Dress to impress (yourself). Five must-have pieces for a mom uniform.

Dress to impress (yourself). Five must-have pieces for a mom uniform.

As a kid, I’m not sure how I would have felt about having to wear a uniform to school. On one hand, it seems frustrating that you can’t wear whatever I want. On the other hand, a uniform would have taken a lot of stress off of my plate and prevented me from making some awesome fashion mistakes.

Now, decades later, I love applying the idea of a uniform to my daily wardrobe. Of course, I have more than these items in my closet, but these pieces are part of my daily uniform and are the basic staples I reach for almost every day.

Mom Must Have #1: Leggings or skinny jeans.

Ok these are a staple for any outfit, especially during the colder months. My favorites leggings are the Lululemon Align Pant or, for something a little fancier, the Spanx leggings in basically any of their styles. Trust me, they are worth the money. Thick fabric, no pilling, they keep everything tucked in and tight. No muffin top. Worth every penny.

 Must have mom uniform skinny jeans

As for jeans, styles may change every other year but I think one of the best things you can do for yourself is to find a classic style that really works for your body type stick to it as much as possible. In my case, that’s skinny jeans.

I’m tall and have zero curves which means no waist so anything other than a skinny pant look extra wide. Skinny jeans keep my outfit in proportion (as well as keep my portions in proportion, if I’m honest). So bootcut or straight legs and I are never going to be friends.

Some of my favorite brands of skinny jeans are Hudson’s High Waisted Barbara style (investment) and Articles of Society (budget friendly), both available at my fave, Evereve.

Mom Must Have #2: Casual day dress.

I think a day dress is the easiest way to look put together and still feel super comfy. What do I mean by “day dress?” A dress made of a casual, comfortable material like jersey or sweatshirt, that allows you to move freely and go about your day. It can be dressed up and down with accessories, a jacket, or shoes.

 must have mom uniform day dress

Some of my current favorites are from Athleta and Lululemon but I’ve also picked up some great ones at Sierra Trading Post, TJ Maxx and Old Navy. Look for looser fitting styles that are comfortable but also give you a little bit of shape when you want it. Dresses act as a great base layer and look cute topped with scarves too. During winter months, I always pair them with leggings and boots and often… number three…

Mom Must Have #3: A great jacket or sweater.

You really need a few jackets in your closet but, at minimum, get a great jean jacket or neutral colored blazer. Stay away from black unless you want to look like you’re headed to a funeral or court (which is basically the same thing). I have an awesome velvet blazer from Banana Republic circa, I swear, 2001, that I simply cannot part with, that is still a classic. I’ve found that if I roll the sleeves, I don’t have to worry about it looking “too small” (as though it were circa 2001) or too uptight, as though I were about to walk into a deposition. Also it helps hid the button I lost in 2014.

This beauty below? A new favorite from Evereve. Clearly I’m partial to greens. And camo. And, well, Evereve.

 must have mom uniform jacket

Mom Must Have #4: Slip on shoes.

This started out as a “survival item” for me as it allowed me to leave the house as quickly as possible after finally getting my insanely slow-moving children out the door. Warm weather months were my favorite because I could also slip into a pair of my favorite flats like Rothys (yes, they are as amazing as the Facebook ad makes them look!). But over the years I added a collection of low-heeled booties and most recently, slip on sneakers. The J Slides phenomenon was a little lost on me. Until I tried on a pair. Holy eff, were these comfy. And SO. DANG. CUTE. I immediately bought a pair and then two knock off pairs to wear around my house.

 Must have mom uniform slip on shoes

Mom Must Have #5: An “everything bag” organized with mini bags.

We could talk for days about the best mom bags out there (actually, I may need some of my favorite local fashion bloggers to guest write a post about their favorites!) but the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to carry bags INSIDE of your bags to help you organize everything. I keep a few on hand and it makes switch my bags so much easier.

I have a small bag that contains lip gloss, powder, hair ties, a mini lotion, a tampon and a few other cosmetic necessities. Another bag contains pens, a charging cable, and a small battery pack. A third contains child-related items like a mini-pack of wet wipes, some Benedryl, and bandaids. These can come and go from my bags depending on where I’m going for the day. That way, the pockets inside of my purse don’t turn into junk drawers.

 Must have mom uniform bag

And there you have it. My five current MUST HAVE pieces in my wardrobe that make getting dressed so much easier.

Do you have a uniform? What are your “must have” pieces in your closet?

Six ways to (realistically) detox after the holidays.

Six ways to (realistically) detox after the holidays.

 Detoxing after the holidays. Healthy holiday food.

It’s that time of year when everyone is hitting the refresh button on their health. Too many indulgences and not nearly enough sleep, water, or exercise has left me feeling fluffy in the midsection. For many of us, we’ve been enjoying the holidays since pumpkin spiced everything hit in late September, which means it’s time for a detox.

Here are some easy and realistic ways I am detoxing after the holiday season to get myself back on track with my health. I also like to use these tips to reset myself after an “extra fun” weekend or a vacation too.

 drink water to detox after the holidays

1.     Drinking extra water. Like soooo much water that you feel insanely full. In fact, I’ll wait while you go pour yourself a glass now. It’s going to feel like a LOT at first, but you’ll get used to it quickly. It’s a simple thing to do, yet so easily forgotten. It’s a great way to flush everything out of your system, hydrate, and reset the body. Set a phone timer to help remind you to take a drink or get an app.

2.     Intermittent fasting. This means skip a meal here and there. There’s a ton of research out there to show how well this can work. Basically, fasting gives your body a break from constantly producing insulin. I generally stop eating by 6:30/7:00pm and skip breakfast. I drink black coffee or tea (no cream and sugar, that breaks the fast) and eat an early lunch/late breakfast around 11:00 to keep me full until dinner. I’ll have one small, protein-packed snack (hardboiled eggs, nuts, that sort of thing) in between to hold me over until dinner.

3.     Skipping most snacks. Snacking also means your body is constantly producing insulin because it’s constantly being fed. Also, when I snack, I always end up consuming more calories than I realize. A few years ago I did a weight loss program that had me cut out all snacks. I only ate when I was truly hungry at which point I just ate a small meal.

Paying attention to my snack consumption made me realize just how much extra I was eating! ALL. THE. TIME! For example, my husband and I used to finish dinner and, after the kids were in bed about an hour later, we’d get into some chips and salsa and graze while chatting about our day. I wasn’t hungry but it was just something to do. Skip the snacks, sister and you’ll see some dramatic results.

 Vegetarian meals help detox after the holidays

4.     Vegetarian meals. Adding several veggie-based meals to my meal plan for the week really helps me de-fluff, likely because I’m upping my veggie and fiber intake.

5.     Skip the spirits and sugar. This one is the least fun, I won’t lie, but there’s no denying that this is necessary after a holiday. Cold turkey is my favorite way to start though it’s admittedly the toughest. But after a few days, it gets a lot easier. You don’t have to do Whole30 (although I highly recommend it if you want a serious reset) but cutting out sugar and booze for a short while will undoubtedly unfluff your muff(in) top. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

 Skip the spirits and sweets to detox after the holidays

6.     Micro-exercise. Mel Robbins introduced this idea to me last week and I think it’s brilliant! Now I love a good workout to help clear my mind but working out every day has always proven to be really difficult for me. I’m sore from my workouts or just too tired. Mel suggested that in 2019 she was going to commit to daily micro-exercise. That meant doing something to move her body for five minutes every day. Whether it was squats, or sit ups, stretching, planking, lunges, whatever. If she did more, great! But otherwise she only had to move her body for five minutes in order to “check off” the box on daily exercise.

I love the idea of taking the pressure off of myself to do a “serious” workout every day.  I had been mixing in more walking and stretching in between workout days as ways to keep moving but the micro-exercising sounds perfect. Sometimes even a walk is too time consuming and in the mid-west, winter walks are usually on a treadmill (bleh). Get creative but plan ahead. Create a list of easy exercises you can do. Here are a few suggestions:

  • 5 one-minute planks

  • alternate lunges and squats

  • alternate pushups and planks

  • alternate jumping jacks and squats

  • alternate tricep dips and pushups

  • alternate crunches and side bends

  • stretch

 exercise to detox after the holidays

Are you battling a little holiday fluff or did you manage to keep things in check? What’s your favorite way to reset and get back on track? Comment below with your suggestions!

Why good enough is great for this mom

Why good enough is great for this mom

This mom doesn’t have any have any tattoos, but if I were to get one on my forehead, ok, maybe my wrist, I think I would want it to say: “good enough.”

Do you feel like that sounds like a cop-out? It kind of feels like one to me when I say it. Like, if I hired a painter to repaint my house, I don’t know that I want him to look at his work and say, “good enough!” as he heads home. Or a doctor stitching up a cut on my kid’s leg after a fall, “ok kiddo, good enough!” Seems like you’ve fallen a little short. 

But as a mom, I think a strategy for success we really have to give ourselves is the grace to say, “it’s good enough.” Or we risk driving ourselves insane with anxiety over perfectionism. And that’s just no way to spend your time.

Because we are all enough.  I am enough. You are enough. And we are all good. So ENOUGH with the criticism and negative self-talk. I’m calling a moratorium.

Because your kids and your partner, your family, they don’t care about perfection. They don’t care about that last five pounds, or if the floors aren’t as clean as they could be. They won’t remember if you baked the perfect cookies or if you attended every baseball game.

What they will remember is whether you laughed, loved and lived your fullest life. What they care about getting the fullest, best version of you. The happy, confident, kind and amazing woman and mom that you are. 

Think about the next time you’re feeling guilty about not having spent enough time with your kiddo or made that perfect dinner after work. Or volunteered in the middle of the day for the class field trip. It doesn’t actually matter.

What does matter is that you show up every day and make the time you spend with your spouse and your kids, even if its short, meaningful and purposeful. Connect with them by looking into their eyes, listening to their words, and holding their hands. Share sweet and tender moments, even if only at bedtime for a few minutes. Pack a note in their lunch. Send a text during the day. Those moments may seem small and trivial but they make a huge impact. And will be remembered.

It is enough. It is good and enough.

No one does you better than you do it. So step our there and be yourself. And be amazing. 

You’ve got this, mama.

3 simple and free steps to self care

3 simple and free steps to self care

Self care doesn’t have to be complex or expensive.

Four letter words are the best. Short, not-that-sweet, always to the point. But not all of my favorites are the salacious ones.

Two of my favorite four-letter words? Self-Care.

Unlike some of their naughtier counterparts, the meaning of these four-letter words isn’t always as understood. Does self-care mean taking a fancy barre class? Getting a weekly manicure or massage? A standing “date night” with your best friend? An extra five minutes in the shower? And for moms especially, what does self care look like?

Sure, those can be ways to take care of yourself, but self-care doesn’t always require a babysitter or extra money. It just requires planning, a little discipline and a desire to take care of yourself. Three things YOU absolutely possess and can implement today!

Now, don’t punch me, because you’ve actually heard all of these suggestions before. The thing is, you’re not doing any of them. Ergo you are overwhelmed, stressed, feeling burned out and disconnected from your life. Stop it. And start doing these things instead. Right now.

1. Fine-tune your evening routine to crush your morning one.

I really hate this one, but damn it if it doesn’t work. Every. Single. Time. The idea here is that every night, in some way, shape or form, get yourself ready for the next day. That will inevitably make your morning run 100 times better than a typical morning.

Three steps to self care

For me that means cleaning up my kitchen as much as possible before I go to bed: washing the dishes and running the dishwasher, clearing the countertops and kitchen table, and sometimes packing lunches packed or prepping breakfast (something like overnight oats).

Trust me, the last thing I want to do at 8pm after my kids go to bed is to stand in a room where I have been standing all damn day long. Every ounce of my being is screaming for me to RUN away from the dishes. “It can wait ‘til tomorrow,” the she-devil in my brain coos, luring me towards Netflix or mindless Instagram story scrolling. Every single night, I never ever EVER want to do this.

But, since I’m in charge of the morning routine at our house, setting it up the night before always makes my morning easier. 

Can you think of a way that you can simplify your morning by doing something the night before?

2. Take care of yourself by getting sweaty.

Sex, yoga, meditation, running, taking the stairs at the office, whatever gets you huffing and puffing. Several times a day. Every day.

I know that I’m not telling you something you don’t already know. And while you might say, “oh but I work out,” I bet you could probably still benefit from a little more heavy breathing. Consider adding meditation to the mix. Or taking a bike ride with your kids. Are you having as much sex as you’d like? Be honest with yourself. (And then with your partner.)

 Free Tips to Self Care

You don’t have to spend your day sweaty, just get more in touch with your body. How it moves and feels. What it likes and dislikes. What it responds to and shies away from. Start to pay attention to what your body is telling you and how it responds to the actions you’re taking. Or not taking, for that matter.

Consider the state of your sex life. Is it in a good place? A satisfying place? Just because it isn’t doesn’t mean it has to remain there forever. But, as favorite person of mine always says, “hope is not a strategy.” You can’t HOPE for things to one day get better. You have to take action.

So listen to your body and then make some changes. You deserve it.

3. Be the first person in your house to wake up every day.

This tip also really sucks. I mean, getting up in the dark? What in the hell? (This self-care thing is super fun, right? No wonder no one is actually doing it.)

Getting your a$$ out of bed is by far the hardest part. Once you’re out of bed, it gets exponentially easier to be awake at what probably is an insane hour. When I wake up, I repeat to myself, “I’m so happy to be awake, I’m so happy to be awake, I’m so happy…” to trick my body and brain into thinking that this early wake up stuff is something we actually want to be doing and not some bizarre circadian rhythm mixup.

 Free Tips to Self Care

Once you’re awake though, YOU get to choose what to do with your time. Journal, read a book, catch up on some work. Usually, I work out and then read or write with a cup of coffee. But, that doesn’t have to be what you do. The key is to find what will motivate you to get yourself out of that deliciously cozy bed. Maybe it’s meditating, maybe it’s catching up on folding that laundry you just couldn’t will yourself to do the day before, maybe you want to write in a journal or catch up on a show, THIS TIME IS ENTIRELY YOURS!

The trick here, and something I struggle with, is knowing when to stop with the morning me-time and switch into “midweek morning routine crazy mommy.” It’s almost like getting out of bed: “Don’t make me leeeeaaavve!” It’s a journey not a destination, right? I’m working on it. So get up before your people tomorrow. You’re going to be tired regardless, so you might as well do something for yourself.

Self-care doesn’t require you to leave your house or have to cost you a dime. It just requires a little discipline and maybe some planning. And all the coffee.

You’ve got this mama.

Easy self care tips that moms can implement at home.

Easy self care tips that moms can implement at home.

As I’ve started to settle into life with three kids under five, my new favorite word has become “minimalism.” The nesting stage of pregnancy turned into a full blown tirade to “throw away all the things.” Basically, if I hadn’t used it in the last 10 minutes or if it remotely annoyed me, into the trash/donation pile it went.

On my journey of discovering ways to implement self care into my life, I discovered that it starts at home. I have been drawn to the teachings of two great but really different women: the young and trendy Allie Casazza and the not-as-young-or-trendy FLY Lady. I quickly learned that having less at home most definitely meant more at home. More time, more freedom, more sanity, more happiness, more self love and care.

I began to minimize areas of our home in as many ways as I could find.  I got ride of multiple sets of dishes, tons of clothes, bags and bags of toys, aged home decor, excess paper, and on and on and on. It was liberating to purge the clutter but it actually began to make life easier too.

Instead of a giant mound of dishes to do every night, I now had a manageable pile. Rather than getting out a new clean glass every single time someone wanted a drink, the cup had to be washed or even reused. Less clothes in the closest meant smaller loads of laundry that wouldn’t sit on the floor for weeks before being put away. Ok, we’re still working on that one…

Perhaps the best improvement? The elimination of toys! I’m not joking when I say that I’ve taken at least ten garbage bags of toys out of my house over the last few weeks. And my kids have barely noticed.

Ok they’ve sort of noticed. The “You want a Lego mini-figure? Here’s a wooden block!” conversation didn’t go over as well as I had hoped. But they’ve significantly cut down on the bickering now that mama’s garbage bag makes a regular appearance.

And, importantly, mom is (becoming) happier! There’s less to clean up, the kids are actually playing with things, world peace is on the horizon my friends! If you’re familiar with Montessori teachings, this sort of “less toys is more toys” concept is not new. I’m hoping that soon we’ll be down to just rocks and sticks as play things. Ok, and the occasional ball, I mean, I’m not a monster.

My husband was mostly supportive of my newfound outlook on clutter… except when it came to his personal things. Suddenly, he became very protective of his clusters of tiny “important” papers, loose pocket “treasures,” and piles of unworn-in-years “favorite” shirts. Weird how a tiny scrap of paper can sit untouched next to a bathroom sink for weeks but the moment you try to throw it away or ask them to put it anywhere else, it becomes a priceless artifact necessitating preservation.

I continued to clean and declutter the rest of the house without him and just collected all of his “valuables” into a laundry basket. I then gifted him the basket and asked him to find a home for the stuff. He stared at me blankly, sheepishly realizing that the majority of stuff was junk. I’m happy to report that today he is fully on board with the garbage bag project and even volunteers a few pieces here and there.

We are by no means living a barebones lifestyle, not even close. But our mindset has begun to shift ever-so-slightly and we’re making conscious decisions about things we keep in our home. THAT is the key. Nothing stays or new comes in unless we really want or need it.

So if you want an easy way to add a little self care to your mom life, get out the garbage bag. Stop organizing the stuff. Step away from the Dollar Spot at Target. Put down the cute baskets. Pick up a garbage bag and just get rid of it!

Now excuse me while I get my own bag. It’s time for another sweep of the house.