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

 

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Having It All OR All In Your Head

Bottom line…you can have it all, but not at the same time. Working mom means you’re always working and you’re always a mom, but how you manage the madness and prioritize is how you achieve having it all.

You can’t give 100 percent and slice and dice it a million ways. Instead you look at your (virtual) pie and make room for the things that fit, the things that matter and the givens.

There are 168 hours in a week. If you work, then a minimum of 40 hours is spent at work (not counting random late night emails, travel, client crisis, special projects, etc.) What you do with the remaining 128 hours is up to you.

There are always things that will suffer or take a back seat from dishes and friendships to social events and sleep. There is only so much room for it all…having it all also means having less of it all.

One thing is certain, parenting is never ending (hardest but most rewarding work you’ll ever do IMO), but the daily “hard time” commitment is getting kids ready in the morning, daycare drop off, pick up, bath time, dinner, play/fun time and bed time. It’s never enough time during the week, so for me weekends are mostly dedicated to my family. I always have room and time to spend with my hubby and son. Never gets old or boring 🙂

Working out keeps me sane, but fitting it in always looks like a jig saw puzzle. I literally squeeze it in when I can. Luckily I have an awesome partner who trades daycare pick up, bathing and dinner duties with me so I can get my sweat on. I return the favor a couple of times a week.

But in order to work on my fitness, I work it in at all times. Monday and Wednesday circuit training immediately after work, Tuesday PT during lunch with one of my fave girlfriends, Saturday morning Body Sculpt at 8:30am, randomly in my garage or even doing squats and planks while catching up on TV😂😂

To “have it all” means to integrate it all, make the puzzle pieces work and embrace the madness.

In my world it translates to maximizing lunch hour by getting a manicure or catching up with girlfriends (HH post work is hard to fit in…something’s gotta give.)

It’s working faster and smarter and moving the To Do list to tomorrow when the day is done.

It’s folding clothes and doing laundry, while watching my new obsession A Handmaid’s Tale on HULU or redefining date night with a yummy meal and glass of wine with the hubby once the rug rat is asleep.

It’s being much more of a scheduler in the love department than a free agent.

It means sometimes reading or writing in bed (current situation), while the rest of the house sleeps or getting up early to get stuff done around the house before the day really starts.

It’s choosing the 6am flight and 3:30am wake up call to spend one less night away from home during a work trip.

It’s less sleep and more love. Less complete control and more letting go.

It’s less about perfect and more about embracing the real and living in the moment.

One day we’ll have a teenager and then a college kid and then a full
fledged adult (scary writing that) and we will be empty nesters with all the time in the world.

But for now I want to cherish every crazy moment from work deadlines to toddler tantrums and embrace life for what it is — chaotic and beautiful all at once.

As everyone will remind you (ad nauseam) when you’re a parent of a young child…it all goes by way too fast.

The days are long, but the years are short. So I’m determined to savor every moment and have it all.

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.

 

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