It’s cold outside. Your kids are driving you crazy. There is nowhere indoors to go. It’s just getting colder. Your walls are caving in. Then you remember the February break. You panic. You look for plane tickets for a tropical island where you’ll lie in the sun, you’ll drink a daiquiri, but, wait… oh no, your children will still be there! You’ll be sticky, covered in sand, and there won’t be any wifi! Ahhhhhh!!!! Before you spiral out, here’s a list of ways to actually enjoy February, avoiding the pitfalls of cabin fever, the corporate takeover of Valentine’s Day, and the long empty days of winter break. There are only 28 days in the month; we’ll get through this. It will be the simple things in life that make it manageable: cooking, making art, watching a movie. If that doesn’t work, take the kids to see the artist Geronimo’s installation of thousands of balloons; it’s bound to be uplifting.
Move Your Body
One of the issues of winter is that there are not too many chances for kids to run wild without outdoor playgrounds and parks as an option. It’s important for kids to move their bodies, and nowhere can they be more free than on the dance floor. The Rock and Roll Playhouse has been giving concerts in Williamsburg for years, but now it’s presenting a weekly family dance party in Industry City that is FREE. Each week features different artists and genres of music. Saturday February 10th 12:30pm the band will be singing the songs of David Bowie, Saturday February 17th 12:30pm The Sounds of Brazil, Saturday February 24th 12:30pm Billy Joel. It’s a great way to introduce kids to different genres of music, and with egg shakers, parachutes, hula hoops, and a limbo stick, the band keeps kids engaged and dancing. Keep in mind that the audience varies; the first week there were preschoolers and big kids, while the second was just a sea of infants. The beautiful enormous indoor space, called The Landing, accommodates everyone and the restaurant churns out kid-friendly lunch options like buttered pasta and hot dogs, with wine and beer for the thirsty adults. The Rock and Roll Playhouse, Filament at the Landing, 220 36th Street, Industry City, Brooklyn. FREE
Go to the movies
With the winter chill, there is nothing better than going to the movies…with your baby. Sunshine Theater (and their popular Rattles and Reel series) may have closed down, but baby friendly movie options abound in Brooklyn. At Alamo Drafthouse, an Alamo For All series happens every Tuesday with any film that plays before 2pm. This is a program for families with young children and guests with special needs. The lights are turned up and the music is turned down, all ages (included crying infants) are welcome, talking/ noise/ pacing the aisles is allowed, and latecomers are invited inside. It’s your chance to catch up on the Oscar contenders! At Nitehawk, there is a Hawks With Babies series, which also happens on Tuesdays, and is only for families with babies 1 year or younger. First run screenings usually around late afternoon come with full food and beverage service, making this a perfect winter activity. Alamo Drafthouse, 445 Albee Square, Downtown Brooklyn; Nitehawk Theater, 136 Metropolitan Ave., Williamsburg.
Learn to cook
For kids who love to cook and also love the Little House on the Prairie book series, there is a sweet new afterschool class. Starting Tuesday, February 6 from 3:15pm- 4:15pm, 2nd and 3rd graders will have a chance to use whole foods and organic ingredients to learn basic cooking skills while making recipes based on The Little House Cookbook and other foods from that period. If your family hasn’t read these classic tales, this could be a great opportunity to start in on them. Mouth watering treats like johnny cakes, corn dodgers, and ginger water are on the menu. Skills like chopping, mixing, measuring, will be covered, giving kids a foundation to cook in their own home kitchens. (Alas, no butter churning.) The class will meet every week (except February 20th) through March 27th at Families First Brooklyn. Pioneer Cooking Class, Price: $200, 250 Baltic St., Cobble Hill. To register: call Nan at 718-237-1862.
Make Some Art
Museums are the winter playgrounds of savvy New York families. The Children’s Museum of the Arts, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and the American Museum of Natural History are all great places to spend an entire day with kids. But even the more grown up museums offer “kids’ days” where children are invited to tour, engage, interact and make their own art. The Guggenheim Museum is currently offering three February family programs for kids of all ages, to go along with their exhibits Josef Albers in Mexico and Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away. On the second Sunday of each month, families with kids ages 5 and up are invited for a family oriented tour with hands on activities. On Sunday, February 11 10:30am-12pm, the tour will focus on Monumental Art, where viewers will see how artists are inspired by famous monuments and sites. $20 per family. (includes admission and tour for two adults and up to four children). For younger art lovers, children ages 2-4, there is a chance to explore one or two works on view, hear a story, and do an art-making activity. Saturday February 17th 10:30-12pm $30 per family (includes admission, materials, and snacks). Even babies can get in on the art fun. Tuesday February 21st from 3-4pm, the Guggenheim will host their monthly stroller tours (for children up to 24 months) featuring touchable objects and art-making for babies, and adult conversation for their grownups. $25 per stroller (includes admission for baby and up to 4 adults.) For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 5th Avenue, NYC.
Build With Legos
Looking for something to do Presidents Day Weekend? On Friday February 16th through Sunday February 18th, all lego-maniacs in NYC will descend upon Lego Live, an enormous lego event that should be fun for kids with a passion for building. Taking over Pier 36, in between the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges on the Lower East Side, the event will feature over 4 million bricks! That makes a lot of construction. Plus, there will be live stage demonstrations, contests, and sessions with master builders. For kids who can’t get enough of Legos, this will be a must; yet tickets start at $30 per person (including adults, although kids under 3 are free) so this may be best for the super fans. Lego Live, Pier 36, 299 South St, LES, tickets start at $30.
See a show
One of my favorite book for preschoolers is P.D. Eastman’s Go Dog Go, an action packed book full of surprises. It’s a lesson in honesty (“Do you like my hat? No, I do not.”) and verbs. Plus, the classic illustrations are delightful. Now families can see this beloved classic on stage with a performance by Tribeca Family Theater on Saturday, February 17th at 1:30pm. The show aims to bring the hilarity of the book to life with cars, hats, balls and audience participation. Will they able to capture the speed of the book with roller coasters, cars that zoom, helicopters, scooters, ferris wheels, boats, skiing, and blimps? Not sure, but audience members will definitely be on the edge of their seats with clowning, songs, and bright colors. Best for ages 3-7. Tribeca Family Theater, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers St. Tickets; $30
Update Your Instagram
If you’re looking for some fun photo opportunities for your Winter Break, look no further than the Geronimo Balloons exhibit inside the New York City Ballet. Artist Jihan Zencirli installed thousands of compostable, biodegradable balloons in the ballet building at Lincoln Center. Zencirli explains her work: “Balloons are only for a moment. They disappear and vanish. So rooted in my work is this reminder that you will only have this experience at this particular time. You’re here, you’re seeing it, you’re alive.” Although that might make you rush right out the door, the exhibit currently isn’t open to the public (only to ballet ticket holders). You’ll have to wait for the week of February 17th through 25th, when it opens to the public, and your family will be able to walk through (without seeing a ballet performance) and take a peek. New York City Ballet, David H. Koch, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, FREE. NYCB will host free, open hours for the general public to view the exhibition February 17 through February 25 at the following times: Mon-Fri 10 AM – 6 PM, Sat 10 AM – 12 PM, Sun 10 AM – 1 PM
Change your baby everywhere!
Ready for the most exciting parent news to come out of the mayor’s office, since the announcement of citywide free Pre-K? Starting in July, new or recently renovated public buildings or gathering spaces will have to provide diaper changing stations for families! These will include places like museums, shopping malls, bowling alleys, and any place that merchandise is sold. Parents will have access to these stations regardless of their gender identity, meaning that men’s bathrooms will have diaper changing stations too (or there will at least need to be a genderless bathroom option.) “Finding somewhere to change a diaper while out and about in New York can be as challenging as the Hunger Games,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick, in the mayor’s press release. “Safe and sanitary spaces to care for children must be the norm for all parents.” When this rule goes into effect, say goodbye to changing babies on unsanitary stall floors, in bathroom sinks or while standing the baby up.
Celebrate the year of the dog!
In the Chinese New Year, 2018 will be the Year of the Dog, which sounds like it will be better than 2017: the Year of the Rooster. On Saturday February 17th from 11am- 4pm at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), families can celebrate the New Year with zodiac arts and crafts, dance performances, snacks, and stories. At 11:15am watch a lion parade, and afterwards kids will have the chance see the costume up close. At 1:30pm listen to a gong concert and learn about some of the oldest musical instruments in the world. Other highlights include a ribbon dance, a scavenger hunt, face painting and more. The whole schedule is listed here. Tickets are $12 per person, kids under 2 are free. Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Center Pl., Chinatown.
Take an international trip
The 2018 New York International Children’s Film Festival is a fun-filled film fest for families that takes place around Manhattan and Brooklyn February 23rd- March 18th. There are premieres that will excite fans like March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step which is perfect for kids who loved the first movie. Also, the world premiere of Hilda, based on the UK graphic novel series, will delight readers of the books. Additionally, we’re looking forward to seeing White Fang (based on the Jack London’s classic book), The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales (from the director of Oscar®-nominated Ernest & Celestine), and the popular short films collection. Celebrating its 21st year, the festival offers up thought provoking films for ages 3 to 18. Tickets are on sale and tend to sell out quickly, so check the schedule and reserve your seats early. New York International Children’s Festival, various locations, ticket prices depend on movie.