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

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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.

 

Mom Hacks: Amazon Prime Music

First off, if you’re not an Amazon Prime member, then you’re missing out. Casa Faulkner is an Amazon household and Westley especially loves Alexa – the Amazon Echo. He talks to her all the time and says goodbye to our dog Lucy and Alexa every morning as we head to daycare.

As first time parents, we have struggled with bedtime and creating some sort of a routine that realistically works for our family. With both of us working full time and me being on the road a good chunk of the time, we really never expected Westley to ever be asleep by 7pm. Our family usually gets home around 6pm and selfishly we’d like to spend some quality time together before calling it a night. Between bath time and dinner, 7pm would not be feasible, but we wanted to get to a point where he was asleep around the same time every night and it’s an enjoyable experience.

Enter – Amazon Prime Music. Not only is it included with our Prime Membership (best $99 you will ever spend a year), but also it has an amazing array of lullaby play lists and stations. I tried lullabies on a whim because we were having issues with Westley actually napping on weekends. One day I randomly thought about lullabies and looked it up on Amazon Prime Music and found the holy grail of lullabies…Disney Classics – instrumental versions of some of Disney’s best songs. The best part, of course, is that I know and love all the songs from The Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World” to Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” – basically 14 songs that each make me nostalgic and I sing in my head, while my toddler goes down. This was a game changer during nap time and transitioned seamlessly during bedtime, making the bedtime routine way more relaxing and enjoyable for this mama.

As with all things Disney (even lullabies), it’s magic. Westley has really gotten into these songs and looks forward to bedtime. Every night between 8 and 8:15pm, he tells us he is ready for “Night Night” and with that we say goodnight to Lucy, Alexa and Elmo, turn off all the lights, grab his “Leche” (milk) and lay down to the tunes of Disney. That along with our beloved white noise maker (which we also found and bought on Amazon…obvi) creates the perfect environment for our little guy to be out within 15 minutes.

It took us a while to get here, but we are thrilled that at least bedtime has become a fun and enjoyable time. With a toddler tyrant, you have to celebrate the little victories because you never know when the next tantrum will hit.

Happy Toddlering,

Ivette

Motivation MOMday Profile: Katie Ibarra

Happy First day of Spring and Motivation MOMday! Today I am featuring one of my oldest and best friends, Tia to sweet Westley and a fierce and fab mom – Katie Manning Ibarra. Katie was my go to mama when I was preggo, she told me all the stories no one else tells you (especially about The After Birth…), helped me maneuver through the overwhelming task that is the baby registry and continues to be a soundboard for all things mommy hood. She has an adorable daughter, Bella, who also happens to be our Goddaughter and one of Westley’s favorite people in the world. Enjoy her take on being a mama!

  1. Mom 411 – Tell us a little about you and your family

We are The Ibarra Family: Chris, Katie and Isabella. Chris and I have been married for 5 ½ years and have a headstrong, sassy, fierce 3-year old daughter!

  1. Mommy Mantra – Words you live by

“Dear God, Please Give Me Patience”

Isabella is what we call “strong-willed.” I can’t wait to see how kick ass that will be when she is an adult. However, the path to adulthood is filled with independence and stubbornness as a child.

  1. Me Time – Favorite escape, activity 

I insist on having lunch by myself once a week: Just me, my Kindle and some food. It is absolutely refreshing to not have to do anything or speak to anyone for an hour.

 

  1. Mom Peeve – Biggest pet peeve as a mom

When Bella says she needs to potty and then suddenly no longer has to potty once seated on the toilet. It’s tough because I don’t feel like I can call her bluff just yet. So for now, we go to the potty.

 

  1. Mom Hack – Necessity is the mother of invention 

When Bella was a baby, my best Mom Hack was Amazon Mom. Their discounts on diapers and wipes were unmatched and the subscription service just makes diapers and wipes one less thing to worry about.

My Mom Hack to a 3-year old is: Snacks and Netflix. We have a 25-30 minute drive to and from daycare from Monday to Friday. Snacks and Netflix give me a little bit of peace at the beginning of my day and at the end of my workday. If Bella is fed and entertained when we are in the car, I have a few minutes to prepare for the next step in our day.

  1. Mom-preneur – Work, work from home, work it out, advice on work life balance 

I do work full-time so Bella is in daycare during the day. During the week, we are in work/school mode. During the weekend, I do my best to plan fun activities for us to do together. I am a firm believer in family time and family vacations. But, for my own personal sanity, I have been known to play “Parent Hooky” and drop Bella off at daycare, while I spend the day at home resting and relaxing.

  1. Mom Squad – Who do you look up to, who’s in your tribe, thoughts on mommy hood and friendships 

I would say that the Captain of my Mom Squad is my own Mom. She’s the first person I call when I need parenting advice. The rest of my Mom Squad includes my friends Michelle and Catherine. They both have children older than my daughter and have already experienced all of the phases that I encounter with Bella. They are my friends, my parenting mentors and my sounding board.

Having a child changes so many aspects of your life – your friendships are no exception. I have been fortunate enough that the majority of my friendships have only grown stronger with parenthood. Girls nights out have become mommy mornings at the park or playtime at Sky Zone. Sharing the trials and tribulations of motherhood with your closest girl friends is just another way to strengthen your bond.

  1. Mom Goals – Aspirational, inspirational

My parenting inspiration comes from my own parents. Looking back on my childhood, I have so many fond memories of adventure. My parents were spontaneous and fun. We traveled all the time – even if only to the Keys for the weekend. My father would create these challenges and my brother and I would rise to the occasion. We biked, snorkeled, fished, swam… There wasn’t much we didn’t encounter as children. I have so many great memories filled with love and laughter. My parents just had so much love to share. Not one person came into my parents’ house without becoming an immediate “adopted child.” There was always room and always food and always time. I am forever grateful to my parents for the way my brother and I were raised. I want that for Bella. I want her to travel, to experience spontaneous adventures, to be challenged, to volunteer, to have laughter, to have unconventional traditions that she will always remember, to be brave, to be open-minded, to be loving, and most of all, to be loved unconditionally.

  1. Mom-cation – Dream vacation 

I don’t know that I have one specific place in mind for a Mom-cation. I kind of want to do it all! However, I think I want our family travels to stay within the United States. Traveling abroad is great, but I think that there are hundreds of places in our own country that I want our daughter to see. I would say my top 5 are: New York City, The Grand Canyon, Washington, D.C., Boston and Philadelphia.

  1. My Children’s Take – Ask your child or children how they would describe you, their favorite thing about you

Yep. Totally forgot to do this one!

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

Motivation MOMday Profile: Heidi Floyd

Happy Motivation MOMday! This week, I’m featuring one of my sweetest friends —  a fellow PR Pro who juggles media relations and mom hood on the daily. Hope you enjoy her mama advice.

  1. Mom 411 – Tell us a little about you and your family

Wife to one handsome dude named Keith / Raising 3 littles in the south with the sweet tea and green grass – Grayson (4), Oliver (3), Lucy (1)

  1. Mommy Mantra – Words you live by

If it’s not a HELL YES, it’s a no.

 

  1. Me Time – Favorite escape, activity

 

Coffee. In Silence.

 

  1. Mom Peeve – Biggest pet peeve as a mom

Sanctimommies.

 

  1. Mom Hack – Necessity is the mother of invention

    GROCERY DELIVERY!!!!!!

 

  1. Mom-preneur – Work, work from home, work it out, advice on work life balance

 

Lucky to do a job I love (head operations for healthcare PR firm based in NJ), and do it from home where I stay connected to the littles. I don’t believe in work/life balance – work/life integration makes working and raising babies possible in my world.

 

  1. Mom Squad – Who do you look up to, who’s in your tribe, thoughts on mommy hood and friendships

As necessary as air. To the tribe of women who keep me grounded, honest, and upright – you have my heart, and all the gratefulness I can muster.

 

  1. Mom Goals – Aspirational, inspirational

 

Throw kindness around like confetti.

  1. Mom-cation – Dream vacation

Machu Picchu.

 

  1. My Children’s Take – Ask your child or children how they would describe you, their favorite thing about you

Grayson — “I like that you build electronics with me. And you give me apples. Oh, and you love flowers. I will pick you all the flowers.” #winning

 

 

 

 

Motivation MOMday Profile: Jocelyne Fliger

Happy MOMday, friends! So excited to share the first Motivation MOMday profile with you guys. This week get to know my awesome friend Josie who is teaching her little girl how to be a lady boss and change the world from day one 🙂 She shares some really great advice. Enjoy!

  1. Mom 411– I am a 37-year old social worker and activist who married someone that I love and respect, Jeremy Deese. We decided we should have a child together about 7 months after meeting and it was the best decision of our respective lives. Morgyn just turned 3 and is very smart, insightful, and a bit sly at times (aren’t they all at this age though).
  2. Mommy Mantra– We must make the most of every single day because we might not get another chance to go around the sun. Keeping this in mind creates perspective when it comes to parenting my daughter and creating experiences for my family. I take Morgyn everywhere with me- to volunteer outings, traveling, to community events. I feel that she and I should experience a wide range of activities together and if you plan correctly, you can do anything.
  3. Me Time– When I get a few, very rare free moments to myself, I love to read (right now I am hooked on the Dresden Files books- can’t go wrong with a sexy wizard!) or watch any and all of the Real Housewives, with a glass of wine of course.
  4. Mom Peeve– My biggest pet peeve is when my child doesn’t listen, but I think that is pretty par for the mom course. My other pet peeve is when anyone (ahem, grandparents, ahem) gives Morgyn too much sugar. Sugar to a child is like water to a mogwai – they do not mix well!
  5. Mom Hack– I carry an extra set of her clothes in my car with me at all times. You never know when you might want to stop by the Railroad Square Park and play in the water tubes. Another must is Boogie Wipes, which are not just for noses.
  6. Mom-preneur– I have my master’s degree in social work and actually got pregnant in grad school (while working 3 jobs no less). So I am proof that if you put your mind to it, you can do it! I believe it is my purpose to help others have a better life, so I am very involved in volunteer and civic activities. My full time gig though is as the Director of Senior Volunteer Programs at Elder Care Services. I stay quite busy with that role as we have a 15 county footprint; I might be in Jefferson County one day and Bay County the next. While there is a bit of travel, if Morgyn needs me I can remote into my work computer and work from home. I am so lucky because I love what I do and have a pretty flexible schedule. My advice to keep a good balance between home, work, and extracurricular is to try to be truly present when you are with your family and that it is okay to say no to things.
  7. Mom Squad– I am so lucky because my best friend had her child four years before mine. I get to ask her about all sorts of icky and worrisome situations. I am also lucky to have a bunch of strong women in my circles that inspire and push me to make my community better for my daughter. Lastly, I admire you, Ivette, because you are a hard working mom who is smart, determined, and an expert traveler!
  8. Mom Goals– I want to make the best world that I can for my daughter (it’s that social worker drive in me). I want to promote inclusion and cultural competence in her as we have so much to learn from each other. I relish the fact that the preschool she attends has a tremendously diverse group of students (many are even international). I want her to know that even if we do not look alike, we all have something kindred in our spirits.
  9. Mom-cation– Dream vacation hands down has to be Ireland. I can see all of us enjoying the beautiful countryside and ancient wonders. I will have to see if they let kids into the Guinness factory though… 🙂
  10. My Children’s Take– “I like to go on adventures with you.”

Top 5 “Go To” Baby Gear for New Moms

Before I became a mom, I would roam the aisles at Target or Babies R Us to buy baby shower gifts for friends and to say I was overwhelmed and confused by all the “baby gear” is an understatement. Even when I was pregnant and put my own registry together, I was clueless. One of my good friends spent a few hours with me on a Saturday going through all the categories and helping me select all the items we would need for baby.

Although there are certain things we haven’t used, it is incredible, but true — babies require a ton of stuff, namely hundreds of diapers and wipes and so much clothing since they will pee, poo and puke all over them countless times a day. Do yourself a favor and buy a big bottle of Dreft baby detergent, you’ll be putting that to good use. 😉

Now that I’ve been putting all the “baby stuff” to good use with my own son, I thought it beneficial to share my top 5 baby items. Some of these were on my registry and some we discovered post baby.

1. The Boppy – Weird name, yes. Indispensable baby product, absolutely. When I was first gifted the Boppy (the original and the newborn lounger), I was unsure what all the fuss was about. They may look like very simple pillows, but these things are LIFE CHANGING. The nursing pillow is everything – it props up the baby and makes it more comfy for you to nurse. Even as I’ve transitioned to bottle feeding, I still use the Boppy to hold W up. This also allows you to feed the baby more conveniently and still have one hand left for multi-tasking. The Boppy is also a great tool when visitors want to hold your baby. It makes it easy and comfy for them and the baby. Win win. You can also purchase additional slip covers for the Boppy, so inevitably when a spit up disaster occurs, you can wash one cover and always have a clean one handy.

The Boppy newborn lounger is also a must. This is a large, angled pillow where baby can lounge. This lounger is portable, comes in a nice neutral pattern and makes W super happy. He naps on it, lounges and even plays. We take it from the bed to the couch and everywhere around the house. The best part is it transitions and can be used as baby grows. If they sold this in adult size, my husband and I would purchase some. They are that comfy! If you haven’t been gifted the amazing Boppy pillow and newborn lounger, do yourself a favor and order them asap before your baby’s arrival. You will not be disappointed.

2. The Nose Frida – Leave it to the Swedes to invent an ingenious and simple tool that makes snot a non issue. The Nose Frida aka Snotsucker (by their own description) is a magical tool for parents. Trust me, never would I have imagined adding a snotsucker to my list of must haves (oy vey), but this tool is amazing. Those bulb syringes you’ll get at the hospital and in the baby grooming kits are a joke. They suck nothing out and leave your kid congested. The Nose Frida is amazing, but be prepared to put in the work. You must use the tube and physically suck the snot out. There is a filter and you’ll never ingest snot, but if you’re a germaphobe or not into your kid’s snot, hopefully your partner is braver. I for one do not mind using it, but my hubby not so much. If you’re apprehensive, just think your baby will likely be happier and sleep better if he can breath, so suck it up…literally!

3. Halo Sleep Sack – So I have to admit our swaddle skills were less than perfect using a regular swaddle blanket and it didn’t help that W absolutely HATED being swaddled with his arms secure. Then we discovered the Halo Sleep Sack (gifted to us by our hospital’s Sweet Pea baby club) and it made putting him to sleep exponentially easier. My favorite part about this sleep sack is that you can swaddle your baby with his hands in or out, depending on preference. Also it is brain dead — you don’t have to have “mad swaddle skills” to get it right. You simply place your baby in the sack, zip him up and wrap him. Done and done.

4. Fisher-Price Deluxe Auto Rock ‘n Play Sleeper – This newborn sleeper was literally a life saver. For a couple of weeks, W would not sleep on his back in the bassinet, so I came across this product via a mommy Facebook group. This newborn sleeper keeps babies secure and at an incline, so a lot of parents use it if their baby has acid reflux too. It is automated (pay the extra $15 for this feature, it is worth it!) and has two rocking settings – 30 minutes for a nap or 6 hours. It also plays music. Now that W has been sleeping in his bassinet, we use this rock n play during the day!

5. Sleep N Play Outfits – No doubt you will receive so many beautiful outfits for your baby, but as you will discover, especially the first few weeks, it isn’t necessarily about cute clothes, but rather practical ones. At night when your baby is waking up every few hours and you’re changing diapers and feeding and delirious…you want a sleep outfit that is easy to maneuver when you can’t see straight. The sleep n play outfits (these are Gerber, but there are a ton of different brands available) are a God send at 3AM. They zip up, instead of button and the zipper is on the foot, so you only have to unzip it enough to change a diaper and then you’re done. This keeps the baby asleep and you avoid the insanity that are the tiny little buttons on baby clothing. W lived in these outfits for the first 4 weeks and now as we start daycare they will continue to be a staple.

Obviously there are hundreds of different products, tastes and preferences, but these are five products that have made being new parents easier. I would love to hear from other mamas out there about their “go to” products.

XoXo,

Ivette