Navigating the streets of Boston with a stroller is no easy feat, and Kim Foley MacKinnon, Roslindale resident, journalist and author, knows this. A self-described “city girl,” MacKinnon raised her 11-year-old daughter, Sadie, in Boston and understands the challenges of finding the right day care, child-friendly parks and activities.

Navigating the streets of Boston with a stroller is no easy feat, and Kim Foley MacKinnon, Roslindale resident, journalist and author, knows this. A self-described “city girl,” MacKinnon raised her 11-year-old daughter, Sadie, in Boston and understands the challenges of finding the right day care, child-friendly parks and activities.


From here, Foley MacKinnon put together “Boston Baby: A Field Guide for Urban Parents” as a way to make life easier for Boston parents.


“I have been a journalist in Boston for a long time, and I had written a couple guide books, but there really isn’t a sort of research guide for parents,” she said. “My book has got everything from preschool to great spaces to yoga classes. It’s something I could have used when I had my daughter.”


What sort of topics does your book cover?


It covers everything from when you have a newborn, Mommy and Me classes, support classes. It’s got lactation consultants, where to go to find babysitters. I covered gyms that have child care. I talked about all sort of activities at the library, outdoor activities, play stations, bookstores, toy stores. I have a chapter on what to do when it’s hot outside, and I have a chapter for winter stuff. I have a day trip section where nothing is more than two hours outside Boston in that section. I have a chapter navigating the Boston Public Schools system, zones and how to register. It can be confusing.


Are you writing from personal experiences?


I’m definitely writing from personal experience. I’m also the DailyCandy Boston kids editor, so I have a lot of knowledge from doing that job and checking things out. I would say virtually everything in the book, we’ve been to or gone to.


What are the benefits of raising your children in Boston?


I think that the access to the arts and world-class museums and other institutions is invaluable. It’s such a benefit. It’s easy to get around; public transportation is easy.


What are the challenges of raising your children in Boston?


There’s the regular urban stuff. You worry about not having enough green space. You don’t necessarily get your school of choice. You worry more about crime.


What makes Boston such a family-friendly city?


I just think there’s a huge variety of things to do. If you’re into art, there’s a world-class Museum of Fine Arts. If you want to go to a science museum, you have your pick of several. There’s a lot of green space, actually, from the Arnold Arboretum to the Emerald Necklace to the Boston Common. For city dwellers, it’s something to keep in mind. You may not have a backyard, but there’s always somewhere to play with your kids outside.


Boston’s history is great, too. You live in a place where so much of America’s history had happened. You can drive up to Walden Pond to see where Thoreau was, you can see Paul Revere’s house. It’s very accessible to kids. 


Do you think people raise their children differently in a city than in a suburb?


I guess it depends on what neighborhood you live in and your comfort level, but I think it’s different to live in the city. When I was young, my mom would say, “Go outside and play, come inside when it’s dark.” I don’t do that. I don’t know if it’s the city or if it’s the time we live in, I’m not really sure.


Do you feel like a city has a big effect on a child’s development?


I feel like my daughter is pretty independent and sort of savvy. Certainly, she’s seen all walks of life having grown up in Boston. I think that makes her open-minded.


I think that all depends on how you raise your kid and what you expose them to. Maybe she’s seen more than her share of homeless people than someone in the suburbs. That can be a discussion on where that came from.


Do you feel like more families are raising their kids in an urban environment? Why or why not?


I think it goes in cycles, especially in Boston. People will move out to the suburbs and it sort of goes in waves. I think a lot has to do with schools and space and wanting more. If you have more kids, you want to have more room. It’s all tied to housing prices. There are so many variables.


Where are your top places to bring your kids in Boston?


I think it changes with every age, but we live near the Arboretum and we enjoy going over there. Coolidge Corner has a Saturday matinee for families in the morning. We do hang out at the library a lot. My daughter loves to ice skate, so she and my husband go to a lot of different rinks. Some of them are free, and it’s a really great activity.


Where are the worst places to bring your kids?


I think you need to know your kid, and make wise decisions on where to bring them. Maybe they’re not ready to spend two hours in a museum, maybe they want to be outside. It’s all a matter of choice.


Where are some good places to bring your kids if you’re on a tight budget?


There are actually quite a few things to do in Boston that are free. With the libraries, there’s everything from puppet shows to story hours to movies on Fridays. There are many toy stores and bookstores that have story hours, and sometimes they have crafts. If you can make the investment and you have small kids, buy a membership to the Children’s Museum. They have something every day, and you can go to other children’s museums with your membership card. The other thing I think is a great deal is joining the Mass. Audubon Society. They have walks and lectures and story times, and it’s really inexpensive to do some of their things.


Kim Foley MacKinnon’s book, “Boston Baby: A Field Guide for Urban Parents” is now available online and at stores.