Guest Blogger Jenny: Local Panaceas For Admissions Anxiety

Sweet Escape…

So you’re in the middle of applying to schools, dealing with the research, the various dates and testing, and all the crazy command performances that go hand in hand with the application process. It really is inhuman. It’ll fill you, a normally mildly neurotic but ultimately normal parent, with massive amounts of self-doubt and anxiety. There’s no sugar coating it: applying to private schools in Los Angeles pretty much sucks.

I wish I had some truly wise words of comfort, a magic wand I could wave that would give you peace and perspective. Sorry, but no dice. What I can offer you are some relatively cheap (albeit sometimes irreverent) ideas for relieving stress during this difficult time. And since money is definitely a factor (if you’re applying to private school, you’re already committed to forking over a ton of cash), these ideas are pretty cheap. No, you might want (and indeed deserve) a Tahitian vacation, but that’s not the sort of solace I’m offering you here.

Suggestions to Soothe the Tense Body

Get a Foot Massage: the best place in L.A. for a foot massage is Man Han Tang Foot Therapy in Koreatown. This Chinese establishment is pretty no-frills, but you get a one hour massage for $20. You’re fully clothed, but somehow they manage to ease knots from your neck, shoulders and back before lying you face up and massaging your feet for what feels like decades. Yes, the place smells funny and is dimly lit, the staff speaks little to no English, and it’s on super noisy Western. But the massage itself feels ten times better than massages I’ve had for ten times the price. 1120 S. Western Ave. 323-731-2218

Get a Regular Massage: You know who does a great job for not a lot of money? Healing Hands. With two locations (one on Larchmont, the other on 3rd St.), these calming bodywork shops offer a variety of massage styles, and there’s practitioners aplenty, so you can definitely get that appointment when you need it most. Ranging from $55-$80, they offer a great massage at a very reasonable price. Larchmont 323-461-7876; 3rd St. 323-782-3988

Get a Good Cheap Mani/Pedi: There’s lots of places in L.A. to choose from here, but I personally like Lanny Nails on Beverly Blvd. A mani/pedi runs about $22, not including tip. They do a very professional job. It’s very clean. And it’s pretty easy to pass out in the chair for a half hour nap. Plus, it’s easy to walk in without an appointment, which makes immediate de-stressing simple. Want something slightly more Westside? Try The Golden Nail in Beverly Hills on Little Santa Monica, 310-788-9027. Lanny, 8317 Beverly Blvd., 323-653-3370

Get a Blow Out: Ok, I know that having any more hot air blown at you than you’re already experiencing at these private school events might be more than you can take. But, a good, dedicated blow dry saves you time (they can last three days) and keeps you looking effortlessly glam. With command performances for private school admissions and the holidays coming up, who wouldn’t want easy perfection? Try Drybar, with locations in Brentwood, Studio City, and West Hollywood, 310-442-6084.

Get an Incredible Facial: I have the best facialist in L.A., and I’m going to share her with you. Arielle, at Club Prive in Westwood, works her magic over a 90 minute span in her very comfortable chair. Her hands massage the tension and fluid right out of your face, her products (mostly European), leave your skin glowing and perfect. I’ve fallen asleep under her capable hands. She isn’t inexpensive, but the results really last. Arielle at Club Prive: 310-470-4708

Wake Up or Calm Down Already!

Great Coffee: Sometimes, stress manifests as exhaustion. But parents in the throes of application chaos have no time for rest. A good stimulant is what’s needed, to paint the world in brighter, shinier colors. While Starbuck’s is at least readily available and the ubiquitous Coffee Bean offers yummy ice blendeds, there’s nothing like a truly superior cup of coffee. May I recommend two places: King’s Road in West Hollywood and LaMill in Silverlake. Very different coffees are on offer. A cup of King’s is a turbo blast of caffeine that almost has texture (milk is necessary). LaMill is for the purist, with specific coffees brewed using a Clover machine. You know those “top notes of chocolate followed by a velvety floral finish” coffee places promise? LaMill delivers this very experience. King’s Road Café, 8361 Beverly Blvd; LaMill, 1636 Silverlake Blvd.

Have a Calming Cup of Tea: Alright, I’ll admit that herbal tea technically isn’t really tea, it’s actually a tisane. But it’ll calm you down and set you right. Try the chamomile mint tea at Le Pain Quotidien. It’s truly excellent. Locations abound: Melrose, Larchmont, South Robertson.


A Cupcake: I personally like the Magnolia Bakery on 3rd St. The cupcakes aren’t huge and aren’t overdone and heavily frosted. Joan’s on 3rd, just down the street, makes a mean assortment as well. And Frosted, on Highland, is serviceable, although they frost with a heavy hand. Magnolia, 8389 West 3rd St. Joan’s, 8350 West 3rd St. Frosted Cupcakery, 1200 North Highland.

Pudding: Want something that’ll bliss you out and is worth the calories? Butterscotch Budin, found at Mozza To Go on Melrose, is the ultimate butterscotch pudding. It manages to combine both the sweet muskiness of burnt sugar with the tang of sea salt, for possibly the best dessert in L.A. A runner up? Milk on Beverly Blvd. makes excellent old fashioned chocolate and butterscotch pudding. And, although I personally hate bananas, I’ve heard Magnolia Bakery’s cookie festooned banana pudding is yumm

Run Away

Walk Around Lake Hollywood or Silverlake Reservoir or Walk the Infamous Stairs in Santa Monica: One of the best reasons to live in L.A. is to be outside, and walking is a true stress buster. Any of these locales offer easy walks that won’t stress your joints but might soothe your soul. Well, except for the stairs, which will just kick your butt.

Hike: L.A. boasts a ton of hiking trails. Hit one on a stressful morning and blast the stress to kingdom come. Take the dog.

Take a Class: I heartily recommend Bar Method, Pilates Plus, Pure Barre, or, for the acrobatically inclined, classes at Cirque School L.A. It’s hard to remember your silly private school stress when you’re hanging upside down from a trapeze. Except for Cirque School (located in the depths of Hollywood), the other options have west and east locations, making it simple to pick up a class wherever you are


For completely politically incorrect hilarity, try watching The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret on IFC. It’ll make your problems seem like nothing. And, “Modern Family”had a hilarious episode about the stress involved with applying to private school in LA. Somebody who works on that show is going through the admission process!! If you missed it, find a friend who recorded it and watch it!

Lose yourself in the beautiful, dreamy quality of LA writer Tina Daunt’s blog, The English Muse. A blog about photos and media. Mostly.

Do you have a great idea or tip for reducing admissions anxiety you’d like to share with other parents? Leave a comment (can be anonymous)!!!

Photos Of Our Event At UCLA Family Commons

Hi Everyone!

Porcha and I were so honored to speak about our book at The UCLA Family Commons on Oct. 27th. The parents who attended were wonderful and asked insightful questions about applying to private elementary schools. Thanks to everyone who joined us! And, a special thank you to The UCLA Family Commons for hosting the event!

If you haven’t seen this beautiful new family center in Santa Monica, check it out! “Keeping Your Family In Balance” is the center’s theme. They offer coaching for family, parenting and school issues, workshops for parenting at every stage and resources and support for families of children with special needs and learning disabilities.

Look On The Bright Side. Really!

As I write this, I’m fully aware that you may find the title of this piece, “Look On The Bright Side” slightly annoying. At this point in the admissions process, you’re probably thinking, “it’s easy for her to say” or “how can I look on the bright side when I’m anxious and filled with uncertainty”? If @#&$!*! is all you can say, I totally get it.

Perfectly imperfect is how I see the admissions process. The process and outcome can be perfect. Or, more likely, imperfect. I’m ok with saying “look on the bright side” because I’ve been there. I was the mom applying to private elementary schools a few years ago. I rode the daily roller coaster of emotions. I was thrilled to submit written applications. I was nervous about parent interviews. I was dreading the testing days.

Similar to white water rafting, this process can jolt even the most steel-nerved parent. Ups and downs, and a stomach-turning ride of a lifetime that you just wish would end soon. So, if you find yourself feeling like you’re upside down in the middle of the river, you’re not alone. You have to be able to turn the boat over and start back down the river.

We talk about keeping your stress under control during the admissions process in Beyond The Brochure. Its an important part of getting to the end to get that “fat envelope” or acceptance letter (s). Here are some tips for anyone driven to distraction by this unique, anxiety-producing process–that is to say, all of us:

  1. The key to making it through admissions processes is to pace yourself. You need the endurance of a professional marathoner. Staying power, as they call it.
  2. You need to be really organized. Both of these things will benefit you and help you stay calm.
  3. Be prepared for your parent interviews. Do your homework about each school.
  4. Ask for help if you need it. See our blog interviews with top educational consultants (see links below).
  5. Ignore the endless preschool rumors and gossip.
  6. Be confident about what your family has to offer each school
  7. Be willing to re-set your expectations about a particular school if necessary
  8. Try not to care what anyone else thinks about where you apply or where your child is accepted. You may never see that parent again after you leave preschool!
  9. Aim high. This is your child’s education that will last him/her a lifetime.
  10. Look on the bright side! The outcome can be well worth all your efforts for your child and your family!

Find a Toad: The Toad Says "Boo" to the Switch Witch

This blog post by our guest blogger, Jenny, on her own blog, Find A Toad, was too funny not to share. Obsessive parenting is a theme that runs through LA private schools. I know a family who left their private elementary school partly because their complaints of too much sugar in the school were ignored. Obsessed parents and private schools go together like…well, like Halloween and candy!

Find a Toad: The Toad Says “Boo” to the Switch Witch: “Parenting in L.A. means putting up with a lot of helicopter parents. They mean well, they really do, but their collective issues, fears and …”

Guest Blogger Jenny: Insta-Friends At Private School

One of the toughest things I’ve found regarding my child’s school generally (from preschool on up) is making friends with the other parents. I have to face facts: I’m a bit of a malcontent, I barely have time for the friends I do have, and merely having children in the same class does not a meaningful friendship make. It always seemed contrived. Thus, at my kid’s public she attended until this year, I had no friends. And I didn’t care.

But this has changed direction upon her starting at the Mirman School. The school puts forth a concerted effort to get the parents together, and as resistant as I initially was, I’m glad about it. Recently, I attended a parent party just for her class.

When I received the evite, my first instinct was refusal. But I overruled that, since non-participation is always my first instinct. I tapped “yes” instead, and then viewed the Potluck Italian Dinner in Encino with a certain level of dread. Especially, (upon a more careful reading of the evite) when I discovered that parents were required to play “games.” Oh, god. I envisioned a bunch of Mensa members engaging in team level Sudoku late into the night. I am a math moron. This sounded bad.

All my fears turned out to be unfounded. The house in Encino was, by far, the best party house I’ve ever seen; the host and hostess were warm and fun. The food was good. The other parents were all surprisingly mellow; it’s been a very long time since I attended a party in L.A. at which no one discussed professions. And the talk of the kids was funny; no one bragged about their little genius. Indeed, many of the parents seemed puzzled to have such children. It was really refreshing. Sure, there were lulls in the conversation, but nothing overly uncomfortable. All in all, I’d get together with any of these people again.

And then there was the game-playing. A Minute to Win It, in two teams. The great thing about this game is that it has virtually nothing to do with either intelligence or physical prowess. It’s mostly about looking absurd. But since everyone played, it was a brilliant ice-breaker. People were laughing hysterically (the getting-the-Oreo-off-your-forehead-and-into-your-mouth-without-touching-it-with-your-hands task was really hilarious), and it sort of felt like a summer camp event. People left the party smiling and happy.

Were we all best buddies? No, of course not. But at least we all recognize each other, and can connect the parent with the child, if need be. Spending an evening with the class parents will now make working with them on various school events that much easier. It makes arranging play dates that much easier. And it’s just one more example of how, if you give the private school social scene a chance, it really can turn out well. Even for a curmudgeon like me.

Jenny Heitz has worked as a staff writer for Coast Weekly in Carmel, freelanced in the South Bay, and then switched to advertising copywriting. Her daughter started 4th grade at Mirman School this year. She previously attended 3rd St. Elementary School. Jenny has been published recently in the Daily News. She now writes about gift ideas and products on her blog, Find A Toad.