We recently met up with Jay from Chicago’s Neighborhood Parents Network (NPN). NPN has been connecting families all across Chicago for more than 30 years. Whether you need advice on the best schools in the area or are looking to meet other new parents in your neighborhood, NPN has something to offer all Chicago parents. With over 5400 active members, NPN’s diverse clubs and events bring together families from all across the city.
What made you initially decide to get involved with Neighborhood Parents Network (NPN)?
I’d heard about NPN since I was pregnant from friends with kids. When I had my daughter and went into “new mommy panic” mode, I joined a NPN New Moms Group. It was an immediate lifesaver. Having new friends going through the same new parent challenges was incredible.
What is the most rewarding part of being involved with NPN?
I love connecting new parents and helping them receive information on everything from potty training advice to the best kid-friendly brunch spots in the city. Having a fun, free event to go to almost every week is a fun perk too!
NPN offers so many great opportunities for new moms to mingle and share their experiences with other first-time moms. What advice do you have for new parents?
Ask for help when you need it! There is no shame in needing someone to watch the baby for a while so you can sneak in a nap or just unwind. Being a new parent can be all-consuming- I hope new parents realize there’s no shame in being overwhelmed, intimidated or confused at times.
We love the NPN blog for its great tips on fun activities and yummy local restaurants in various neighborhoods around Chicago. What’s your favorite place to take your family in the city and why?
There is so much to do in the city its hard to pick just one place! But this summer, we’ve loved taking long bike rides to Welles Park. It’s a huge park with a fun water feature at the play lot and a path for riding along the perimeter. On the way home, we always grab lunch at Drew’s Eatery –the perfect, kid-friendly place for an organic hot dog and ice cream cone.
NPN not only offers moms the chance to have group play dates and share parenting tips and advice, but also gives moms the opportunity to relax with their “Mom’s Night Out” events. Do you have any advice for moms out there trying to balance raising a family while still finding time for yourself?
Its definitely easy to be overwhelmed when you’re trying to do it all! For me, I think sneaking in even a ½ hour a day of “me” time is crucial to keeping me sane. I’ve stopped feeling guilty if I let the kids watch a show while I get in a long, hot shower if that’s what I need to re-charge for the rest of the day.
Chicago is such a diverse community with so many great family-friendly activities! What has been the best thing about raising your child in the city?
Thanks to the diversity in Chicago, we have an awesome selection of restaurants with foods from so many other countries. It’s been fun introducing the kids to different foods from all over the world. Now, my daughter names Thai noodles and spicy shrimp sushi rolls as her two favorite foods!
Now for a quick glance into Jay’s life.
What’s your one guilty pleasure?
I’m embarrassed to admit but I watch way too much reality TV!
What’s your favorite activity to do with your kids?
Foster Beach is the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon. My kids can spend hours playing in the sand and filling up endless buckets of water. An ice cream treat on the way home and it’s a perfect day!
What is the book currently by your bedside?
I just finished reading a great book called the Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty. Unfortunately my kindle just broke so it might be awhile until I start another book!
What is something that is always in your fridge?
My kids have recently become addicted to ProBugs, which are these organic kefir drinks in spill-proof, squeezable pouches.
Chicago Cubs or Chicago White Sox?
I’d have to go with the Cubs since we’re so close to Wrigleyville.