The Best Family Travel Organization Tips

The Best Family Travel Organization Tips

Guest Post by Catherine Gibel, Professional Organizer with Less is More Organizing Services Naperville

I got it from my maman. My love for travel and packing prowess that is. Every summer for fifteen years, we traveled home to Québec for a month. Not only did she pack for a family of four, she then drove 24 hours over three days alone with three kids. Not for the faint of heart. I paid attention though and picked up some invaluable travel tips and tricks that I now use and share with you.

Map out your travel documents

Maman had a handwritten list but I use Evernote. If you’re not already using this app, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a team favorite. In Evernote, you can create a digital trip notebook with “before we leave” and “packing” checklists. If you travel to the same destination every year like we did, you can save your checklists. It’s such a time saver! Using a checklist will ensure that you pack everything you and your family need and avoid last minute, hurried overpacking.

In your trip notebook, save copies of your IDs, birth certificates, passports, visas, and other necessary travel documents just in case these items get misplaced or stolen. You can scan these documents using Evernote. Also, if you’re using travel magazines or guidebooks, scan the pages, save them in your trip notebook, and spare yourself the bulk in your carry on!

Pack it Right, Pack it Light

When traveling, less is more.

Create a packing zone. A corner of your bedroom is perfect. As you make purchases, wash clothes that you wish to pack, come across an item you need to bring, add it to the packing zone. This makes moving from the “list” to “packing” easier and less time consuming.

Select clothing. Check the weather and keep activities in mind when selecting outfits for you and your family. Avoid packing head to toe looks for every day. Select versatile pieces that can be used in 2-3 different outfits. For kids, selecting tops and bottoms in basic colors is best. This is not the time for fancy outfits. Keep it simple.

For kids, pack by outfit. Put the whole outfit in a gallon size ziplock bag. You can then put the dirty outfit in the ziplock bag after its been worn. Pack extra outfits this way too.

Packing cubes. I finally sold my maman on these. She just packed for a six week trip to Australia and says she’s never looking back. These are so versatile and help keep your suitcase neat and tidy. You can use them to corral smaller items like undergarments, socks, and swimsuits. If you’re sharing one big suitcase, assign each family member a color for quick and easy identification. You can just throw the cube in a drawer when you get to your destination.

Roll, don’t fold. If you roll your clothes, you can fit eight days worth of tops and bottoms in a large packing cube.

Pack shoes first. Maximize space by packing socks inside the shoes. This will also help the shoes hold their shape. Wear your bulkiest pair of shoes in the car or on the plane.

If you and your kids have undergarments, socks or clothes that have seen better days or are almost outgrown, pack them and discard them on the trip. This will create space for souvenirs.

Double check what amenities your hotel or rental offer. You can avoid a lot of bulk by not packing a hair dryer. The same is true for robes and beach towels. Always pack travel size toiletries.

Kids Are a Trip

Travel insurance. You think it’s an annoying, unnecessary expense until you take your first trip with a child. Children are illness and accident prone. Play it safe.

Book accommodations with separate sleeping areas when possible. You’ll pay more for this convenience but a good night’s sleep is a key ingredient to a happy, relaxing family trip.

Snacks. Pack more than you think you’ll need. No one likes a “hangry” toddler or adult for that matter.

Load up the tablet. This is a good time to download new activities, games, and movies.

Pack a few new, small toys. Hit up the Target dollar spot for coloring books, stickers, and little toy cars, planes, and trucks. It’s fun for kids to open something new on the plane or in the car.

The big takeaway? Don’t wait until the last minute! A little planning will go a long way to ensuring that you and your family start and end your vacation on a fun, relaxed note. Happy travels!

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?

Face your fears to get over them.

Face your fears to get over them.

The title of my memoir, and tombstone, will one day read: “You were a lot nicer than everyone thought.”

I can’t tell you how many times someone tells me that after we become friends.

I’m not really offended by this anymore. It’s true, I suppose. I AM a nice person, quite a wonderful person actually, but there are definitely a few layers that you have to peel back to get to the real me.

And more often than not, it’s me that’s standing squarely in the way.

 Woman with anxiety sitting on chair

This lovely photo was taken last summer during a fun weekend for creative entrepreneurs. It was full of inspirational women, informative workshops and delicious food. One of the best parts was that I got to experience a DREAM destination: Camp Wandawega in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. THE Mindy Segal of Chicago’s Hot Chocolate fame made us dessert and shot the shit with us about creativity and making mistakes. Dream. Weekend.

And, side note, I’ve been obsessed with Camp Wandawega and it’s story and the incredible owners since I “discovered” it on Instagram or some featured Anthropologie or Crate and Barrel branding shoot, I’m not even sure where. I never even went to camp as a kid but something about this idyllic, back-to-basics place brought me such a sense of peace and calm. The place was heavenly and it’s where my dream for Renewing Mom Camp was born (and will one day come to fruition, damnit!). But that’s another post…

Anyway, while the event was near perfect, for whatever reason, actually experiencing it was quite different. Looking at this photo, I feel a bit of sadness about that otherwise wonderful weekend, because I didn’t really connect with the group as much as I had wanted.

As an introvert, I know that I need time alone to recharge. But this was something entirely different.

It had been a hot and sticky weekend of great workshops, inspiration and networking. At one point, during a break, the group was cooling off with a swim in the lake. Most of the women from camp, about thirty of us, gathered in the water and on the dock, talking, getting to know each other. Laughing. I didn’t join them.

Instead I sat in this chair. Paralyzed with fear and anxiety. About what, exactly, I couldn’t tell you. I pretended to work on my laptop and wrote in a journal to appear busy. I didn’t want anyone to know how I actually felt: lonely, like a little girl on the playground of a new school. I had no idea how to insert myself into a group that seemed to gel and spontaneously become “best friends.” I know that probably wasn’t true, but that’s the story I told myself. “Everyone had clicked and connected. Everyone by me.”

“Go down there!” I commanded myself. “If for no other reason than the fact that you are melting!”

But I sat glued to that chair. And I didn’t move. I hid my red, raw, teary eyes behind huge sunglasses. I sat and watched. Feeling alone and unremarkable, unworthy of knowing.

What. The. Fuck. Where did this awful, limiting, and totally untrue belief come from? And why? Where was the confident woman from just a few days, even hours earlier, that was so excited to be attending that incredible event? To experience the dream venue she had seen in magazines, inspired to shared her vision for a new business and to learn from other creatives?

I wish I could say that I got up from that chair and joined the group, ending the weekend with new friends, great connections and remarkable memories. Instead, I look at this photo sadly and really just want a do-over. Because I didn’t get up. I sat in that chair, literally and figuratively, for the rest of the weekend.

 Thinking woman
I try not to be a Monday-morning-quarterback and dwell too much about what I could have and should have done differently. But I try to learn from experiences. Because you don’t get any do-overs.

There’s no where to go but forward. Straight into it. And then through it.

I don’t know if it would have worked but I sure could have leaned into a little more, instead of hiding and waiting for the fear to pass. Because it never did. It never will.

What could I have done? I could have walked down to the water and sat on the dock with the group. I could have admitted to one of the women that I felt a tinge of overwhelm by everyone’s amazing business success. I could have asked more questions of the women sitting next to me to get to know them better.

On their own, none of those things seems that scary when I think about it like that. Yet they would have helped me face my fears head on and begin to move past them.

Facing fears doesn’t require cannonballing yourself into the lake. But you can sit a little closer to the water. Even dip your toe in a little bit.

Sometimes, probably more often than you might like to admit, you’re standing in your own way. So step aside, and get out of the way, so you can be on your way.

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!

A Mom’s Guide to Staying Sane Over the Holidays

A Mom’s Guide to Staying Sane Over the Holidays

Holiday survival 101

 A Mom

The holidays are a lot of fun but can often add a lot of stress to life, even without the spirited family members you only see once a year. (Of course I don’t mean YOU, sister!!)

The stress is especially felt by moms because it’s basically our sole responsibility to create magical and momentous holiday memories that our children will remember for the rest of their lives. No pressure or anything but, don’t effing blow it. Faaaaaack!

Ok. Take a breath. You can do this! It turns out that it’s not that difficult to actually accomplish these said “monumental memories” and it actually doesn’t require a Pinterest degree, a trip to Michaels & Hobby Lobby (although those are usually pretty fun anyway), endless baking and decorating, insane amounts of gifts, biting your tongue at holiday dinners, etc..

Here are seven tips to keeping your sanity over the next seven weeks. Cheers!

1. You are in charge of you.

Repeat after me: I get to choose what we get to do over the holidays.

Say it again: I CHOOSE what we do!

If you hate turkey, don’t serve it on Thanksgiving. If you want to spend a whole day in your jammies with your kids watching movies, skip the party. If Christmas cookies aren’t your jam, make pizzas together (or hell, just order one).

Think about the fondest memories you have in life. What are the things that you remember the most about the holidays? It’s likely that your favorite moments were simple moments: Playing with cousins or siblings for hours. Wearing your pajamas all day and snacking on leftovers. Snuggling on the coach with your parents (who were also in their pajamas all day! Woah!). Driving around your neighborhood with hot chocolate in your thermos, looking at holiday lights.

Just as you would clean out the clutter in your closet, eliminate clutter from your calendar this holiday. If it doesn’t excite you, make you smile, give you peace, respect your family values, etc., JUST. DON’T. DO. IT.

You may be thinking, “That’s great, but Aunt Edna in Milwaukee is going to be REALLY pissed if she doesn’t see the kids this Christmas. We can’t skip that.” If seeing Aunt Edna brings you joy and isn’t a stressor, but all means. But if seeing her requires you driving all three kids up for an hour long visit and that requires you to leave another event (that you and your family really want to be at) so you can do that, maybe you could skip it this year?

That’s not to say, never see Aunt Edna again. But maybe you make a point to plan to visit her BEFORE Christmas so you can actually spend more time with her and not feel rushed. Maybe you could set up Skype for her so you could “visit” more regularly without the drive. Aunt Edna will miss you at Christmas but she will love that she actually gets extra time to see you overall. And if she’s still mad, well, she’ll hopefully get over it. You did the best you could do.

The point is, can you figure out a way to manage the expectations while staying true to what is important to you and your family. You are in charge of your life and that includes the holidays.

2. Schedule fun first

If you don’t prioritize your life, somebody else will. If you want to have a fun holiday season, put it on the calendar! When are you going to drive around the neighborhood looking at lights with the kids? Are you baking cookies over a weekend? When is that going to be? Do you want to do a movie marathon? Block-off the time. Otherwise, you will wake up mid-December wanting to plan some fun family time only to find out that you don’t have a single free day in which to do it.

Plan the (fun) work then work the (fun) plan! And don’t forget to share your calendar with your significant other or family members. Make you and your family the priority this season and don’t let others dictate how you spend your time. (See #1 above).

 A Mom

3. Plan for indulgence

I’ve said it before but it’s like Halloween officially kicks off “eat all the crap” season. I don’t work in a formal office setting and thank my lucky stars during this time. I would have the hardest time not indulging all day long!

In general, I think planning for indulgence is a great idea, but it’s especially true during the holidays when they could easily become a habit.

Take a look at your calendar and look at what’s ahead over the next few weeks. Are you attending holiday dinners with family? Office parties? Did you manage to snag that Aldi Wine Box Advent Calendar? (LUCKY!) Are you doing a cookie exchange?

Knowing what’s on the horizon, can you create a realistic plan for yourself. Is it realistic that you will attend your office party or a cookie exchange and not eat a single thing? Maybe. But if it’s not, come up with a realistic strategy so you can enjoy that experience without totally jumping off the goal train. Allow yourself to enjoy (and maybe even over-indulge a little) but plan for what the days leading up to and immediately after that indulgence will look like.

Maybe you go the party in the week having already eaten a full (healthy) meal so you indulge less and maybe just enjoy some sweet treats and cocktails. Maybe during the week leading up to the party, you eat clean and eliminate sugar. And, in the days following the party, do the same. Also, put that plan in your calendar!

Maybe you amp up your workouts a little bit (or at least don’t stop doing what you’re already doing!). You don’t have to join a gym but find a way to be active everyday. Take a walk during your lunch break, run around your neighborhood a few times a week, stream a workout video or find a free app for your phone. You could even do a few basic movements (squats, leg lifts, side bends, ab contractions, etc.) while standing in line at the grocery store or waiting to pick up kids from dance practice. Just do something. (See #1, again, about YOU being in control of YOU). And don’t forget to drink a little extra water during this season as well.

The (good AND bad) little choices you make every day add up. Even small things like skipping the whipped cream on a holiday coffee drink, parking farther away from the store, or eating before the party, can make a big impact by December 31.

 A Mom

4. Keep it simple, Martha Stewart.

Buy it in a box, friend. I’m terrible at baking. Too much science and measuring and all the things. Also, my husband and I have zero self-control so I try to keep anything that’s warm and sweet and delicious from ever coming out of my oven or remaining in my house for too long. I swear that we will eat it all before it cools and gets put away.

But I think decorating cookies is fun and my kids love doing it. So I keep it simple. I buy a mix or the “slice and bake” at Target and let the kids bake away. The same goes for elaborate meals. There’s an amazing restaurant in my town (actually several!) that will cook an entire holiday dinner for you to take home and serve piping hot. All you have to do is pick it up, although some probably even deliver. Mind. Blown. I have a 22-month old baby plus two boys that roll around my house like puppies the second I step into the kitchen, no wonder it takes me a week to prepare a holiday meal. SKIP IT SISTER. Order out.

You could even make it a pot-luck. People LOVE bringing their “grandma’s-favorite-secret-special-must-have-on-thanksgiving-christmas-new-year” dish. Let them! (Just make sure they take it with them when they leave, you don’t want all that extra tupperware cluttering your house and good luck returning it to them before Easter).

This also applies to things you have to bring to a party. Hit up the deli at Whole Foods, snag a take-and-bake pizza from Costco, or use my super-secret-crowd-pleasing-two-minutes-to-make “cream cheese + pepper jelly” appetizer recipe. You get the point. It doesn’t all have to be homemade and Pinterest-worthy.

 A Mom

5. Make lists.

List-makers are giving me a major eye roll right now. Duh, a list. Of course we have a list. But here are a few lists you might not have thought about that can help you survive the holidays:

  • A list of where you’re hiding presents. While “lost presents” sure do help you get a jump start on the next year’s shopping, it’s probably better to avoid losing them in the first place.

  • A list of people you’re buying gifts for and what you’re buying (include links if you’re shopping online). Helps you stick to a budget and actually think about each person BEFORE you hit the store. Otherwise it’s like going to the grocery store at 5pm without a list or plan for dinner. You wander aimlessly around and everybody ends up with ugly slippers from Kohl’s. Make a list!

  • A list of holiday parties where you will have to bring something (white elephant gift, bottle of wine, or an app?). Do you have to bake a dessert? Schedule that in your calendar a few days in advance. Or put it on your “to buy” list when you’re at the store the next time. This list also helps prevent you and your husband from showing up to an “ugly sweater party” that’s actually the following weekend. Not that I’ve ever done that.

  • A list of coupons and coupon codes that you may use and their expiration dates! It’s also a good idea to calendar those expiration dates in your phone or planner. I can’t tell you the number of times I went to buy the holiday cards online only to be a day or two past the “major sale” date. Sad face.

  • A list of your holiday decor. This is a list you should make after the holidays because it helps you take inventory of what you have and what you might want to buy next year (or on clearance in January). Maybe you need more artificial tress (I have seven, I’m obsessed) or new ornaments, etc.. If you don’t take inventory at the end of the season you’ll be guessing when you try to make purchases later.

I like to keep a notebook in my purse just for my lists. Some days they are for grocery lists, other days school reminders, and now, during the holidays, entire chapters devoted to holiday planning and preparation. Make the lists customized to you and your life and you’ll see how much they help you survive these holidays.

6. Give yourself a pep talk

For some, the holidays mean stressful and anxiety-inducing family gatherings. And sometimes, you just can’t say no to the “Aunt Ednas” because they are actually your mom or sister or father-in-law and it’s guaranteed that you’re seeing them at the family dinner.

In those cases, I think the best thing to do is to take some time a few days before the event to prepare yourself for the interaction. Can you role play scenarios with your spouse about how you’ll respond to topics or conversations you know might set that family member off? Can you meditate before hand to clear your mind and put yourself in a calmer and more peaceful state of mind? Can you create a game plan for that moment when you start to feel yourself getting upset or provoked? I find that a huge smile and saying “that’s a great point! Will you please excuse me while I …see if anyone in the kitchen needs help/refresh my glass of wine/use the restroom/getthefuckoutofhereasfastasIcan” is usually enough to deflate the situation, calm me down, and get me far enough away from the toxic conversation so I can collect myself.

Obviously, this doesn’t always work and can be exceptionally more difficult where there is trauma or deeper issues at play. But, if you can just remember that you can only control yourself and your own reaction in a situation, you may prevent the situation from ever coming up or be just better prepared for when it does.

If all else fails, pour yourself another glass of wine and go hang out with the kids in the playroom.

7. Find time for yourself.

Is this even a blog about self-care if I don’t tell you to find some time during this beautiful and special time to stop, breathe, and look around at all of the magic around you? All of the gifts and experiences and cookie and parties are for naught if these next seven weeks fly past in a total blur.

Look at the excitement on your kids’ faces when it snow for the first time. Breathe in that delicious aroma as you cook something special for your family. Hold your partners hand and snuggle up a little as you walk together. Sit by the fire at your house (or at Barnes & Noble if you need to get the hell out of your house) with some cocoa and a good book. Don’t stop doing the things you love.

It’s going to take a little effort and some planning but an incredible holiday season is within reach. Enjoy this special holiday time, mama friends. May peace and sanity be with you.

How to get from bitchy to badass in a quick trip to Target.

How to get from bitchy to badass in a quick trip to Target.

 How to get from bitchy to badass in a quick trip to Target.

I may have put my foot in my mouth when I claimed that “strolling the aisles of Target didn’t constitute self-care.” Or maybe I just haven’t been doing it right this whole time.  Because, recently I managed to completely turn my mood around with a quick trip to the bulls eye and an off-the-cuff mantra chanted in my car.

The weekend had been hot and rainy and basically miserable. So my husband decided that it would be a perfect weekend for a bbq. I immediately started panicking and thinking about all of the dishes that needed to be washed, things that need to be prepared/purchased/hidden/thrownaway/remodeled/reupholstered/repainted/ etc..  And that was just in the kitchen. The thought of a party immediately started causing me stress and anxiety.

I’m a great though often unwilling hostess so it was going to require a titanic-sized pregame mind shift to change my mood. And quickly.

The morning of the bbq my children and husband were driving me insane. The mood was not good. I was crabby and complaining and biting everyone’s head off. So, what did I do? I ran from my house as fast as womanly possible, grabbed my favorite new apple AirPod earbuds, and headed to the place where moms go to be understood, see friends, and restock every inch of their lives with “necessities”: Target.

 How to get from bitchy to badass in a quick trip to Target.

So how did I get myself from bitchy to badass in a quick trip to Target?

Turn on the tunes to improve your mood.

My mood was foul. I put on my “New Mood” playlist. It’s basically my Rachel Hollis’ inspired list of “songs that make me feel like a badass” and blasted them as loud as I could take it. I got out of my car and walked through the parking lot into that Target with my (totally fake) badass attitude. I walked up and down the aisles picking out hamburger buns and tortilla chips as if everything was exploding around me, like the most awesome movie you’ve ever seen, the loudest, angriest, music I could muster from my playlist, blasting in my ears.

When I got back into my car, some 20 minutes later, I realized that I was SO close to flipping my mood but it just. wasn’t. quite. there. I was so frustrated. And still irritable. The party was in a few hours and I had another 10 minutes before I was home. I didn’t want the day to be a bad one just because I was in a funk! I had to do something more.

Fake a smile. A great big, cheesy grin.

Years ago, I used to force myself to fake smile when I need a mood change. It was SUPER cheesy but I read somewhere that when your face is in the shape of a smile, it triggers something in your brain to make it think it actually IS smiling so you actually feel like you would if you were smiling. Meaning that I could basically fake myself into a good mood.

If that had worked in the past, I figured smiling AND telling myself that I was in a good mood would work even faster.

Talk to yourself.

I sat in that car in the parking lot and plastered the biggest, fakest grin I could muster on my face. And then I started to talk.

“I want to be in a better mood.”

Crickets.

“I want to be in a better MOOD.”

“I WANT to be in a BETTER MOOD! I WANT to be in a BETTER MOOD.”

That turned into, “I’m going to be in a good mood. I’m GOING to be in a good mood. I’m IN a good mood.”

“I am in a GREAT mood. I AM IN A GREAT MOOD!”

I started talking to myself. In my car. Out loud. And I talked. And talked. And I repeated the same phrases over and over again. Fake smile and all. Until my words began to change. Became more positive. Stronger. Happier. My voice got louder. Stronger. Happier. Exactly what I wanted my mood to be. I said what I wanted to feel as though I was already feeling it.

And, then, maybe because I felt so ridiculous, at which point I no longer could feel irritated and annoyed, I actually started to feel good. Better. It was working. It HAD worked. Woah.

I pulled into my driveway ten minutes later and felt different. So much better. I hadn’t really done anything that extraordinary and I hadn’t been gone all that long, but I was changed. And I felt good. And the rest of the day was a lot of fun.

It’s a amazing thing, isn’t it? Mindset. How’s your mindset today? Maybe you need a quick run to Target? You don’t even have to buy anything. Just walk those aisles like you own the B and tell me you don’t feel better.