Why I chose to raise my children in San Francisco

Jessica Holmes with her husband, Kevin, and children Olivia, nine, and Emma, ​​six. Courtesy of Jessica Holmes

My husband, Kevin, and I chose to raise our children, Olivia, nine, and Emma, ​​six, in San Francisco and specifically Potrero Hill because we value the access to natural spaces, the engagement in public spaces and the community.

I love being able to walk Connecticut Street and enjoy a spectacular meal or entertainment at Hill, Mission, Mission Bay, or Dogpatch. I also like being able to turn and walk in another direction to enjoy the natural and wild spaces of our beautiful Recreation Center or Starr King Open Space. One of my favorite new additions is the waterfront access now available at Crane Cove Park and the future blue greenway which will provide a wonderful respite.

There’s always something fun to do in the neighborhood, whether it’s a date at our kids’ school, Daniel Webster Elementary, live music in a neighborhood square, or to celebrate art, creativity or philanthropy at a block party or festival. I rarely schedule weekend play dates for my kids because we tend to meet and see playmates organically. Even something as simple as opening the door and playing on our dead-end street usually results in a few kids passing by, joining the scooters and sidewalk chalk.

There is something energizing and spontaneous about being in public spaces. Moments of connection that cannot be planned – a passerby visit with an elderly couple, a young adult and a lovable dog, my children befriending a young toddler, the connections that are rooted in the being known and seen – and knowledge exchanged.

Living in San Francisco for 13 years and having children for nine of those years, I believe that nothing makes parenting easier outside of building your community. Although well-meaning family members or mainstream media might tell you otherwise, a bigger house or the latest tech-enabled smart gadget won’t make long-term parenthood any easier. The seasons of a child’s life and their needs are constantly changing.

Living in my third residence in the neighborhood, I can attest that every house footprint has pros and cons. What I can recommend is to be in a place you like with enough space for your family and, if you can, to leave the neighborhood better for having been there. Children look to us adults as examples of how to live meaningful and contented adult lives. I believe that social responsibility, joy and connection to others are at the heart of it all.

I hope that by sharing our stories, we can make raising children in an urban setting more normalized, joyful, meaningful and connected for other parents and for those who might one day be parents.

Connecticut Street resident Jessica Holmes works in digital and experiential marketing. In her spare time, she roller skates, enjoys baking, and sits on the board of PREFund.org, preferably all at the same time. “Why I Chose to Raise My Kids in San Francisco” is the brainchild of the Potrero Residents Education Fund, a nonprofit organization committed to helping create a stronger, more vibrant San Francisco by ensuring that families of varying income levels raise their children in the City. Submit your story to the editor [at] potreview [dot] report.

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