When you tell people you live in New York you can almost see them picturing you strutting in some fabulous outfit Sex in The City style down the streets of Manhattan with a cocktail in one hand, designer handbag in the other.
The reality is me pushing a beast of a double buggy on a bumpy pavement with another flustered mum as we try to chase at least one escaped child; cheddar bunnies spilling from our hands and pockets in order to keep the kids happy. Schlepping to a sing a longs no-one will sit still through so we can possibly have a caffeine fix and a conversation for three and a half minutes before someone has a meltdown (usually me).
My footwear is worn for comfort, my handbag is full of wipes and toys with unidentifiable snacks lining the bottom and encrusted on the handle. Not unlike motherhood anywhere else perhaps but having started my parenting journey just outside London I can promise you it is a whole lot tougher here.
The decision to move to New York was one that came quite unexpectedly and at a time when we had just settled into being parents. Our son was six months old and after a tough start we were finally sleeping again and settling into a good routine.
The job my husband was offered was the kind you don’t turn down lightly and although it meant putting my business on hold for a while it felt like the right thing to do.
I had visited New York several times when I was younger and had said that New York was the only other place I could see myself living. Having been in London for almost ten years it felt like the right time to try somewhere new and New York is after all one of the most exciting cities in the world.
With a one-year old in tow when we arrived, and getting pregnant soon after, we never quite experienced the Sex In The City version of New York that people picture when they hear where we live.
New York is a hard place to live. Kids or no kids it is a tough city that is unforgiving and unashamedly grimy and not particularly user friendly. It is also full of life, diversity, beauty and charm.
Yes they have some of the best restaurants in the world here but making our way around the culinary delights of the city has been limited to when I was not heavily pregnant or we could face the hefty babysitting fee.
Usually restaurants are restricted to where we don’t have to fold the pushchair or where they have crayons to distract the toddler. Many places here have a forty minute wait just to get seated for brunch, a four minute wait can be tough with two little boys.
We decided that Brooklyn would be our base for the more family friendly feel and easier commute to work. Brooklyn is somewhere you would walk around in fear just 20 years ago but is now the home of hipsters and young families wanting a bit more space and a bit more peace than Manhattan can offer.
We live near Park Slope known for its beautiful Brownstones and my favourite park in the world, Prospect Park. I am not sure that you are allowed to live here if you do not have either a dog or a child or a hipster beard, but with one of three we were let in.
There have definitely been some extreme highs and lows living here but Brooklyn is unlike anywhere else and I have had an uneasy but blossoming love affair with it since we arrived.
It has been one hell of an adventure and every time I see the Manhattan skyline I have to pinch myself that I actually live in this crazy city.
Here I want to share some of this journey,among other mothering and ex-pat musings and provide a Bear Grylls style guide to surviving with your sanity intact while raising little people in the city that never sleeps, something I don’t do much of either!