New York Chronicles – Episode 1 “Where it all began”

Snow in Manhattan

Snow in Manhattan

We were in living in Manhattan on the day I became a stay home dad.  We moved to New York for six months because Shelly was working on a movie that was shooting there.  I was working remotely for 3M as a test engineer and we were looking to hire baby sitters during the day so I could go to “the office” and work.

The kids and I pretty much stayed in our extended stay hotel room for the first two weeks.  For exercise, I would take Trystan running up and down the halls and to the gym in the basement.  I was very intimidated by the city, not to mention the cold.  Leaving the hotel to get food was a chore, until we discovered seamless.com.  I took the kids on the stroller to Whole Foods three blocks away and to some restaurants within a two block radius.  On our first (really) cold day outing, I bundled Zoey up in the cutest winter onesie but Trystan, however, wasn’t used to wearing a winter coat.  He cried, kicked and screamed in the hotel lobby.  Frustrated, I went outside without putting it on him.  As we walked down our block he kept saying, “See, it’s not cold daddy, it’s not cold.”  I got some “is this dad crazy?” stares from passersby’s but I was teaching this Cali kid a lesson.  He smiled and continued his mantra, “it’s not cold daddy” and as soon as we turned the corner, we walked into the current of frigid wind flowing down 1st Street, Trystan instantly burst into tears and started shivering.  Calmly I asked, “Trystan, do you want me to put your coat on?” he couldn’t even respond as tears uncontrollably coursed his red cheeks.  “It’s cold out here, let me put it on you.”  It still took over five outings before putting the coat on became routine.

After a couple of weeks in New York, the corporate office, VETO’d my remote work and I was told by human resources that I had to come back to California.  So I quit.  I put my two weeks’ notice in on the day we were supposed to interview potential full-time nannies from the baby sitting company I had found online.  I called Dara of Smartsitting and told her my situation and that we’re no longer going to need a full-time nanny, but we may need some part time childcare during our stay in NY.  Dara tried to get ahold of Rebecca who was the first sitter/nanny to be interviewed that day but was unable to do so (that happens with subways) until she was already by our hotel.  With Dara’s recommendation and reassurance, we booked Rebecca for 8 hours a day for two weeks.  She was amazing with the kids!  Later on we discovered that EVERY sitter who works for Smartsitting is AMAZING!!!  And yes, this is a plug for Smartsitting.  If you’re in New York and you’ve got kids, or if you are just visiting and want a night out on the town look them up: http://smartsitting.com, and ask for Dara Epstein and tell her Roy (Trystan and Zoey’s dad) sent you.

During my last two weeks of work, I noticed that my take home pay (after taxes and benefits were taken out) was just as much as we were paying for full time childcare.  Quitting was beginning to look more like a blessing than a curse.  Slowly but surely the kids and I started expanding our reach of the city, first on foot, then by taxi, then the subways, we even got to New Jersey several times to visit my cousins and their kids.

The first couple of months were very stressful for me.  I was adjusting to several major changes at the same time: 1. losing a job; 2. becoming a stay home dad; 3. Manhattan; 4. Manhattan; and finally, 5. Manhattan.  It was a steep learning curve with little guidance.  For me, it was the perfect daddy boot camp.

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