Tuesday Interview: Mommy Blogger Stephanie Barnhart (and her adorable son Maximo)

Stephanie Barnhart and Maximo

By Jak Burke, 2013.

At Baby Does NYC we love Mommy Bloggers because they are the heart and soul of our City. What makes a good blogger? How can new bloggers benefit from their experience? We reached out to Queens mom, popular blogger at footballfoodandmotherhood.com and entrepreneur Stephanie Barnhart and asked her to tell us a bit about her successes. 

Stephanie what impelled you to go public about your journey as a parent? 

well, maximo was surprise - one i would never change now, but at the time, i didn't have any friends in NYC with kids, or even married! so the blog was sort of therapeutic to me to laugh about all the awful things that you experience through pregnancy - like having to pee in the middle of times square and rushing around with a huge belly trying to find the only bathroom before you wet yourself - that was awesome. 

(read the post about it here).  http://www.footballfoodandmotherhood.com/to-pee-or-not-to-pee-where-are-the-bathrooms-in-nyc/

What's so cool about raising a family in a City like NYC?

culture by far. I grew up on farm in western pa - and while I am glad to take maximo back to his roots, he will never get to see so much about the world in one place like he can NYC. living in Queens, just walking down the street you might hear 7 different languages. I want him to grow up understanding everyones values and cultures and have a broad appreciation for the world. did i mention the food? you'll never get so much authentic delicious food as you will here!  

Is the myth of an urban village true? What we mean is -  can we raise our children with a sense of community in a sprawling metropolis like NYC?

i think you can - we LOVE astoria - there is a cute little pocket of moms here who we see everyday in the park, at our classes, at the coffee shop. and the local stores are great - they always remember us - so even though NYC is so big, I still like that people know my name.  

How easy is it to source organic and sustainable food/goods for young children?

eh - challenging. there is produce on every corner but the quality of it is definitely lacking, plus for the average new yorker - it's can really add up in cost to be healthy! I love local farmer's markets on the weekends, the elmhurst dairy farm for local milk (only dairy farm in NYC - you've prob seen their products in stores and didn't even realize it's right in jamaica, queens!)  and for anything else - usually trader joes! i do miss the flavor of a tomato at a country side farm stand back in PA! 

What are some of your favorite local things to do? Why is this important to you?

there is ALWAYS an abundance of things to do in NYC! our favorites are the zoos - there are 4 of them (5 including the aquarium) and it's open year round so you can get out for a walk, exercise, fresh air AND see animals? we also love our local park - Astoria Park. the walk on the water with the view of the city is beautiful - and queens county farm museum - a little bit of home here in queens! they have events all year - lots of kids fests, and live chickens running around - maximo goes NUTS! 

plus there are children's museums, history museum with dinosaurs, art museums, broadway - it's a must to take advantage of all the culture you can get in NYC while you live here!

While we live in a consumer driven, corporate environment is it possible to keep our children innocent?

barely. i know maximo will see things on the subway way beyond the years I'll want to explain them, but then again - that's part of the world we live in. I just like to take him back to pa and the country to make sure he keeps balance and knows that life isn't always as hectic as city living. there are days you can do nothing but sit by a lake and listen to frogs, chase fireflies and roast marshmallows over a fire. that's important.  

If a parent is thinking of starting a blog, what are the first few key steps you would advise they take?

be open, honest and write about what makes you happy. don't worry about your audience, they will show up if you believe in your writing first. 

Did you encounter any specific tech difficulties?

ha - everyday! and i own a tech company! it's just important to not get overwhelmed and frustrated. walk away from your computer, put your phone down and play with your kids for 30 minutes - you'll feel better and figure it out.  

How does one create a natural community without spending a fortune?

facebook groups and Google+ communities. I love them because they are private so moms can share info without feeling judged by outsiders, but it's really open and helpful to other moms and they also support each other - i run a couple so email me if you want to join - it's truly an online community.  

How can a new parent blogger create profit through partnerships or sponsors?

well, it will take awhile you have to become established first - so write about things that make you happy. don't just try and jump in and expect to make millions. also, be TRUE. don't sell out for a few dollars to write a raving review for a crappy product. you aren't doing any service to your readers - and you'll paint yourself with that reputation. 

to start - try writing a 5 top products article, and link to your amazon affiliate program. if someone clicks and buys, you'll make a percentage! 

What 5 essential things must/should all new parents know about raising a child in NYC?

- where the changing tables are! (hint: download this app: MommyNearest.com)

- travel light! trying to lift a baby, diaper bag and stroller on a subway yourself is heavy and challenging.

- make friends with some other moms via  facebook groups, meetups, or even in the park or playground! nothing helps you stay sane in the city like a stroller buddy (even reach out to me if you have no one else! i was alone at one time too!) 

- get out of the house! don't coop yourself up in your tiny apartment - don't be afraid of the city - maximo has been strolling since he was 2 weeks old - and he never even got sick till after he was 1 year old! 

- yes you can breastfeed in public. new yorkers don't care - it was even passed as a law to allow it! - in fact I even had another mom come up and thank me for breast feeding in Lincoln Center once - don't be afraid - you deserve to go out to lunch here and there - don't let the baby hold you back. 

Share your NYC n'hood experience as a mom or dad! Email us here: babydoesnyc@gmail.com.