Road Trippin’ Tips for Road Warriors with Kids

Westley and I hit the road solo to meet my family in Orlando this weekend. Since I prepped for a four-hour drive with my wild 3-year old, I thought I would share some tips for making a long drive as smooth as possible:

1. Fill Up, Check Your Vehicle and Load Bags The Night Before

Part of fulfilling tip #2 “leave early” is to prep the night before. I always get gas, check my tires and make sure everything is in working order and load luggage before going to sleep. That way, when you wake up, you simply get in the car and start driving. This also allows for handling any last minute details that may have been forgotten prior to the start of a road trip. Planning pays off!

2. Leave Early

If you start the drive early, it’s dark and your child is usually tired and will likely fall back asleep with the vibration and hum of the road. There is also less traffic if you’re driving very early, which makes driving more enjoyable and less stressful. I don’t mind long road trips, but once you have precious cargo, there is a new level of awareness and stress that comes with driving. I would much rather drive on a nearly empty highway than deal with tons of cars, speeding cars and drivers who are auditioning for the latest Fast & Furious movie.The final perk to leaving early is you likely won’t hit traffic, arrive early and not waste an entire day driving!

3. Have Entertainment

Let’s be honest, driving for long periods of time requires entertainment for all of us, but especially for small kids. I personally love listening to podcasts while driving, and for Westley I always load his favorite movies and shows on the iPad, so he has endless entertainment during the drive. Pro tip, if you have Netflix you can download movies and entire seasons of kids shows, so you’re not using data while driving. I’ve loaded ours up with Moana, PJ Masks, Voltron, Trolls and Puss n Boots.

4. Snacks FTW

While having a food stop figured out is great (see #5), you always should have drinks and snacks in the car. This can also serve as entertainment. I always pack water, milk, Pirate’s Booty, apple sauce and string cheese, giving W healthy options for the road.

5. Midway Stop 

As soon as Westley wakes up from his car nap, I usually stop to grab food and let him walk around and stretch his legs. If we’re driving to Orlando, we usually stop in Gainesville for breakfast. If we’re doing the long drive to Miami, then Orlando becomes our stopping point.

Do you have any go to road trip tips?

Happy driving!

XO,

Ivette

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The Soccer Chronicles

As a parent, you have all kinds of illusions of how things will work out. Then of course, there is always the reality J For us, having Westley play soccer was one such little scenario. We ordered him ADIDAS from head to toe, the cutest cleats with neon green laces, and on the very first Saturday of the season, we arrived on the field with the highest hopes and excitement. Our wild man looked so adorable and he loves the kicking the “soccer ball” with his dad. So introducing him to a full on team of other kids and a sport a week after turning three should’ve been a great idea…right? WRONG. Oh boy, was it not our best move. The universe has been laughing at us for this decision.

We made it five of the seven weeks of soccer. But, real talk, it was PAINFUL. Every week, we went out there and gave it our all, but for me and for my husband, it was an anxiety-ridden hour. You tell yourself every week: “Let’s have fun. Let him do whatever he wants. We won’t get stressed or frustrated.” But it’s just so hard when your kid is just not listening or interested. Granted, he loves kicking the ball and running, but it’s on his own terms.

It’s been a rollercoaster and truthfully we only have ourselves to blame. Clearly, we were too eager to get him going in a fun sport. But I had no clue when we signed up for the team that said “age 3” that his entire team and most of the kids playing in general were four, four and a half and some almost five. If you’re a parent of a young child I’m sure you can appreciate the wild difference six months make. I know I definitely do after this experience.

Our other big issue is Westley’s size. He looks a lot older than he is because he’s tall. So I think most people automatically assume he’s three and a half or even four. He was bigger than most of the kids on his team, but developmentally he literally just turned three, so he’s not on their same level. That’s always been something I deal with and I try and make it a point to let people know his age right away, so they’re not expecting him to behave like a much older kid.

I talked to a lot of parents on the field and most of them were incredibly understanding and kind – mainly because either their own kids were not listening or participating or because they’d been through two to three seasons before arriving at where they are today. It was re-assuring to hear this from other parents. Our kid wasn’t that different from theirs and basically the first few seasons of any sport with a small child is torture for the parents. Of course, there were a few judgmental glances and comments. One in particular from what I imagine are some kid’s grandparents. An older man laughing and pointing at W and saying: “he has no interest in this.” (hahahaha) As a Mama Bear, I wanted to yell at him, but that’s not how I roll, so I let it roll off my back.

It may just be me, but I think a lot of older people forget what it’s like to have very young children and definitely love to either openly judge you or give their opinions. C’est la vie. I just hope I remember these days two decades from now and show other parents some grace and kindness. There’s not enough of that in the world.

We did our best and I think for the most part Westley had fun. He sure looked adorable every Saturday. I will say i9 Sports and his coach as so sweet. Coach Marcel was so patient with him and encouraging and I was so proud of the time Westley did spend on the field whether practicing or his 2 minutes of playtime.

We will definitely be back. But the lesson here is we need to hang back and let him mature a bit. Our soccer dreams aren’t over, they are just on hold. We’re going to try again this summer during the Soccer Clinic, so he can be in a smaller group and learn the basics. By then, I hope he’s more mature. And if it doesn’t work out, then it’s on to the next thing. I never want to force anything on my child. Every kid is different, with different skills and passions. As a parent, we need to support and encourage whatever makes your kid shine.

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I definitely wasn’t blessed with sports skills and my mom never forced anything on me. I distinctly remember when ballet and choir became too demanding along with school responsibilities and she told me, just pick one. You don’t have to do everything, especially if it’s not fun. So I’m taking her advice and my own.

I’ll report back this summer and see how “Soccer Take 2” goes.

Until then, W can kick the ball around with his dad and play on his own terms.

XO,

Ivette

 

 

 

 

Mom Hacks: Car Seats

Since I have a lot of friends who are either brand new moms or currently pregnant, it was pretty perfect timing that Reviews.com reached out to share with me some of the research and findings surrounding car seat choices.

There are so many decisions to make as a new parent and many times we make them with zero point of reference and very little research. There is no parent handbook and in my opinion, there are no right or wrong ways to do things. I’m a firm believer that what works for you and your family is the best decision always. No one lives in your shoes, so as a parent trusting your partner and your instincts is always a good idea.

Everyone will always have an idea, opinion, suggestion, etc. So with that said, I’m sharing overall info for all the new parents out there to consider when selecting a very important piece in your child’s arsenal of safety tools…the Car Seat.

As the folks at Reviews.com share, all car seats are designed to be safe, but some are definitely easier and more convenient to use than others. Their team of experts worked with over 100 parents to identify the most sought after features, while also consulting with child passenger safety technicians and pediatricians. They then compared the functionality and features of an infant car seat vs. a convertible car seat.

Since both serve unique purposes, they ultimately created a guide for each to provide parents with all the info needed to make a choice that is right for their family.

You can read more here about their tests and recommendations:

Infant car seat: https://www.reviews.com/infant-car-seat/

Convertible car seat: https://www.reviews.com/convertible-car-seat

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For W, we started with the infant car seat that was part of our travel set, which I absolutely loved. We each had a base installed in our cars and would take W into daycare in the car seat. When they’re little babies, the flexibility of the portable car seat is awesome. You can go from the car to the stroller in one easy click!

Once he was close to a year (he was big and tall y’all), we transitioned into the convertible car seat that will then become a booster once he’s old and big enough.

Good luck to all the mamas out there as you navigate all the safety and tools needed to keep those sweet babies safe.

XO,

Ivette

Toddler Travel Tips: Brace Yourself + Have A Drink

Optimistically or naively, we decided to take our first official family vacation (or trip as some of my wiser mama friends have told me – vacation is just the two of you) to Maine. This meant a two flight journey there and back (four flights total) with our strong-willed two and a half year old toddler. I know, I know, you probably think we’re crazy…jury’s still out. The trip was a roller coaster in the sky with ups and downs, but certainly a trip we will never forget. 😆 After flying with our sweet and spicy W (tantrums on the floor and all 😱😱😱), here are my tips for traveling with a toddler (tyrant):

Invest in Delta Comfort (or 1st Class)

  • Feel free to apply this to whatever airline you choose — just choose one that offers some kind of upgrade 😃 First things first, there are drinks for mommy and daddy. 🙌🏼 Second, it’s closer to the front and you have more leg room (especially nice for the tall hubby). We chose aisle 10, which is the first seat behind first class, to ensure even more leg room and the closest seat possible to the front.
  • While the ticket may be a bit pricier (not wildly different from coach), is there really a dollar figure to keep you sane? Exactly. 😜

Buy a Jetkids

  • This little invention is definitely worth the investment. It’s a BOGO — a riding suitcase + airplane bed. Need I say more! W was definitely the talk of ATL – everyone from flight attendants to travelers asked about this amazing contraption. It kept him busy and entertained, provided a fun ride, storage for toys and books and a bed on the plane. Now, if they only made these for adults 👌🏼

Sky Club It

  • If you have a long layover (we had a 2+ hour layover), do yourself a favor and go straight to the Sky Club (or airline equivalent). It is much more safe and intimate than the gate and provides a welcome change for parents and toddler.
  • Outside of the food options, coffee, juice and water, there are complimentary adult drinks to help you deal with toddler travel. I enjoyed some white wine, while the hubby partook in Bloody Mary’s. Another win, the private bathrooms with a nice changing table and plenty of space for toddler play time. W enjoyed his time in the Sky Club and it paid off majorly, when he fell asleep on the flight. With a Delta Platinum Amex, it’s $29 per person. Best $60 I’ve EVER spent.

Tire Them Out

  • First, make peace with the fact that you will have two kinds of people to deal with: the sympathizers (those who have been in your shoes and totally understand) and the judgers (those who have selective memory or have never been in your shoes). Once you have come to terms with that, focus on your give zero f$&@s attitude and let your kid run wild in the airport, sky lounge or wherever. Trust me, this paid pay off BIG when he immediately passed out upon boarding the plane, sleeping for 2 hours. 👌🏼🙌🏼🙏🏼

Board LAST

  • When I travel for business I’m happy to board early with Gold Medallion. As a traveling mom, zone FAMILY (aka last to board) is a blessing in disguise. Our strong willed toddler is equally awesome as he is restless. We learned during our first flight that early boarding was not a good thing. He wanted freedom and was not interested in his seatbelt. Our second flight, we waited until last call, making the wait one before take off minimal. You live, you learn.

Gummy Bears FTW

  • This was a Pro Tip from my work wife BFF, KA who suggested gummy bears during taxi, take off and landing. As most kids don’t know how to pop their ears and can’t chew gum that young, gummy bears are a welcome treat that will keep your child occupied and chewing during critical flight times. Since W doesn’t often get to enjoy candy, this was a highlight for him and avoided any ear issues. Win, win.

Overall, travel days were better than anticipated. I set expectations low to then be pleasantly surprised. W is not scared of flying, which is awesome and between our four flights, the first was the toughest, but after that it was smooth-ish flying.

XO,

Ivette

Motivation MOMday: Kimberly Hand

Motivation MOMday is back with one of my favorite mamas who is also an old friend. While we’ve traded clubbing for playgrounds, this Southern doll always keeps it real. Enjoy my dear friend Kimberly Hand’s profile and the sweet pic of her family. Hilton is a total ham 🙂

  1. Mom 411 – a little about you and your family: My husband and I met when I was 14 years old! We were high school sweethearts and of course soul mates! Jason joined the Navy in 2000 and we were married in July of 2002. Right after we got married we moved to Washington State and then to California where he finished his Navy career in 2006. We knew we wanted to move back to the South, so we packed up and found ourselves back in the best town, our hometown of Thomasville! We were blessed to find jobs pretty quickly and started spreading our roots back down South. In July of 2015 we were blessed in finding out that we were having a baby. On March 28, 2016 we welcomed a happy and healthy baby boy into our lives! Boy….we had no idea how amazing and full our hearts would become.
  2. Mommy Mantra – Words you live by: I saw a saying once that I love…. Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own. To teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is… and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.
  3. Me Time – Favorite escape, activity: Love to escape for a girls day with my beautiful mom and go shopping.
  4. Mom Peeve – Biggest pet peeve as a mom: Judgy moms….we are all trying to be the best mom we can be, we may all have different opinions on things, but in the end aren’t we all in this together?
  5. Mom Hack – Necessity is the mother of invention: Love any kind of good app, or anything to help keep organized.
  6. Mom-preneur – Work, work from home, work it out, advice on work life balance: I work in the fast paced environment of advertising, however, it’s so important to have a good work/life balance. You have to set time for yourself and your family! It’s hard at times…but you learn how to adjust.
  7. Mom Squad – Who do you look up to, who’s in your tribe, thoughts on mommy hood and friendships: I’m blessed with some pretty bad-to-the-bone friends…I definitely have an awesome tribe of mom friends, as well as single friends! They all help get me through this fun thing called life.
  8. Mom Goals – Aspirational, inspirational: I think my main mom goal is to continue to be there for my family! It’s hard at times when you are a working mom to balance work, family and friends. However, at the end of the day when I look at my life, I want my son to continue to see me as a strong woman and know that I gave him my all!
  9. Mom-cation – Dream vacation: Would love a mini escape to somewhere tropical…but who wouldn’t want that?!
  10. My Children’s Take – Ask your child or children how they would describe you, their favorite thing about you: Hilton isn’t old enough to ask him how he feels about me yet. If I had to guess I would say he thinks I’m silly and make him laugh a lot! He would probably also say that I give really good hugs…but I kiss him on the face a lot and squeeze him which embarrasses himJ

Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Tips for Working Mamas on the Road

I’m sitting on a plane. This is my 23rd flight of the year and I’ve logged in 22,700+ sky miles. While I love my job and traveling for it, I’m a mom too and there is always some level of guilt associated with being away from my son and husband. I especially feel bad because my husband doesn’t ever travel for work, so he’s always playing single dad, while I’m jet setting.

I know I’m not alone in the juggle and hustle of being a working mom, so I wanted to share some tips on how I parent from afar and stay connected with my family.

  1. FaceTime, Not Just Phone Time

Thank you, sweet baby technology. What would working parents who travel do without you? But seriously. We are so incredibly lucky to live in a time where a video phone call is possible. I can’t imagine traveling as much as I do and not being able to FaceTime with Westley. A FaceTime call is so much more special and it makes me feel like I’m part of his evening routine. I can hear about his day, make silly faces and see him in his PJs before he goes to sleep. He gets to see my face and I get to see his and give the screen kisses. It’s my No. 1 way to stay connected and close to Westley. I also get to see Sam, which is a bonus J

  1. Pics on Pics

This may just be me, but I LOVE a photo. A photo of Westley is worth its weight in gold. I already have thousands of photos of him in my phone (current photo roll count 6,762 and at least 5,000 feature W), which I scroll through on the regular while traveling. During my travels, Sam keeps me pretty up to date with all of Westley’s adventures with action shots, videos, etc. One of my favorite pictures I’ve ever received (a series really) was W eating my baked ziti, stuffing his face with a big ole smile and literally licking the plate. It brought me so much joy to witness him enjoying a meal I made especially for them to have while I was away. So a steady stream of photos and visual updates is a must to keep this working mama happy.

  1. Wake Up Call

No matter the time zone, I always start every day with a morning call with Sam to hear all about how Westley did the night before, his morning, etc. We time it so I call Sam right as he is leaving daycare and on his way to work for a full report. Some times it’s a very early morning, but to me it is the very best way to kick off my day.

  1. Digital Daycare

Westley has a phenomenal group of teachers at his daycare and my little charmer has definitely stolen their hearts. I’ve always made it a point to get to know all of his teachers because let’s be honest, he spends more time with them during the week than he spends at home. I feel very confident leaving him at daycare because the team there truly cares about the kids. So much so, that when they know I travel, they are more cognizant of Westley’s behavior, if he is spending longer hours there or coming in earlier because of my husband’s work schedule, their main priority is keeping W happy…and they succeed. I also keep in touch with his teachers via Facebook Messenger – they send me updates and photos. It’s awesome and makes me feel more connected.

  1. Just Say No

Once becoming a mom, I have set certain rules up for myself to keep my travel in check. Sometimes I fail miserably and have back-to-back travel, but for the most part I try and stay away no more than three nights in a row and try and avoid trips that stack up. I’ve also learned to say no more than I did before having a child. Sometimes a trip is not feasible and will be an issue for my family, so in that case I have to say no. Luckily, I have a great work family with a lot of moms who get it and clients who also are mindful of my work life balance attempt.

  1. Digital Detox

I rarely travel on weekends, so weekends for me are all about family. There is honestly nothing else and no one else I’d rather be with than Sam and Westley. So part of my being present is disconnecting from emails on weekends (I check once a day for a quick skim to ensure no client crisis have occurred). I also try and put my phone away as much as possible, although I still use it for photos and to check social media because it’s something I enjoy. Being present and not spending time checking email makes my weekends feel more free and 100 percent focused on my little family.

As my good friend Heidi Floyd put it, it’s all about the work life integration. And at the end of the day, it’s about making it work for you and your family – whatever that may look like. Would love to hear from you with any other tips!

XO,

Ivette

Motivation MOMday Profile: Wendy Kerr

Today I’m featuring one of my work mom squad members – Wendy Kerr. She is an all around bad ass who kills it on the job, but always makes family her top priority. Her sweet daughter Chlo-$ is one of the cutest and sassiest 7-year olds I know. Hope you enjoy reading about this awesome mama.

  1. Mom 411 – Tell us a little about you and your family – My family is my life and includes my daughter 7 year old Chloe Sophia, my husband, Rob our kitty, Calvin and our newest edition, Sequin our 6 month old Teacup Yorkie. Since we struggled with infertility for so long to welcome our little girl after 3 IVF attempts and 4 years of treatments, I never take anything regarding her for granted and try to enjoy every stage of her life to the fullest.
  2. Mommy Mantra – Words you live by – Work hard but family is always first, life is too short to not enjoy every minute with your little one as time is not our friend…
  3. Me Time – Favorite escape, activity  Love a great run or a spa treatment because me time is so hard to come by…
  4. Mom Peeve – Biggest pet peeve as a mom – Competition between other moms, I do what I want to do for my daughter not to impress anyone else and not for social media, I just love that Chloe knows she is always the most important part of my day.
  5. Mom Hack – Necessity is the mother of invention – I just started using a new app called Chore Monster, it helps to assign chores to Chloe and keep her motivated with an built in incentive system.
  6. Mom-preneur – Work, work from home, work it out, advice on work life balance – Refer to #2, I’m on point always while at work but I know how to separate from my home life to be fully engaged with my family
  7. Mom Squad – Who do you look up to, who’s in your tribe, thoughts on mommy hood and friendships – My work moms, my school moms my faraway moms are always good for advice and much needed laughs to get through this mom life…
  8. Mom Goals – Aspirational, inspirational – My main goal right now is to focus on as much family time as we can squeeze in, my husband works crazy hours and travels a lot so time for the 3 of us is definitely my priority…
  9. Mom-cation – Dream vacation – Always somewhere tropical on a beach with a good book and watching my little one soak it all in…
  10. My Children’s Take – Ask your child or children how they would describe you, their favorite thing about you – My mommy is sweet and takes me to nice places and dresses up with me and gives me the funnest parties. I love her the most.

If you’re interested in being featured in an upcoming profile, please email me at ivette.faulkner@gmail.com.