Ah, summer. The season of sunny days, outdoor adventures, and plenty of quality time with our favorite folks. As a mom who loves all three of those things, I’ve been itching to share some tips that’ll help you make the most of this most wonderful time of year. I hope these ideas guide you and your family toward the best summer ever.
Embrace the great outdoors.
There’s something magical about being outside during the warmest months. Encourage your family to embrace the great outdoors by planning regular outdoor activities. From picnics at the park to family hikes on nature trails, there are endless opportunities for adventure and exploration. Get creative with water activities like setting up a backyard sprinkler or planning a day at the beach. Remember to pack sunscreen and stay hydrated while you enjoy the sunshine.
Create a summer bucket list.
Draw up a list of all the fun stuff you want to do this summer. Get everyone involved and let each family member contribute their own ideas. Whether it’s going on a road trip, building an epic sandcastle, or having a movie night under the stars, having this bucket list will make sure you don’t miss out on any summer adventures. Tick off each item as you go and create magical memories together.
Unplug and connect.
In this digital age, it’s essential to carve out quality time with our loved ones without the constant distractions of screens. Encourage a “tech-free” or “device-free” day once a week where everyone disconnects from their gadgets and engages in activities that encourage connection and togetherness. Play board games, have a family cookout, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll in the neighborhood. Whatever you end up doing, embrace these moments of genuine connection that make for the most meaningful summer memories.
Explore your local community.
Summer is the best time to explore your local community and discover its hidden gems. Check out local events, fairs, and farmers’ markets happening near you. Attend outdoor concerts, art exhibitions, or community festivals. This provides entertainment for the whole family and supports local businesses and artists. Quite a win-win, me thinks. Plus, you might uncover a new favorite spot or activity that you can continue to enjoy even after summer ends.
Encourage your family’s creativity by engaging in artistic endeavors. Set up an outdoor painting or craft station, where everyone can express themselves through art. Organize a family talent show or create a mini theater and put on a play together. Summer provides a relaxed and playful atmosphere, perfect for nurturing creativity in children and adults alike. Who knows, you might discover hidden talents within your family!
THE BOTTOM LINE
I’m confident that these tips will help you cook up the best summer ever for you and your family. Remember, summer is meant for relaxing, recharging, and making beautiful memories. You can do this by embracing the outdoors, unplugging and connecting, exploring your community, and letting creativity flourish. May fun, sunshine, and laughter fill all your summer days!
As a busy musician and mom, I completely understand the stress and pressure that comes with juggling a career and parenting responsibilities. It can be much too easy to get lost in the daily grind and forget to prioritize our own mental health and well-being. That’s why I’ve been wanting to share some tips and tricks that have helped me find balance and reduce stress in my own life.
First and foremost, self-care needs to be a top priority. Take time for yourself every day by going for a walk, practicing yoga, or taking a relaxing bath. This will help you recharge and stay grounded. Remember: you can’t take good care of others if you’re not taking good care of yourself.
Creating an organized schedule can also help reduce stress. By including time for work, family, and your favorite creative activities in your schedule, you can stay organized and avoid overcommitting yourself. Keep in mind that it’s important to be realistic about what you can handle and not feel guilty about saying no to commitments that don’t mesh with your priorities.
Taking breaks throughout the day can help you recharge and refocus. Try taking short breaks every hour or so to stretch, take a walk, or simply relax. Practicing mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can also help you stay present and reduce stress.
Connecting with others can be a powerful way to improve mental health and reduce stress. Spending time with friends, joining a support group, or even just having a meaningful conversation with someone can help you feel more supported and less alone.
Getting enough sleep is crucial for reducing stress and improving mental health. Creating a consistent bedtime routine and sticking to it as much as possible can help you prioritize sleep and feel more rested and refreshed.
Finally, if you’re struggling with stress or mental health issues, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can provide you with the tools and support you need to manage stress and improve your overall wellbeing.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Reducing stress as a busy musician and mom seems like a daunting task, but it’s important to remember that achieving self-care and balance is possible. By prioritizing self-care, creating a schedule, taking breaks, practicing mindfulness, connecting with others, prioritizing sleep, and seeking professional help when necessary, you can improve your mental health and find the balance you need in your life.
So I hope you’ll take a deep breath and remember to prioritize your own well-being because you deserve it.
As a mother, it can often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Between work, school runs, and everything else, finding time for creativity can feel like a challenging task. Sometimes it even seems impossible.
But as someone who loves to make music and enjoys all things arts-based, I know how important it is to make time for the things that make us happy. So I’ve come up with a few simple steps that have helped me carve out some much-needed creative time in my busy schedule. Good luck!
Step 1: Schedule it in
The first step to making more time for creativity is to schedule it. Just like you would schedule a doctor’s appointment or a business meeting, put aside time in your calendar each week for your creative pursuits. It might only be an hour or two, but even that tiny amount of time can make a huge difference.
Step 2: Make it a priority
Once you’ve scheduled your creative time, make it a priority. It’s easy to push it aside when other things arise, but remember that this is important for your mental health, well-being, and relationships. So, treat it as you would any other important commitment and stick to it.
Step 3: Get the family involved
If you have kids, getting them involved in your creative pursuits can be a great way to make more time for them. Set up a family art station or music corner and spend time creating together. Not only will this give you some extra time to work on your projects, but it’s also a fun way to bond with your kids.
Step 4: Multitask
If you’re really struggling to find time for creativity, try multitasking. For example, you could listen to music while cooking dinner or sketch while watching TV. Incorporating your creative pursuits into your daily routine can be a great way to make more time for them without feeling like you’re sacrificing other essential tasks.
Step 5: Be kind to yourself
Finally, it’s important to be kind to yourself. It’s easy to feel guilty about taking time for yourself when so many other things need to be done, but remember that self-care is crucial. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or burnt out, take a break and return to your creative pursuits when you’re feeling refreshed.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Finding time for creativity as a busy mother can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. By scheduling your creative time, making it a priority, getting your family involved, multitasking, and being kind to yourself, you can make more time for the things that make you happy.
So, grab your pen, paintbrush, or guitar and get creative! You deserve it.
Modern life seems to be all about the 24-7. Too many of us remain tethered to the clock, firmly believing that we simply don’t have enough time for the ones we love.
The good news? We can find more quality time with our families simply by increasing our creativity and efficiency.
On that note, here are 7 tried and true ways you can make more time for your family.
Jot down your priorities. Whether it’s on your smartphone, a journal, or an index card, make up a list of 5-7 weekly priorities. Make sure “family time” is way up there near the top of the list and stay focused on it – just in case the craziness of life starts to lead you astray.
Be deliberate in how you plan for family time. The truth is that if something isn’t on your calendar, chances are it won’t happen. Make sure everyone in your house knows that family time is not merely an afterthought – it’s a priority.
Be a good example by occasionally biting the bullet. Remember: you’ll get out of this exactly what you put into it. If you always have some sort of an excuse to not be available, you can pretty much guarantee that the other members of your family will soon follow suit.
Monitor everyone’s screen time and occasionally make the most of it together. You already know this, but an overabundance of screen time can pretty much suck the life out of your home. Shared limited and planned viewing can be a worthwhile family activity. The key here is to gain full control of the screens in your home, rather than letting them control you.
Make family time fun. This sounds like a big old duh, right? But you’d be shocked at how often parents think merely being under the same roof is sufficient. Be aware of the quality of the time you spend together as a family. If your time together is boring, you’ll likely soon find that your favorite folks keep “forgetting” to do it.
Schedule family dinners each week. If it seems as though very few folks still consider dinner a sacred time, you’re right. Whether it’s two or three times a week, I recommend setting dinner time in stone and seeing it all the way through. If motivation is hard to find, think of family mealtime as a variation on the traditional family meeting in which everyone has a voice.
Don’t waste the time that you do have. Ready for some pretty straightforward advice? Make the most of the time you do have. Don’t waste an evening when everyone happens to be home. Take advantage of the time by doing something together. Even a simple board game can encourage quality bonding time.
Dark mornings, darker nights, and in between nothing but frozen days of gray: it’s no wonder many of us end up with a bad case of the winter blues. These seasonal doldrums are pretty common and typically leave us feeling more melancholic, lethargic, and disinterested than usual. The good news? There are specific things you can do to feel more alive and actually thrive in the weeks (and possibly months!) before spring arrives.
Embrace a healthy diet. Complex carbs such as whole grains are perfect for boosting your energy level. Fruits and veggies such as broccoli and carrots offer the type of nutrients that promote improved mood and better overall health.
Dig out your running shoes and get outside. Getting at least 20 minutes of spirited activity four times a week has been proven to reduce depressive mood. If you don’t love the cold and snow, buy a gym membership. Whatever it takes to get you up and moving around.
Establish a regular sleep routine. Tempting as it might be to sleep in on these oh so dark mornings (we’ve all been there), sticking to a regular sleep schedule really is the best thing for your body and mind. This means making sure you wake up at around the same time most days.
Stimulate each of your senses. Some folks discover that painting their walls a bright color (or even their nails) can have a magical effect on their mood. Scents such as peppermint can also add to your feeling of well-being.
Make up a list of funny, feel-good movies and laugh, laugh, laugh. Psychologists have proven that laughter actually stimulates your brain in a way that counters depressive symptoms. So round up your family or your friends (or both) and commence the laughing.
Host a party. Since we’re already past the holidays, any excuse to host a gathering of friends will do. I recommend organizing a dinner party, a board game night, or my favorite: a friendly at-home open mic that includes all your musical friends.
Keep your to-do lists manageable. Don’t overwhelm yourself with lengthy lists of projects and chores just because you can’t garden like you do in the spring. Don’t settle for spending your winter hours doing too much stuff you don’t enjoy. It’ll wear you out pretty quickly and make you hate this time of year even more.
Book a staycation. If your work buddy’s upcoming Bahamas trip has you dreaming of traveling, you can save money and still get a seasonal boost by planning a mini-getaway near where you live. It’s much easier (and cheaper) to plan a local staycation outing with some of your favorite folks.
It’s officially that time of year again. You know, the days when you actually use yoga pants for yoga and your family is fully committed to trying new (i.e. greener) things at dinner time. But instead of vowing once again to start working out or going on some unrealistic diet, I want to share with you 7 resolutions that I believe every mom really should be making. And sticking to, of course. Good luck, and happy new year!
Actively seek the positive wherever you can find it. There are days that are going to stink. But even on those most annoying days, there are highlights: The extra minutes you get to spend with your kids during breakfast, the way they laugh with each other as they walk down the hall together, or the look on your daughter’s face when she sees you at school dropping off her forgotten lunch. If we’re somehow able to find a few of those moments each day, I believe we should call it a win. After all, there are very few perfect days as a parent.
Master the fine art of saying no. This year I hope you’ll reject the notion that you must be all things to all people all the time. Repeat after me: No, I can’t volunteer then. No, I can’t drive the kids to practice. No, I won’t be able to bake those last minute brownies. I’m sorry, but no. Trust me: you can do it.
Spend one on one time with each of your kids. It’s amazing how much less challenging a kid can be without having to compete with their siblings for attention. Take the time when and where you can get it — even if it’s a sick day, a trip to the grocery store, or a stroll around the neighborhood to walk the dog. The outing doesn’t have to be complicated to make it special.
Forget about competing with other moms. No, their handmade cookies don’t make your store-bought brownies any less desirable, and they definitely don’t make you an inferior mom. Spend less time in the coming year comparing yourself to other mothers, and spend more time celebrating what makes you unique as a parent.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Are a few crumbs on the rug really worth losing your cool over? No. Does it really matter if your son wears the same hoodie every single day for a month? Nope. Are you ever going to see the bottom of the laundry basket? Probably not. Save the worry for things that really matter.
Laugh as much as you possibly can. At your children. At your spouse. And at yourself, of course. Laughing is much, much better than crying, after all. So laugh as much as you can this coming year. It’s good for you.
Be very intentional about embracing your creative side. As creative moms, we gotta plan on maximizing our creativity, right? The best way to make sure you do this is by being very intentional as it pertains to your creative side. Set aside specific times on your calendar when you’ll be free to write, paint, or play your favorite instrument.
As we get ready to gather around the table and reflect on all that we’re grateful for, I thought I’d encourage the gratitude by sharing some of my favorite songs about love, family, friendship, and the many things in life we should appreciate. From Kelly Clarkson to Queen to Earth, Wind & Fire, I’ve included several genres that I hope will encourage some musical moments of thanks for the big things, the little things, and everything in between. Happy Thanksgiving, friends!
“What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
“Thank You” by Led Zeppelin
“In My Life” by The Beatles
“Your Song” by Elton John
“Kind and Generous” by Natalie Merchant
“You’re My Best Friend” by Queen
“A Moment Like This” by Kelly Clarkson
“Gratitude” by Earth, Wind, and Fire
“Thank You” by Dido
“Give Thanks and Praises” by Bob Marley
“Thank you, Friends” by Big Star
“Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton
“Song for My Father” by Sarah McLachlan
“Thank U” by Alanis Morissette
“Thank You” by Boyz II Men
“Thank You for Being a Friend” by Andrew Gold
“I Want to Thank You” by Otis Redding
“We Are Family” by Sister Sledge
“That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne Warwick
“Thank You for the Music” by ABBA
Hey, Mom: Looking for a fall activity that is fun and educational? Most zoos are open nearly every day of the year, but I’m convinced that autumn is the absolute perfect time to visit our fantastically furry friends. Keep reading to discover why.
The scenery and fall colors are as amazing as they’re going to be all year. Wooded paths, colorful hillsides, and plenty of fall flowers lead to stunning backdrops for photos throughout the zoo. Get a nice brisk walk in while exploring all the amazing colors.
Animals are way more active during the fall. The zoo’s animals really respond to the seasonal changes currently happening. When it’s no longer 90 degrees all day, most of the zoo’s animals become more active. Some of them even thrive in the colder weather. Talking to you, penguins.
Temperatures are cooler, so you won’t sweat. You know how uncomfortable it can get during a July visit to the zoo. By going this time of year, things should be significantly cooler and more pleasant. Less sweat is always a good thing, right?
On the other hand, it’s always 80 degrees in a rainforest. If, however, you’re already of the cold where you live, the zoo offers you the chance to spend a few hours in a tropical setting. The rain forest is always a balmy 80 degrees, which can feel like air conditioning during a hot July afternoon or nice and toasty during a chilly fall (or freezing winter) day. Sounds lovely, eh?
You can do a ton of early (and easy) holiday shopping. The zoo’s gift shop offers plenty of fun gifts for everyone on your list. And if you’re a member, you’ll often receive some type of discount on regular-priced items. I’m all for anything that makes holiday shopping easier – and when the theme is animals, I’m all in.
You pretty much get your own zoo. Have a day off during an autumn week? You’ll feel like you have the entire zoo to yourself. Many families visit the zoo during summer break, so it’s often crowded then. Take advantage of the small crowds by spending time at the zoo during its “off-season.” You and your kids won’t be disappointed.
Somehow, some way, school is once again upon us. Thankfully, I’ve been thinking a lot about what all you moms need right about now: reliable survival tips for the new school year. I hope these tried and true suggestions help you kick off your family’s best school year ever.
1. Get to know your kid’s teacher.
We suggest sending an email if you have a question or concern, or simply if you want to introduce yourself. Ask them what you can do to support classroom learning at home, and find out if you can help the teacher by volunteering in some form within the classroom.
2. Become familiar with your kid’s friends.
Even if it’s for just a couple of hours, organize a weekend get-together with your kid’s buddies. Don’t let them sneak away downstairs or up into your kid’s room. Make them a snack, play a game together, and get to know these friends. Your goal should be to observe how everyone interacts with each other.
3. Eat at least two dinners together each week.
With band lessons, soccer practices, and your insane work schedule, this can be quite difficult. But chowing down as a family is a tried and true way to grow healthier kids, happier families, and stronger family bonds. This is an excellent opportunity to chat about what everyone did during the day. It’s also a chance to enjoy each other’s company before your smaller kids move onto their own families.
4. Create a structured time and place for homework.
For some kids, it’s best for them to work on homework immediately after walking in the door. For others, homework is best when done after dinner. It doesn’t matter when your kids do it – just decide on a time and stick with it. Everyone does better when they have routines, so establish one for homework as soon as possible.
5. Make yourself known at school.
As soon as you can, introduce yourself to your kid’s school administrators. Greet the secretaries and be extra nice to them, as they have a tough job. Don’t expect these busy people to remember your name right away, but use their names when addressing them. If you can, join the PTA. If you can’t, worry not: there are many other ways you can help.
6. Get your kids involved in at least one extracurricular activity.
Even if it’s one thing that gives your kids the chance to interact with other kids and burn off some steam, participating in an extracurricular activity is always worth it. Whether it’s a club, a community sport, or a youth group, participating in something extra will help your kids thrive. After all, all kids need something to call their own.
All too often we assume that kids are either born with a superior level of intelligence or they’re not. This assumption leads many folks to believe that there’s simply not much parents can do to influence how brainy their kids end up.
The truth? Research actually shows that intelligence is pretty much a 50/50 split when it comes to nature vs. nurture. This means that parental influence really can have a huge impact – not just on how smart kids think they are, but also on how intelligent they actually are.
This doesn’t mean you need to overwhelm your young ones with a multitude of math drills and foreign language courses before they’re even walking. Instead, focus on specific behaviors that foster a developing mind and intellect, rather than praising a kid’s natural skills.
Here are some simple everyday things you can do to raise a kid who is intellectually curious:
- Talk to them before they even know what you’re saying.
- Let them hear you engage in meaningful discussions with other people.
- Introduce them to books as soon as you possibly can.
- Use your surroundings to encourage curiosity and exploration.
- Encourage them to actively seek out solutions to a wide variety of problems.
- Consistently praise their efforts, instead of focusing solely on their natural abilities.
- Actively look for teachable moments in everyday life in which you can build their knowledge and thinking skills.
- Teach them what it means to have a growth mindset – and then model for them how to consistently display one.
Parenting often features exhausting loads of responsibility and very few accolades. Every day, we as moms make sure that our kids are fed, well-rested, and generally taken care of. But this concern for our kids often comes at our own expense. The result? As the emotional anchor of her family, a mom who ignores her own personal care (physical and mental) reduces her ability to parent with the joy and confidence she needs to succeed.
Beyond the obvious health benefits, exercise offers a tangible psychological boost. The rewards are far-reaching and well worth your time and effort. As proof, here are six benefits of exercise that I’m convinced will make you an even better mom than you are right this second.
- You become a healthy role model. It’s one thing to tell your kids to exercise and eat well. It’s a whole other thing if you actually do it yourself. Showing a sense of self-care through exercise sends the clear message that you take your health seriously and that they should, as well. Demonstrate healthy exercise habits today, and watch as your kids mimic them on their own tomorrow.
- You’re able to blow off steam. As moms, we sure as heck don’t earn any badges for showing patience, but we are well aware of how awful we feel when we lose our temper. Moments of chaos, confusion, and loss of control should be expected when raising kids. Being able to release that negative energy and shift your focus can help you calm down and gain a much needed sense of perspective. I even recommend investing in a punching bag and gloves, as it’s a great workout and can feel incredibly satisfying.
- You gain an increased sense of accomplishment. It’s important to take each day one at a time and as you move through it, pat yourself on the back for small and large accomplishments. For moms, kids are an unreliable source of that sense of accomplishment. It’s pretty much expected that you be a good mom, so rewards are usually few and far between. Sticking to an exercise regime, however, will leave you feeling proud of yourself. Each and every workout has the potential to bring about self-improvement and a genuine sense of accomplishment.
- You reduce your anxiety while improving your mood. Consistent exercise reduces our chance of developing stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. It also releases chemicals that reduce anxiety and improve our mood. And as you know, there are oh so many sources of stress that come from being a mom. Exercising can counteract the unavoidable stresses of parenting.
- You experience an increase in optimism. Exercise has the ability to change your self-perception, and can provide a positive sense of personal mastery. It also has the ability to lessen negative thinking. An optimistic outlook improves health and well-being – and it’s even known to lengthen life expectancy.
- You reduce your chances of experiencing depression. Researchers are discovering that exercise works at least as well against mild-to-moderate depression as other forms of treatment. It may be an alternative to current forms of treatment – even in severe cases. Too many moms face depression due to identity shifts, sleep deprivation, and the typical demands of motherhood. Exercise just might be the thing that staves off depression and fosters joy. That’s definitely a win-win in my book.
While many moms feel lonely in their personal experience of anxiety, it’s so much more common than we tend to admit. More than 30% of adults will experience anxiety at some point during their lifetime – and that’s the ones who actually feel comfortable revealing it. There’s probably a much higher number of folks who struggle with anxiety.
If you’ve experienced anxiety, you know how much it can interfere with your daily life. From your career to your personal relationships, anxiety tends to overshadow everything that’s important to us. That’s why we need to learn how to manage anxiety when it appears.
With that in mind, here are 6 tried and true ways to manage your anxiety so that you can be the mentally healthy woman you want (and need) to be:
1. Completely re-shift your focus.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, I recommend completely switching gears by trying to do something you enjoy. It could be working out, making a healthy meal, watching a favorite film, or spending time outside with Mother Nature (one of my favorites). Anything that helps take your mind off the source of your anxiety is a good thing. You’ll find that this new sense of perspective is actually quite necessary when trying to figure out how to deal with your source of anxiety.
2. Actively work to become more mindful.
Becoming more mindful is not as difficult as it sounds. For example, when you’re feeling anxious, take a deep breath, make a mental note of what’s causing your anxiety, and then gently place it to the side with the intention of coming back to it later.
3. Find ways to become more physically active than you’ve been.
Physical activity can be an effective way to work off the tension that comes with anxiety. Endorphins released during exercise help you feel more relaxed and clear-headed. I am a big fan of getting in some high-level activities when I start to feel the anxiety coming on. It really does help.
4. Limit your caffeine intake and avoid other not-so-healthy substances.
Caffeine increases your heart rate and can make anxiety worse. If you love the taste of coffee, try drinking decaf instead. If you use alcohol to unwind, remember that alcohol can increase anxiety within a few hours of consumption. And while a substance like marijuana might bring feelings of relaxation in the short-term, it usually ends up making things worse. In short, don’t mask your anxiety with the type of temporary relief that alcohol and other substances sometimes provide.
5. Focus more on the things you can change.
Sometimes anxiety stems from worrying about things in the future. Yes, the things that haven’t even happened yet. It’s important to remember that even though unpredictable things will happen, you control how you react to those unexpected challenges. Try taking on a mindset of gratitude as you reflect on the people and things you already have.
6. Openly discuss your anxiety with folks you trust.
Whatever is causing your anxiety, it’s important to discuss it with someone. This can be a friend, a family member, or a colleague. The reason is that simply bottling things up will not benefit you in the long run. Plus, you’ll find that sometimes merely talking about the anxiety-producing things in your life will help alleviate your anxiety.