After residing in Los Angeles for most of my young daughter’s life, I must admit that there are tons of perks to living here. Geographically speaking, Los Angeles County is situated on the Southern Coast of California and boasts a climate of year-round sunshine. Winter merely requires a light jacket and maybe some boots for those extra nippy nights, and even then you can make a comfortable visit to the many beaches along the coast. Los Angeles is also no stranger to tourism and the entertainment business, which means there’s plenty to do with your kids in terms of outings, shows, and activities. These are just a few of the many reasons why folks would want to live in Los Angeles and even raise kids out here.
But the sunshine doesn’t come without a cost. Parenting in Los Angeles comes with several odd and unique struggles that you wouldn’t quite find in calmer, smaller suburbs And as much as I love the pros, parenting in Los Angeles can be annoying. Los Angeles County is quite large — comprised of 88 cities and millions of people with vastly different backgrounds — so my personal experiences are not going to be exactly the same as the next Angeleno parent. Even so, the number of the daily struggles I face as a parent have left me wondering if all the hassle is worth the year-round sunshine and crazy cost of living.
These are the most annoying things about raising a kid in LA:
Scheduling Outings Around Traffic
Scheduling play dates and activities is fun and all, but keep in mind if you’re heading outside of your neighborhood, you might hit some light (or really heavy) traffic on the way to and from your desired destination. I’ve learned to schedule beach trips earlier in the day so when I hit afternoon traffic headed east (which sometimes starts as early at 2 p.m.) at least my daughter has ample time to nap. And going out on a weekday after 4 p.m. during the height of LA traffic is an absolute no-go.
… And The Parking Situation
And when you do figure out where you’re taking your kids and what time of day you’re willing to brave venturing into traffic, once you hit your destination, cross your fingers you’ll find an affordable parking spot! Because trust me — it's not so easy.
Explaining The Entertainment Business To A Kid
You might be casually taking your kid out to ice cream one afternoon, only to find yourself trying to explain to your kid that cows don’t normally cross busy downtown streets like the one you just saw, and that specific cow was just “acting” for a commercial. Or you might be trying to have a peaceful lunch out in the restaurant patio only to shuffle your already antsy kid back indoors because NCIS is filming down the street and they're scheduled to have an explosion any time now. Or, my personal favorite, explaining to my kids that the photographers with the two foot-long lenses in the paparazzi tent at the pumpkin patch aren’t there to take our photos, only photos of famous people’s kids.
The Insane Cost And Competitiveness Of Preschools
The price tag attached to private preschools in Los Angeles, many of which cost up to $15,000 a year, is no joke. Even if you have the chunk change to send your kid to a private preschool (because the benefits are enormous), good luck getting in. Most private preschools have a rigorous selection process in which parents tour the school, and then kids come in for a “play date” to see how they interact with other kids. It’s pretty nerve-wracking, and to be honest, I had an easier time getting into college than finding a preschool for my kid.
Talking About Vaccinations
Look, deciding whether or not to vaccinate your kid is your choice, but there's no denying the adding benefits (and all around safety) that comes with choosing to vaccinate your kid. It's widely known that Los Angeles County has a few small communities with very low vaccination rates, mostly due to parents opting out of vaccinations for non-medical reasons. Only recently did Gov. Jerry Brown sign into law a bill that prohibits parents of children from public and private schools from using a personal belief exemption for vaccinations. As of January 2016, it's officially in effect. Personally I'm thrilled, but I know there are plenty of parents who are not.
Living Among The Crowds
Los Angeles County has a population of more than 10 million people, so if you’re living in LA, chances are you’ll rub quite a few elbows. My very first trip to a local Target on a weekend afternoon was borderline traumatic: I fought through a sea of red carts floating in the dollar section while trying to muffle the cries of a colicky infant in the cart. My quick trip to get toothpaste and diapers became a dangerous mission that resulted in tears and even a little bit of blood. It was quite the shock compared to the spacious suburban big box stores in my parents’ hometown.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on a trip to Costco. The only reason I haven’t fled LA just yet is because there are times when I can avoid the crowds and peacefully get in some grocery shopping, particularly on weekday mornings when everyone is stuck in traffic on the way to work.
We see a lot more green lawns out here than I’m willing to admit, but that still doesn’t make me feel good when I have to explain to my daughter that even though it’s a scorching 90 degrees, I can’t fill up her tiny plastic pool because of this thing called “the drought.”
But I’ll admit that on the most unbearably hot days I give up and let her fill up that small pool of water. I simply justify it by reusing the water to rehydrate the lawn when she’s done. When you get past the initial struggle of cutting back your water use, the drought makes for a good lesson in conservation and recycling. (Even if it's incredibly hard to explain to a tot.)
Images: Courtesy of Loreann Talbo (1), Giphy (7)