One thing that is really challenging for working and stay-at-home moms alike, is finding the balance between fun and function. I keep my family on a pretty good schedule, and love the freedom and fluidity that comes from running my shop out of my home studio, but that doesn't mean I never have those moments of panic wondering I'm spending enough "down time" with each kid.
This is honestly where those epic feelings of self doubt come in as a mom. How can we make the most of our free time and create those memories with each child that will carry with them throughout the years? How can we make those days special enough that we don't feel so guilty when our heads are buried in the sand, or the paperwork, or the laundry piles?
Here are some of my favorite ideas that we've either tried... or plan to this spring and summer!
Candy for breakfast? This mama says, YES!!
Plan a "Yes" Day
If you're a Type A mama, you're probably cringing at the idea of a day where you don't say "no" to your little one at all. But I promise, it's not as scary as it sounds. With a few ground rules in place (No expenditure over $X set budget per activity; nothing where anyone can get hurt or any permanent damage will come to an object, etc...) From there, let the fun unfold on their terms.
A friend recently tried a "yes" day with her daughter and was absolutely floored at the sweet ways her little girl wanted to utilize their special "Mommy can't say no" time. From snuggling in bed and watching the same movie twice, to baking cookies together, and finally a family game of tag at dusk... she reported that the day was perfect in every way.
Photo: Mom Blogger & Entrepreneur, Hayley Truesdell
Bring Your Littles to Work
Don't plan it on a day when colleagues are doing the same, or during a particularly stressful time of the year. But when you have a little flexibility in your schedule and can really show your child the in's and out's while answering all their questions, it will be a truly special day.
Treat your child like an "assistant" or intern for the day: bring them to a typical lunch with your colleagues; let them reorganize or decorate your desk; give them little jobs. Even children as young as three can arrange pens in a cup. Let them leave their mark on your dry erase board and make sure to snap a selfie y'all can pin up together on a bulletin board or elsewhere by the desk.
They will love knowing their day at the office was like a "real" work day -- and think how cool it will be to go into school the next day and tell their friends all about it.
Photo: From our Archives!
Littleness is not a liability -- dine al fresco if it makes it easier on you both!
Go Out to a Fancy Restaurant (& Dress the Part!)
Kid-friendly restaurants are great. If there's a children's menu and a wipe-clean booth in sight, I'm all about it with little kids. But from even a young age (depending on your child, and your preference of course!) it can be seriously amazing to treat them to a grown-up lunch or dinner date on the town.
Once they're ready to try it out (and you are!), call ahead to a nice restaurant nearby and make sure the chef won't be offended if your young diner orders a simplified version of something on the menu (my kids have eaten pasta with butter at some truly special places!). Pick out nice outfits, order Shirley Temples, and just know that this time alone with you is about the best thing that's happened in their young life recently.
BONUS: It also creates a point of reference for your next date night with your spouse or significant other, because the kids will get why Mommy needs to do restaurant nights with the important people in life, since they've been there!
Photo: Keep Austin Young
Even if the biggest thing you make in the kitchen is a mess, it's worth the moment...
Make Something Together
The best mommy & me dates are often the least expensive! Don't worry about a big budget for purchasing new toys or dining somewhere special. A visit to your local hobby shop or even thrift store can be the perfect start to an amazing mom and me day.
My kids and I love creating together -- whether that's painting and wallpapering a dollhouse off Facebook Marketplace; making collages or dream boxes out of magazine clippings and a shoe box; or just throwing some banana nut muffins in the oven.
Put the screens out of sight, roll up your sleeves, and get to work -- with your hands -- together. These are the types of memories that your children will hold onto forever.
Photo: Mom blogger Jenny Gerson, Our Life in Rose Gold
Take a Staycation (or Just a Little Road Trip)
A mini road trip to the next city over can open up doors you never even imagined existed. Do some research, talk to other moms, and cultivate of list of absolutely amazing activities you can do right in your own town or just down the street. Things you've never done before and maybe even something outside your comfort zone.
Is there an animal sanctuary nearby? Go give a rescued pig a hug! Is there a house museum in a nearby city? Learn about the people who used to live there! You might be surprised at how many fun (and even free) ways there are to get out and explore right in your own backyard.
Up the ante with a one-night stay at a local hotel room if it's in your budget and plans for the month. What a magical way to celebrate life with the most important people in it!
Photo: Shop White Loft, IG