their animated sense of delight put me into that rare mental space that boasts “See? This is why people have kids.” Suffice it to say that hiring a magician for an event, or better – sending kids to magic school – is now on my list.

Education Fair In Jersey City I did know before I arrived that lots of schools (public, private, charter, and early learning centers) would be represented, but I was shocked to see how many educational services and resources were also in attendance. We talked to summer camp directors who showed us photos of happy swimmers and informed us about busing options. We galloped on imaginary horses with the chess school and shook hands with math and science program representatives. We high-fived a penguin and took a selfie with Pete the Cat. My entire crew had a turn with the lacrosse sticks (I’m sure there’s a term for what they were doing) and they got Halloween stickers from Hudson County Community College. I took home folders about savings accounts for kids. I was glad I brought a bag – I picked up lots of information from of different people.

Education Fair In Jersey City Of course we had to go to the playground before we left (even though one or more of my crew was getting nap-time cranky) because Hamilton Park is awesome, so I sat on the rock wall while the kids ran around. I watched the fair buzz with, I dunno, thousands? of families strolling from table to table, casually collecting options for their kids who are lucky enough to live in what must be the greatest city in the whole of America. It was amazing to watch.

Education Fair In Jersey City And then I saw the JCFamilies table, where the team was handing out paper copies of their fresh-off-the-press Education Guide. I couldn’t hold back the hug – my kids were happy. I also felt empowered. The Education Fair was a real awakening to the exceptional amount of options that exist for our kids so close to home. Options that never would have occurred to me. Like lacrosse. Magic.

Check the list of Schools, Daycares and Activity Centers that participated:

PUBLIC

Recreation Department

Early Childhood Department

PRIVATE SCHOOLS

Hamilton Park Montessori School

Waterfront Montessori

All Saints Episcopal Day School

World of ABC, The Waldo School

Hudson Montessori School

The Embankment School

Viaquenti Academy

Garden Preschool Cooperative

Apple Montessori Schools

Learning Ladders

Bergen-Lafayette Montessori School

Three little birds

First Christian Pentecostal Academy and First Christian High School

The Brunswick School

French American Academy

TESSA

DAYCARES

Bright Horizons at Plaza 3 Waterfront

Smart Start Academy

Key Element Learning

Kiddie Academy of Hamilton Park

Adventures in Learning Day Care

The Nurturing Place Development Center

Liberty Montessori

Earlybegining 

 

CHARTER SCHOOLS

Empowerment Academy

The Ethical Community Charter School

BelovED Community Charter School

M.E.T.S. Charter School

String Charter School

 

ACTIVITY CENTERS

Mad Science of Union and Hudson

Garden Street School of the Performing Arts

Next Step Broadway

Curious Kids

Fastrack-Languages

Sylvan Learning

Joys In Teaching Tutoring, LLC

Mathnasium of Jersey City

Nimbus Dance Works

Bambino Chef

CKO KICKBOXING

NJ SEEDS

MathWizard of Hoboken

AlphaMinds Academy

Steam Works Studio

Empire United Fencing

Hudson Play

Performing Arts Workshop

SUMMER CAMPS

Camp Riverband

LakeView Day Camp

 

 

Fall and Halloween events in Jersey City and Hoboken

Fun things to do in jersey city

So much is happening this fall that it’s nearly impossible to create a comprehensive list of events – but that doesn’t mean we didn’t try! From food and education festivals to dogs in costumes, we’ve got your fall calendar stacked.

Cooks and Books 9/30; Hoboken Library 500 Park Ave; 3:15

Budding Top Chefs ages 4+ learn easy, healthy snack ideas with Dietician Elisabeth Holtzer from Shoprite. Tickets required.

Kids Pajama Yoga 9/30; Hamilton Health and Fitness; 6-7:30

This special Friday night Mindful Play Yoga will take your child on a fantastic yoga adventure! We will play fun yoga games to expel your child’s energy, practice fun yoga games, color a mandala, have story time, and experience a deep relaxation.

October:

Bark in the ParkFun things to do in jersey city 10/1; Stevens Park in Hoboken; 12-6

Enjoy a celebratory dog-walk/parade, live entertainment, a free bounce-house & children’s activities, and delicious food & awesome vendors throughout the day!

Diwali Mela in Jersey City; Exchange Place; 10/1; 12-7

Biggest Diwali Mela in Jersey City with a great line up of events. Enjoy Dhunuchi performances (dance off), Henna Tattoos Kids and Adults dance performances and children performances of Ramayana. Involve your children in interesting activities like Diya decoration workshops and Chalk Rangoli competitions.

Alice in Wonderland by Puppetworks 10/2-12/11, Merseles Studios; Sundays at 1 pmFun things to do in jersey city

Adapted by Nicolas Coppola, PUPPETWORKS’ Artistic Director, “Alice In Wonderland” features a cast of hand-carved, wooden marionettes in costumes and settings typical of 15th-Century French design.

Taste of Hudson Fundraiser 10/6; Harborside Atrium, 34 Exchange Place; 6-9 pm

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County invites you to enjoy a Taste of Hudson! Join us for an evening of drinks & delicious bites from Hudson County’s best restaurants. This is an adult event.

Navrati 2016Fun things to do in jersey city 10/7, 10/8, 10/13, 10/14; India Square, evenings.

More than fifteen thousand men, women and children play Garba-Raas on the

street throughout the night, every night for 4-6 nights. A rare and beautiful event. India Square is inviting you to the grand Navratri celebrations on Fridays 7th & 14th Oct and Saturdays 8th & 15th Oct of 2016 at Jersey City, NJ.

Fun things to do in jersey city

Jersey City Arts and Studio Tour (JCAST) 10/8-10/9

14364854_10154508305209344_4259865883883568465_nCitywide showcase of the arts featuring nearly 1000 participating artists in hundreds of venues including private studios, galleries, local businesses, and pop-up and public spaces.

 Jersey City Columbus Day Parade 10/8; Newark Avenue, 1 pm

The 7th Annual Jersey City Columbus Day Parade will kick off from Dickinson High School down Newark Avenue to Jersey City City Hall. Come out and support Italian American Culture and our Honorees!

Rocky Horror Picture Show LIVE! 10/14; Harsimus Cemetery; 7:30-11 pm

Come & See this Legendary Cult Classic and wonderful live performance! This is outdoors so dress warm. Food vendors and refreshments will be on site, with limited folding chair seating, so feel free to bring blanket or cozy lawn chair. This is an adult event.

Jersey City Harvest Festival Fun things to do in jersey city10/15; City Hall Plaza; 10-2

Pumpkin Decoration, Arts & Crafts, Music for Kids and more…

 

Hoboken Harvest Festival 10/22; Pier A Park; 11-3

Free activities including: Pony Rides, Petting Zoo,Pumpkin Painting, Hayrides, a Trackless Train, Music, a Hay Maze, Face Painting, a Moonwalk, Sand Art, Craft Activities, Puffy the Dragon, Balloons & more

Ghost of Uncle Joe’s 10/22; Harsimus Cemetery, 1pm-3am!

This annual event is rock show in a cemetery with local musicians performing covers of famous bands. There will be delicious food, refreshing beer, prize giveaways for best costumes and more.


Halloween Parade in Hamilton Park
Fun things to do in jersey city 10/26 Hamilton Park; 4-7

Entertainment for kids, dance performance by Next Step Broadway, 6:00 Kids Costume Parade Starts, 6:00 Dogs Parade starts

halloween-pet-parade-2Halloween Pet Parade in Hamilton Park 10/26; 6 pm

Anything’s Pawsible presents Dog’s Halloween Parade 2016! Exciting prizes to be won including spooky dress & most creative. Please RSVP only if you’d like your dog to participate in the parade.

Board of Education Candidate Forum 10/27; PS16 96 Sussex St; 7-9 pm

This is a moderated forum, all candidates will be invited to participate. Audience may submit question at the event. This is an adult event.

66Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns at the Meadowlands 10/27-10/30

Debuting in New Jersey is the most iconic, truly unique family-friendly fall event, RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns! Come see thousands of hand-carved illuminated jack o’lanterns creatively arranged along a scenic walking path and set to a musical score designed to bring out the Halloween spirit in visitors of all ages!

Terminal of Terror 10/29; Liberty State Park; *Family Friendly Events 4-8 pm*spooky-terminal

The historic Central Railroad of NJ transformed into The Terminal of Terror. Music, Food Trucks, Haunted Activities, Bouncy House, Costume Contest and more!

13680328_10154415468464703_5970897683514517284_oFamily Halloween Bash on the Pedestrian Mall 10/31; 3-6 pm

Have a ghoulishly good time on The Pedestrain Mall this Halloweeen! There will be facepainting, a bouncey house, music, and CANDY! In-district members- FREE!

Ragamuffin Parade & Costume Contest 10/31; Washington St. Hoboken, 3:15

Line up at 3:15pm on Washington Street bet. 13th & 14th Street. Parade starts at 3:30pm. Parade features local live music, floats, lots of great costumes and so much more. Wear your Halloween best! Costume Contest begins at 4:30pm after the Parade at The Little League Field, 5th Street & River Terrace

November:

Artists’ Studio Tour (Hoboken) 11/8; 12-6 pm

There are many locations; the tour is designed so you can easily walk from studio to studio, gallery to gallery. As diverse as the art itself, the tour’s popularity draws artists far beyond the banks of Hoboken, showcasing art in many forms, in a variety of mediums. Visitors can meet the artists and witness the creative process at work.

Hoboken Turkey Trot and 5K & 1 Mile Fun Run 11/19; Pier A Park 9:30 am

14192158_609893195863666_591054107516256895_n

Join us for the 3rd annual Hoboken Turkey Trot 5K and 1-mile fun run! This friendly, fun, and family event takes place along Hoboken’s historic waterfront! Proceeds will benefit local charities in the City of Hoboken. Burn calories and speed up your metabolism before the big feast!

Jersey City Heights Turkey Trot 5K 11/24; Pershing Field; 8 am

Join the first annual Jersey City Heights Turkey Trot 5K and 1 mile fun run. This great race for family and racers takes place along Jersey City Heights business district!

 

Indiegrove Owner Zahra Amanpour Decodes Co-Working While Parenting

Zahra Amanpour is the owner of Indiegrove, Jersey City

Zahra Amanpour is the owner of Indiegrove, a shared office space located at 121 Newark Avenue – right by the Grove Street PATH.

Jersey City Families: Can you explain co-working?

Zahra Amanpour: Co-working is part of the shared economy movement. The idea is that if a lot of people work together in a shared space, they can get a community as well as a much nicer office. It provides a real advantage to a small businesses, freelancers, and people who are just getting started.

JCF: What advantages?

ZA: Well, the end result is that the consumer saves money, but it’s about so much more than that. It’s about community and leveraging resources. It’s built on the concept that people can come together who are independent minded and trying to build something, or create something, and providing the space for collaboration. We’re tapping into each other’s resources and supporting local business at the same time. There’s marketing, accounting, lawyers…Every type of business you can imagine – it’s a very diverse environment.

JCF: It sounds like a great place to focus. It’s so hard to work from home.

Zahra Amanpour is the owner of Indiegrove, Jersey CityZA: Tell me about it. I’m a mom, I know what that feels like. This is an extremely positive and ambitious business to be in. When you’re a mom, your mind is in such a different place.

JCF: Like how?

ZA: Like, oh! My kid’s asleep! Now I’m going to sit at the computer for 2 hours and try to be an entrepreneur in my yoga pants. It’s so hard to switch back and forth.

JCF: I get that. I do that.

ZA: Indiegrove is flexible. You can get full time options, part time options, you can pick up your kids in the middle of the day when the school calls you – Lots of moms in particular enjoy that flexibility. At least 70% of people who work out of Indiegrove have small children.

JCF: You said you have a child?

ZA: I have a daughter, she’s almost 2.

JCF: But you’ve owned Indiegrove for four years.

ZA: The transition was shocking.

JCF: I bet.

ZA: I’ve always been the type of person who just stays at work until the work is done. I’ve been at every networking event… When you have a kid you miss things that you’re not even aware of. I had to learn how to leave work on time. I had to be much more disciplined with my schedule. I had to learn time management – how to make my time go further.

JCF: For me, there was an identity crisis component to becoming a mom too.

ZA: Yes. Me too. I’m not just a business person anymore, I’m a mom now. She’s a part of who I am. It’s much more intertwined.

JCF: Has it gotten easier? You said she’s two now?

ZA: Almost two. I’ve gotten much better at balancing everything. You start to build your confidence, but it’s only recently that I feel like I’m at peace with both. I don’t feel like one is taking from the other anymore. I stay home on Fridays.

JCF: True or False: Success in business isn’t typically congruent with motherhood.

ZA: Let’s say this – on a daily basis, in order to be successful as a business person, you can’t let the people that you’re dealing with know about all the things you’re dealing with, even if they’re important to you. I could get a call from the school, but then I have to go into a meeting and pretend nothing is happening.

JCF: Right. That’s so hard.

ZA: I know. I’m always trying to emotionally disconnect even though I don’t want to be disconnected.

Zahra Amanpour is the owner of Indiegrove, Jersey CityJCF: But are there other skills that you’re gained as a mom that are helpful in business?

ZA: Sure. Absolutely. When you’re a mom, you have to get out of bed no matter what. If you’re sick or whatever. So you get really good at pushing through things in your business too. Also I’m much more patient now.

JCF: Where is your daughter during the day?

ZA: I had her home with a nanny the first year, but she’s a very social kid, so she’s at a daycare center now.

JCF: Did you like the nanny option?

ZA: So my daughter was born in October, and the idea of shipping her outside in the middle of February was not something I wanted to do. I wanted her to be in a quiet environment the first year of life. I wanted it to be very peaceful. I prioritized that. It was expensive though, that was a drawback.

JCF: Got any advice for moms who want to be successful as entrepreneurs?

ZA: Carve out your time. Be very adamant about what you can be available for at what time. If you don’t have that, try to create that for yourself because you need to get a break to think. There’s no time to think, to strategize. When you’re an entrepreneur, everyone thinks you’re flexible. Like your business is your side thing. But you need to let people know this is your passion, your livelihood. You’re not available. This is not a side thing.

JCF: Zahra – you’re amazing.

Wait! Tell them this too: You shouldn’t feel guilty! If you had a job, your time away from your kids would be expected. You’re not choosing you business over your kids. You’re trying to put your mark in this world, and you can have that.

Zahra Amanpour is the owner of Indiegrove, Jersey City

Jillian Hernandez Spells Out the Success of The Brunswick School

Meet Jillian Hernandez, the owner of The Brunswick School, which accepts children from 6 months through Kindergarten.

Jillian Hernandez from The Brunswick School

JCF: Tell me about yourself. What’s your background?

Jillian Hernandez: I guess I’m Jersey through and through. I grew up in Hudson County. I went to school at Rutgers, got my MBA there. My background is in Human Resources — I have about 15 years experience in the field.

JCF: Running a school seems like a big change!

Jillian Hernandez: When I told my ex-employer what I was planning on doing, they were all shocked. But it’s a beautiful business to be in. I saw the tremendous need in this area for quality preschools and I knew with my passion for education and commitment to the community, I would do a great job.

JCF: Did you do a lot of work to the building?

Jillian Hernandez: This was already school – it was a preschool until June 2014. We started construction in July of 2014, opened in July 2015. This building was created in the 1950s. They don’t build them like this anymore. My dad was the general contractor and I always say he put a lot of love into renovating this school.  We definitely have a homey vibe and it’s because of the people who built and who help run it.

JCF: The babies are so cute. How old are the little ones?

Jillian Hernandez: Six months to six years old. Once a child turns six months, they’ve updated their repertoire. It’s kind of fun. At 6 months, most children are able to sit up on their own. They are eating purees, our chef purees fresh organic fruits and vegetables.

JCF: Did you say chef?

Jillian Hernandez: Yes. Our chef is Busy Bee Organics (busybeeorganics.com). I believe in providing healthy, organic, well-balanced meals for children. You can make such an impact on their palates — clean food makes for clean palates. We have whole grain mac and cheese, homemade pizza, our snacks are usually a fruit or vegetable – whatever’s fresh and in season. It tastes delicious. We also offer vegetarian options.

JCF: Is there a particular curriculum you follow?

Jillian Hernandez: We’re loosely based on the creative curriculum – we use music, dance, movement. We have certified instructors who come to the school  and teach yoga once a week, zumba once a week… My director and teachers all help develop the lesson plans and individualize them as necessary for the children – we all make a good team!

Jillian Hernandez from The Brunswick SchoolJCF: Do they get outside?

Jillian Hernandez: We have a great outdoor play area and garden area.  While we have great parks in Jersey City, it’s more convenient and safer to stay on our property.

JCF: Tell me about the teachers. What makes them fantastic?

Jillian Hernandez: So many things. They know how to adjust the curriculum based on each child. They’re caring and nurturing. Children need love and compassion. Also all our head teachers have at least a Bachelors degree in early education or related field.  Many of them are even striving towards their masters. The important element is that they all have a real passion for their profession.

JCF: Sounds like you have a great thing going here. What advice would you give your younger self?

Jillian Hernandez: Look at every opportunity as a stepping stone. Don’t take anything for granted. It will all make sense some day.

JCity Realty’s Natalie Miniard

JCity Realty Natalie Miniard

Natalie Miniard is the principal broker, co-owner of JCity Realty.

JCF: Tell me about yourself.

Natalie Miniard: I live in the Heights; I’m single. I moved here 20 years ago from Jacksonville, FL. Bright lights, big city, right? I got as far as I could afford and viola, I fell in love with Jersey City. Once I learned Jersey City, there was no way I was moving to the city.

JCF: Was real estate your first job in Jersey City then?

Natalie Miniard: I waitressed at Outback for like 2 months, they never should have hired me. I had no idea what I was doing. I worked at Frankie and Johnny’s for like 5 years.

JCF: How did you make the transition into real estate?

Natalie Miniard: I just took the course. The financial investment that you put into getting your license is so small compared to the return that you can make in this industry.

JCity Realty Natalie MiniardJCF: What did you do with your first commission check?

Natalie Miniard: I bought my first piece of property in the Heights. My father thought I was nuts. It was a 700 square foot, 4-floor walk up. I thought I’d made it.

JCF: You definitely made it. Your office is beautiful!

Natalie Miniard: Thanks! Yes – A local developer came to me and presented the idea of opening an agency. Real estate is my passion, 100%. It’s a no-brainer.

JCF: What part do you love?

Natalie Miniard: I’m fascinated with development. My personal passion would be the preservation of really beautiful real estate.

JCF: What do you do for fun?

Natalie Miniard: I’m a little bit of a cliché I guess – I do work a lot. I’m fortunate to be in an industry that allows me to be in a community, a neighborhood that I love.

JCF: Do you work more than 12-hour days?

Natalie Miniard: (laughs) I guess it’s about 7 am-10 pm. Part of being in this industry is that you’re always on. When I go out, I always see people, which is part of what I love.

JCF: What do you do when you’re having a bad day?

Natalie Miniard: I push through it. Sometimes I cry. It’s hard to have a bad day right now. This company is becoming everything I could have hoped for. When I’m having a bad day I try to look at everything we’ve accomplished.

Which characteristics are most important to be successful?

Natalie Miniard: Patience. When you’re in real estate in general, you have to wear so many hats. You’re a designer, you’re a financial planner, you’re a developer, you’re in marketing… Sometimes you’re a psychologist! You have to have patience with your customers, which is fair enough, you should. Remember, this is their home.

JCity Realty Natalie MiniardWhat vision do you have for the company?

Natalie Miniard: I didn’t open this agency to be mediocre. I have to be a bit nurturing in this role, I’m going to be successful if my agents are successful.

JCF: What challenges do homeowners have with Jersey City?

Natalie Miniard: Part of the problem is the lack of options to buy. Almost everything is built as rentals. The other concern is schools of course. Schools are not there yet. It’s a concern that many young couples have here.

JCF: It creates a transient population.

Natalie Miniard: It’s true. But it’s sad, because the desire to stay here is there. People would stay here. There are benefits to raising children in Jersey City with the culture and the community that is exposed to them… Also being so close to where so many parents work allows parents to spend more time with their kids as opposed to spending that hour and a half commuting to the suburbs.

JCF: It’s tough, right?

Natalie Miniard: It’s a struggle that many parents grapple with. It’s in every financial bracket.

Mel Kozakiewicz blogs at urdoingitright.com and has been living in Jersey City since 2003.

Picky eater or feeding disorder? Meet Alyssa Kane: Feeding Specialist and Speech Language Pathologist in Jersey City

 Alyssa Kane speech language and pathologist in Jersey City

 

 

 

 

Alyssa Kane, speech language and pathologist in Jersey City

Author’s Note: Except for Alyssa Kane, all names have been changed to protect the privacy of the families and children under Kane’s care.

 Alyssa Kane speech language and pathologist in Jersey City
Alyssa Kane – Speech Language Pathologist

After multiple choking incidents, Emily Carter realized that her 2 ½ year old son Jayson was not chewing his food. He had a difficult relationship with eating, and even at 2 ½, he hadn’t transitioned properly to solid foods – a transition that generally takes place around 1.

“We felt scared and overwhelmed,” Emily remembers, “and out of our depth. Jayson was diagnosed with ‘failure to thrive,’ was in the 4th percentile on growth charts, and was extremely fearful of food.”

Upon a friend’s suggestion, Emily met with Feeding Specialist and Speech Language Pathologist, Alyssa Kane. (Note: While Speech Language Pathology is a broad field with many different areas of focus, Alyssa primarily works with children who have feeding and/or swallowing disorders.)

“Alyssa is a wonderful human being—warm and welcoming—and terrific with children. Jayson took to her immediately.” And so, for the next year and a half, Alyssa worked with the Jayson and Carters.

“Alyssa engaged Jayson in exercises and games to teach and encourage him to chew. Later, Alyssa helped us introduce new and more complex foods, increasing the number and types of foods he would eat. He only ate pasta and baby cereal at age 2.5, so it was an incredible accomplishment on her (and his!) part to move to a wider variety of foods. Alyssa also connected us with a nutritionist who helped us create meal plans and ideas that dovetailed with what we were working on with her. For us, Alyssa was a miracle worker and it’s not too far from the truth to describe her as life saver,” said Emily.

When asked, Alyssa does not refer to herself as a miracle worker, but she is passionate about her work. “My love for this kind of stemmed, and I’m happy that I took on this end of speech language pathology. I feel very fortunate to have chosen a profession that I love so much.

“Moms feel anxious, overwhelmed, and lost when their children aren’t eating correctly. 95% of the parents I work with probably feel that way. They’re nervous about their kids’ nutrition and hydration and they’re spending all day trying to feed their kids. Their doctors tell them to keep going, or they get advice from parents or friends that ultimately isn’t useful. ‘Eating is instinctual,’ they’ll hear, or ‘Don’t worry. He’ll figure it out.’ And I think some parents don’t understand that they’re not the reason that their child is struggling. They think it’s their fault. Simply, it’s not true,” she explains.

Anita Klein, another mother whose child has worked on feeding with Alyssa, whole-heartily agrees. “Our son Miles underwent cardiac repair surgery at just three weeks old. He was not feeding well. We wanted to get him to eat and thrive,” she said, “but it wasn’t coming together.

“Before I met Alyssa, I had no idea that babies as young as weeks old could have feeding issues, or that there was help. I thought it was instinctual too, and was blown away that it wasn’t.

“It isn’t a bad thing to have trained eyes on your child. There is a difference between a picky eater and a child who needs assistance, and there is nothing wrong with you or your child if you need help. You’re not alone. Working with Alyssa has given us tools to help Miles try out new textures and foods, and make eating fun instead of a chore.”

Which, to Alyssa, is the goal. “Raising children is hard,” she says, “I want to help parents feel like mealtimes are enjoyable and pleasurable for their family.”

Alyssa primarily works with kids from the age of 0-3, but these kinds of issues can arise throughout adolescence. “There are lots of reasons kids can have feeding disorders,” she says, “There are sometimes medical issues like premature birth, gastrointestinal concerns or underlying cardiac conditions. Other feeding disorders could be a result of sensory or developmental disabilities. Or you may have a very typically developing child who is just having a hard time with chewing or transitioning to solids.

“And their feeding concerns vary too. Let’s say you have a 24-week preemie. Typically in the NICU, they’ll try to bottle-feed, but these children aren’t able to coordinate sucking and breathing on their own, so we’ll try a technique called pacing which involves taking a lot of breaks. Other children have cardiac conditions and they fatigue quickly. Maybe they’re at high risk for aspiration (food going into the lungs), or reflux or in some cases, they have severe issues where they’re refusing to eat.”

In addition to her job at the hospital, Alyssa sees patients in the privacy of their homes, and at their convenience. When first meeting a concerned parent, Alyssa sets up a consultation session where she completes an initial evaluation to understand the child’s medical and feeding history. (Often there’s an underlying medical issue, but not always.) Then she’ll observe the child eating (or resisting, depending). She’ll also provide recommendations and referrals, as well a full written evaluation to be sent out to whomever the family wishes.

Think your child might have a feeding disorder? Consider contacting a feeding specialist if the following apply to your child:

  1. Feeding refusal including arching away from bottle/breast, crying, pushing food away, parents needing to use distractions in order for child to accept food
  2. Prolonged mealtimes (greater than 30 minutes)
  3. Irritability or fatigue during feeding
  4. Difficulty transitioning to solid food (including purees and/or table food) at appropriate age
  5. Difficulty chewing
  6. Coughing, gagging, choking, vomiting during mealtime
  7. Difficulty breathing while eating
  8. Not growing and gaining weight appropriately
  9. Recurring pneumonia or respiratory infections
  10. Child eats only a limited repertoire of food items (beyond “picky eaters”)

To learn more, or to contact Alyssa, visit her website at http://alyssakane.wix.com/alyssa-kane

Written by Mel Kozakiewicz ([email protected]) for jcfamilies.com