Every day is an adventure when you’re raising kids in the heart of New York City. Take it from heymama member Neha Leela Ruch: As founder of the blog Mother Untitled, a site that empowers women to stay creative and connected throughout motherhood, this mama of one loves exploring her NoMad neighborhood — and sharing her favorite ways to have fun with and without kiddos in tow. Get to know Neha below and keep reading for her insider picks.
First things first: Tell us a bit more about Mother Untitled.
I founded the site after my first year of motherhood, when I chose to pause work to focus on raising my son, Bodie. I felt so confident and connected because of that choice, but I did observe mixed reactions that gave me a view into the cultural rhetoric on motherhood and the chasm between power at work and power as a woman making choices for her and her family.
Mother Untitled is for ambitious women making space for motherhood, and in turn, more space for themselves. The movement shifts the narrative to celebrate the community, creativity, and growth that’s possible during this chapter.
What’s it like to live in NoMad?
I really fell in love with New York when I became a mother. In Bodie’s earliest days, I was lucky never to feel lonely mostly because I was able to feel “in it” just by looking outside. There’s a pulse, diversity and access that we love here. I easily met new people because we live on top of each other—literally. I have close friends right in our building. Although the city feels large, our neighborhoods are small, and it’s easy to keep seeing the same faces at the playgrounds. I felt like I stepped into this smart and kind [group] of new mothers who were all in different industries and making unique choices in their work-life setup.
Where’s the best place to get coffee or tea in NoMad?
I’m partial to Blank Slate because it’s around the corner and they give Bodie free croissants. It’s this sweet little spot with Etch-a-Sketches to keep him entertained while I place our order. They happen to have a beautiful little market that is basically what I want my kitchen to look like.
Best place for drinks?
Cosme has excellent Palomas. The NoMad bar is a zoo, but if you can sneak in around 4 p.m., which in my book is a totally appropriate time for a drink, then I think it’s the most romantic space for a catch-up. I love the bar downstairs at Beecher’s Cheese Shop on a casual rainy night for a cheese board and a glass of wine.
What’s your favorite place for new moms to hang out?
We love our days hanging in Madison Square Park, either on the lawn with little babies or around the fountain, where there are steps for the kids to do chalk, space for them to scooter and live music to set a fun mood. Maman just opened a location in our neighborhood at the beginning of the year. I think the owners have the biggest hearts and most welcoming vibe. The staff is so accommodating even when you come bearing unwieldy strollers, and they have such a good mix of savory and sweet treats. It’s on the same block as Madison Square Park and Appleseeds, which are both meccas for local mothers of young kids. In the summer, they have a window that pops open, so you can stroll(er) by and grab a coffee and pastry to go, which is such a lovely idea.
How do you keep an active toddler entertained?
We swore by Rambling Dan and Dionne Kamara’s classes in Bodie’s first 18 months. After that, he took to the Toddle Around classes at Kids At Work, which include everything from open sensory play to really sweet music time. For rainy weekends, storytime at Books of Wonder is a sweet neighborhood option, but Barnes & Noble in Union Square has a gorgeous second-floor kids’ area where kids can wander and pick books to read in their cozy stage or play at their train and activity tables. Pinwheel Park in Chelsea is one of our favorites for this age, where they’re not big enough to keep up with the elementary-school kids but want to feel independent.
What’s your favorite family-friendly restaurant—meaning, where it’s OK if your a kid freaks out?
Marta, hands down. It’s the chicest pizza spot. My 2-year-old is thrilled with their basic dishes, but they have a grown-up menu and feel. They are always happy to set us up where Bodie can have a bit of room to roam, and come with crayons before we even ask.
Describe your perfect weekend.
I’m going to pretend you’re asking me this in the summer. If we’re staying in the city, we’ll head to the Soho House rooftop pool for brunch, where we can set up shop for a while, and kids can play until about noon. We’ll head home for a long family nap and do an early dinner in Madison Square Park with wine and Roberta’s Pizza from Madison Square Eats. The next day we’d ride the subway uptown to do the carousel and the zoo in Central Park and maybe squeeze in a picnic with takeout from Tavern on the Green.
Where’s your favorite place to go for a moms’ night out?
Currently, I’m loving abcV, the newish, vegetarian sister to abc kitchen. The space is clean with super soft and feminine details and the line-up of drinks, even the buzzy ones, seem wellness-inspired.
Favorite date-night spot?
We love the iPic down in Fulton Market, which has flatbed seats, complete with blankets, and an extensive menu (get the crispy rice with tuna) that’s hand delivered while you watch movies in an intimate setting. We also love going to Red Rooster for live jazz and comfort food.
Loved this piece on New York City’s NoMad neighborhood? Check out this other Mom Life feature and get to know Pasadena, California.