Modern Working Mom

work at home mom

Parents today have more digital shortcuts and tools than ever before, but do you really need to rely on your smartphone? Modern working mothers, like myself, have our own routines and support systems. Whether you work from home or your job offers a flexible schedule out of the home, balancing professional and familial responsibilities is an art.

work life balance

How do you juggle priorities, keep little ones happy and healthy, plus take care of yourself? I’m one of those individuals who feels guilty for pleasure reading. I always feel like I should be productive and contributing to my home and work. Here are a few (mostly low-tech) ways I’ve been able to make days more fluid, less stressful, and manage to get it all done:

  1. Handwritten lists. Yes, there are plenty of apps for organizing tasks, but I prefer to rely on handwritten lists. Reminders and tasks with pen and paper are familiar to me, and they also keep me away from further distractions on digital devices. How many times have you gone to your phone for one thing and found yourself scrolling and replying to emails 20 minutes later? As a last resort, if I don’t have any hard copy note-taking supplies with me I will text myself a note. I’ll be sure to see it later in the day since I clear out all my personal texts daily!
  2. Routine for all. Although common and simple, picking out our clothes the night before helps the next day run smoothly. My toddler has an outfit for the day, one for naptime, and others dependent upon his activities. Having those lined up and ready when we need them moves the day along. Many parents are overwhelmed with keeping a clean house and get distracted by straightening up. Now that my son is three, he’s much more independent and his nap times are shrinking. As he has grown responsible enough to clean up his toys, I use that time to start dinner or basic household clean up. While he finishes his meal, we wipe down the kitchen counters and load the dishwasher. Together we do laundry and he learns color sorting and basic measuring. No big cleaning time is taken away from our day when we piecemeal it throughout our normal routine and the bonus is the learning included along the way!
  3. Autopilot. Of course, the trick is to stay with your routine! I do rely on technology in this way. Our neighborhood grocery store Harris Teeter offers online shopping. This allows me to shop from my phone or computer and set a pickup time. I can pick up the groceries after a meeting and not have to make two separate trips—plus avoid food shopping with a toddler, which could eat up a lot of time! I also love Amazon Prime Subscribe and Save and newest addition, Pantry. Their subscription service offers reduced prices and lets me set dates when our items are automatically re-ordered and dropped at our doorstep. Huge help and it is often much less expensive then me walking into any large retailer…with or without a list!

Spa Days at Home

diy spa

Spend time with a friend, sister, or invite another mom over to your personal spa retreat.

As a parent, stealing a moment for yourself is a challenge. Scheduling a spa day requires child care arrangements and advanced planning. Once you are relaxed from a massage you may be stuck in traffic rushing to get home to relieve a babysitter. Why not make an oasis in your home?

Spontaneous Spa Days

Creating a spa day at home can be as quick as an at-home pedicure during your toddler’s nap time, to a full day of tub soaks, facials, and gourmet meals delivered to your door. I love spending time with my sisters Marissa and Rachel, but when they are far away it’s nice to relax with a close friend or another mom. If another mom wants a spa day too, chip in on a babysitter together, hire an in-home masseuse, paint each other’s nails, or leave the cooking to the professionals:

DIY face mask

You probably have the ingredients for a DIY face mask already in your kitchen.

  1. Pre-soak body scrub. Baking soda or brown sugar mixed with coffee grounds and olive oil is a quick and easy exfoliator. To ensure you don’t clog your drains, use a mesh drain catch.
  2. Post-soak moisture. Before you step into the tub, place lotion on a radiator or in a microwaveable bowl. When you are finished soaking you will have warm lotion and no chilly surprises.
  3. DIY face masks. If you have the right ingredients, you don’t need to order supplies in advance. Even WebMD says chocolate is great for your face! Use a blender to mix aloe vera gel, honey, avocado, cocoa, oatmeal, or yogurt. (No worries if you miss an ingredient.) This is an easy face mask that you can rinse after 15 minutes. Don’t forget the classic cucumber slices over your eyes! Chill in the freezer before using. Whole Living also recommends chilling pre-steeped tea bags in the fridge to use in lieu of cucumber.
  4. Mani-pedi time. Before picking out a nail color, exfoliate hands and feet with the scrub above. Heat honey in the microwave—not too long to prevent burning yourself. Apply the honey to hands and feet and wrap both with plastic wrap for 15-20 minutes. After filing and a cuticle trim, apply a color – maybe one to match the season’s fashion trends. Or skip the color entirely—a simple exfoliation and moisture service may be all you need.
  5. Indulge. Several gourmet food services deliver delicious meals straight to your door. One service, Impromptu Gourmet, offers complete customization. Maybe you just want dessert? Simply order that or a five-course meal.

How can you be ready to treat yourself at any time? With these three items you can’t go wrong:

Towels. Invest in spa bath towels. These are usually longer and softer.

Lighting. Aromatherapy candles create a relaxing glow and you can pick a scent you love. You can even make your own candles with your little ones during the day as you work up to your spa time.

Heat. Don’t underestimate the relaxing power of a heated blanket. Even if you don’t have time for all the activities above, simply relaxing in bed or on the couch under a heated blanket after a shower can help de-stress.

Ask your spouse or partner to tend to the kids before bedtime so that you can have a relaxing end to your day. This does not have to be for a special occasion! Treat yourself. Maybe it’s the end to a long beach day with your toddler, or you are overwhelmed with back-to-school errands. Either way, you can have a spa day. At home.

Try Something New: Spring 2014 Makeup Trends

spring makeup

Time for dewy spring makeup!

The time required for parenting and entertaining often cuts into personal “me” time. (Remember my Stay at Home (not) Sloppy Mom post?) Instead of feeling lost if you miss the latest styles, here are a few quick spring makeup trends to dress up your existing warm-weather wardrobe. Fortunately, the great trends this season can be done in a pinch and require little effort!

Dewy Foundation

The “dewy” look for foundation is expected to continue its reign over the previous matte finish look. Some people shy away from trying this because they think it will make them appear shiny or oily, but that’s not the case if done right. With a velvety or liquid foundation you’ll be able to achieve a fresh look that makes you glow. Dab a small amount of product on the desired areas with your finger first, then work the product in using a beauty sponge or stippling brush. Press the makeup into your skin, rather than buffing it, to avoid streaks. Keep the amount of foundation powder you use at slim-to-none. Opt for a cream blush and cheek highlighter instead of pressed powder. Secure the look with a finishing spray that will keep your makeup looking flawless for hours.

If you are married to your powder mineral foundation, a good way to still achieve the “dewy” look is to apply face moisturizer first. Then, before fully dry, apply a light coat of your favorite mineral makeup with your favorite loose bristled brush. It can be blended more with clean fingers around problem spots or areas needing fuller coverage.

Dark Blues & Bright Whites

For a clean and modern look for your nails: Bright white, cobalt and indigo hues of blue are especially popular this season. As far as shaping your nails, Elle suggests keeping your nail beds’ curves natural, strictly defined round or square tips are on their way out – which is fine by me! I’m all for anything that saves me time on my beauty routine!

blue eye shadow

Emphasize your eyes.

If you want to give your eyes a pop of color, these shades are also trending for eye makeup. Apply a thin accent color with an eyeliner pencil, or go for a bold full-blended lid using matte powder, such as Revlon’s ColorStay ShadowLinks. To make eyes pop I recommend Cargo Mascara’s Better Than Waterproof. It’s around $20, stays on all day (even with the sweat and mommy grease), and you don’t need to use eye makeup remover to get it off at night. It is one of the best daily mascaras I have used.

Neon Orange Lips

This one might be a bit extreme for me, but neon orange lips have been seen on red carpets and runways all over lately. (We covered this in our Spring Fashion Trends post!) The best thing about this look is that it complements most skin tones. If you decide to give this style a try, I recommend keeping the rest of your makeup modest, and basic. If the “neon” part still scares you, try an orange or coral tinted gloss. Stila has a few great options.

Red-Violet Lips

Many spring styles lean towards lighter shades, but there are some exceptions. Along with bright orange, this spring we have also seen a spike in dark ruby colored lips with purple undertones or neon violet. While I probably wouldn’t recommend it for an everyday look, it may be perfect for a date night or girl’s night out.

spring makeup trends

Friend Gabby and my sister Rachel.

Even though you may think some of these styles might be outside of your comfort zone, you’ll never know how good they can look until you give them a try. Take a chance, and break out of your makeup rut – it may be worth it and add a little spring to your step!

Toddler Activities Guest Post

Rex Healthcare is a big medical network here in the Triangle and their blog is Rex Connects, which focuses on wellness and healthy living. I was invited to contribute a guest post to Rex Connects that would offer ways to be active with a toddler.

The repeated snows in Raleigh made spring seem so far away. Now that spring is finally here, I decided to write about several low budget springtime activities that are perfect for toddlers and that offer a way to enjoy the outdoors.

toddler activities

Leave traditional paintbrushes behind and find new tools in nature.

I’m including the beginning of the post below, then click the link to read the complete post:

Finding outdoor activities for toddlers in Raleigh can sometimes present a challenge. How can you keep curious little minds occupied in a safe environment while on a budget? As a mom here in the Triangle, I have found many answers to this question. Instead of leaving home, I created a list of affordable and fun things to do with young children right in your own backyard:

  1. Paint With Plants: Use finger paint and “paint” with natural things you find. Instead of brushes, grass is fun to make whisker marks, and leaves make great stamps.

Read the rest of “10 Springtime Outdoor Activities for Toddlers.”

Still Decking the Halls

Okay, we have officially crossed over the midpoint in January and I am the pathetic neighbor still rocking my garland, wreaths, mailbox ornaments, Christmas tree and gold deer in the front yard!  In fact, until yesterday, I left my outdoor lights on…I finally decided to turn them off after I thought about our recent community power outage (where my street was the solely lighted street for miles) and how incredibly grossed out my neighbors must have been when trying to cook, get dressed, entertain kids and shower in the dark while my house still screamed, “Come on over for Eggnog and Santa Cookies.” Sorry to have been so thoughtless!
I guess considering we all had a late start this year with the shortened gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I don’t feel like my glitter and sparkles have been up all that long. Perhaps it’s the dread of overworking my gluteus medius muscles and carting ridiculously stuffed storage bins two flights of stairs to the attic or maybe I just can’t let go of the ‘season’ this year considering we still have unopened presents under our tree…topic for another day.

Christmas decorations


So today, I woke up with some new found motivation to take Rudolph, Santa and Baby Jesus down and store them in their respective ‘off season’ homes. I figure I should wrap up tomorrow with a little bit of help from a friend and cooperative toddler; starting the weekend off right. Perhaps I will redeem myself next year…Now, onto reorganizing my attic (because I noticed how unbelievably sad it was while packing up Christmas) and planning a two-year old birthday party. There is always, ALWAYS another task!

Stay At Home (not) Sloppy Mom

Welcome New Year’s Resolution number one (actually number two)… I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going to share any of them and just do them this year. But perhaps, I will keep the big one to myself and share some of the less dramatic little ones along the way (while I’m doing them of course)!

Being a Stay at Home Mom is both a blessing and a curse! Please don’t hate me yet and hear me out before you judge. I am (mostly) a stay at home mom, working when my toddler sleeps, evenings, early mornings and when I am fortunate enough to bribe a doting Grandparent over for a sitter session (they really don’t take much bribing and for that I am very grateful). Some days I put in a few hours and other days I may lock myself in my office for upwards of ten (and that’s not the time I spend being mommy, wifey, house cleaner or chef). I have been a real estate broker and interior designer for the better part of a decade. I never was the type that just “did” real estate as a hobby, it was my career and it was something I was both good at and passionate about. I swore I was going back to work full time after my son was a year old, but considering his 2nd Birthday is in February, I clearly missed that boat. Then we built a house, life “happened” and now, the talk of baby number two has consumed most free time and while dreading another horrific pregnancy, the time is now or never…So, I have continued to stay home and feel blessed to be with my son daily and to have a husband who works hard to provide that ability. If you every read this Jake, thank you!

Okay, onto the curse part… Most SAHM’s know, it is no picnic picking up after a toddler, baby (or two), potty training, changing diapers, preparing multiple meals (and snacks) a day, battling for naps, doing countless loads of laundry, monitoring the home zoo, and caring for any home on any given day while trying to maintain a pretty YOU! Huh? Did someone say me? Yes, it’s certainly no secret we (all moms) are typically the last on the “to do” lists and often suffer for it. Some may gain weight because they don’t have time to exercise. Others loose weight as a result of eating most meals standing up or by stuffing Balance Bars down your throat while dressing your children; Then you probably gain it back again while gorging on double dark chocolate brownie ice cream at 11PM because you’re hungry. Some of us never, let me repeat, never, get our nails done and our toes may actually look prehistoric…please don’t comment. If it offends, don’t look. As for our hair…if you’re rocking the perm from the 80’s, it may be time for a change, but for those of you who are still hanging onto Jenifer Aniston’s 90’s “layered look,” lucky you, it’s still in! For those of you who say, hair, huh? This is probably a good post for you to read and take note.

Onto the resolution part. I made it a point this year, for me, to promise myself that I was no longer going to stay at home and look, act, be or do anything sloppy. I have always been the type of person who can’t leave my bedroom without (hospital style) making my bed and I can’t go to sleep without cleaning the kitchen and starting the dishwasher. I am certainly, Type “A” in many ways, however, here comes the SAHM syndrome…I have often times let myself go (or rather just, be). I have been known to stay in my PJ’s until my son’s afternoon nap, just to second guess myself, “hrmmm….should I just take a shower and get in fresh PJ’s for the next night.” Repeat. You get the idea. As cute as some Victoria’s Secret PJ’s have become, as a daily uniform it is not that appealing. For someone who LOVES fashion and actually has a fairly healthy wardrobe, I decided I have no excuse to be lazy. If I had to actually leave the house and be at a office around colleagues (or anyone who mattered), I would clearly put in more effort.

Solution: Dress comfortably cute, every day! And, have back up accessories or a simple “swap” ready in case you must leave the house quickly and be “seen.”

Here is an example of today:


Leggings: Simple Grey by Gabriella Rocha (brilliantly fleece lined) from Unfortunately grey is sold out, but burgundy is still available today. Or, I love these Grey Knit Leggings, also by Gabriella Rocha.

Tank: Stretchy by Anue from Last Season.

Open Cardigan: The Loft. Last Season.


And, just in case, I get called out for a mommy lunch or client meeting last minute, here are my go to accessories…a Rose Gold Belt and Necklace from The Loft. Last Season. Gold Bracelet. It was a Gift. And, Gold Cole Hann Shoes from A steal of a deal today at just $66.99 vs. $328!!! I might need a second pair!


This took me less than five minutes to plan (and dress). A little effort really can go a long way!