My husband and I are not great planners when it comes to date night. We tend to leave things to the last minute, which normally suits us just fine. But this doesn’t always work out on Valentine’s Day. It always sneaks up on us a little bit!
Sure, sure, it’s a commercial holiday and we can argue all about its validity and importance. But why not have a little fun and take a minute to celebrate love and people you care about? I’m into it. Also, unlike a lot of other holidays, this allows me to be a little more selfish and focus on my own needs for a change.
So a date is great but making plans can suck. Except that you don’t even have to leave your house to have a great date night on Valentine’s Day. Here are some of my favorite, easy, at-home-dates for Valentine’s Day and beyond!
Enjoy An At-Home Picnic.
Sure, depending on where you live, Valentine’s Day likely isn’t outdoor weather, so turn your living room into the ideal picnic location. Light the fireplace, spread out your fave cozy blanket, grab some pillows and layout an easy meal. Light a bunch of candles around the room for a little bit of romance and ambiance.
Pretty much any meal can be made into a picnic. Pick up some dips and “snack foods” at your favorite grocery store (Trader Joes is a perfect place for this) and enjoy snacking your way through the meal.
This is a favorite because I love the competition! It gives us a chance to chat and connect and actively have fun together, as opposed to just zoning out in front of the TV. Also, some feisty competition is hot! Some of our favorites are Mexican Dominoes and the oldie but goodie, Exploding Kittens. Target and Amazon have a lot of really interesting and hilarious games you could try.
Even the games you already have at home would work here: cards, classic board games, even your kiddo’s video games! And all of them can get as x-rated as you want (or don’t want). Strip Yahtzee is a thing, right?
Want something a little more PG but equally as cozy? Try a Puzzle Night. Similar to game night, puzzle night is also great for winding down, chatting, and connecting with each other.
Date Night in a Box.
If the idea of planning is too overwhelming for you, there are several great companies out there that will provide a date night in a box! We tried a few different ones, including Date Night in a Box (which also now offers a “faith based” date, if that’s your thing) and a new one I’m trying, Crated with Love Date Night Box.
Boxes start at only $19.99 and you can still get this in time for Vday if you ORDER TODAY! Each box contains a themed date night – all you have to do is open the box and start your date! This is a fabulous option for busy, exhausted, over-it couples who want to enjoy themselves (and each other) but don’t have a lot of energy to put together the date.
If this is too cutesy for you, try another “boxed date” like Hunt a Killer where you get a package of clues and a “murder” to solve!
Create a Fun “Tasting” Experience.
I do this for my kids sometimes and think it would be fun with my husband too! Basically, I take any food or drink and buy multiple varieties, to “taste.” I recently did this with take-and-bake pizzas if you caught my Instagram stories! Other fun ideas to try would be local burgers, sushi rolls, ice cream flavors, even cereal.
Make Specialty Cocktails.
My husband and I went through a craft cocktail phase that was a lot of fun. Specifically, we made old fashioned with fancy cherries and bitters we ordered online. We played around with different whiskeys and bourbons, flavored bitters, and more.
Pick a cocktail you want to learn to make or would enjoy together and really get into it!
Make a Meal Together.
We’ve never actually tried this as a date at home, particularly because I’m a little controlling in the kitchen and my husband, bless him, behaves like the Swedish Chef from Sesame Street. I’m just not interested in a 6 hour clean up job, even if it is for love.
But I would be willing to consider this date with a few parameters. I’d add a game or competition to the event like a race to chop veggies or best-looking dessert. If you’re competitive like me, that always makes things a little more fun.
Also, no recipe that’s going to require a lot of my attention. I cook 95% of our meals at home so cooking another one does NOT sound like fun. But if we can turn this into something like a cooking class format where I’m not solely responsible for the outcome, that could work!
I also think using a great meal delivery service like Green Chef would be a fun way to “cook together” without the pressure of building the menu, gathering ingredients, etc..
Then again, you don’t even have to cook at the same time. Maybe you’d rather watch HIM cook for you while you hung out and relaxed with your glass of wine? Just the act of being in the kitchen together, talking, focusing on each other, creates a great atmosphere of connection.
A final option is to order in from your favorite FANCY restaurant. These days, pretty much everyone will deliver or offer carry out. Plate it together in a beautiful way and set it up on a nice table (or maybe in a picnic format!) and enjoy it without having to trouble yourself with cooking.
And while I say “dinner,” this could work great for ANY meal of the day!
This sounds SUPER romantic, I know, but it’s such a great way to connect with your spouse, which ultimately DOES lead to romance!
Start the conversation about your personal goals for the year. What do you want to do as a family? As a couple? You can keep it simple too. Summer isn’t that far away, have you talked about what vacations you might want to take? What about planning something special just for the two of you? A weekend in the City or a day date during the week? Put it on the calendar RIGHT NOW.
If you can get a little more personal, talk about how you can best support each other in achieving your individual goals. Don’t turn this into a therapy session, it’s supposed to be a date, but be honest and vulnerable and ask for what you need!
DIY Home or Art Project.
This idea won’t be for everyone, but my husband and I love tackling a good DIY project for the house. Although this is an article about staying home, we’ve been known to hit Home Depot or Ikea on a date night. At home, you could pick out a project and have all the supplies ready ahead of time so that we could devote the evening to working side by side.
Similarly, if the two of you enjoy art, try some sort of craft or art project together. Gather your art supplies and get to work and order yourself some Door Dash. You’ll enjoy a little QT together
No matter what you choose to do for Valentine’s Day this year, make it your own by figuring out what matches your personality as a couple. And remember that simple can still be really special. Just pick an activity that would be unique and special to you and your partner and the rest will fall into place.
Here we are. In the midwest. In the winter. In the ‘crash’ after the holidazzzzzzze. I’m over it and ready to become a snowbird. There has to be a retirement community in Scottsdale that will take me, right? I’m cold. Stuck inside. Surrounded by darkness, stillness, and germs.
How do we get through it smoothly? How do we keep our bodies and minds feeling good? How do we come out on the other side, AND possibly enjoy now?!
Lindsay Luker of Good Leaf Life shares her simple and accessible yoga and essential oil remedies with us.
Making Yoga Accessible.
According to Lindsay, you don’t have to put your foot behind your head or sit in a cave for ten years. Yoga is accessible to anyone who can say, “yes, I will take 15 minutes of my day for simple breathing, simple movement, and simple rest.”
You don’t need a fancy membership or video streaming service, just you and a quiet space.
Ok, I think I can do that.
She recommends finding a spot where you can be alone for a short time. Particularly where you cannot see the dishes by the sink or the socks on the floor.
Sit or lay down in a position that allows your spine to feel long and neutral. Close your eyes. Relax your face. Relax your scalp. Then relax your brain as if it were a muscle.
“Sama vritti” or same breath, she says. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes and begin to breathe. Inhale for a count of 4-6 beats. Exhale for the same number of beats. Keep track by counting in your head or with your heartbeats. When the timer stops, breathe naturally. Take note of the immediate changes in your nervous system, in your body, in your mind. Notice if there has been a shift in you.
Feel that? Simple breathing!
This one is also easy but you might want to read through this first and then try these simple movements in your quiet space.
Come to all fours, on your hands and knees. Spread your fingers out and bring yourself back to your sama vritti breath.
Let your breath guide your movement. Inhale to slightly drop your belly. Tailbone points up behind you, aiming to where the wall meets the ceiling. Your collarbones open away from each other and your heart extends forward.
Gaze up slightly to where the wall meets the ceiling in front of you. Exhale to round your back and gently tuck your chin toward your chest. spread the space between your shoulder blades.
Repeat these movements several times, letting your breath bookend the movement. That means to be certain that your inhale and exhale is complete before you start the next movement.
This one might be my favorite but it also might be the hardest to actually do!
Lay on your back. SItuate your legs a bit wider than hip-width. Let your feet fall outward naturally. Your arms should lay alongside the body with your palms facing upward.
Now move your arms a bit away so there is space between your ribs and upper arms.
Lift your head and slightly tuck the chin to lengthen the back of your neck. Set your head back down.
Close your eyes and notice the spots where your body touches the earth. The warmth and support. notice the places where your body touches the air. Cool and free. Let the edges of your mind expand into the universe.
Feel that? Rest!
So you see, Yoga creates harmony between your body and mind. That harmony supports your spirit and allows you to enjoy more moments of life. Even maybe those unreasonable-kid moments and frustrated, are-we-really-shoveling-snow-again? moments. Here’s hoping, right!?
Making Essential Oils Accessible.
Don’t roll your eyes, Lindsay says, this is not voodoo! Essential oils are made up of the components found in plants and have been used since ancient times.
Lindsay taught me how essential oils can help mamas and their families feel their best without overwhelming them with more “stuff” to fill their medicine cabinet.
“Plants produce metabolites to survive the weather, viruses, and other environmental threats. As mammals, we respond to these metabolites and can use them to sustain a ‘feel-good life.'”
Build Your Immune System.
Lindsay’s “must-have” for warding off the yuckies this time of year is doTERRA’s On Guard blend. A combination of wild orange, clove, rosemary, eucalyptus, and cinnamon, it is exactly what you need to keep your immune system strong. Rub it on your spine, drink a few drops in a glass of water, use the soap, detergent, or try the cough drops.
Fight Off a Bug!
If you weren’t able to keep the bug away, don’t fear, there’s still hope for a quick recovery. Eucalyptusoilis a must.
Boil hot water and pour it in a bowl. Add 2 drops of oil and breathe in the steam for 30 seconds.
Lindsay’s second favorite is Breathe. Her recommendation is to diffuse this soothing blend throughout your home. It’s a combination of laurel leaf, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, lemon, cardamom, ravintsara, ravensara essential oil.
You can also rub the oil onto your chest …don’t forget to use with a carrier like fractionated coconut oil (that’s the liquid kind you can pick up at a health food store or Amazon). This will open your breathing passageways and help to clear congestion. A secret trick? Lindsay says Breathe works well if your partner snores after a glass of whiskey!
Treat aching muscles.
If you started off the year with some intense exercise resolutions, essential oils can help you recover and get stronger! Lindsay’s favorite is doTERRA’s Deep Blue. It’s designed to bring relief to achy, stiff joints, and sore muscles.
Rest and relaxation.
You don’t have to tell a mom twice that rest and relaxation is essential the health of her body and mind. Even just a few hours lost one night can make for a miserable next day. Lindsay’s suggestions for optimizing your rest and relaxation are simple and quite soothing. Even my kids have gotten into diffusing oils at night in their rooms!
Her favorite choice? Serenity: Diffuse this warm and soothing blend (lavender, cedarwood, ho wood, ylang ylang, marjoram, roman chamomile, vetiver, vanilla, and Hawaiian sandalwood) overnight while you while sleep to help you stay that way!
Are you an essential oil user? Do you practice yoga? Do you want to? You don’t have to become an expert or yoga instructor to enjoy the benefits of yoga and essential oils for your health. These are easy ways to incorporate it into your winter routine and eventually maybe make it a part of your daily life.
Lindsay Luker has a 500-hour yoga instructor certification and is an essential oil specialist living in the West Suburbs of Chicago. She is available for one-on-one and small group classes for yoga, oils, or both. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Lindsay’s website!
Do yourself a favor, mama, and forward this article to your romantic partner so they don’t buy you drugstore flowers and the gross heart-shaped chocolate for Valentine’s Day. This post is for THEM about how to pick the perfect Valentine’s Day Gift for you.
You want to surprise a mama in your life with a lovely gift that shows her how much you love and appreciate her? Skip the drugstore flowers and generic cookies. The thought does NOT count when you don’t actually put any thought into the gift! Moms are drowning in STUFF and don’t want any more. If you want to really show them some appreciation and buy the perfect Valentine’s Day Gift for moms, this guide is for you.
As a mom, I spend all day every day focused on everyone else in my family. Cooking their breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Washing their clothes. Cleaning up their messes. Moms don’t do these things for recognition – we do them because we love our people and we want to take care of them. But we want to feel taken care of too. And sometimes a hastily-purchased heart-shaped box of cheap chocolates doesn’t really make us feel very loved or valued.
The good news is that moms are easy to shop for! They rarely spend much time or money on themselves, and I can easily think of a few great Valentine’s Day gift ideas that aren’t super expensive or difficult to find! Here are a few ideas:
Flowers. This is not a cliched gift if you plan it in advance or order from a place like Flowers for Dreams (Chicago-area only) or Farm Girl Flowers (nation-wide). You can order unique bouquets including succulent gardens. Plus both offer unique products that you can add to your bouquet such as candles and delicious chocolates. I particularly love Flowers for Dreams because they also partner with charities to give back.
A Massage/Facial/Spa Day. It seems like this is cliche but I’ve never met a spa treatment I didn’t love. Even bad ones are pretty awesome. For the most part. See, moms love to be pampered but moms are never pampered. Now, this doesn’t have to mean an entire day at the spa! Even a few services like mani/pedi or a massage will have you walking out feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and rested!
Don’t worry about picking “the right” service, either because this is an item where the thought really does count. Most places will allow the recipient to exchange it for another service if they’d like but either way, she’ll be THRILLED that you picked something like this.
Alternatively, I love receiving a variety of some of my favorite beauty products so I can create my own spa day at home. You might know exactly what those products might already be but if you don’t here are a few suggestions: Products like these Korean beauty masks, some gorgeous bath bombs, and a hair treatment mask are easy ways for me to spend a few hours at home relaxing and taking care of myself. Don’t forget a great bath tray to hold your glass of vino and a good book too!
Amazon Echo Dot. Ok, I know this doesn’t seem like a very romantic Valentine’s Day gift, but I just received my first Echo Dot for Christmas and can I just say how obsessed I am?! It honestly makes my life SO much easier and I already need more throughout my house.
Meal planning? Just have Alexa add items to your shopping list! In the mood for some jams? Tell Alexa to start playing some tunes! Need her to communicate with your other Alexa devices to, say, wake your kids up for school or tell them that dinner is ready? Yeah, she can do that too. Throw in some smart plugs and life will REALLY start changing. “Alexa, turn off the lights!” “Alexa, turn on the Christmas tree (yes, I’m already thinking ahead to next year)!” “Alexa, turn on the shower!” Ok, I’m getting a little carried away, but really, she’ll love this. Maybe get two right off the bat.
Allure Beauty Box.Subscription boxes are fabulous – they come every month! And it’s always a surprise! I personally *adore* getting my Allure Beauty Box each month. You can buy it through Amazon, and each month your partner will get a curated box of skincare, haircare, and/or makeup products. I’ve been getting this box for a year now, and it’s the only subscription box I’ve stuck with. I always get at least one full-size product per box, and at only $15 per month, I’m definitely getting my money’s worth!
A Day Alone. I have yet to meet a mom who doesn’t crave some alone time. Ask your partner if she would like a day alone in *or* out of the house. If she wants to be in the house alone, take the kids out for the day! Yes, the whole day. No, you’re not allowed to call to ask a question about what to do with the kids. Yes, you can figure it out on your own because you are a totally capable parent! An alternative is to prearrange a babysitter or grandparent to take the kids so you could spend some time together!
Wine + Chocolate. Again, step away from the CVS candy aisle. Hell, don’t even go to Target! I’m talking about *good* wine and *good* chocolate. This Chuao Share the Love Chocopod Gift Set would pair fabulously with a bottle of Pinot Noir. Head to your local liquor store and ask some questions or even pop into a Trader Joe’s for a wine rec.
Not only is this a great gift but you could actually turn it into a date! With flavors like honeycomb, salted chocolate crunch, bacon maple and more, you could create a nice little tasting adventure right in your own living room. Just a little music (“Alexa! Music!”) and maybe a fire!
A Planned Night Out. I usually plan all of our dates and date nights, including booking the babysitter, and I’m guessing that I’m not the only mom who handles all of that minutia. I would love to come home and discover that my partner planned absolutely everything for a date night out from start to finish – including procuring a sitter! Planning everything for the family is a large part of the mental load moms carry daily. Giving your partner a night off – and treating her to a fully-planned date – would be one of the most romantic things she could dream of. Need some help with the sitter?
Some pro tips : (1) Don’t book the date for Valentine’s Day. It usually means you’re sharing an overpriced, thrown together dinner in a room full of rookie couples. Book it for the weekend before and really wow her! (2) A few weeks in advance, ask the wives of some of your neighbors for a recommendation for a sitter. If that doesn’t work, use Bambino Sitters! Used keyword RENEWINGMOM for a $10 discount on your first babysitter!)
A Housecleaner. I abhor cleaning. Truly. While I do what I need to do in order to maintain a cleanish home, it’s not a passion of mine and I know it never will be. We have small children so we have invested in some occasional help with house cleaning and it’s been a LIFESAVER. Treat your partner to the gift of a clean home by hiring a housecleaner! This could be just once, for a deep-clean, or maybe hire someone to come once a month, or once every other week. No matter what the frequency, your partner will be absolutely thrilled.
This Ultra Feminine Robe. Lingerie is a very cliched gift idea for Valentine’s Day, and not every woman appreciates it. These robes don’t scream sex though they will certainly make you feel sexy. They are soft and pretty and I love the longer length on them. They’re sexy without being uncomfortable and will look just as great over cozy pajamas as it will over your birthday suit! It’s a great non-smarmy lingerie option. But if that’s not your cup of tea and you prefer something warmer instead, this snuggly robe is super dreamy.
Talk Flirt Dare Game. This is a super fun gift idea (and a great option for a Valentine’s Day game night date!). You can choose from three game levels – Talk (to keep things tame and see how well you know each other), Flirt (to kick things up a notch and start getting, well, flirtatious) and Dare (yes, these ones get a bit naughty and the game describes this level for “those who want action!”). This would be a great way to connect with your partner in a fun and playful manner that can easily turn x-rated as the evening goes on!
These are just a few fun ideas of things your partner would love to receive for Valentine’s Day! But, ultimately you know her best so spend a little time thinking about her. Whatever you end up getting her, don’t forget to write her a sweet message telling her how much you appreciate her. THAT is the gift she REALLY wants.
This post contains affiliate links which means I make a teeny amount of money if you purchase a product. It does not impact your purchase price!
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Hey Girl. Yes, you mama. I’m giving you a little pep talk today about the new year and setting goals and resolutions and blah blah blah.
Here’s the thing…It’s a new year but that doesn’t mean you have to reinvent yourself as a new person. Consider taking this year to channel all of that amazingness that lives inside of you and sharing it more with the world. Step into your light, your power, your beauty.
Does that sound cliched and fluffy and like total bs? I know, sometimes I want to throw up a little when I read all these “self help” mantras and mottos and scripted quote graphics. Can we all get over ourselves already? It’s not actually that is, “stepping into our power.” Also, WTF does that even mean?
I think it means whatever YOU want it to mean. I think it means that you stop being the victim. Stop reacting to your life. Stop being the martyr. And you start taking action. For some of us, that means complete overhauls while for others it means teeny tiny baby steps that no one but you will ever notice.
If you have learned ANYTHING from me it should be that there is no one “right way” and that YOU have to do the work to figure out what is going to work for you. But DO. THE. WORK.
If you are struggling to balance your work and home life, TRY SOMETHING NEW.
If your relationship isn’t in the best place right now, TAKE SOME ACTION TO FIX IT.
If you want to be more connected to your kids, SCHEDULE IT ON YOUR CALENDAR.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, REACH OUT TO SOMEONE ABOUT IT.
Whatever you want in your life, you have the power to have it. So let’s stop coddling ourselves and let’s start living the #momlife we want to have.
Happy new year, mama. I can’t wait to see what the “old” amazing you will do in this next decade!
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A “guide to winter break” is exactly the sort of thing I wish I had found, three days into every single winter break.
We know how to survive the holidays with our extended family, but do you know how to survive it with your own kiddos? Winter Break is right around the corner, do you know how you’re creating two weeks of magical memories and fun? And at least some semblance of sanity for yourself?
Some of us will treck off for holiday vacations or to visit family across the country. But for those of us “staying home,” the two weeks of winter break can be stressful! Here’s a guide to winter break and how to make it fun for the kids and you.
Sign them up for a class.
There are classes and camps for everything happening in the winter months and during holiday breaks. There are also Lego camps, cooking classes, dance camps, coding clubs, and passes to your local trampoline park (all great things to be asking for as gifts from Grandma and Grandpa!).
For moms of littles, register them for a day at a Park District Camp! Yes, these things exist and they are AWESOME! For an insanely cheap rate, you can send off your K-5(ish) kiddos (ages vary by Park District so check yours) for an entire day of crafts, activities, sports, and all kid things day camp. I do this for one day during the break but it’s a lifesaver. Plus they serve lunch and snacks!
If this is out of your budget, find a friend and do a kid swap. Have her drop her kiddos off at your house first thing in the morning for breakfast and holiday movies in PJs so she can have a few hours to herself. Then drop yours off later in the day at hers for pizza making (or ordering), an outdoor activity, a Lego building competition, or just more movies. Because isn’t that what we all remember doing for hours on end during our holiday breaks from school?
Make friends with local influencers.
Skip the “typical” event guides and recommendation sites about the things you should do. Most of them are just push sponsored content and make you scour through a yellow page-like listing of area businesses. I LOVE small businesses and am happy to support but no, thanks.
Instead, I like to make friends with Instagrammers and Bloggers who are moms and already talking about unique things going on in the area. And by “make friends” I mean, comment on a few posts and then send a quick DM asking for a recommendation. I reach out to those with 25k or fewer followers and ALWAYS get a response back. They are so happy to help!
Yes, this is a little more “hands-on” and may require you to sweat a little, but why not? You know that the fistfuls of chocolate chips you ate while baking cookies aren’t just going to magically disappear, right?
Go on a hike or bike ride together, explore a wooded area, find an ice skating rink in town, or even go skiing! Even in the MidWest, I can find some small ski hills within a few hours that would make for a great family day trip. And a cold-weather hike is an invigorating workout. If you’re local to Chicago, here’s a great list of some fun local areas to explore.
You could also create a scavenger hunt in the yard. If you have older kids, have them make up the rules and items to find. Reward them with hot cocoa and a movie snuggled under the blankets when they return. They can also bring the outdoors inside by building forts or setting up tents and sleeping bags and “camping!”
Hit the museum(s).
Museums are generally pretty busy during the holidays. But what I noticed with the larger ones is that it’s usually the ticket line that’s the biggest issue. The museums are HUGE and we rarely run into a crowding issue. The line to purchase tickets, on the other hand? YIKES.
Pro tip: buy a membership online before you arrive to skip the entry lines at the major big-city museums! Usually, this gets you straight to the front of the line (or at least in the shorter Members-Line). If you’re paying admission for at least two kids, membership is usually always worth the investment even if you only return once more.
Take a road trip.
Head out of town for the day to explore a new area. You don’t even have to go far. Walk around the downtown area, peak into the shops, have lunch or coffee at a local spot (even a different Starbucks can be fun). This can be easily turned into an adventure for little kids. Pro tip: start at a play space or local library and sprinkle in stops for treats and snacks. Can you turn this into a scavenger hunt?
I love taking my daughter to an adorable play space, Waterlemon, in downtown LaGrange and then walking through town, window shopping and exploring. It’s NOT close to our house but it’s an adventure to get there and then spend some time in town. During the warmer summer months we like to stroll through the neighborhood admiring pretty house and pointing out our favorite flowers. No matter the weather, we always end up at Blackberry Market for lunch.
For older kids, consider heading into the nearest “big” city. Surprise them by asking them what they would like to do and then do it! Or come up with something silly like trying three different deep dish restaurants in one day to determine who really had the best pizza in Chicago or heading to a park normally only popular in the summer (waterparks excluded obviously, lol).