The fall season means all kinds of new habits for moms and kids alike – and if you are already feeling like you need a little help not constantly feeling overwhelmed and burdened by mom guilt, here are my favourite tips and products to get you through this season of change.
1. DON’T MAKE LIFE HARDER THAN IT NEEDS TO BE
Between dance lessons and homework assignments, and conference calls and parent- teacher meetings, a mom cannot afford to spend time and energy in areas that are not strategic. Sometimes, I think we make life harder than it needs to be – and this can contribute to feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and mom guilt in a huge way.
Take grocery shopping for example. I used to do it with a bunch of small kids in tow, and the experience would leave me frazzled and exhausted, and often without the thing I came to get from the store in the first place because I was busy being a hostage negotiator!!!
Instead, consider using a service like the PC Insiders Subscription. For $99 a year, you get free PC Express grocery pick up, you earn 200 PC Optimum points for every dollar spent on PC Organics products, PC Black Label Collection products and Joe Fresh merchandise. Plus, you save SO MUCH TIME. You place your grocery order online from the comfort of your own home (I use a recurring shopping list every single week), you select your desired time for pick up, you pull up your vehicle, and a friendly staff member delivers your groceries to your car.
What used to take me an hour and a half was significantly cut down to less than half an hour from start to finish. Services like this allow you to save time strategically, freeing you up to enjoy time with your family.
2. MAKE TIME FOR DATE NIGHT EVEN IF YOU HAVE NO CHILD CARE
When you think about it, so much time is spent in a car as a mom. I personally spend about an hour daily for school drop off and pick up, between one to two or more hours in the car for errands and appointments depending on the day, and then another hour driving kids to activities and play dates when we have them scheduled. That’s a lot!
So instead of just a place where we act as chauffeurs for our kids, what if the car could be a place for connection for all members of the family – even for something like a weekly date night?
Here’s how you do it: pack the kids in the car in their pyjamas, drive around until they fall asleep, grab your favourite drink, park somewhere scenic, and enjoy a movie or just enjoy music and each other’s company.
We recently took the Hyundai Palisade out for a test drive, and the bells and whistles on this SUV really allowed me to create a luxury date experience. Heated seats, heated steering wheel, Android Auto™ & Apple CarPlay™, USB outlets in every row- even an in- vehicle intercom with Kid’s “Quiet Zone” to silence whatever we are listening to in the front row, so we don’t disturb our sleeping baby in the back – it’s the kind of vehicle that keeps up with the demands of a modern family.
Connection can happen anywhere we are intentional about it happening- even in the car.
3. HELP KEEP YOUR KIDS GERM-FREE WHILE THEY ARE AT SCHOOL
The back-to-school his season is TOUGH, as a new school year means new germy situations. Your children also may be settling into a new routine and being introduced to new environments (like a new school). They also won’t have you with them
during the day to remind them to do things like wash their hands before and after lunch and recess!
To help my kids avoid germs and keep their hands clean during school hours, I include travel pouches of Wet Ones antibacterial hand wipes in their backpacks and lunch boxes every day. These Wet Ones wipes are hypoallergenic and gentle on skin, and are an easy way to ensure my kids keep harmful germs away when soap and water aren’t easily accessible – and let’s face it, many kids forget to get up, find a sink, and wash their hands.
The prompt of seeing a wipe in their lunchbox is a great way to keep your kiddos’ hands clean, and to help ease your mind, knowing that you have given them a line of defence against harmful germs.
4. ACKNOWLEDGE THAT ASKING FOR HELP IS NOT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS
I do not know where in modern motherhood it became a sign of success to do everything alone- but this mindset needs to stop!. We need to be ok with asking for help, and be ok receiving it! Whether your help comes from your mom, a hired service to clean your home, a teenager in the neighbourhood who watches your kids, or a mom you swap babysitting with so you can both get a break during the week, creating a culture where moms help each other succeed is something that is very important to me, and desperately needed today.
Thanks so much to the brands mentioned for partnering with me on this post. I only work with brands that I personally use myself and can personally attest to their value!
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I am a little obsessed with window coverings. I really do believe they are an area of the home that too often gets treated as an afterthought, but when done well, they can really make a space feel like a million dollars!!!!
So when Budget Blinds approached me to partner with them on a video to share the process of installing custom window coverings in your home, I was on board. Budget Blinds is a custom window covering provider – which means they provide tailor made drapes, blinds, shades, shutters and more for your home, completely customized for you space.
Everything begins with a free in-home consultation with a local Design Consultant. Your Design Consultant brings everything to you- and I mean everything! They bring you fabric samples, professional measuring tools, and even the technology to create your own custom fabric yourself through their DesignINK™ program.
I have known Toronto Design Consultant Karen for almost my entire interior design career. We have worked on many projects together (lots that I have written about on this blog! Check out Dacia’s kitchen and bedroom here).
And what has come out of a long business relationship, is a real life friendship as well. I love that by working with a Budget Blinds Design Consultant, I get to support a fellow entrepreneur, and mom, who is following her dreams (and you know how much I care about that)!
So as I mentioned, the Design Consultant takes care of everything, from professionally measuring the space, to guiding you in the design process to installing the final product. And what I love about the Budget Blinds approach is that they really care. They work with you to either match what is in your current home, or launch you into an entirely different design scheme, and provide you options to match your unique needs and budget.
In my home, we installed gorgeous sheer curtains using the DesignINK™ program. This program kind of blew my mind. When I was working with interior design clients, I would spend hours in fabric showrooms finding the perfect scheme for my clients- and this would take a lot of time! So what I think is so unique about DesignINK™, is that you get to play designer and create your own custom fabric from the comfort of your own home. Through their portable technology, your Design Consultant can guide you through hundreds of prints- from organic, to geometric, to traditional, to contemporary, and then you can customize the colour to basically whatever you want! We were able to match the exact pink in my drapes to the door colour in my dining room! Once you are satisfied with your design, your custom print is sent to be tested on the fabric of your choice, and you receive the options in the mail for approval! Check out what the process looked like here.
Pretty cool, right?
So here is what the spaces looked like before:
And here is what they looked like after!
I am so thrilled with how everything turned out. I wanted something playful to match the personality of my family. Pink was a bold choice, but we ensured that the hue was saturated enough that it wouldn’t feel too juvenile.
At Karen’s suggestion, we also created custom pillows to match the window coverings! And I love the custom touch this creates. This is the simplest way in my opinion to add a designer touch to a space – the repetition of colour and pattern creates a cohesive approach in the space and is a way of adding a custom element without breaking the bank!
I think that whatever your budget, or whatever the space, or however old your kids are, or whatever your stage is in life, everyone can enjoy a beautiful home – and window coverings are a big part of that!
To watch the entire transformation in my home, click play below.
And to learn how to work with a Budget Blinds Design Consultant (available throughout the USA and Canada!) click here!
One of the most commonly asked questions I get about having 7 kids is what kind of a car do you drive?!?
When we were looking for a car, I wanted something with all the bells and whistles- a car that was modern enough to handle my active family’s lifestyle, but still had all the luxuries like heated and cooling seats, a heated steering wheel, safety cameras everywhere, and a gorgeous digital display- and I found this all in the Hyundai Palisade.
When you think about how much time a mom spends in her car, it makes a huge difference when it is a space that feels luxurious, and a space that feels like an extension of home, in a way. What if we could think of our car like a place to foster connection, as opposed to just a place we shuttled people around?
We recently took this car for a spin and it inspired me think about ways we can make the most out of time in the car as a family- I hope it inspires you to foster great connections with your loved ones on the go.
1. HAVE INTENTIONAL CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR KIDS IN THE CAR
Growing up, the car was where I had great chats with my dad about life (my mom did not drive). It was focused time, and I loved it. I try to use the times we drive to ask my kids questions, learn more about their interests, and generally just continue to get to know their personalities on a deeper level. With 7 kids ages 10 and under, I have personalities of all kinds! I like to keep the loud ones at the back, lol.
Speaking of loud, the Hyundai Palisade comes equipped with a in-vehicle intercom system (how cool is that?!), which allows me to chat with my kids in the third row without having to yell!
2. LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS ON LONGER DRIVES
I am a huge podcast and audiobook listener when I am driving alone, but more recently, we have been listening to classic children’s books like The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan and the entire Beverly Cleary collection (I have so much nostalgia listening to the Ramona series). Not only are they great for kids of all ages, I find they spark my imagination too! And if you’ve been following me for a while, you know I am all for what happens in your brain when you listen to stories vs. watching videos- synapsis are fired up left right centre and the brain works to create visuals of what is being read aloud. It’s so good for parents and kids alike!
Now in my family, there is inevitably always a sleeping baby somewhere in the car! This car comes equipped with rear seat Quiet Mode, so that the rear speakers get muted when audiobooks are on the go to keep things extra quiet for sleeping babies.
3. DO DATE NIGHT IN THE CAR (EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE A BABYSITTER)
If you watch any of my videos you know how passionate I am about a weekly date night- it’s a non negotiable for me. We arrange childcare, we get out of the house, and we connect as a couple- so important to keep a marriage strong and healthy!
And I get asked all the time, what do you do if you can’t afford to eat out, or you don’t have childcare?
What about date night in the car? It literally could look as simple as this: change your kids into their pjs, grab your favourite beverage, drive around until they fall asleep, and then park somewhere relaxing and watch something on your personal device, or simply enjoy a relaxed conversation with no one interrupting you.
Plus, the Hyundai Palisade has heated and ventilated front seats to make your date night in the car even more luxurious.
4. WORK ON PROJECTS USING DICTATION
An interesting tidbit about my new book, The Possibility Mom: How to be a Great Mom and Pursue Your Dreams At the Same Time, is that I wrote A LOT of it in the car (sometimes with my kids WITH ME). I had to get so creative with how I wrote my book, even in the smallest 15-minute increments. And one of the ways I did this was simply by dictating parts of my book while driving into my phone as a voice memo, or literally grabbing my laptop, putting a movie on for my kids on their personal devices, and writing for the duration of the show! I wrote tons of chapters in this way!!!
With 7 USB outlets in the most strategic spots in every row, pouches for kids’ devices or other entertainment, and 14 cup holders (14!!!), this car comes equipped to keep kids happy while mom tries to get some work done!
5. INTENTIONALLY SCHEDULE ME TIME AROUND PICK-UP AND DROP OFF TIMES
I will purposefully arrive at least 15-minutes early before school pick up for intentional quiet time for myself. I pull up early, grab an ideal parking spot (if your kids’ school is small like mine you know the pain of finding parking), ensure I have a beverage to suit my mood (either a decaf flat white, or a ginormous water with ice and lemon), and I will read a book, listen to a motivating podcast or radio show (the Limited version of the Palisade comes equipped with Sirius XM and there is no shortage of content on there to entertain and inspire!), or even TAPE A NAP BEFORE THE KIDS COME IN!!!
When time is limited, us busy moms sometimes have to get creative with self care- and honestly, arriving just a few minutes early, and feeling peaceful before receiving the kids, makes a massive, massive difference on my mood for the remainder of the afternoon and evening.
For more on how this SUV is the ultimate family vehicle for active families who need a vehicle that does it all, click here.
Special thank to Hyundai Canada for partnering with me on this post! I don’t have time to use products that do not enhance my family’s life, so know I am always looking to share products that will enhance your family’s life too.
Earlier this month I had the amazing opportunity to appear on Hallmark’s daytime show Home and Family. This is a channel we don’t get up here in Canada, but it is a wildly popular one in the US- and it was amazing to spend time with the hosts Cameron and Debbi and oh my word was it great fun.
For a little behind the scenes look at my experience, check out this video below!
Very excited to announce new changes coming to the website- while I will continue to offer select interior design services, I am changing things around here to reflect my love of helping moms uncover and experience their most authentic life.
Stay tuned for more! To get a notification when the new website drops and to grab a copy of my free how to balance family and work download click here.
It is the May long weekend here in Canada and I am excited for some REST and RELAXATION at home with my family! To do this, I have given my back deck a bit of a much needed makeover, and I am sharing some fun products that are going to help save me time and allow me to really relax (AND PUT MY VERY PREGNANT FEET UP, LOL) with my crew of 6 kids.
To watch the whole reveal (the before of my back deck was pretty sad looking) click below.
I've also summarized my long weekend family fun essentials below if you'd prefer to read!
1. TIDY UP YOUR OUTDOOR SPACE
We FINALLY have some beautiful weather in Toronto and all I want is to spend every single second of it outside. But my back deck was incredibly dirty and full of debris from the many trees on my property- so start with a good clean. Shake off all the dust from your patio furniture, wash cushion covers as needed, tighten any screws that may have come loose in your furniture and get ready to add the pretty.
2. SET A BUDGET FOR NEW OUTDOOR ITEMS AND BRING THE BEAUTY
I like picking up new outdoor entertaining items every season because I find parts of my sets inevitably get lost or damaged every year, and let's face it, outdoor stuff is just fun and whimsical. I find I am way more adventurous in my outdoor decor than I am for items inside- anyone else like me and are more brave in their decorating decisions as they seem more temporary?
I always look for on trend pillows (pom poms and tassels!), colourful planters (I find these ones sell out super fast), and cute glasses / food accessories. This year I SCORED the cutest outdoor food cover cage that is adorned with POM POMS. The cutest.
3. PLAN SIMPLE, FAST MEALS
I am no chef- I appreciate that some people LOVE to whip up elaborate meals made from scratch with ample chopping and preparation, but it is just not my idea of fun. I like my meals to be delicious, healthy, and convenient to prepare. So when the team at M&M Food Marketinvited me to try some of their prepared meals I jumped at the opportunity. The prepared meals make you look like a culinary genius, and it makes preparing a meal whether it be on a weekend when you want to put your feet up, or on a weeknight when time is at a premium, crazy easy. Plus with their real food promise, there are no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners so you know what you are feeding your family is good stuff.
4. SAVE TIME SO YOU CAN PLAY
For me, long weekends are for RELAXING and creating family memories. My impetus for saving time in meal planning, meal prep, and other areas of my life, is motivated by wanting to be available and attentive to the little people in my life and be able to get down on the ground and play.
Little Tikes sent over some fun toys as gifts for my kids recently, and we had a blast. We got sent the Fun Zone Fountain Factory Table which has provided HOURS of entertainment for my kiddos large and small. I love how my little guys get to play, imagine, and build their fine motor skills, and my bigger guys get to fill the toy with water and help my younger babies out. We also got to try the Fun Zone Dual Twister, which fits one or two children and can be played with inside, or hooked up to a hose and played with outside! Watch my video to watch my little guy spinning away : )
5. PUT YOUR FEET UP!
I know I talk about this all the time, but I am such a believer in REST FOR MOMS. Whatever adventures your family finds itself on this weekend, make sure there is a little bit of rest factored in there for both you and the kids.
So make sure there's time to put your feet up, and relax. You will 100% find me on my outdoor sofa this weekend with a (non-alchoholic) drink in my hands!!!
What are your essentials for a fun family long weekend? Love to know in the comments below : )
Special thanks to M&M Food Market and Little Tikes for partnering with me on this post.