I Got Rid of My SUV for a Minivan: Here’s Why

Happy Tuesday, and happy August, loves!

I have been getting so many messages about my new ride, and I thought I’d answer the FAQs about it right here. So, last week when we returned from our two-week trip to the Carolinas, I bought a 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Limited. I traded my GMC Acadia Denali for it, and I don’t regret it in the least – for several reasons I will get into.

First and foremost, I’ve been trying to convince my husband to get the minivan since February. We had one as a rental when we landed in Dallas to surprise my grandmother for her birthday, and the kids and I fell in love with it. It had so much more space than my SUV, but it also felt more like driving a car.

  • I’ve always had a coupe or a convertible (until kids) so that felt good to me
  • I’ve never been a fan of the full-size SUV and their truck-like build
  • I can’t drive a full-size SUV with four kids unless it’s the XL version, and I’m really uncomfortable driving that (honestly, the Acadia had 25 cubic feet in the trunk to the regular size Yukon’s 14 feet…explain to me how that is even possible?)

Honestly, I would have purchased a new Acadia Denali, but GMC changed the body style the model year after I bought mine and shrunk the new ones – a lot. I was left without many options. I never considered the minivan in the past because I’d been in several, and I just didn’t like them. Until the Pacifica. It’s so not minivan-like. I love it! It has every single thing that my Denali had, and it feels like I’m not downgrading or giving anything up. But, I’ll get back to that.

My husband tried so hard to drive home in a Yukon XL Denali or a Suburban, but ultimately, the decision was mine and it was alllll minivan! My Denali just turned three and a half, and I put over 150,000 miles on it in that time (I think the final reading was 153k when we pulled into the dealership). I drive a LOT with four kids and their activities and our activities and such. I’ve had two SUVs since the twins were born, and I put 120k on the first and 150k on the second. And the check engine light came on the day I got rid of it. Call me crazy, but I’m down for oil changes, tire rotations, new lights or wipers, and new tires, but I draw the line at keeping a vehicle when it needs actual work. So, here are the reasons I chose the minivan over the SUV.

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The Size

We have four kids, and two of them are five and very, very tiny. They struggle hard to get out of the Denali, and it’s not the full-size. One of us has to help them every single time, and I knew that would be a problem going into kindergarten and dropping them off and picking them up in the car line. The full-size XL SUVs my husband tried so hard (and so diligently) to get me to buy are just too tall. The twins couldn’t get in and out of them to save their lives.

Additionally, I just have so much more room in the seats in the minivan. Even in the Suburban, we cannot put a car seat in the third row. There’s no room for little feet to come off the end. They’d both have to go in the middle row, and that doesn’t work with a bench seat (which was a must for me if we went full-size. I’m not driving a full-size car and only having 7 seats like a regular size car) that needs to be put down on one side for access to the third row.

One more thing about that, too, is the console. It’s huge in the SUVs, and I feel like I’m cramped in the front. The minivan has a big, open console that leaves so much extra space – and all those arm rests. I’m legit a convert. I don’t know if I  can drive anything else at this point.

The Sunroof

Listen, I’m a snob. I know it, I’m not ashamed of it. I’m good. But there is one thing that I just cannot do, and that is downgrade to a basic sunroof. I’ve had a panoramic sunroof in my cars since November 2007 when I found out I was pregnant with our first and immediately decided to buy the 2008 Lincoln MKX and become an SUV driving mom. I haven’t had a regular size sunroof since, and I feel almost claustrophobic when I get into a car with a small one. And, yes, I know that it’s not a necessity, but it is for me. I need to have it at least popped open a little when I drive. Always.

The full-size SUVs don’t have them. The minivan has three sunroofs. A giant one in front, an even bigger one in the middle, and a big one in the back. Decision made.

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The USB Ports

While the full-size XL SUVs are great, they also don’t have a USB port in all the seats for each child. With four kids, I need that. Tablets, phones, etc. The USB ports in the SUVs are all in the front, which means more work for us when we are driving and in the passenger seat. No thanks.

The Vacuum

If I’m being completely honest here, this is the main reason I chose the minivan over the bigger Denali. It has a built in vacuum (with attachments!!!!!!!!) in the third row. If you know me, you know that I have a small shop vacuum that sits on the seat of our golf cart in our garage (when we are using the golf cart, of course) and I grab it every single time we get out of my car and run it over the floors and seats. It takes me all of 30 seconds, and I always have a spotless car. I cannot drive if there is a mess. I cannot drive if there is food, dirt, mud, a leaf – whatever – on the floor. I feel dirty and gross, and I cannot do it. So, having a built-in vacuum was a game-changing winner for me. And the primary reason I chose the minivan.

Other factors include the shades on the back windows, the fact that the third-row seat reclines almost all the way down, which the kids love, and the fact that I don’t have to do spend 5 minutes warning the kids that I will open their doors when we park. They can’t hit another car with sliding doors, which is a HUGE win for me.

My husband isn’t 100 percent into the minivan. Actually, he’s basically 40 percent. He knows that it’s what I want, and while he might try to persuade me to get something else, he would never tell me no or encourage me not to get what I want. So, he’s happy that I’m happy, and we are both happy that the kids love it.

Will I ever go back to driving an SUV? I don’t know. Probably not at this point. But, as someone wise said, an SUV is a stuff mover and a minivan is a people mover. Right now, I have a lot of people I need to move. And that is a win.

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Botox: Answers to the Questions I’m Asked the Most

Happy Monday, loves!

Is anyone else as tired as I am going into this Monday? What was meant to be a laid back weekend ended up being jampacked with fun, and I’m not complaining! I spent Friday shopping with my mom and my four littles. Saturday I got the house to myself – and I stayed in my office working – while my husband took the kids shopping and out to lunch so that I could have a little peace and quiet to get things done (the one thing about owning your business and working for yourself is you don’t get ‘vacation time’…you get to work ahead and do things so you can take time off). After that, we had the most fun Filet Saturday dinner at home with our best friends, we spent Sunday with them on the boat, and then we came home so my husband could spend the evening tiling our oldest daughter’s bathroom.

The weekend before, we spent Saturday moving her upstairs. We have a second master suite upstairs, and she’s been eyeing it for a while, and we don’t blame her. Sweet Ava likes to drive her crazy by running down their hall and knocking on Addison’s door, slipping things under it, and overall driving her crazy, and Addy’s been looking for move privacy. Ava’s all the way downstairs, the twins, are all the way downstairs, and she’s got her massive bedroom and an en suite bathroom. We decided to gut it, and totally renovate it. The tile is almost done – just the grout and sealing it and all that, and then the new toilet, new vanity, new lighting, new fixtures, and new mirror can go in, and it’s going to be the most feminine, sweet bathroom. I cannot wait!

Anyway, it was a fun weekend – but I wanted to touch on something I’ve been getting so many questions about. Botox.

I’m a little vain, and I’m not ashamed of that. I feel that most of us are all a little vain, and I also feel that no one should be ashamed of that. It doesn’t hurt anyone to look nice and feel good about yourself, or to care about how you look. I care. The last thing I want is to look sloppy and messy and like I don’t care about my appearance.

I feel that dressing well and looking nice is a form of good manners, which is a beautiful quote by the spectacular Tom Ford. How so? Well, I believe that putting effort into looking nice shows tha you respect those around you. You would not show up to a meeting looking like you just rolled out of bed (I mean, I would assume you would not, but I’ve seen the way some people go out in public, so I could be so very wrong about that), would you? I wouldn’t. I would never want a potential client to walk away with the assumption that I don’t care enough about them to want to bother with my appearance.

My husband would dress me in jeans and a tee shirt, a ponytail, and no makeup every single day of the year if he could. But, he also loves it when I dress up. He likes me simple, but I would never not put any effort into what I wear and how I look for him. He might not mind, but I know that somewhere deep down in there is a man who loves to have an attractive, put-together wife who makes an effort. On the flip side, I think he’s handsome no matter what he wears or how he looks, but he would never let himself go, and I appreciate that about him.

It’s not what’s on the outside that counts. It’s a kind heart, humor, a good personality, and intelligence that matters, but it’s also helpful to find your partner physically attractive. I will not apologize for that. And that, my friends, brings me to the reason for this post.

I shared on Instastories a little over a week ago that I was on my way – late, as usual – to my Botox appointment. It was my second time getting Botox, but I wasn’t trying to hide it the first time I got it back in February. In fact, I was planning a blog post about it to share with those of you who might want to do it yourselves, but our son suffered a grand mal seizure three days after I had it done, and our lives changed that instant.

Better late that never, right?

After I shared my appointment on Insta, I had so many questions! I’m not surprised by how many people get it done (once you have it done, you can tell exactly who else has it done by looking at their faces), but I was surprised by how many people who want to do it but are afraid to do it. I thought I’d share my journey with you all so that you know what to expect.

first photo was taken from a screenshot of an instastory before I had botox the first time. Second photo was taken yesterday, 9 days after my second botox injection appointment (five months after my first botox appointment) after spending all day on the boat in the Gulf – eyebrows raised completely. 

Does it hurt?

Not at all. Of course, I also have a high pain tolerance. I think it pinches a bit, but it doesn’t hurt. There are two places on my face where it’s more uncomfortable than others. The far right and far left of my forehead. It seems like the further it gets from the fatty center of your head and closer to the thin sides, the pinch is more pronounced and uncomfortable.

What do you get done?

Okay, so, I only do my forehead and my glabella (the eleven lines on your upper nose/between your eyebrows). I don’t do my laugh lines around my eyes. Those, I love. I love, love, love those. They are, in my opinion, evidence of a happy life. They show that I laugh, have fun, and that I enjoy myself.

How long does it last?

Here’s where things are a little trickier to explain. Everyone is different. I just had Botox for the second time, and I only have one round to talk about in terms of how long it lasts. Additionally, I’m not the same as my girlfriends who do it, and we all have different answers. I’ll give you the medical answer I was given, however.

It depends. It lasts approximately 3 months the first few times you do it, but you should get longer lasting results after a year or more of consistent Botox. Your muscles naturally relax once you’ve been doing it a while, so your results are longer.

I, personally, found that mine lasted a good four months. I went on February 14th for my first round, and I didn’t start noticing my forehead moving again until mid-May, but my wrinkles didn’t start coming back until the end of June. When I went in this morning to have it done for the second time, the awesome woman who injects me was surprised just how little movement I had at the 4.5 month mark. She explained that most people don’t go this long the first time, but it does happen.

It has to do with your age, the appearance of your lines and wrinkles, the health of your skin, and the amount of sun damage you have, among other things. I have healthy skin, I’m almost 36, and I have no sun damage (pros of being a Norwegian who has to cover up). However, I am very expressive, and she was shocked that my massive lines and wrinkles are taking so long to come back.

How many units do you need?

Again, this is a personal situation. The first time I went, they used 30 units. I needed 20 in my elevens, and 10 in my forehead. This time, she only used 14 units. I had four in my glabella and another 10 in my forehead. That was kind of awesome.

I have one friend who is only two years older than me, and she needed 50 units the first time she went, and almost as many the next time and the time after. Another friend who is actually 15 years older than was told she only needed 28 units total, and that included doing her crow’s feet. So, it all depends on your face, your skin, and what you want done.

How much does it cost?

This was the number one question people had, and I’m okay with that. I go to Ideal Image, and I happened to plan my first visit when they were having a sale on units. They were $10 per unit if you bought 50 units, or they were $13 per unit if you bought them individually. I decided to buy the 50 units and bank what I didn’t use the first time.

I decided after that to plan my visits around their sales at their advice. So, I bought another 50 units for $500 at $10/unit. I can bank them forever, and the cost savings is worthwhile. The woman who handles the financial aspect of buying and banking Botox at Ideal Image told me sometimes women will come in with a friend or family member and split the cost of 50 units so they can get what they want without paying for or banking extra. So, there’s an option if $500 is not in the budget.

How long did it take for you to notice results?

The first time I had Botox, I noticed less movement in the first 24 hours. But the time I hit 48 hours, I could barely move my head at all. By 72 hours, I had no more evidence of any lines on my face. Of course, it all depends. My girlfriend was panicking the first time she did it because she didn’t notice any change after a solid week, but they do say it can take as many as 10 days to 2 weeks for results. She just took longer than I did, and that’s how she is versus how I am. This time around, it took the same amount of time.

Don’t panic if there is not a big change right away. Again, I’m shocked by how quickly I noticed results and how long they last. My girlfriend gets hers done every three months, and she has full movement in her face each time. It’s all about you and your skin.

Did you have any side effects?

I had no side effects at all either time. The first time, I followed the rules precisely – no drinking, working out, makeup, etc. This time, we had date night with our best friends six hours after my injections, so I did put makeup on at that point. I also had two glasses of wine at dinner. I was totally fine, and I did not swell or bruise at all.

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The first time, I did not drink alcohol the night before or for a week after (they really say 24 hours, to be honest). I didn’t work out or wear makeup for 48 hours, and I slept upright the first night. I was terrified that I would mess it up, and it would migrate down my face and I’d end up looking like a freak for months. I also had it done at 6 pm last time, and I had it done at 11:30 am this time. So, there’s that.

I did not notice any swelling, any bruising, and I did not develop any headaches. Quite the opposite, in fact. I actually stopped getting headaches. I typically get them 3-4 days a week, probably because I sit in front of my computer and write 20,000 words per day and I’m so expressive. My headaches ceased completely following my Botox the first time, and they came back with a vengeance when I began noticing movement in my forehead after about four months.

What’s the recovery period?

There is no recovery. They only ask that you avoid a few things.

  • Spicy food
  • Sugary food
  • Alcohol
  • Lying flat on your back for four hours
  • Wearing makeup
  • Exercise
  • Taking any blood thinners like ibuprofen

They want you to avoid all of this for 24 to 48 hours (except lying on your back, which they only want you to avoid doing for four hours following your injections). Exercise and lying down, touching your face, and applying pressure to your face can cause the Botox to move into other areas of your face. So, don’t do that.

Am I happy with the results?

Very! I love it. I didn’t have much in the way of expectation the first time I went in, but I love how it looks and feels. I don’t feel that I look unnatural, but that’s probably because I don’t do my crow’s feet. Additionally, I love how I feel. I have poor eyesight, and I’ve been in glasses since I was like 10, and I’ve always had headaches from straining my eyes so much. They’re so sensitive to light, and I’m so happy that my Botox has alleviated my headaches, and I literally cannot strain my face. It’s great. I love that feeling!

Do I recommend it?

Yes, I do. But I also had such good results. It took faster than I thought it would and it lasted longer than I thought it would. I feel like both are a win, and I’m not mad about it. I would recommend it every single day, even if you’re still young.

I’ll be 36 in September, and I swore I’d never do anything cosmetic to my body until I was at least 40. I convinced myself I wanted to get through my 30s fabulously, but I love my Botox. Now, I won’t do any plastic surgery of any type – ever – because I’d like to age gracefully and naturally. Well, as naturally as Botox allows.

Comfortable and Stylish Travel Outfit Favorites

Happy Thursday, loves!

Anyone else like to procrastinate on occasion? I’m such a planner, but sometimes I’m just better under pressure. This feels like one of those times. I should be making packing lists, ordering new items, and planning for our upcoming vacation. Instead, I’m doing anything but. Honestly, I’m not even remotely motivated to start packing or making lists, and it’s probably because I’m so busy working ahead to meet deadlines to turn in prior to our departure.

But, there is one thing I’m thinking about – travel comfort. If there is one thing that I love more than anything when I travel, it’s a comfortable outfit – for so many reasons.

  1. I cannot stand the idea of any of my body parts touching the seat of a plane, the seats in the terminal, the seats of our rental car (until I wash them), etc.
  2. I cannot sit for long periods of time without putting at least one leg under me in a kind of half crisscross (applesauce…I know my fellow mamas couldn’t leave that last part out) and I need for my bits and pieces to remain unseen.
  3. I shower and change as soon as we land/arrive, anyway, because I feel so dirty when I travel – no matter what we have planned that day.
  4. I don’t like to wear anything overly nice on a plane because I know the chances of me spilling a drink, my kids spilling something, coloring on me, or touching me with sticky, dirty fingers are high. Why ruin a good outfit on that?

That said, I travel for comfort. I already know what I’m wearing when we depart on this trip. We are headed to one of our favorite places for a few weeks, and we have every intention of doing nothing but relaxing, unwinding, and spending quality time making memories.

Which totally reminds me that I also need to make a shopping list because our parents stay at our home when we travel – to care for our plants, etc. – and that’s part of the deal. They stay here, we stock the fridge with all their favorite things (because why would we want to go on vacation and not spend $350 at the supermarket prior to our departure on food we won’t be home to eat, right? All the eye rolls here).

Anyway, I’m here to share some of my favorite – favorite, favorite – comfort purchases for travel. The best of the best, as they say. If you have any long flights ahead of you, I highly recommend you pick up some of these pieces.

APL Sneaks (Athletic Propulsion Labs)

Y’all, I am obsessed. I am not a fan of tennis shoes unless I’m at the gym, but these changed the game for me. I love them, and I cannot stop ordering them. It all started with these gorgeous soft pink APLs. Then the rose gold came alone. Then I switched over to these slip-ons in white and navy blue…and now I find myself ordering all the colors all the time. They are the most comfortable shoe – ever – and they are highly functional as well as stylish. I get more compliments on these than anything.

High-Waist Yoga Pants

Because comfort, that’s why. Need I say more? Zella makes my favorites, and you can pick those up at Nordstrom. 

Joggers

These became a favorite recently, and I’m a huge fan. I love them with a long-sleeve tee shirt and my APLs when I’m ready to relax on a long flight. I love these, but I’m also learning quickly that Carrie Underwood makes some of the best joggers, and I find those at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Sweatshirts

I’m always cold when I travel, and that never changes with the season. So, these Topshop sweatshirts are my go-to for travel. Not only are they super comfortable, they are also super affordable. You can’t beat them.

What is your favorite way to travel?

Struggling with Mom Guilt During the Summer

Happy Friday, loves!

Summer is officially here (last week, I think?), but it doesn’t feel any different to those of us in the Sunshine State. It’s hot. It’s humid. The heat is downright oppressive. It’s my least favorite time of the year (sweating isn’t my thing unless I’m working out) and my mom guilt is strong during the summer months.

I know I’m not the only one. I’ve been running my business from home for almost 11 years now. Back then, it just wasn’t that common. When I told people I owned my own business, they wanted to know where they could find my office. When I told people I work from home or wherever I happen to be in the moment (Starbucks? A hotel somewhere?), no one really knew what to say.

Most people always assume I do some sort of network marketing or direct sales job because those are big, and they were the only real ‘at-home’ careers for many people back in the day…I’m talking 2008-ish.

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I don’t network market (not that there’s anything wrong with it; I just don’t). I founded a content creation company, and I write and edit web content for my clients. I’m a writer, but more than a writer. I blog, I create the content on the websites you visit every day. Sometimes, even I’m surprised to log on to a website to read some information about a company or a situation, and I realize that I wrote the piece.

I’ve written and published more than 50,000 articles in the long history of my writing career. I’ve added editing to my platform, as well. The entire reason I began this business was 1 – to do something I love, and 2 – to make sure that while doing what I love, I get to create my own schedule and I get to be fully present and with my kids.

But…no situation is perfect. And that’s where the mom guilt comes into play. With that said, I’m delving a little deeper into something I think a lot of moms and dads deal with on a regular basis that they might not know how to describe.

What is mom guilt?

Or dad guilt. Or whatever guilt. I’m sure there are a half-dozen ways to describe it, but I’ll tell you what it feels like in my life. It’s the feeling when you have kids you want to spend quality time with, but you have a business you love almost as much as your kids, and you want to focus on that, too.

I’m a workaholic. I’d spend all day, every day at my desk in my home office if I could. I’d write all day long. I’d edit all day long. I’d take on dozens of additional clients and just work all the time. I love what I do. But, I love my kids more; and they need me.

The school year is easy for me. They’re in school, so I just have to take a quick break to drive them there and pick them up, occasionally volunteer at some event, and my husband and I share the duties taking them to and from their extracurricular activities. Weekends are date nights and family time and travel time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have a schedule. I wake up at 5, work until I take them to school at 9, work out, home, work until it’s time to pick them up. I don’t like to work after pick-up. That’s when I like to help them unpack their lunchboxes, their backpacks, and help with homework. That’s when we spend some quality time together talking about our days and doing what we need to do.

I have a schedule.

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Summer kills my schedule.

Legitimately kills it dead and then backs right over it a few more times. There is no real schedule this time of year, and that is something I struggle with. I’m a planner. I’m a routine-oriented person. I like things done the same every single day with very little deviation. That deviation must be my idea, and it must be something I have thought-out and planned like it’s my job.

You might not consider me the most spontaneous person.

Summer is hard. The first week was a trip to D.C. this year with Addison’s safety patrol group. I worked my ass off for weeks before we left to pre-write and schedule more than 50 articles for that week (on top of the articles due the weeks leading up to the trip) so that I could take 6 days off of my business.

The second week was cheer camp week, which meant leaving the house at 7:20 am to drop the girls off and then again at 11:30 to pick the kids up. No flow there. Then it was a normal week, and we tried to get on a schedule.  The problem is that I want the kids to have fun, but I want and need to work.

Finding balance

It’s so easy sometimes, and it’s so hard other times. Summer is hard; for several reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that I want to be at my desk. I don’t like to leave things undone, but the kids are here and I want to spend time with them. I’m trying to relax about leaving my desk, but it’s difficult. I will stop to play a game of cards, take a golf cart ride, run out for ice cream, whatever.

But, taking the kids to see a movie or go somewhere else requires pre-planning for me. If it takes longer than an hour, it’s not something I’ll do last-minute. I need something like 48 hours of notice. That way, I can work ahead a little bit so I wake up the morning of the activity without feeling as if I’m going to be behind, working all night, or I can’t really enjoy myself. I’m Type-A all day long, y’all. I know I can come home and do the work later, but I don’t like to. I like to get it done in the morning and have my afternoons and evenings free and clear.

I am also a firm believer in letting my kids have downtime. They don’t get enough of it with our schedules, but they’re serious homebodies (just like Craig and I, even though I’m sure you find that hard to believe as often as we are out, busy, and traveling). They like to be home more than anything else, and they all get cranky when they don’t get some downtime. I also don’t believe in entertaining them nonstop.

I’m just not that mom, y’all. Kudos to those who are, but I’m not; and I really think that my kids are better for it. They have SUCH big imaginations. They play so well together, and we rarely hear them complain of boredom. They’re more likely to complain when we tell them we are going somewhere fun than they are to complain when we have nothing scheduled.

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For example, yesterday was a down day. We didn’t have anything scheduled until evening when Charlotte had her tumble class. The kids slept in, they got up, and they all went upstairs to play with Charlotte’s kitchen and set up and entire pizza restaurant. They spent 3 hours doing that until I took the twins with me to the YMCA to play in the Kid Zone while I worked out. The big girls didn’t want to go. They wanted to read their new books.

When I got home, they sat down together and played Candy Land. Then they went upstairs and built a killer fort. After that, they went outside for a bit when the sun wasn’t so brutal. They never once complained of being bored. They use their imaginations. They read. They played together. They have such a diverse way of living their lives, and they are happy doing almost anything – and nothing.

I struggle with too much

What does that mean? Well, I struggle when we have too many weekday plans. I’m fine being busy all weekend as long as we are relaxing on Sundays, but I struggle with too many things during the week. For one, I’m working and so is my husband. The fact that neither of us gets up in the morning and leaves the house to go to an office doesn’t make our jobs any less of a job. Working from home or for yourself still doesn’t make you free all the time. Sure, I create my own schedule, but I like my schedule, and I don’t want to interrupt it. It’s the way it is because that’s what works best for us, and that’s what I like.

This week was a busy one, and we have plans next week during the week. I’m struggling with that. Not because I don’t want to have fun with the kids, but because even they’re starting to complain about it. Monday we went bowling and then to Craig’s softball game. Tuesday the twins went to grandma’s and the big girls and I had a shopping, lunch, doctor day. Wednesday and Thursday were down days, but busy evenings, and Friday is a movie day. Tuesday is another day we will be out all day long having fun with our friends, and Wednesday night is one of our favorite events of the year with our best friends.

And I feel overwhelmed thinking of all the time I’ve missed and will miss in my office. Addison, our oldest, didn’t want to go with me to the Y today or yesterday because she wanted to “stay home and rest” because she hasn’t had time this week.

I’ve spent so much time away from my desk during the week this week, and that means I’ve been up earlier in the mornings working, and later at night work. And that makes me tired, because I’m not getting enough sleep trying to do it all.

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My mom guilt is strong

I struggle with the guilt I feel when I’m in my office, but I try to remind myself that the kids don’t mind. They like that time to spend on their own. They don’t complain. They don’t feel as if their lives are boring because we aren’t at a movie or the park or the beach or whatever 7 days a week. They like being home as much as I do, but the mom guilt is strong.

But, if I’m being honest, my mom guilt isn’t about our kids and their activities and lives. They lead good lives. No, they lead amazing lives. There’s nothing they’re missing out on. They have more airline miles each than most adults do. They get to travel often. They get to do things, go places, and have experiences that most people never get in their lives. They have built-in best friends. They have a group of friends they’ve known since birth, and they are loved, fortunate, and happy kids.

My guilt is that I’d rather be in my office than at the movies. That sounds terrible, but it’s true. I’d rather be at my desk, killing it, than I would doing things during the week. Honestly, I just don’t find as much enjoyment in taking the kids to do things when my husband isn’t with me. Our kids just aren’t accustomed to that. When we go to movies, to parties, to events, hotels, travel, etc., Craig is with us. But, summertime sometimes means going with other people. We love our other people, so much, but we all end up at home at the end of the day wishing that he was with us, because it’s just a little bit less fun without him. We hate leaving him out and making memories without him.

Work/life balance

Ninety percent of the time, I feel like I’m killing it with the work-life balance situation. Summer is the 10 percent I feel like I’m failing every single day. I’m not no good at being off our regularly scheduled programing. I don’t enjoy the constant activities. The kids are cranky when we have too much going on. I don’t like rearranging my own work schedule for other things.

Basically, what it comes down to is that I’m a spoiled rotten asshole. I like my schedule and routine, and I don’t like it being interrupted. But, I think I’m getting better at it. I’m saying yes to more things (Bowling and a movie date with friends in ONE week?!) and I’m having fun with my friends and my kids in the process. I’m tired, and I don’t love that, but I’m learning to be a little more spontaneous.

But…I will say that I’m still good about saying no when I’m already a little overscheduled and overwhelmed by it – though I don’t feel good turning people I love down. Balance is important to me, but I struggle with that – hard – this time of year.

A note to everyone

If you ask me to do something, and I cannot do it or say no, thank you, please don’t take offense. It has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with me. I run a business, and the fact that it’s from home doesn’t mean it’s any less a business than one that has office hours.

Sometimes, I just don’t have the time. For example, I had to say no to plans on Monday with someone I love dearly because we already have plans Tuesday (with her and her kids, so it wasn’t a heartbreaking no) and it’s a holiday week, and I know I need Monday to stay on track with my deadlines and my clients.

I also know that most of our evenings are already spoken for, and I draw a HARD line at putting my own health and mental health and sleep at risk by over-committing. If I say no to something, it’s not because I don’t want to join you (well, I mean, it might be, but it’s usually not). It’s because I really have no time. If I say yes to something I don’t have time for, it means I have to say no to something else. I can’t say no to work obligations, and I can’t say no to spending time with my family.

If you need me, I need at least 48 hours of notice, but most of the time – I need a solid week or two of notice. Our weeks get crazy busy, and I just don’t have much free time. Someone wise once said something beautiful.

I can do anything, but I cannot do everything.

Friday Favorites: Disconnecting is Amazing (and so is this fab Bandolier phone case)

Happy Friday, loves!

What a great week this has been…for so many reasons. Not only was it such a sweet and relaxed week in terms of finally having nowhere to be and nothing to do after months of sports, activities, end-of-school year awards, programs, parties, cheer camp, Safety Patrol DC trip, and our normal travel schedule, we also just had fun.

I was able to sleep in and be a little bit leisurely over my morning coffee. I got to linger, and then go into my office in my robe and work for a few hours. The kids are so easy in the mornings. They aren’t tired of one another yet, so it’s the best time for me to be in my office meeting deadlines. It was also a rainy week, which I love.

It was a low-key week, and I love that. Our regularly scheduled Wednesday night dinner with our best friends extended hours longer than usual (sweet, sweet summertime…no reason to rush home and get anyone to bed at a decent time when they were having so much fun). It was #backtobasics all the way, and I think all our cheeks hurt this morning from laughing so much….mostly at our husbands!

As fun as this week has been (ask me again in an hour or so how I feel about that when I’m awake and getting ready to drive an hour to work out at a hardcore gym with my brother from another mother at 5 am), I’m crediting most of that to one simple thing – being offline, disconnected, and not attached to my phone.

I always have my phone on me, even if we are out on date night. I hate that feeling, but I cannot relax if I feel like I might miss a call from whoever has our kids. Whether it’s date night and they are safe and sound in their own bedrooms in our home while our parents ae here watching them or they are at school, I can’t risk missing a call if something were to happen.

But, this week the kids are home. It’s our first official summer week, and I’ve been able to leave my phone in the master bedroom and leave it. The kids are here with us, and I don’t feel that I need my phone. I set my iPad and laptop to update my emails once an hour, and I don’t care if I miss and calls or texts otherwise. I get to them when I have a chance. Believe it or not, I’ve learned a lot this week just by leaving my phone in our bedroom when I’m working or spending time with my husband and the kids.

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My phone gives me anxiety

Not all the time, but I noticed that I was so much more relaxed this week. My phone, it turns out, stresses me out a bit. I am not the kind of person who can get a text or email that requires a response and not respond immediately. It’s my ‘leave nothing to later’ mentality. So, I get anxiety when I see texts come in when I’m in the middle of a client call or an article or editing, and I don’t have time to respond. I can’t stop thinking about it, and then I do.

If the text turns into a long situation, or it’s a group text, I lose all track of my situation, I’m distracted, and I accomplish so much less. I’m not efficient, but I feel anxious if I don’t respond right away. Guilty, like I’m sending the message that someone else and their needs are not important to me.

They are important to me, but they’re not the most important to me. My business and my clients and my kids and my husband are the most important to me, and I have got to get accustomed to leaving this feeling of guilt behind. I can’t sacrifice my work and my integrity.

Leaving my phone in our bedroom takes away that anxiety. Out of sight, out of mind. I don’t know if someone is texting or calling or whatever, and I don’t feel an ounce of guilt about that. I mean, I get that my thought process is beyond insane, I do. I don’t pretend to try and understand myself. I really don’t.

Disconnecting is beautiful

I am so present! And efficient! And on top of things! It’s beautiful. I’m able to work without interruption, and my workday is shorter than ever because of it. I’m engaged when I’m with the kids, and I’m focused solely on my husband when we’re together. It’s a feeling that’s second to nothing else.

Distractions are my problem

I don’t handle distraction well. I’m a writer. It’s what I do. I create content for my clients, and I need to concentrate to make that happen. I write quickly and well after so many years of providing this service, but my phone is a major distraction, and it slows me down. I can bang out 3,000 words in under 20 minutes without my phone here (with fewer than 5 typos each time…years and years of practice on that one), and I’m more efficient than ever.

Try it.

If you haven’t tried disconnecting like this, you should. Life is a lot easier, more efficient, and well-lived when the phone is not in hand all the time. Of course, know that I will never judge you – ever – if I see you at dinner with your spouse, phone on the table next to you, because I feel you. I see you. I know you. I relate. You can’t relax with kids at home if you’re worried something will happen and you’ll miss the call or the text.

I get it.

But, if you have the chance to disconnect entirely, you should try it. It’s a beautiful feeling, and it makes life so sweet.

Oh, and on that note, I also got a fabulous new phone case this week. I’ve been looking for it for months. My girlfriend has one, and she found it at Nordstrom, but they never had one in my size. I should probably be embarrassed how long it took me to realize I could just go to the Bandolier website to find it rather than stalking my Nordstrom app waiting for one to pop up that fits the XS Max. It just arrived, and I’m in love! The best part is that it’s only $100! Check it out here.

Orlando’s Best Kept Secret: The Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate

Happy Wednesday, loves!

I have a secret. Well, it’s not a secret. No, it’s kind of a secret. Maybe. Who knows?

We are waking up at home this morning for the first time since the kids got out of school three weeks ago without feeling completely exhausted, without traveling, and without anywhere to be. I got to get up, come into my office, sit down, and actually have a normal day writing and editing. It’s a good feeling.

Here’s my secret – I love nothing more than normal days. I love being at home. I love my house. It’s my favorite place in the world, and it brings me more joy to be here with my family than anywhere else in the world. And that’s coming from someone who lives at home and works from home. I really, really love my home.

But, I also love to travel.

I can’t imagine life without travel or without the feeling of content I feel when I’m at home. I feel really lucky to love the place I call home so much, but I also feel so fortunate to live a life that allows us to travel often, and to travel well.

And, after the trip that was our daughter’s Safety Patrol week in D.C., I can say with complete honesty that my travel snobbery is for sure something I’m not ashamed of. Count me out of anything with less than four stars, but it should have at least 4.5 stars to make me happy.

Sorry, not sorry, but I like my coffee delivered to my room every morning by someone who isn’t married to me. I like my breakfast served to me in bed. I like finding a bottle of bubbles on ice already waiting for me with a personalized note from the hotel manager when I walk into my room. I like someone else carrying my luggage. I like someone else bringing my car to me. I like certain things, and that’s just who I am.

That’s why I’m sharing my other secret with you. It’s not so much a secret as it is just something so many people don’t know about because it’s a little bit off the beaten path. And by off the beaten path, I mean it’s like 7 minutes further down the road than Disney, and that makes people look elsewhere.

It’s the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate. My husband and I have been spending several weekends a year here since we got married in 2005, and it remains one of our favorite places in the world. It’s just over an hour from home, so it’s a perfect weekend getaway for us, and we make sure we spend 3 or 4 weekends a year here.

It’s changed a lot in the past 14 or so years, but only for the better. When we were trying to decide where to spend Father’s Day celebrating my husband – the world’s most amazing father – the Omni was everyone’s immediate choice. So, we booked it, we packed, and we loved it. As usual.

It’s never busy

Even when the Omni is sold out of rooms, it never feels busy. The resort is sprawling. You can check the deets on the link to the hotel to see for yourself. But, there’s never a feeling of so many people there that you cannot find a great chair by the pool, a server, or a reservation at dinner.

You never have to leave the resort

When we go to the Omni, we don’t leave the resort. Well, that’s not true. We’ve been Disney annual passholders for over a decade, so we sometimes make the quick 10-minute drive to Disney in the evenings to spend a few hours at the park after the sun goes down. But, we don’t leave otherwise. We order room service or check out Trevi’s for breakfast. We love lunch at the pool bar, Croc’s, and we love dinner at David’s Club, a lot. When we are in the mood for sushi, Zen is the perfect choice.

The pools are the best in Orlando

You won’t find a better pool area in all of Orlando. Trust us, we’ve been to all of them. The Gaylord comes in second, but the Omni takes first. And, they’ve had our hearts for best pool area for almost 15 years, and they recently added a lot more to the pool…but they were the best before that. Now it’s even more amazing.

The main pool is a zero-entry pool that’s massive. It has a water splash pad on one side, a major waterslide, tons of space, a basketball hoop, etc.. The lazy river is 850-feet of greatness. The adult pool is elegant and pristine. The new wave pool is our kids’ favorite. The new kids’ area is perfect for little kids. The water is two-feet deep at most, and there are three fun slides for small kids. The resort features Cabanas at the kid’s pool, the wave pool, and the adult pool.

Cabanas are worth it, always. It’s a little more expensive on the weekends, and it’s more expensive during the summer as whole, but worth it. You get a cabana with chairs, a television, a fridge, a fresh fruit platter, 10 beverages, and a ceiling fan. You have cover if it begins to rain, personalized bar service, and so much more. This weekend, the price was the highest it typically goes for a cabana at the wave pool or kiddie pool, which is $275 for all of that. You get it all day long – from 8 am to 10 pm.

The restaurants are amazing

Fun fact – I hate buffets. Hate them. Ew. But, I really enjoy the breakfast buffet at Trevi’s at the Omni. It’s one of the best around. The fruit is always the freshest, and that’s one of my primary reasons for hating buffets (other than being totally and completely grossed out to touch food other people have been near or touched before me). The fruit is always so fresh, and it’s so abundant.

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You get all of it, not just a few pieces of random fruit. They always, always have strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, melon, cantaloupe, watermelon, apples, bananas, and kiwi, and it always looks and tastes amazing.

David’s Club is our favorite for dinner for so many reasons. Not only is it beyond impossible to find something you don’t love, but they legit cater to us like it’s the most important thing they’ve ever done in their lives. Even when we have our kids with us, they make it special. For example, they’re quick to give the kids their own table and their own waiter next to us so we can have a little downtime, and the waiter keeps them happy. Whatever they need, he or she is on it. We don’t have to do a thing, and it’s beautiful.

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(Lilly Pulitzer romper, Tory Burch  Millers, Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM, Givenchy Sunglasses)

Croc’s is amazing because they have the best pool food. They have the most fantastic buffalo chicken quesadillas. They aren’t on the menu anymore, but all you need to do is ask for them and they’re yours. You won’t regret it. Zen has fab sushi, and you will enjoy every second of it.

You’re always VIP at the Omni

From the moment we arrive at valet, we are always treated like the most important people in the hotel. For example, my husband and I have been coming here so long and so often that one of the amazing valets who has been there since we started coming knows our family well (Hi, Kenny!). He’s been helping us from day one, and he’s watched us go from newlyweds to having Addison, to welcoming Ava, to having the twins. He’s parked our 2-seater convertible and our Lincoln SUV and our BMW sedan, and our Denali (and I’m pushing for him to park a minivan the next time we visit…but my husband and I cannot agree on our next “family” vehicle. He loves the Denali and wants me to drive the Yukon XL Denali next, but I don’t want anything XL…I want the Chrysler Pacifica. We had one as a rental in Texas recently, and me and the kids fell in love. You guys…it has a vacuum in the third row. And I’m a neat freak who vacuums my car every single day with my handy dandy shop vac I keep in the garage. Don’t you feel like I NEED a minivan with a built-in vacuum? Please let Craig Raiford know this…he doesn’t think I’ll be truly happy in it after a few months, but I’m obsessed and ready to rock a mom van like it’s my job).

That was a bit off topic, but you know how it goes with me. The Omni staff treats you like VIP, always. Kenny at valet is amazing. He knows our names, he knows what we’ve been up to, and he’s always quick to come over and grab us to help with the kindest words and a “Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Raiford!” as he opens our doors. We love him.

The front desk is always so friendly. Kids are presented with a super cute backpack filled with toys, goodies, and candy when we check in. Because we are Omni Select Guest members, we have bottled water waiting on us in our room every single day, we have warm chocolate chip cookies, milk, and more water delivered to us every night during turndown service (one for each of the kids and us).

If it’s one of our birthdays, the kids’ birthdays, or our anniversary, or even if we are just there for a quick date night for no other reason than just to get away for a night, we have champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, or even a full cake with a special message on it.

Select Guest members also get coffee delivered to the room in the morning – or tea or water or juice or whatever you prefer, as long as you specify what you want. Additionally, we are always upgraded to a suite if there is one available. If there isn’t, they always make sure we at least have a balcony that overlooks the pool area and the grounds of the golf course. They’re so good to us.

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Kids Club

So, we just tried this for the first time, but we sent the kids to Camp Omni this weekend. Friday night, we had a family dinner. Saturday, we spent the entire day by the pool. By the time Saturday night rolled around, we were ready for a break from the kids, and they were ready for a break from us. Insert Camp Omni here.

We took the kids for a few hours, and they LOVED it! They asked if they can go every time we visit, and we are down for that! The camp is highly secure, and it’s available by reservation only. For a small fee ($12 per hour, per child), the kids get to go in and participate in an evening of fun from 5 pm to 10 pm. They played video games, did arts and crafts, went to the connected, fenced in, locked playground to play. They also had dinner in there, and they got to choose what they ate, including dessert. They loved it.

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Meanwhile, we were able to go to dinner at David’s, sip wine on the balcony, and enjoy the sunset. It was a perfect ending to a beautiful day. We highly recommend it.

Activities Galore

Glow golf, hair beads, a DJ, tie dye shirt making, hat decorating, hula hoop contests, a hot dog station, staff walking around with popsicles and ice cream to hand out to the kids just because, and Dive-In Movies at night round out the kind of fun that kids have at the Omni. It’s a great time for everyone, and there is always something to do.

And now you know. Now you know that we are always happy to visit the Omni. It’s always a great time whether we are with the kids, by ourselves, or spending the weekend with our friends. Are you ready to join us next time?

3 Summer Masks Your Skin Needs, Stat

Summer is here, and we are all spending more time than ever outdoors. From beach days to pool parties to boat days, the sunshine is making us all feel good. But, it’s also taking a toll on our skin. With the changing of the seasons comes a change in our skincare routine. Right now, you’re sweating more than ever. Your makeup is clogging your pores more than ever. You’re getting sun, your skin is being dried out by the sun, and everything is changing.

Summer is a time for change, and it’s not just about later nights, later mornings, and more carefree fun. It’s also about changing your skincare routine, and I highly recommend you incorporate one – or more – of these amazing masks into your skincare routine. I have, and love, all three, and I typically alternate what I’m using throughout the week. I use them once or twice a week this time of year, and I alternate what I’m using based on what I feel my skin needs.

Your skin will thank you for these.

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Laneige Water Sleeping Mask – $25

I’m starting with my favorite. I actually got this mask as a sample in one of my beauty boxes from Sephora, and I fell in love. It’s so refreshing and hydrating for my skin that I ended up ordering the full-size product almost immediately. I use this mask one to two times a week after my shower. My face is clean, I put this one, go to bed, and wake up with brighter, more refreshed skin.

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Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask – $45

Can you tell I have a thing for sleeping masks? It’s got hyaluronic acid, which is exactly what my skin needs in my mid-30s. It’s also got a gentle exfoliator in it that helps my keep my skin healthy, and it makes my pores shrink. I have larger pores, so this is a great option during the summer. I use this mask once a week – I don’t want to overwhelm my pores, nor do I want to exfoliate my skin too much. No thanks to that kind of redness.

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GlamGlow FlashMud Brightening Treatment – $59

If there is one mistake women make during the summer, it’s assuming the sun automatically brightens their skin and makes it glow. It’s true that it does make your skin look glowing and gorgeous, but it’s not enough. You need to try for this mask once a week to help your skin look as radiant as possible. Your skin is dealing with a lot of stuff this time of year, and it needs a little help to keep it bright and beautiful. You won’t regret this one, even if you use it once every two weeks.

What’s your go-to beauty mask this time of year?

Maintaining Patience During Summer Vacation

Patience and summer might not mix if you’re a parent.

But, that’s part of the job.

Our kids are home for the summer, and by that I mean they are totally and completely home. We are not big on summer camps around here. I’m not knocking those who are big into them, but we simply are not. For one, there’s not many around here that interest our kids (or exist, if we are being honest). Additionally, one of the biggest caveats of beginning my business 11 years ago when our sweet girl was born was that I wanted to be a present mom.

I work from home, and so does my husband. That can make summer difficult. Being that my husband does not work for himself, he does need the house to be relatively quiet, which is not always easy with four kids. I don’t need the quiet so much as I just need uninterrupted time to work.

In the past, I woke up early and worked before the kids got up so that I could finish most of my work in the mornings. I write a lot of words each weekday for my clients, but I write quickly and have ample experience writing, editing, and submitting my work in an efficient manner. I need around 3 hours per day to get my work done.

These days, sleeping later is more important to me than getting up earlier. I like being up before the kids, but I’m tired. The last few months of the school year do me in, and I’m exhausted. Our lives are non-stop go, go, go the first 5 months of the year, and I just want to sleep in.

So, I work when they’re awake, and it’s often in small spurts throughout the day. I’m growing accustomed to it, and it works.

But, patience is not always easy during the summer. We are Floridians. It rains a lot, and we have kids who want to be outside more than anything in the world. Inside is like the devil in their eyes. I’m also not the kind of mom who has any desire to entertain my kids 24/7. I am not about to find a fun activity to take them to 7 days a week.

Thankfully, my kids don’t need constant entertainment or stimulation to have fun. I think that’s because we let them have times of boredom so that they’re able to use their imaginations and entertain themselves, and I’m so appreciative we’ve done that for them. We know kids who will come up to us and tell us they are bored when there’s a swimming pool, bikes, balls, toys, games, and a million other things to do, and we refuse to let our kids become the kind of kids who need constant stimulation.

We lead exceptionally active lives on the weekend, and our weeks are a lot more laidback. We stay home most days. We don’t make plans. I’m not into taking four kids out and about on my own throughout the week if I don’t have to. The kids aren’t as happy when it’s just me as it is when it’s both of us, anyway. They’re also homebodies like we are. They like to be home. Perhaps our summers are our time to actually stay home more often than not and relax and enjoy. I don’t know.

My mind is all over the place right now, sorry. My point is that it’s sometimes hard to maintain patience in the summer with kids, things to do, and a life to live. I am, however, always happy to share some of my own personal tips for getting through the 11 weeks of summer relatively unscathed and better for it.

Make Plans

I just said we don’t make many weekday plans during the summer, and I do stand by that. We may go see a movie, go swimming, go bowling, or something like that once or twice a week, but I’m not an entertainer. They’re going to read, play games, play outside and have fun at home the rest of the week. But, we do make a lot of summer plans that they have to look forward to. This helps keep them patient, and it gives us all something to look forward to.

For example, we are officially two weeks into summer, and we’ve already spent a week in D.C., this week is cheer camp, we have parties, events, and several trips to look forward to. There is always something to look forward to, and we love that. It helps us all stay patient with one another.

Keep it Simple

Maybe our kids are a bit spoiled. Okay, okay; there’s no maybe about it. They are spoiled rotten. They have more than they could ever want, they don’t go without, and they’ve traveled more of the world in their young lives than most adults will in their entire lives. Don’t feel sorry for the Raiford kids.

However, do keep in mind that our kids love simple things, and that helps us stay patient with one another all summer. Sometimes, they just want the little things that they don’t get to experience so often. What does that mean? Well, our kids might moan and roll their eyes when we go to birthday parties with bounce houses because they’re tired of the same bounce houses all the time. They might complain when we go to Disney because they dislike standing in lines and being hot and they go all the time. They might be frustrated that we’re going to the Omni instead of the Gaylord because they like the pool at the Gaylord better.

But, there is one thing our kids never complain about. The simple things. Ask them if they want to go into the kitchen and bake cookies, and they’re the most excited kids in the world. Sit down and play a game of cards with them, and they’re in heaven. Go outside and play ball in the yard, and they’re thrilled. Get on the trampoline with them, and their dreams come true. Keep it simple this summer. Kids like simple stuff. Trust me.

Take A Break

When you’re with the kids all summer, you all need a break – from one another. Call grandma, and ask her to keep them for the night. They want a break from you as much as you want one from them. Plan date nights. Plan a weekend away in which the kids are not invited. Do something without them. Plan a spa day. Plan a night out with friends. Go to the beach without the kids. Do whatever you can to take a break when you feel the overwhelming need to get away. They need it, too.

Create a Tradition

Kids love tradition, trust me. We have a few of them with the kids, and they always look forward to it. They know, for example, that every Wednesday night is dinner with our best friends. It has been since before the kids were even born, and they never get tired of it. No matter how many times we go to their house or they come to our house, it’s one of the kids’ favorite traditions.

On Sunday nights after bath time, we sit down and we watch America’s Funniest Videos with the kids. They LOVE that tradition. On Friday mornings, I have a standing donut date with the kids. They love it. These are things that make our kids happy, and it helps with patience. When you have traditions and fun planned for the summer, you and your kids appreciate those days when you’re all at home without a plan. Those days are the downtime days, and they know there are busier days ahead.

What do you do during the summer with your little ones to stay busy while also relaxing and maintaining your patience?

Recovering After Vacation

No makeup. No real clothes. No exiting the house.

That’s what our weekend looked like. And, it was the most beautiful weekend.

I know I say that every weekend. No matter what we are doing, it’s a beautiful weekend. What can I say other than that we live our best life every weekend, and that’s because we do what makes our hearts happy. This weekend, it was cancelling all the plans. It was a rainy, nasty weekend. Everything we had planned suddenly seemed like a chore, and that’s no fun.

After six days in Washington D.C. – on a bus – with 33 kids and 20 adults, it was necessary. We had a wonderful week with our oldest daughter, but being one of the two sponsors for the trip is WORK. Let me say that again – it’s WORK. It’s hard. It was a year of constant movement, planning, preparation, and it wasn’t less work when we got there. Room assignments, key-holding, bedtime rulers, counting kids, dealing with a small handful of ungrateful, unhappy, unkind chaperones (thank you, Lord, for the amazing group we did have, but there were three or four who were like whoa).

It was 5 am wake-up calls, 1 am bedtimes, constant phone calls in the middle of the night waking me and my husband up in bed from parents at home, kids who didn’t feel well down the hall, kids who got hurt and needed medical attention. My husband and I worked hard all week handling that, and we walked 27 miles throughout the week, visited countless monuments, museums, and food courts. I starved all week because I’m a food snob – and fast food and buffets just don’t cut it for me. I also slept like death each night because we stayed in a motel.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bona fide travel snob. We love to travel, and we do it frequently, but we prefer 4 and 5 star resorts and hotels. We like room service. We don’t like serve yourself buffets. We don’t like parking our own car or carrying our own luggage. This trip was the equivalent of camping. But not like nice camping in a luxe camper. Like camping in the dirt with the bugs and the insects and the critters and the murders camping. Literally, our bus driver told us to be careful in the parking lot because of the vagrants.

I mean…I’m just saying.

But, this weekend, we were tired. Cancelled all plans except taking the kids to see Aladdin on Friday, and then it was home, home, and more home Saturday and Sunday. And it was glorious. Recovering from vacation – or a trip in this case – is never easy. But, I do have some tips that make it a bit easier.

Do Nothing

Busy is something we are, but it’s not something we are proud of. We are happy to have fulfilled lives with so many friends, so many activities, and so much fun, but we don’t love to be busy. We love to have downtime, but it’s not always easy with four kids and our lives. This weekend, we had plans. But, we decided to cancel them.

When we returned home at 8 pm on Thursday night from six days in Washington D.C. for Addison’s Safety Patrol Trip, we were officially 11 out of 15 nights traveling and away from our own beds, our own home, and our own favorite place. Not that we regret any of it, nor would we trade it. But, we were tired. Plans to go away for the weekend – again – did seem like good ones when we made them, but they seemed like nothing more than a burden by the time we got home.

So, we took the kids to see Aladdin, we came home, and we did not leave the house again for two solid days. It was the best choice. It’s always my recommendation that you allow yourself one night at home at the end of your vacation or trip where you can go to bed, sleep in, and have a day at home before you go back to real life. It’s never let us down.

Prepare For Relaxation

Anyone who knows me knows I am a total and complete neat freak, and I’m a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to cleanliness and order. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s so helpful when we come home from traveling. Coming home to a spotless home without laundry waiting is a gem (not that we don’t bring laundry home with us, of course). Knowing the bathrooms, the floors, the counters, all bedrooms, and everything is clean and spotless when we walk in the door makes me feel at peace.

Nothing is worse than coming home to a mess. Trust me – I feel like that every single time we leave the kids home and return to them. Not that our moms don’t clean, but they definitely don’t clean anywhere close to my standards. I love coming home and knowing the only thing I need to do is unpack. It helps prepare for relaxation when you come home.

Unpack Right Away

You guys…I do not understand people who come home from a trip, ignore their luggage and laundry, and do nothing productive. I. Do. Not. Get. It.

I can’t. How can you just ignore a mess and leave things undone when you get home? Where is your sense of peace? I can come home from a trip with my family of six, 5 pieces of luggage, and have everyone unpacked, clean laundry put away, dirty laundry washing, and everything put in its rightful place in under 30 minutes. It’s so easy, and it takes all the stress away.

If you want to relax and recover from a trip or vacation, you have to unpack and situate yourself right away. You have to. It’s not an option. I promise you will thank yourself for that one later.

Order Your Groceries

One more thing I’m not a huge fan of – ordering my groceries. I know it’s meant to be easier and to make your life better, but I am too much of a control freak. We buy so much fresh fruit and fresh vegetables, and I swear to you no one can pick out the best stuff. I detest groceries delivered to me that aren’t the ones I would have chosen. It seems people who are shopping for others often don’t put forth the same thoughtfulness and carefulness when choosing fruit and veggies, and we often end up with things that are already going bad, soft, rotten, or gross in general.

But, I always order groceries for delivery when we travel. I know it won’t get us through more than a day or two, but nothing is nicer than coming home and knowing I don’t need to add a trip to the store to my list of things to do upon arrival.

Make A Plan

It sounds a bit like an oxymoron, right? You’re home to relax and enjoy yourself, yet here you are making a plan. Of course, I don’t mean you have to make a plan to go anywhere or do anything. Just make a plan to make no plans. Our favorite thing to do when we are finished unpacking is to take showers and baths no matter how early it is, and then we climb onto the couch with blankets and pajamas and popcorn, and we watch movies as a family. Our kids don’t love to watch television as a whole, but they will sit down and enjoy with us when we have a day like this. And, I promise, it’s totally worth every moment.

How do you typically recover after vacation?

9 Ways to Combat Exhaustion When Your Calendar is Full

Happy Tuesday, loves!

I’m exhausted, and I’m guessing all my fellow moms are, too. It’s May. If you have school-age children, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Exhaustion is a way of life around here during the month of May, and it’s because there are so many end-of-school year events, parties, things, stuff, places, adventures, etc.

I’m not mathematically inclined, but there are two of us and four of them, and that’s not enough of us to go around. We’ve been burning the candle at both ends, and I think it shows. Cheer tryouts for two. VPK graduation, teacher appreciation luncheons to cater (I had to miss one school TA lunch this year because of field day) field day, 5th grade graduation, safety patrol field trip, 5th grade field trip, AVID interviews, tumble classes, our wedding anniversary, hair appointments, yoga classes, Mother’s Day, mom’s day lunch with the twins’ class, travel, birthdays, birthday parties, retirement parties, boat days, pool parties; you name it, we have it on the schedule this month.

And, let’s be honest, that’s all going on without considering my work schedule. I have clients who contract me to write so many words a day for them, and I have to meet those word counts every day. I write a lot of words for numerous clients on a daily basis, and I suffer from a little bit of anxiety this time of year trying to get it all done.

Fortunately, I’ve been a business owner and a mom a long time, and I’ve learned a few things about staying sane, easing the exhaustion, and getting it all done. I’m still tired, but I’m less frustrated, and my attitude isn’t as bad as it could be.

Go to Bed Early

It sounds so simple, right? But most people just don’t do it. I make it a point to go to bed no later than 9 pm each night. Now, most of the time that means falling asleep on my husband on the couch while we watch a movie, but that’s all right. He wakes me up, and we go to bed by 10:30 or so. It helps since I get up early to work before the kids are up and before the morning begins. If I go to bed any later, I feel it the following day.

Say No

Not everything you do requires a yes. If it doesn’t fit into your schedule or bring you joy, just say no. There are plenty of things that are going on this month that I could go to, but I simply say no because they don’t interest me, fit the schedule, or rank high enough on my priority list.

Prioritize

What’s most important to you? I have to make this choice a lot this time of year, but I promise it’s a lot easier than you imagine. I recently had a last-minute situation come up with one of our kids, and I had to cancel something I had two choices. Choose one day and cancel an unnecessary obligation on the calendar, or choose the other day and cancel something that was fun for the whole family. Obviously, I kept the fun and cancelled the unnecessary obligation. Our family needs the fun stuff more this time of year than ever considering all the scheduled things we have to do. That kind of prioritizing makes life more enjoyable.

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Make Time for Fun

This goes back to prioritizing, but making time for fun is something we have to do. This month is busy, but it’s been full of fun. From taking a weekend away with just my husband to celebrate our anniversary to our regularly scheduled Wednesday night dinners with our best friends to last-minute date nights to weekend pool parties to boat days on the Gulf, we make sure there is always time for fun.

This past weekend, I was the walking dead. Addison had her AVID interview Tuesday afternoon, we had our Wednesday night dinner tradition and our niece for a sleepover on Wednesday, we had Addison’s Universal Studios field trip on Thursday, I had the twins’ field day on Friday, cheer tryouts for Addy and Ava on Friday night, a birthday party for one of Addison’s friends (That’s also a mom gathering for our friends) on Saturday morning followed by lunch with our girlfriends, and cheer tryouts Saturday night.

I was tired. I wanted to go home. I hadn’t really been home in days. I was done. I wanted to spend time with my husband and my kids. I wanted to go to bed early. I wanted to rest. But then our best friends called and asked if we wanted to spend Sunday on the boat, and that’s always fun. So, we said yes even though we knew we’d be tired. And guess what? It was exactly what we needed. A day of fun in the sun, a lot of laughs, kids having the best time, and nothing but relaxation on the mind was just what we needed to break up a week full of activities before another week full of activities. Saying yes to fun is always a good idea.

Fill Your Body with Good Food

It’s so easy to want to eat poorly in May. Fast food is easier. Ordering out is easier. But, your body doesn’t want that, and you don’t need that. If I ate nothing but junk this month, I’d be sluggish, tired, and beyond exhausted. Eating well always fuels my body, and it will yours, too.

Exercise

I might not be able to find time to do everything this month, but I will always find time to work out. I need it. For my attitude, for my body, for my energy; I need to workout daily. It’s what gives me the energy I need to get things done.

Find A Routine

I’m very structured. I have to be to run the kind of business I run with the kind of tight deadlines and ever-changing daily routines. I like schedules, routines, and knowing what to expect. However, I find that I have to adjust my routine a bit this month. I say not to additional projects clients want done. I say not yet to new clients, and I prioritize what needs to be done for my regular clients. I work early in the morning, and I make sure I complete a certain number of words prior to taking the kids to school. I have a routine this time of year that I adapt to, and it works.

Silence Your Alerts

The single most pivotal way to get through this time of year without being more exhausted is to silence your alerts. Turn off the volume of your phone. Put do not disturb on after a certain time of day. Put it on during the day so you don’t get texts, calls, or social media alerts.

I do this all the time. I leave it so that only certain numbers can get through to me – though sometimes I don’t even do that knowing that they can call my husband if they really need me. If my phone is constantly going off, I can’t concentrate or get anything done. I put it in the master bedroom while I’m in my office, and I ignore it. It’s the single best way to accomplish things during the day. It’s quiet. There are no distractions. My concentration is not broken. It’s spectacular.

Get Out

A walk with a friend. A lunch date with my girlfriends. A run with my husband. Sometimes, you just have to walk away, find something fun to do, and get out of the house. It’s the best way to rejuvenate. And it helps. We also like to have fun with the kids. A golf cart ride. A long walk. Going to dinner. Playing outside. Whatever they want to do that gets us out of the house, we do it.

There’s no real way to fight the exhaustion you feel when you’re on the go so much this time of year, but you can make it easier on yourself. Eat a healthy diet, move your body, and focus on the good in your life and prioritize those things. It helps, it matters, and it’s what makes a difference in the way you live.

Are you so busy this time of year? What do you have going on, and how do you combat your exhaustion?