How To Say, What to Say: Talking to Kids about Race

Back in September, when bombs exploded in trash cans around New York and New Jersey, I called (who else?) my sister. At the time, her city (Charlotte, NC) was reeling from the death of Keith Scott, a black man fatally shot by the Charlotte Police Department. In both of our cities, racial and ethnic differences and presumptions seemed to be on everyone’s minds.

Like moms across the country, my sister and I contemplated what (if anything) to say to our little ones about race, diversity, and the United States of America. We desperately wanted, like generations of mothers who came before us, to raise children who could be kinder and carry less prejudice than the generation before. But how?

I didn’t want to scare or create anxiety in my children by bringing up issues that they couldn’t possibly understand. But at the same time, I didn’t want them to overhear confusing discussions by perfect strangers on the Light Rail. So maybe I should just answer whatever questions they might bring up instead of saying anything preemptively? Would that work? And then I could try to answer them in a way that makes sense to them. You know, like be honest but not traumatizing.

None of this was in the manual.

So I sat down with child and family therapist, Divya Dodhia for some guidance. Long conversation short, there are no easy answers. (You’re welcome.) Most of her advice was preemptive, but not in an event-specific way. Her advice centers around the ways we talk to our kids in general – how we interact with them. Here’s some of the greatest hits:

  • These are the conversations we need to be having. It’s our job to be able to stand up to injustice, in whatever form that takes – whether it’s racism or mental health or whatever the case is.
  • Talk at their level. Use examples from their own lives. When a person is discriminated against, that means the person is being left out. They’re so young, they won’t understand racism, or xenophobia. But they do understand feeling left out. Or bullying. Start there.
  • Begin with very small with very basic concepts of humanity. Start with simple things such as empathy and making good choices. Get them to think about how the other person feels.
  • Use these conversations to encourage and explain empathy. Empathy is so important. Let’s say for example your child hears someone saying this or that about the police. It’s confusing for that child. A conversation with your child is the key to truly understand what they are thinking. Situations that create conflict are not easily resolved all the time. Tell them that not everyone will have the same experiences and that a lot of what people say is based on their own personal experiences.
  • Talk about feelings and the choices that go with them. What can you do with the experiences that you have? Let them bring up the examples. You might ask, “Can you think of a time when you felt ____? Then what happened?”
  • Help your child understand that just because one person thinks one way, not all the people think this same way.
  • Teach simple skills such as sharing and using kind words and even using your manners such as hi, hello, and goodbye. It’s a foundation of you being a human being. You can take it to the next level and talk about what it means to be nice.
  • Instill that good choices lead to good consequences. Even at a young age, they have a right make your own choices, but they also have to deal with the consequences, and those consequences might impact other people. You can do this outside of these larger conversations, and you should. Use examples like ‘If you don’t wake up and brush your teeth, how do you think the rest of the day is going to go for you?”
  • Replace “Don’t do that” or “Don’t say that,” with “How do you think this person is going to feel if you do that?”
  • Remember that behavior is a method of communication. Children have a difficult time articulating feelings, especially when they have negative feelings like guilt, fear, or embarrassment. Learning how to deal with those are the foundations. Anger is normal, but how you display it matters.
  • Give them the language. For example, you might say, “People from different parts of the world will have different foods, different cultures, and look different – that’s called diversity.”
  • Be a positive role model yourself. Model behavior that shows kindness, respect, and acceptance of others.Talk to you children about how they can have a positive impact on their schools and community.
  • Give them the voice to share their thoughts and feelings with you. Ask them questions.
  • Limit their exposure of negative social media.
  • Strengthen their core beliefs of mutual respect, and kindness.
  • Provide experiences where they are exposed to diversity, and help them feel safe, optimistic and motivated that they can make a difference, and they are part of this world.

Divya Dodhia is a child and family therapist.
Mel Kozakiewicz is an editor, writer, and educator.

 

Marc Wesson: Champion of Van Vorst Park

Marc Wesson Van Vorst Park Jersey City

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Marc Wesson several times over the course of my tenure as a journalist in Jersey City. We met in the Van Vorst Park, of course. That’s where Marc can be found on any given day.

JCFamilies: How’s it goin, Marc?

Marc Wesson: Hi there! Still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. (laughs)

JCF: How many hours do you think you’ve spent working on this park?

MW: About a thousand each year, easy.

Marc Wesson Van Vorst Park Jersey CityJCF: It looks beautiful as always.

MW: Thanks. It’s a lot of work, and there are only two of us doing it.

JCF: It’s a full time job.

MW: I don’t consider it a job. But I do feel obligated to it. Having put so much of myself into it, and being a part of it from the beginning, makes it hard for me to walk away.

JCF: What would happen if you did that?

MW: If I walked away? If Jeff (Note: Jeff is Jeff Schwind. Wesson refers to him as “an integral part of the park’s success” on more than one occasion in the interview.) and I just stopped working in here, it would be a jungle in 3 weeks. It would be full of trash, everything would be over grown – it would be a free-for-all.

JCF: Do you get any time off? Or what month do you start?

MW: It’s constant. At the end of February we’re starting to prune, get everything ready for early spring.

JCF: This summer was hot as anything. Did that hurt the park?

MW: This summer was brutal just trying to keep the side lawns alive. We do have a sprinkler system for the gardens. That helped.

JCF: Was it tough financially? Who pays for this park?

MW: That’s a tough one – it’s tricky. I’ve put a lot of money in here over the years. We’re also a nonprofit, the FVVP. That helps us raise funds. The farmers market generates income; we have neighbors who contribute. The spray-ground was part of a state and county grant.

JCF: Was that a lot of work?

Marc Wesson Van Vorst Park Jersey CityMW: I’d say yes, it took five years of paperwork, and three months to build. I got permission from the city, and then I designed it with help from the city’s architecture dept. The challenge is to let a private citizen do work in a public park. The city had to issue a license agreement, with the approval of the city council, and then I handed it over as a gift to the city when construction was completed. The dog run was another major effort.

JCF: Tell me about that.

MW: Well, after the park was renovated in 1999, dogs off-leash tore the new lawns apart. So the solution was to build a dog run, which I designed, helped raise funds for, and tried to make clear how important it is that dogs stay on leashes. Because once a dog urinates on a lawn, it’s gone for the season.

JCF: You know so much – how did you learn?

MW: Although I’ve had an interest since childhood, I had never done any professional gardening, so I took a master gardeners course just to get some formal training. It took 9 months. It was helpful to make sure we’re doing things right. We have to be careful about liability issues, to make sure it’s all safe. We obviously don’t want to poison a kid or a dog…

JCF: Overall, what’s it been like devoting yourself to this beautiful piece of land?

MW: Incredibly rewarding. People really do care about what we are trying to do in the park. And they surprise me! It’s the little things, like a couple of times, people I didn’t even know anonymously picked up my bill in a restaurant to thank me. It was really nice.

And I love to garden, to create something from something that wasn’t there. I get to see all the kids in here playing. They follow Jeff and I around, they want to help. We have weddings here now, and birthday parties. I’d put this park up against Gramercy Park in the city any day because of the variety of plants we have, and this is a public space.

JCF: Any advice to people around the city who want to create a space like this?

Marc Wesson Van Vorst Park Jersey City

MW: We feel that the only way a park can be successful is if the community is involved in it. If the community is involved, they will help care for it.

Mel Kozakiewicz is a writer, editor, and educator. She has been living in Jersey City since 2003.

Holiday Travel Tips for Toddlers

Many Jersey City families are planning extended trips home over the holiday season. If you haven’t had an opportunity to travel with your little ones yet, or if you have but wish you would have done it differently, take a look at our travel tips. And as always, reach out to us with tips of your own that have worked for you!

  1. Resist the urge to immediately hand over the iPad. (Or your phone, or whatever screen you have handy.) Even animation and apps get boring after a while and you’ll want to save this secret weapon for when you really need it. Don’t wear it out right away.
  2. Let got of expectations. Traveling with toddlers is going to take longer, create more crumbs, and include more tears than your pre-kid trips. That’s ok. Be ready for it. And don’t apologize for it. It’s life. Allow the 3 hour journey to take 6 hours – it doesn’t matter.
  3. Plan breaks. Especially if you’re in a car. Look at the map ahead of time and see what might be a good place to stop. Or skip that step and simply know your kids. Will they run around a McDonald’s for 45 minutes? What about an empty parking lot? Got any sidewalk chalk?
  4. Choose your battles. This is not the time to hate on McDonald’s. They have clean bathrooms, toys in the same box as chicken nuggets, and COFFEE. Don’t mind if I do.
  5. Anticipate bedtime. Your friends and family probably won’t notice the subtle tugging your child does when s/he’s ready for bed, but you do. When you see the first sign of sleepy-eye, high-tail it to bed. There’s no need to bring out the overtired titan that resides inside all of our children if you don’t have to. You’re the one who will have to manage it; be as proactive as possible.
  6. New toys. Have a kid-sized backpack full of toys still in the packaging (remember that the packaging is part of the fun) for your child to bring along everywhere you go. Include small and generic toys like crayons, notebooks, matchbox cars, ponies, playing cards, stickers, books, bouncing balls, etc. Feel free to roll these out over time if that works for you too. (DO NOT get excited and show them the stuff before you start the trip. Their magic is in their newness.)
  7. Get your diapers delivered. If there are things you’re going to need for sure (like diapers, squeezies, formula, wipes, pacifiers), consider using a service like amazon prime or diapers.com to have them delivered ahead of time to your destination. Then pack a few more than necessary for the journey and use the new ones upon arrival. That will save room in the car (or in your luggage) for comfort or for that extra item you wanted to bring.
  8. BYO kid cups. Or bottles. Or silverware. (Or order the with the diapers.) Get or bring whatever it is that makes your child a more comfortable and pleasant soul. It’s not easy to be in a new environment, especially one that might not be kid-friendly, for kids or for parents. Bringing small things like cups can help.
  9. Pack complete outfits into ziplock bags. It might add a little bit of time to the packing part of the trip, but you won’t be dismantling your suitcase in a fit of rage looking for baby socks first thing in the morning or immediately following a diaper blow-out. (Just like the iPad, right? Let’s save the mommy-meltdowns until absolutely necessary.) Don’t have time to ziploc outfits? At least put the clothes in plastic bags to avoid getting them wet if it rains while they transfer the luggage to the plane.
  10. Take extra clothes for your little one if you’re flying. Have it handy in case of an accident. And bring an extra for you! You do not want to smell like milk for the majority of a 10 hour flight.
  11. Eat and change diapers before boarding. You never know how long you’ll be sitting before the food is served. (If there’s food…) Make sure you and your kiddo won’t be hungry, at least through take off. And changing tables on airplanes are as cramped as can be. Try to avoid starting the trip there.
  12. Airplane headphones don’t work for kids. They’re either too big or they’re ear buds. They don’t fit. Get some before you go. You’ll be glad you did.

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

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.

All Saints Episcopal Day School Tour

130511-nj-hoboken-allsaints-0250

Tours are conducted during the school day to provide prospective families an opportunity to see the school in action. For families exploring admission for the 2017-2018 school year, tours are offered on the following Tuesdays:

 
September 20, 2016
September 27, 2016
October 11, 2016
November 22, 2016 
 
As space is limited, advance registration is required. To register, click here:
 
Please arrive by 8:45 AM for a brief presentation by the Head of School and a glance at our Spirituality assembly, followed by a tour. This event is intended for parents only.

All Saints Episcopal Day School Tour

130511-nj-hoboken-allsaints-0250

Tours are conducted during the school day to provide prospective families an opportunity to see the school in action. For families exploring admission for the 2017-2018 school year, tours are offered on the following Tuesdays:

September 20, 2016
September 27, 2016
October 11, 2016
November 22, 2016 

 

As space is limited, advance registration is required. To register, click here:
 
Please arrive by 8:45 AM for a brief presentation by the Head of School and a glance at our Spirituality assembly, followed by a tour. This event is intended for parents only.

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

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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.

All Saints Episcopal Day School Tour

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Tours are conducted during the school day to provide prospective families an opportunity to see the school in action. For families exploring admission for the 2017-2018 school year, tours are offered on the following Tuesdays:

September 20, 2016
September 27, 2016
October 11, 2016
November 22, 2016 
 
As space is limited, advance registration is required. To register, click here:
 
Please arrive by 8:45 AM for a brief presentation by the Head of School and a glance at our Spirituality assembly, followed by a tour. This event is intended for parents only.