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

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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

This is 34

It’s hard to believe I turned 34 today. It certainly doesn’t feel like I’ve been around for three decades and some change. My Aba is definitely right that the older you get the faster the years go by.

With a new year ahead, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the last decade and how much has changed. At 24, I had just started my PR career after deciding to leave TV reporting. I had no idea what I was getting into with public relations or how far it would take. At the time the PR folks were the nicely dressed, friendly people at news conferences who handed me press kits and business cards and weren’t carrying 50 pounds of equipment including a camera, tripod and bag with batteries, tapes and microphones and trying not to sweat, while looking “camera ready.” I remember thinking on a number of occasions, I’m not sure what else these PR people do, but I want to be one of them someday 😉

At 24, I was still looking for love, dating guys I’m glad ended up being exes and enjoying being a 20-something spending Saturdays getting dressed up, dancing way too late (or early into the next morning) and singing along to every song in the club like NO ONE was listening. I’m so grateful for the years of growth and different relationships that taught me what I wanted and did not want and what kind of partner would be a true partner when it came to “forever.” At the time I only knew Sam as a friend of a friend who came out with us sometimes, joined a birthday dinner or weekend get together ever so often. I had no idea we would be married one day and what an awesome adventure awaited. Glad I was patient.

At 24 I was probably still a little too concerned about what others thought of me. Were they judging how I looked, what I said, etc. I was still getting comfortable being an unapologetic version of me.

Ten years may seem like a long time, but for me it’s flown by. I’ve had a few different jobs (all within PR and all at agencies), but each career move has taught me an incredible amount and with each year in my industry I feel more and more confident in the professional I’ve become. I love doing what I do and I think I’m pretty damn good at it. I also enjoy the challenges, learning and growing that each year brings. I hope to never stop seeking that — no matter how old I get. I truly feel there is always room for learning and improvement.

In the last decade I’ve gotten married (to that friend of a friend) and found a life partner who truly makes me a better person. We make each other better. We challenge each other, have great conversations and cheer each other on. We’ve moved three times including a stint in South Florida, while he pursued his Radiation Therapy specialty, had a baby (read all about that in previous posts), built a house and a life.

I can honestly say that my 30s have been the best decade yet and there are still a lot of years left of it. I feel like I’ve come into my own from my personal and professional relationships to the people I choose to surround myself with to taking care of my mind and body.

Motherhood has by far taught me the most about unconditional love, patience and the incredible role we play in shaping a little person’s life. Now, I have also learned that you can only influence and teach so much. My son definitely has his own personality and it differs from mine and my husband’s.

I’m not so much worried these days about what people think. I know in my heart who I am and I live that truth everyday. It’s refreshing. I intend to live each day to the fullest, savor each moment and look forward to who I will become in the years to come. Being a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend and colleague is rewarding. They say with each passing decade you say what you want, do what you want and live how you want. Watch out world…don’t know what I’ll be saying at forty. HA.

XO,

Ivette

 

Two Timing

While we’re not quite ready to be parents of two yet, we got a taste of what it would be like last week when we had a co-worker’s son stay over since she had an early morning meeting out of town. Of course, dealing with a two year old and a six year old is way different than an infant and a toddler, but it was refreshing to see what the future could look like.

The biggest difference of course is seeing Westley act like so much more of a big boy since there was an older child in the house and another boy. He immediately brought out his dinosaur toy and sat down on the sofa with his tablet quietly playing next to his older friend. It was so cute.

Then there was the little bit of showing off and extra clinginess for fear he would be replaced…a taste of what adding another sibling to the mix may bring out in him. For the most part, W was sweet and well behaved and it gives me hope that one day he may be a wonderful older brother. He shared and played and it was so fun to watch.

We usually have had younger kids hang out with us including our God Daughter, so it was interesting to witness how incredibly independent a 6 year old can be. From brushing his teeth to going to bed with no fuss and dressing himself, it’s wild how things change in just a few short years. Of course, I know when we get to that point, I will equally love the independence, but also miss having a sweet little toddler who craves snuggle time with mama.

Finally, got a taste of what’s to come in Elementary School including the craziness that is the drop off line. Cars upon cars, safety patrols and parents honking oh my…it’s a wild ride.

This test in “two timing” was fun, but I definitely know I need at least another year, a potty trained and more independent 3-year old and a lot more working out before I embark another baby adventure 😉

Until then, I’m enjoying every crazy moment, laugh, cry, tantrum and adventure with our little family.

XO,

Ivette

 

 

 

Parenthood Hacks: Playing Hooky

There are vacation days, personal days, mental health days and now as a parent, I revel in parenthood play days. This is all part of keeping us sane, happy and connected as adults and as a couple.

Because Westley is still in daycare, I am able to drop him off and have an entire day to get things done – some fun, some just plain chores. Either way, these “play days” give me an opportunity to get some “me time” and decompress.

Two Friday ago was one of those days. We were off from work, so I took advantage of the day to get things done. Dropped off W at daycare and kicked off the day with an 8:30 a.m. Body Sculpt class. After an hour of getting my butt kicked, I headed to Chick-fil-A for an egg white grill and an iced coffee (I work out to EAT). Then it was over to Market District to pick up a giveaway prize (y’all Instagram contests really work…I won an awesome prize pack!) and some shopping at two favorite boutiques – Elle Market and Harper Hill Kids. By 10:30 a.m. I was at my hairdressers’ ready to get my summer hair on – a little bayalage to give my hair some new life. In my post hair happiness, I headed to Old Navy to get the little guy a picture day outfit and then by 1:30 p.m. I was lying in a spa room ready for my first Fire & Ice facial at Axios Salt Spa. That was quite the treat and included a peel as well as a delicious organic smoothie when my facial was complete. All of this was accomplished before 3 p.m., which gave me time to get home, do some laundry, put away clean clothes and shower before the hubby and toddler got home. All in all, it’s what I call a perfect day.

Similarly, as a couple, we sometimes take a day off to enjoy each other’s company. We’re headed to a music festival in Jacksonville this weekend and the Monday following the festival will be a travel day back and a chance to play parenthood hooky. Planning to try a new taqueria in town and maybe catch a move before we pick W up from school. Having three days to ourselves will be glorious, but I’m sure by Monday afternoon, we’ll be ready to hug and hang out with our little guy. He’s our favorite person and topic of conversation J

For me, it’s all about balance. While 85 percent (or more) of our activities and time is spent as a family, we do try and squeeze in some alone time – whether it’s taking a whole day off and hanging in town, or taking a few hours to have a nice adult meal. Making our marriage and relationship a priority makes us better parents because we are happy and healthy. One of our goals is to ensure Westley grows up knowing how much his parents love and respect each other and values that.

As with everything, once you’re a parent your strategy changes – even for vacations. We definitely use vacation days for real vacations, like our upcoming summer family trip to Maine, but I always reserve a chunk of my PTO for parenthood play days because these days there is no better vacation than a day that’s all about me or all about us J

How do y’all spend your vacation time? Have you ever played parenthood hooky?

XO,

Ivette

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.