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.
#BellLetsTalk is this week here in Canada, and this event, which brings awareness and raises funds for mental health initiatives in Canada, was what first got me talking about my husband’s struggle with depression and anxiety (you can read my previous blog posts here and here).
Since opening up about how we deal with mental health in our marriage, I have received letters from people around the world (and from friends close to home), opening up about their struggle either with depression personally, or with their struggle in coping with their partner’s mental illness.
When you are the partner of someone with a mental illness, there is often a lot on your plate. You might be the recipient of a lot of negativity. You might be the person fielding questions you don’t know how to answer. And if you are a mom, you are the glue holding everything together for your kids.
It is easy to feel so alone and like no one understands what you are going through- and the truth is, it is a really hard thing to understand unless you have been there.
So this year in honour of #BellLetsTalk, I’ve recorded a video on my YouTube channel on the questions I get asked most frequently on how I cope with my husband’s depression and anxiety. To watch it, click here or click on the video below.
Here are the top strategies that have helped us to cope with mental illness in our marriage:
1. REDUCE STRESS IN THE HOME
You might be thinking, Lisa, you have 6 little kids- how on earth do you reduce stress at home?!?! So of course, there are certain things I cannot control, like the noise or mess that my wonderful little people make. But I do control things that add to stress in our home, like how busy our schedule is, and how often / late I work. I found providing as much predictable stability as possible in our home life, especially in regards to our schedule, played a huge impact in coping with mental illness.
2. WE DON’T MAKE PLANS TOO FAR IN ADVANCE
This one might sound a bit funny to the outsider, but it very much is tied to the first point above. We don’t commit to things too far in advance simply so that we have the flexibility to stay home if we need a quiet evening in. It does not mean we don’t plan ever (we book holidays in advance, doctor’s appointments, etc), but where social engagements are concerned, we simply prefer to be more flexible. We sometimes book visits with friends as short as the day of, and this has helped to eliminate unnecessary pressure in our home, which has proved to be so helpful for us.
3. I HAVE LEARNED TO LET GO OF CONTROL
This is a really tough one for me. I REALLY LIKE TO PLAN! And in the beginning, having to cancel plans because my husband was too anxious or overwhelmed to go out, was very difficult for me. But I have learned over the years, that being more flexible helped EVERYONE. Conflicts over what time we go to church, or preferences in how the dishwasher is loaded, used to bring about a great deal of stress. And now, I work hard to simply be more flexible with this stuff- and it has really helped us cope. It doesn’t mean I never express my preferences or become a “sacrificial lamb” so to speak- but not sweating the small stuff and being more flexible in thought and action have proved to help things immensely.
4. BE KIND RATHER THAN CORRECT
When I did not understand mental illness in the beginning, I really thought it was something that could be “corrected” or “fixed” rather quickly. I have learned that this is simply not the case. Depression and anxiety is an ongoing illness that needs to be managed, by a combination of good lifestyle choices, medical professionals, and sometimes medication. In the past, I used to use phrases like “can you just make up your mind” or “can you keep up” or “just snap out of it” or “just relax!” But again, I learned that these don’t really work very well. What I find helps us both to cope in periods of anxiety and depression, are empathetic phrases like, “that must be really difficult,” or “wow, that must be really hard.” Of course, this is easier to type than to say sometimes in the moment, but experience has shown me it really is a more effective approach and helps us cope and thrive.
5. GO ON DATES
Going on regular dates in an essential part of how we cope with mental illness in our marriage. I find it’s like medication in a way, and when we don’t do it regularly, we feel the absence of it. It might seem like an impossible task to add to the list, especially when it feels like you are juggling so many things already, but trust me when I say it is so important. The depressed person can sometimes tell themselves a viciously negative story: “it would be easier on everyone if I wasn’t around, I should just leave to make everyone else’s lives easier, I am such a burden to everyone I love.” I so badly want my husband to understand how UNTRUE this is when this story gets in his head. Having regular date nights I have found helps this narrative not speak so loud!
6. GET AND ACCEPT HELP YOURSELF
When you are carrying the heavy load of supporting your spouse, and it feels like too much to handle on your own, get your own help. There are loads of ways to support your own mental health. For me personally, I turn to prayer, non-judgemental friends who just listen and don’t try to fix anything, and the support of professional counselors and therapists as necessary.
Accept help when it is offered- if someone offers to babysit, or cook a meal for you, take it.
Finally, if you would prefer to speak to someone anonymously and just vent emotions you have that you might not share with someone you know personally, there are 24/7 distress lines available by region (here are the ones in the Greater Toronto Area). One day I was so overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, resentful and melancholic, that I spent a good 45 minutes with a very kind and compassionate woman on the Toronto Distress Line and boy did it help me cope.
Finally, and I hope this really comes across in my YouTube video, what I wish everyone knew about mental illness and marriage, is that there is SO MUCH HOPE. You CAN live with depression and anxiety and have a healthy marriage, fulfilling work life, and joy-filled existence. It took us about three years to figure out strategies that work, and we are learning every day, but now we live on the other side of coping with mental illness. We have climbed out of the trench, seen the light, and when we fall back into the trenches again, we have the experience of knowing we have survived a bad experience in the past, and will survive it again.
To learn more about how you can participate in #BellLetsTalk, click here. And to read our full story on how depression has impacted our marriage, click here.
I have developed a free resource that I hope will help any spouse supporting a person with mental illness. Just enter your email below to get my “Positive Self Talk Guide for Spouses of Persons with Mental Illness”
My life as an entrepreneur takes me to all kinds of interesting places, and can put interesting demands on my time. And with 6 kids at home, fitting everything in can be a logistical exercise to say the least! So today on the blog, I thought I would share with you how I sneak in individual time with my baby, and get a few practical things for myself and my family done at the same time. I've partnered with Bugaboo on this post to share how the new Bugaboo Donkey2 helps me do it all.
Working from home requires a lot of discipline, and sometimes I just don't have it! So a hack I have to be more productive is to bring my laptop to my local shopping center, set a timer for no more than an hour, and be focused on a single task like writing an article, or updating my website. Limiting the amount of time it takes to complete a task, and thinking about the reward that will come on the other end is hugely motivating for me!
And baby James can keep a watchful eye on my progress sitting up in Bugaboo's newest iteration of their popular multi-purpose stroller, the new Bugaboo Donkey2. Versatile for children from birth and beyond, it's a stroller that really expands to the needs of your family (you can see what the stroller looks like as a side by side stroller for my two youngest children here). And I just love how you can customize the design to your taste, with three base fabric colour options and 11 different colour options for the sun canopy and side luggage basket cover.
My treat post successful work session is a good old healthy green juice! It's a fast and efficient way to get some energy, and stay on the go. Plus, it makes me feel better about my regular consumption of poutine and chicken fingers.
Paying for my treats is made super convenient with the side luggage basket- the new basket has a small inner pocket for your keys, wallet and cell phone. Plus, the zippered basket cover keeps inquisitive little fingers from things you don't want to lose!
After a quick refuel, it's time to make sure my family is fueled. A quick stop at the grocery store to pick up some essentials for my family is next on the agenda.
I don't know about you, but grocery shopping with kids can sometimes be a hard task depending on the time of day and everyone's moods. So I like to keep it short, and sweet, and keep the shopping trip as efficient as possible to keep everyone happy. I like having a very clear list of what I need, and organize the list by aisle so zipping in and out is truly possible.
With foam wheels and incredible maneuverability, I can dart in and out of grocery aisles pretty quickly. Ample groceries fit in the under carriage of the stroller (my family drinks a lot of milk so this is so helpful!) And the capacity of the side luggage basket has been doubled to now accommodate 22 lbs. of storage- perfect for delicate items like baguettes, grapes and eggs.
As I have shared many times before on this blog, the balance of work and family isn't always an easy task. But with strategic planning, and building your schedule around your greatest priorities, I am such a believer that balance and fulfillment is possible.
Special thanks for Bugaboo for partnering with me on this post. For more info on the new Bugaboo Donkey2, click here.