What I’ve learned a year after moving my family cross country

It’s almost impossible to believe that it’s been a whole year since my family loaded up in the Yukon and drove the 12 hours south to our new home in Texas.

I was in my first trimester, super sick and exhausted. My husband had already made the move the month before and started his new job, and my mom drove with me and our two kiddos.

I still remember the relief I felt when climbing out of the car and being reunited with my husband.

The guilt as my mom unpacked boxes and watched the kids as I lay nauseated on the couch.

I remember how much I appreciated my dad driving down by himself to deliver our pets and help hang pictures and turn our house into a home.

I can feel the angst in my stomach that I felt as my mom and dad drove away and left us in an unfamiliar place, no longer surrounded by friends and family.

One thought kept circulating back to the front of my mind…

Did we make the right choice?

The summer of 2016 was one of the hardest times in my entire life.

My pregnant body was fatigued and barely functioning in the Houston heat.

There was no down time between finding new doctors, new schools and new clients for my business.

The cross country move left us with credit card debt for the first time in our marriage. Home and car repairs added insult to injury.

I locked my keys in the car on more than one occasion. The AAA service man knew our address.

Most days, my mind struggled to reconcile hormonal stresses with real life ones as I sat alone in my office while the kids were at preschool.

Even with the hardships we faced, this is a happy story.

In one year, I went from one of the lowest points in my life, to the highest.

Our kids have flourished over the past year. They’ve learned to swim! They’ve grown so big they needed new bicycles to ride to the neighborhood park.

Daphne will enter Kindergarten with basic reading, writing and mathematics skills, a memorized address, an eagerness to learn, and loads of confidence.

Henry is finally potty trained and enjoys showing off his days of the week and months of the year songs, usually accompanied with a silly dance.

Our sweet Audrey, our only “true” Texan, was born in this new home of ours and has brought a fresh burst of happiness to fill our lives in ways we didn’t know we needed.

Justin is around more than he ever was able to be before. He has flexibility, hobbies, home projects and time for exercise that all got stuck on pause as a hustling entrepreneur managing various stores and employees in Kansas City.

My business has been growing steadily and transformed in natural ways that highlight what I love and what I’m good at. I am excited about every project I’m working on and the women entrepreneurs I get to work with.

I have friends I cannot imagine my life without – people I’d never met if we didn’t make the move.

Not everyday is roses, believe me. But at this moment, a year after our move, I am perfectly fulfilled.

It certainly wasn’t a walk in the park, but moving with small children, an ambitious husband and a new business taught me a lot about what we’re capable of as a family. Here are my big takeaways a year after moving my family cross country.

moving my family cross country

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

No one said it’s easy to put yourself out there. In fact, even when you’re an extrovert like I am it can be pretty awkward to show up somewhere unfamiliar and insert yourself in a conversation. However, if you sit at home waiting for a dozen new friends to show up at your door you will be sorely disappointed. I knew I’d need socialization immediately, so I joined a mom’s group, chatted it up with other parents at the pool and participated in a professional women’s organization. Also, I figured the quicker I learn my way around, the less unfamiliar this new place would feel. I looked at maps online, spent weekends exploring parks with the family and drove around memorizing street names to get acquainted with the city.

People are kind.

I have to confess something that may sound silly now: when we first moved here I had nightmares that by the time my kids’ birthdays rolled around we wouldn’t have any friends to invite to their birthday party! I laugh now, because the outpouring of genuine friendship toward my family over the last year was abundant. Friends from my moms’ group would text me randomly or swing by unexpectedly {with gifts!} to see how I was adjusting. When I was on bedrest, neighbors would offer to have the kids over for a playdate. After the baby was born, we had food for weeks. And yes, even my kids had plenty of friends to help them celebrate turning a year older. We are eternally grateful for all of the kindness people showed us this past year.

Family is everything.

Not many couples with young children decide to move away from family. Truth be told, I wouldn’t really recommend it unless you have a phenomenal reason. We left more than just my parents, cousins, aunt and uncles, and friends when we left Kansas City. We left a support system, built in babysitters and emergency contacts. While we’ve built relationships with neighbors and friends who can fill some of these gaps, there are still many {many!} times I wish my parents were just down the street.

Kids are people, too.

I knew that my family’s happiness rested greatly on my shoulders. It was a pressure that oftentimes felt like a burden when I was feeling anything but happy. Overwhelmed? Yes. Frustrated? At times. Lonely? You bet ya. Yet I was always keenly aware that our children would look to me to see how I was adjusting, before coming to their own conclusions about this new community. I did this quite imperfectly, but even if I had I think our children would have struggled a bit. Our kids’ behavior was pretty rough the first few months after the move until they settled into a new routine at school. I’m sure the news of the new baby didn’t help. Kids are resilient, but they are also people who deserve time and space and a little bit of grace to adjust to change.

Life is what you make it.

I think the number one reason we’ve embraced our new home is because we came in to this new chapter with a positive attitude. No body forced my husband to accept the job opportunity. There were times when it was extremely stressful, lonely, and even scary. But when we decided to move we also decided to make it a fun adventure. For the most part we’ve really stuck to that, and when we waiver it’s a good reminder to set our perspective straight again.

Our story isn’t over.

We went back to Kansas City last month for a whole week. Our family of 5 stayed with my aunt and uncle and their family of 7. Every night was a slumber party! It was so great to spend quality time with family, our old neighbors, and friends. We got asked by almost everyone when we’d be moving back. It’s funny, because when we left, we always said we could always just move back if we weren’t happy. So it was almost hard to break it to them that we weren’t. Not anytime soon anyway. Texas may end up being just one chapter in our lives or a few, or maybe it will finish the whole book. Either way, we know it will turn out great.

 

How to build confidence as a working mom

Last weekend my family went to San Antonio. My husband had to go for work, so we all decided to pile in the car and tag along.

The trip itself could be several blog posts, covering everything from how to survive in a theme park by yourself with 3 kids {what was I thinking?} to what to pack for a road trip.

But one thing that stood out to me during this whirlwind vacation was how much I’ve changed over the last few years.

When I first became a mom, I was terrified to nurse in public. I was one of the lucky ones who never struggled with breastfeeding. Yet, whenever I left the house I would typically excuse myself to go somewhere private to nurse. Because of my insecurity, I fed my baby anywhere from a parked car to a public restroom and many places in between.

By the time number two came along, my confidence improved. While I still preferred privacy, if I absolutely had to I would get out a cover and work through it with a wiggling baby.

Fast forward to baby number three, and I’m nursing on the park bench at Sea World San Antonio without thinking twice.

So what’s changed? Well for one thing, I’ve learned how to build confidence as a working mom.

I have also decided not to let what other people think affect my choices.

We were on the go all weekend, and while I still prefer to be modest, and use a cover {when she’ll let me} I feed her wherever and whenever it’s time. I no longer let the potential discomfort of onlookers get in the way of me feeding my child.

The truth is, most of them could probably care less what I’m doing or how I’m doing it anyway. I have no doubt that much of my insecurity was just that – mine!

Sure, there’s always going to be a critic, but I’ve grown to realize they are the exception and not the rule. And I’m definitely not going to let these guys get in the way of me feeding my baby… or anything else for that matter.

As a blogger, many of the same insecurities pop up. Will anyone care what I have to say? What will people think? Will they disapprove? Or will I be accepted?

These are the mental roadblocks we will all encounter at some point in our lives. It’s up to us to decide if we will drive through them, or turn back.

Would you make the same choices if no one else was around to judge you?

In other words, how much are you allowing what other people think about you impact your life as a working mom?

Now, I’m not saying that our choices don’t affect other people. In fact, I actually think it is important to consider other people in our decision making. But when it comes down to it, no one knows what’s best for you than YOU!

Maybe you’re considering heading back to work after staying home with your kiddos, and you’re worried you’ll get criticized for putting them in childcare.

Perhaps you have a fabulous new job opportunity, but you feel nervous to tell your current boss whom you love.

Whatever the situation, here’s how you to get what you want and build confidence as a working mom.

Stop trying to please others.

You really want to start working from home to ditch the long commute, but you can’t stop thinking about what your co-workers will think about the arrangement. It’s human nature to care what others think about us, but it also holds us back, which isn’t great for our happiness. {Or in my case, the happiness of my hungry baby!} It’s likely that you’re overestimating how much they’ll actually care in the first place. But if they really are upset, you can address their concerns by clarifying the details around your new flex position or encouraging them to request the same. In the end, however, we have to let go of the expectation that we can make everyone happy.

Take control of your life.

It’s time to get into the driver seat, mama. Just as much as you cannot control what other people think, you cannot expect great things to happen in your life if you aren’t willing to go after them. Do you think you deserve a raise, but aren’t sure if your company will go for it? You need to do your research, build your argument and get your tush into your boss’s office ASAP. Start by identifying what it is you want and the first step towards making it a reality. You’ll improve your confidence by being assertive and following through. Plus, that confidence and prepared argument may be just the thing that gets your boss to say yes!

Celebrate your accomplishments with others.

Women in particular tend to have a difficult time celebrating our wins. No one wants to be labeled a bragger… Well, toot toot! While not everyone will be happy for you, you cannot reach big goals without celebrating small wins. By celebrating your accomplishments with a support system that wants you to succeed, you gain momentum and positive energy to tackle whatever’s next for you. Be sure to return the favor to your friends who are killin’ it, and watch your confidence soar!

2016: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Have you ever started doing something – you thought about it a ton….you planned and planned – only to find yourself somewhere very different than where you thought you were headed?

That’s exactly what happened to me in 2016.

In December 2015 I quit my 9-5 a little terrified and a lot optimistic and set out to build that thing that would give me the flexibility to work when and where I wanted.

My motivation? More family time. My ultimate goal? Find a way to help other mamas do the same thing.

The Free Mama was born!

I rang in the New Year with a lofty task at hand, and I felt capable and confident that blogger status was where I was headed.

Within 6 months I realized that this profitable blog thing might take longer than I had anticipated. Naturally, my attention turned towards my digital marketing freelancing jobs, something that was making money.

I didn’t abandon my vision for the blog, but my time invested definitely fluctuated as I shifted my focus to ensure I was producing an income for my family.

As each day’s work morphed into something quite different than what I had originally set out to do, my family quite literally landed somewhere different when we unexpectedly moved to Texas over the summer.

And who can forget the added news of a baby on the way?

With so much changing in my personal life, this blog that I started because I wanted to support working moms while supporting my family quickly turned into cathartic diary entries.

And as it turns out, you like that!

People connect with people, and lucky for me they also connect with imperfect people living an imperfect life.

The feedback I’ve gotten through comments, emails, texts, and visitor stats are telling me loud and clear that I didn’t need to “advise” in the first place. I just needed to share my own journey.

That I can do!

As for the freelancing, something that started with a few small clients, has grown into a workload that is all I can handle without bringing on additional help.

I’m incredibly proud to have more than supplemented my previous full-time income in less than a year, all on my own. When I left my job, my goal was to spend more time with family, and working from home has definitely allowed me to prioritize each day exactly as I see fit.

I no longer feel like I’m compromising my kids for a career or vice versa.

And THAT is exactly why I started The Free Mama in the first place.

Maybe I didn’t land so far away from what I’d set out to do in 2016 after all.

The Good

2016 seemed to throw our family quite a few curveballs. But I’ve learned that with change, comes growth. And our family has definitely grown closer.

Change isn’t always easy, and we don’t always like it, but at the end of the day it’s like I tell my kids, “you have to wake up and choose to be happy. No one is going to do it for you.”

With that being said, there were a lot of pregnancy-hormone-filled days where I cried after our move. But as soon as I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I was able to focus on what was best for my family.

And what was best for the family was a sane mother.

First, I prioritized finding a support system and joined a mom’s group. Typically that wouldn’t be “my thing,” but friends weren’t just going to show up at my door step. I put myself out there and have formed friendships with women I already cannot imagine not having in my life.

It was also important for me to put some renewed energy into my business. Again, I had to put myself out there. I participated in networking events to meet some amazing professionals in the area, and found new partners and clients.

Trust me when I say it would have been much easier to stay home and keep crying, but it also would have been pretty miserable for everyone.

Not unlike their mom, our kids had to transition to a new place last year, too. But unlike their mom, they did so gracefully. Both are well adjusted, thriving in school and extracurriculars, and loving the warmer climate filled with park playdates with friends.

Justin is loving the flexibility and variety of his job. Although he travels occasionally, our family has spent more time together than we ever did back in Kansas City and I don’t take it for granted for a second.

We spent half of 2016 in Houston and now I can say it’d be hard to imagine our family anywhere else.

The Bad

Getting to Houston, on the other hand, nearly killed me. Buying and selling a home, packing and moving cross country to the hottest place on the planet in the middle of summer is stressful enough, but doing it while throwing up several times a day is downright awful.

But, if I had to sum up 2016 in one word, it would be “bills.”

Not only is moving pretty pricey, but the adjustment to being self-employed brought about health insurance premiums neither my husband nor I quite expected.

I love our sweet new baby to pieces, but she turned out to be a costly little thing. Emergency room visits. Anti-nausea medicine. Pre-term labor followed by two months of bedrest. Between the new state and the new year, we met multiple deductibles just to get her here!

That many bills aren’t just costly, they’re incredibly stressful.

While it may around the same time we pay off the hospital, I’m sure I’ll forgive her.

Eventually.

The Beautiful

There was plenty of ugly in 2016 that I could have written about, but I’d rather share with you something beautiful that I saw throughout the entire year, over and over again.

Motherhood.

Starting with this blog last January, I asked working moms to share their stories with me, to share with all of you.

Friends, acquaintances and even strangers generously donating their time to compose honest and meaningful contributions to my #workingmomwednesday features.

The peak of my morning sickness coincided with my husband’s move to Houston about a month before the rest of us. I was left to finalize things in Kansas City while caring for two busy toddlers.

I relied heavily on the generosity of the moms in our neighborhood to help me get through it. From watching kids so that I could pack, to picking me up orange juice, no favor was too big or too small for these thoughtful women.

When we finally reunited in Houston, I was exhausted and lonely. I joined a moms’ group to meet new people. These mothers have brought me treats when I was feeling down, visited me while I was on bedrest, and continue to deliver meals now that Audrey is here. I feel incredibly blessed for each of these friendships.

Without a doubt, however, the most maternal gesture of 2016 came from my own mother. When I was placed on bedrest at 32 weeks pregnant, she hopped on a plane to help my husband with the big kids. She put her life on hold for nearly two months to cater to our family’s needs without hesitation or complaint. I am forever in debt, and yet, as a mom myself I know I’d do the exact same thing.

It’s what moms do.

Motherhood is such a special thing, and it truly got me through the year in more ways than one. Not only do mothers take care of our own families, but we look out for one another with the same selfless spirit, as well.

So long, 2016

I may be a month behind on bidding the year adieu, but 2016 truly was one for the books. I launched a business, I turned 30, I moved cross country, and our family grew {well, my belly grew. Audrey missed 2016 by 7 days.}

And for the record, if 2017 could be a little less eventful, that would be okay by me.

“Be present as these moments go by fast”

support women entrepreneurs

Q&A with Violette de Ayala

Today’s a big day! Femfessionals Kansas City is celebrating it’s one year anniversary. While I couldn’t be more excited to recognize the amazing women {like her and her and her} who make our community great, it will also be bittersweet as I pass on the presidency in preparation for my upcoming move.

My year launching Femfessionals in Kansas City wouldn’t even have been possible without the woman behind it all. While I’ve never met Violette de Ayala in person, I’ve shared countless conversations with her by phone, email and social platforms.

Not only did Violette teach me the profound impact we can have on one another {often without even knowing one another in the tradition sense}, but she’s showed me {and thousands of others} that we become our best, most successful selves when we lift up one another.


Self-promo time. What do you do?

I am the Founder and CEO of Femfessionals and committed to helping millions of women grow business together, in positivity and in harmony according to their vision.

If that wasn’t your gig, what do you think you’d be doing?

I would be an Angel Investor helping women entrepreneurs grow business! Same thing, but from another perspective.

What on your resume led you here?

I launched my first business at the age of 22 and haven’t stopped launching businesses. I have owned companies in personal training, Pilates, marketing and PR industries. All of my past experience helps me serve women globally from the understanding of knowing how to create a business from scrap funding and limited time. I personally know the real struggle of launching businesses while raising a family and juggling life and work and all the other stuff in between.

It sounds like you’re paying it forward!

The number one question I get is “how do you do it?” As a result, I teach many classes sharing my method of duplicating your productivity in half the time of the norm.

What has been your own biggest setback?

The hardest challenge has been what many women entrepreneurs experience themselves: a lack of funding. More and more companies share through the arms of advertisement how they invest in women and their businesses. Yet still, its incredibly difficult for women to find outside funding. We didn’t have the financial funding/support like some of the other organizations. We had to wear many hats and work 75-hour work weeks and make less then minimum wage a few times. We are not alone in that scenario. I hope to personally change this in the future.

What keeps you motivated?

Hearing the ways our organization has changed the lives of thousands of women. They have grown businesses together, shifted their lives to walk in their purpose and become friends along the way. That’s the best! I love to see our FEMS connect on social media and work together to lift one another up.

Finish this sentence. If I could go back and do it all again, I wish someone would have told me that…

…it will all work out and stop the stressing.

support women entrepreneurs

 

What is a typical day like for you?

My typical day is a sitcom on Comedy Central! The standard is 6 am wake up with some email responses. 7 am out the door with the two girls {one on a bus stop and the other directly to school}. I hit Equinox to work out because it makes me a better human. I work back to back until 3 pm carpool. Then 4 pm carpool. Then the pick ups between girl scouts, volleyball and all the other playdates and activities. After dinner and homework time, I connect back at work from 7-9 and then work again from 9:45-10:30. I work on Sunday’s a bit to prepare for the week and that is my golden hour.

They say it takes a village. Who helps you with your kiddos?

It takes a planet!!! My village {aka. my planet} is composed of my neighbors, my girlfriends and other mommies. Steve is a great dad and works a lot of hours during the week. On the weekends he helps out and takes the kids out so I have some downtime. I have a great support system.

What’s the best part about being a mom?

The best part of being a mom is witnessing three humans change the world through their kindness and service to others. All three of our little ones, in their own way, are authentic in their connection of how they want to leave their legacy. It’s beautiful to know the world is a better place because of these kiddos.

Any advice for working moms?

Create a network with other moms to help you and be sure to dedicate quality time to your kids. Schedule off work hours/no wifi connectivity time. Be present as these moments go by fast. The worst regret is not being there for those moments that seem ordinary but turn out to be filled of lifetime highlights. Be. Present.

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

We all have our own personalized visions, our own desires and goals. “Having it all” {as I define it} is a fluid state of mind that continues from one platform to another one. We never arrive at the state of perfection but instead flow continuously within harmony to our next great milestone. Everything in life is compromise and balance, and between those lines is the sweet spot of having it all. To discover that delicate balance is indeed the gold of the topic.


I always ask my mamas if there is anything else they want to share at the end of their interview. Violette ended with these words: support other women by purchasing from their stores, using their services, recommending them to others and being there to lift others up when needed.

Amen.

Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.

Working moms are better together

working moms are better together

When I launched The Free Mama four months ago, I was simultaneously adjusting to my new work-from-home mompreneur lifestyle. I happily traded in slacks and blouses for yoga pants and cozy tees. I also had to say goodbye to some amazing colleagues who helped make the daily grind much more fun.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that working moms are better together.

Every since I made my transition, I’ve had to make some serious effort to maintain and expand my personal and professional relationships. Sure, it’s comfortable here under my blanket staring at my computer screen, but it can also be lonely and ultimately won’t do much for the growth of my business {or my sanity}.

So I’ve made a point to reach out to as many women as I can to further my mission of supporting working moms. I’ve had the opportunity to share bits and pieces of the lives of the women I interview in each week’s Working Mom Wednesday. It’s such a privilege to learn more about these mamas, and then be able to share their stories to inspire others.

What started with celebrating working moms on the local level, quickly led me to reaching out to more and more women I admire from all over the country. I’ve connected with other writers, entrepreneurs, and activists through emails and phone calls {although not everyone has responded}. These conversations are encouraging me to think bigger about the future of The Free Mama, my business and my family {more on that…}.

Recently I was fortunate enough to join up with two extremely influential working moms. One is a Public Policy Analyst for Mom-mentum, a non-profit whose mission is “Engaging Enriching and Empowering Women.” She’s doing amazing things in Washington, D.C. for women.

motherly
Image courtesy of Motherly

The other is an editor at Motherly, a website that shares stories to give women a better way to be a mother with encouragement and support. This week they even featured me as a guest contributor to help moms be more productive. {Pretty please, read it!}

What these weekly interviews and virtual connections are really about is forming relationships. Work is hard. Motherhood is hard.

As women, we put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves to be the best at everything all the time. It can be incredibly isolating to try to achieve this impossible standard of perfection.

The truth is, there are many reasons why working moms are better together.

Two mommy minds are better than one

If you’ve ever met me, you know that I’m a pretty confident person. I feel like I have a good grasp on my strengths and am self-aware of my weaknesses. In the workplace, it took me a long time to realize that collaboration could lead to some amazing results; ones I wouldn’t have arrived at on my own, for sure. When it comes to parenting, on the other hand, I’ve always been one to read websites, ask questions, observe others and listen carefully.

When I first decided that I wanted to do the Working Mom Wednesday interviews, it was selfish really. I wanted to learn from other women I admired. Find out how they juggle a family and career and see if I could learn a few tips along the way. Ultimately, every mom will choose to do what’s best for her family, but we can learn so much from one another by judging less and sharing more.

You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours

My neighbor and I have this incredible system. She watches my kids when I need to get work done without frequent interruptions for more snacks from the pantry. I watch her kids when she needs to take a shower or run to the store without a toddler attached to her side. It’s seriously amazing. Moms should be each other’s best friends and allies.

Similarly, the weekly q&a’s became a way for me not only to learn more about working moms, but also to promote their businesses and my new blog simultaneously. I just like a good win/win!

We rise by lifting others

Men may love their sports, but women seem to be the more competitive gender. What I have come to know is that there is plenty of room for all of us to be successful. We can be great without stacking up against one another. In fact, we can all help each other reach higher if we band together.

Without a doubt the best part of posting a new Working Mom Wednesday every week is when I see them go viral on social media and the comments explode. People can’t wait to cheer on their friends as they read about how amazing they are for all that they do. It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about doing it all. It’s about candidly sharing how we navigate a sometimes stressful life and choosing to celebrate each small victory. Girl power!

Thank you to all of the working moms who have inspired me thus far. I have absolutely no doubt that the best is yet to come. I also know that it will be much better if we stick together.

Why you should care what other people think

care what other people think

Today I took my kids to Story Time at the library. This was a first for us in my new part-time stay at home mom role. In my attempt to keep my kids involved in predictable, school-like activities on their days at home, we’ve assigned Tuesdays as library day. Lucky for me, Tuesdays also happen to be Pre-School Story Time day at the library.

To call my family loud would be an understatement. My voice carries. My parents’ voices carry. Growing up, for a few weeks following parent-teacher conferences my teachers would even inadvertently let up on asking me to lower my voice or be quiet out of their newfound realization that the apple does in fact not fall far from the tree. This gift of never needing a microphone was lovingly and unintentionally passed along to my children, as well.

In case you haven’t visited your local library lately, they are relatively quiet places. Even in the children’s section. Like most moms who has been to a public place with toddlers, I laid out my expectations before we got there.

#1. Listening ears.

#2. Inside voices.

#3. Walking feet.

#4. Please for the love of God do not pull all of the books off of the book shelves.

We arrived a few minutes before Story Time was going to begin and took our places in the tiny children’s chairs. As more families arrived I bumped my pre-schooler to the floor criss cross applesauce and pulled my 1 1/2 year old onto my lap so the other moms and grandmas could take a seat. The librarian entered – almost silently – and began.

About two pages into her first of three stories, my son saw a Thomas the Train made out of paper mache in the corner of the room and lost his mind. He said {or yelled to the unfamiliar ear} “train, train” over and over again.

Now, I’ve been a mom long enough to know that whenever your kids are acting undesirably, it is 10 times worse in your own head.

Still, I redirected his attention to the display of books on the table behind my tiny chair in an attempt to keep him quiet. It worked for a minute, but then he saw a book with a train on it and his gleeful reiteration continued. Train, train, train!

I lovingly whisked my son out of the small, nearly quiet room and bounced with him just outside the door so he could still see the librarian and her audience.

A few moments later I noticed my daughter looking around frantically. Apparently she had turned around to an empty chair and thought I’d left her there alone. She scanned the back of the room until we made eye contact through the glass. I gave her a little wave and a thumbs up of encouragement, but it was too late. She started crying.

I motioned for her to come out and stand in the hallway with me and her brother. We walked the aisles for a moment until they both had calmed down and then went back into the room with tiny chairs to finish up Story Time.

We made our selections for the week and were heading to the check out counter when the librarian introduced herself to Daphne. As she engaged my daughter in a series of questions so that I could scan our books  {How old are you? What’s your little brother’s name?}, Henry lost his patience and made sure we all knew it.

I awkwardly joked with the librarian, “I guess it’s time for us to run out on you again.”

The librarian smiled and said, “I thought you handled it really well. You’d be surprised what some parents let their kids do. It’s like they don’t care what anyone thinks.”

Hmm.

Hours later when my kids were played with, fed, read to {the new library books obviously} and tucked in for a nap, I was still thinking about what the librarian said. Do people really just let their children be disruptive during such a calm activity? Do I care about what people think? Is that why I left?

It’s not that I was terribly concerned with what the parents thought of me or my parenting choices {we’re all just doing our best, right?} and I’m certainly not losing sleep over the fact that my son couldn’t keep perfectly still or quiet {he’s 1, ok?}. So why was my reaction to make my kids leave the room?

It wasn’t that I cared what people thought about me personally. I did, however, care a great deal about what they thought about their experience and my family’s ability to impact it.

Suddenly, I was reminded of flying on an airplane with my daughter when she was a baby. It was awful. Awful. Even though she cried the entire flight, I never worried that the other passengers were thinking that I was a horrible mom. They may have been, but I just didn’t care what they thought about me personally. I did my best to acknowledge the disruption {verbally with the flight attendants and through a gesture or facial expression with several passengers nearby}. I was clearly trying to calm her down {a.k.a. not a horrible mom} and I apologized to those around me after the flight.

Unless you live and work alone and rarely venture outside, you’re going to encounter a lot of different people everywhere you go. Have you ever had someone not hold the elevator for you? Rude. Or been standing in line at the bank and the person behind you is yapping away on his cell phone? Come on!

Both on that plane ride and at the library, my choices were telling the people around me that I cared what they thought.

So while you don’t have to {and shouldn’t} care what people think about you {you do you, girlfriend} I do think that the librarian was correct. Many people don’t care what anyone thinks. But they should.

If we all cared a little more about what people thought, we might just make their day a little better.

5 New Year’s resolutions for a successful 2016

New Year Oprah

It’s hard to believe 2016 is a day away. When I was a kid it sounded so obnoxious to hear older people talk about how time seems to speed up each year, but now that I’m a parent I am starting to see some truth to it. With a one and three-year-old the days can seem {painfully} long at times, but I seem to have blinked and here I am at another year. With an almost four-year-old. Which can’t be right since I was practically just in college. Until I realize that it’s almost 2016 and I graduated nearly eight years ago. How did that happen?

While a new year makes me feel a bit sad that my kids are growing up so quickly, it’s also a great time to do some self reflection. My husband and I are big into setting goals, making resolutions and adding things to our bucket lists. We actually sit down once a year and write each of these into a Google Doc that we share so we can check in from time to time. This process has been a great road map for our life together. In fact, both this blog and my husband’s business were dreamed up in goal-setting sessions and become our reality!

We aren’t getting any younger, which means {if the old people are right} that time isn’t getting any slower either. With time passing so quickly, you may miss the chance to get what you want out of your life if you don’t take time to figure out {and write down} what those things are.

Here’s my list for 2016. Do you share any of the same resolutions? Tell me about yours in the comments.

1. Say yes more

When you have young kids, it is so easy to become a total home-body. A night out with friends or lunch with an old classmate seems like so much work when you have to align a baby sitter or just muster up the energy to change out of your yoga pants and take a shower. The problem with acting like a recluse is that you may actually start to lose touch with some of those friends when they stop inviting you out when you always stay in. 2016 will be a year of yes as long as you aren’t asking me to stay out too late {some of us still have to get up at 6 a.m. with the toddlers, k?}.

2. Put down the cell phone

I hope my husband adds this one to his list, but I’m not exactly proud of the hours I’ve clocked tuned into technology during family-time either. It’s so tempting to get look at your cell phone each time you hear an email arrive in your inbox. This year I hope to stay true to my time blocked working hours and save the social scrolling until after the kiddos are in bed so I never have to hear my daughter say, “mommy, please get off your phone” again.

3. Build my girl squad

As the president of our Kansas City chapter of Femfessionals, I have huge goals for our new community to flourish in 2016. Selfishly, one of these goals is to build my own power network, as well. I’m entering 2016 as a first-time, full-fledged business owner and I see the women in this group as a wealth of support and information. But like most things in life, you only get out what you put in. I can’t wait to get to know the women in this network better.

4. Quit comparing

Women spend an enormous amount of time comparing themselves to others. I have two thoughts on this. First, sometimes what you see isn’t even reality. Think about it, do you put your really embarrassing or sad or angry self on social media? Probably not. Neither does she. So when her life looks perfect, just remember everyone is going through something. Second, we aren’t all looking for the same things on this journey through life and that’s okay. Sometimes I see pictures of my stay-at-home-mom friends with their children throughout the day and I wonder what the heck I’m doing in the office. But then I remember I chose to do this work that I love and my children are thriving in their preschool. In 2016, I’m going to stop wasting my time worrying about how your life compares to mine and make sure I’m doing my personal best instead.

5. Get political

In case you’ve been living under a rock, 2016 is an election year and things are bound to be interesting. Sometimes it’s easy to sit back and coast on your political affiliations or stay out of it altogether, but as someone less than impressed with all of our presidential candidates, I really want to take the initiative to learn more on the national and local level this year and maybe even get involved. {Heck, even my husband joined our local HOA Board for 2016.} It really does matter, so I hope you’ll get inspired and join me.