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Purposeful Parenting

Exercise Plans for the Busy, Working Mom



Easy Exercise Plans for the Busy, Working Mom | Chaos & Kiddos

Please join me in welcoming guest blogger, Kaitlin Gardner, from An Apple Per Day! She’s here with us today to share some quick tips and tricks for easy exercise routines for the busy, working mom. As a former half-marathon runner and avid yogi, the lack of exercise I get these days is a constant frustration. Admittedly, I’ve probably slacked off more than I needed to, and Kaitlin’s great tips have motivated me to make the most of what little time I may have to exercise and stay fit. I feel better emotionally and physically when I do, and a better me makes me a better mom!

Easy Exercise Plans for the Busy, Working Mom | Chaos & Kiddos

We’ve all heard the phrase, “killing two birds with one stone.” Well, for me, one of those “birds” is exercise and that “stone” is time: With one block of time, in fact, as little as thirty minutes, you can incorporate exercise into your day on a regular basis. Think you don’t have time? Too many kids? Too much work? Read on for more ideas on how to incorporate exercise into your busy life, complete with kids, house, yard, animals, work and all!

It’s a rare moment when I don’t have a full “to do” list bearing down on me. But it doesn’t stop me from squeezing in some exercise; in fact, the busier I get, the more protective of my exercise time I become. Why? Because, as another popular saying goes, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” So I suppose that the best trick to finding time to exercise is really no trick at all: it’s a choice to protect a little time every day for exercise. Think of it as an important appointment that all other tasks must be scheduled around. Once you have chosen to make some amount of exercise part of every day, even 15 minutes of stretching, you are half-way there.

Back to Two Birds, One Stone

Once you’ve made the decision to exercise regularly, give yourself the best chance of success by finding clever ways to incorporate it into your regular (busy) routine. One of my favorite tricks for blending a busy life and exercise is by overlapping my exercise time with something enjoyable, which takes my mind off the to-do list. Occasionally, I steal away a few moments to really be present in my workout, but for me, at least while my kids are young, exercise is a means to an end. That said, here are a few of my favorite ways to get all the jobs done.

Embrace Modern Technology – Indoors and Out!

First, I set my DVR to record automatically the two or three shows each week that I absolutely don’t want to miss. When I’m ready to hit the treadmill or do some yoga and stretching, I turn on the TV in our game room and not only do I exercise while watching my favorite program, but the time flies! In fact, I’ve noticed that I exercise longer, on average, when I’m doing it while watching the TV!

For outdoor activity, don’t forget the smartphone. In addition to letting the music serve as your distraction while you log the laps, try tuning into a local talk show, TED talk, or podcast (downloadable to your phone for listening at your convenience). When I’m distracted by listening to an engaging conversation or my favorite music, I’m motivated to run or walk for far longer than I would have without them. Need dinner ideas? Find a cooking podcast and find out what’s for dinner while you garden!

If you have a backyard pool, and children, chances are you spend a considerable amount of time supervising. Aqua aerobics is a great way to build muscle tone and burn calories while the kids are having their fun splashing around you. Water’s natural resistance will give simple leg lifts and arm circles in chest deep water a whole new meaning!

Outside Watering the Flowers? Don’t Just Stand There!

For the Calves

Keep a cinder block or brick in the area where you normally stand, or near where you are watering. Stand on the block and the balls of your feet and lower your heels to the ground, then back up. If balance is an issue, place the brick near a post or fence; just one or two fingers on a stationary object is plenty to keep you balanced. Doing three sets of 12 of these, three days a week will do wonders for your calves!

Squats and Lunges for the Upper Legs

For a great upper legs and butt workout while the planters are filling, do three sets of ten squats or lunges. Walk a line of lunges around your garden or yard, or stay in place.

For When You Have a Little More Time…

If you have a little more time on your hands to truly get into the exercise moment, so to speak, but joining a gym is out of the question, don’t worry; with most cable packages today, there are exercise channels that feature 24-hour yoga, Zumba, or aerobics workouts that you can watch in the privacy of your own home, and without the travel time. Just set the DVR and then tune in when it’s convenient for you.

Remember, getting into shape starts in your mind: Make a decision to do it and then use the resources that are at your finger (and toe) tips! No need for a special wardrobe, monthly dues or traveling across town.


Kaitlin_HeartKaitlin Gardner started to further her passion for a family friendly, green living lifestyle. She is married to her college sweetheart and lives in Pennsylvania. She and her husband enjoy going for long hikes, to get out and enjoy nature. She is working on her first book about ways to live an eco-friendly, healthy, natural life.



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  1. Tricia the Good Mama

    September 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    This is great! I’m pinning so I can make sure to try out these exercises.

  2. Savanna McCurry

    September 17, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Great post!! I am definitely a working Mom in need of more exercise!!

    • Katy Blevins

      September 23, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      As I catch up on comments and come to this post, Savanna…yeah, reminded I need to pick this charge back up again!!! Still not using my little bits of time like I should most days.

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Purposeful Parenting

How to Schedule One-On-One Time With Your Child



Now that I am almost 2 years into living on my own (holy cow?! for real?!), it occurred to me that my twins were never, ever, getting any one-on-one time with me. When I was married, solo time wasn’t especially frequent, but I did make an effort to split them up to make sure they got to go on an errand with Mom or run to the hardware store with Dad every now and again. Now that it’s just me, it’s always the three of us, together wherever we go, all day, every day.

As a mother of multiples, I know full well that individual time with a parent is hugely important to their emotional wellness. They are intrinsically born into a life of sharing and existing in the presence of their siblings. From the moment of conception, they are two.

They are taught early on to be patient and wait their turn purely out of necessity and routine. Decision-making is always a team effort and line leader/who goes first almost always sparks opportunities for frustration. One-on-one time allows them much needed independence, a chance to share and enjoy their individual interests, and develop their own voice.

So I instated Mommy Date Night. Here’s how I did (do) it.

  • Connected with their favorite babysitter. I knew I had to bring in the “big dogs” if I was going to convince one of them to stay behind without a massive meltdown, so I reached out to their very favorite babysitter. I knew she would understand the challenge and would go above and beyond to make sure the one left behind was just as excited to have one-on-one time with her. We set a recurring night and a set price to help my budget. She started to gather ideas for fun projects that would captivate them quickly.
  • Researched local free and/or family-friendly low cost options. We all know life as a single mom does not come with an endless supply of moolah, so I wanted to keep our evenings out as low cost as possible, especially since child care was already involved. I checked with friends and hopped onto city websites to see what was out there. Here are a few ideas I stumbled upon:
    • (The Obvious) Playgrounds
    • Beach/Nature Walks
    • Library
    • Pet Store
    • Pottery Painting (with free studio fee coupons)
    • Milkshakes or Ice Cream
    • Picnics
    • Museums
  • Let them take the lead and make the decisions. This is by far their favorite part. I usually have three available options in hand. I let them select our final destination. They also get to choose every song we listen to in the car. When we take a walk, they pick the direction. When we go to the library, they pick the books. It’s their time, their way. They feel like little princes.
  • Ask lots of questions. I have learned more about my sons in the past 4 weeks of doing our Mommy Dates than I have in the past year. When we’re out and about, we talk. A lot. I’ve actually noticed they chitter chatter much more when it’s just the two of us. They have stuff to say! I ask about their favorite colors, favorite animals, what they want to be when they grow up, what they love most about their family…anything to spark a conversation. We’ve talked about fears, dreams and monsters. They are more grateful and hold my hand tighter and cuddle closer.

I know I originally began these Mommy Dates for them. They needed that one-on-one time desperately. I’m realizing now that I needed it too. Monday nights have become the highlight of my week. Stress immediately dissipates and I bask in the amazingness of my kids. I am being reminded of those unbelievable, most tender moments of being a parent, watching your children explore the world. It is the perfect therapy for the busy working mom.

There is nothing better than hearing your child say “Mommy, you know what? It’s Monday! That means it’s Mommy Date Day. And it’s my turn!” or “Mommy, I love this day. I love my time with you. Thank you, Mommy.”


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Purposeful Parenting

The Corporate Captive: An Update on My Transition to Work At Home Life



I’m about six months into my transition from full time corporate work to a new, full time work at home routine. I’ve been busily focusing my energies on Modern Femme™ Movement and our upcoming May convention (join us!), also expanding my services with The Hampton Roads Creative, which will soon transition to a special new project that I’ll share with you very soon!

I’d love to tell you that this transition has been an easy one and that I’ve got a perfect routine now, am the epitome of self-care and wellness, but…well, that would be a lie. Truth be told, I’ve been facing some pretty big demons during this season of my life. I didn’t even recognize them at first, until the tell tale signs of stress and anxiety reared their ugly heads.

I never realized how much ten years of corporate work impacted how my brain approaches the work day. I never realized how much I intrinsically measured my worth by how many hours I was working each day. Suddenly, with this new found freedom to set my own schedule, I encountered guilt and an unfair expectation that I still needed to fill the hours of 8AM – 5PM with full time work.

Why did I feel guilty? I think there was (is) a part of me that feels like I need to prove or legitimize my decision to leave the steady paycheck of the corporate world. As a single mom, that leap of faith put not just my finances at risk, but the lives of my children. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, and I see now that I’m wearing the guilt of that decision unjustly. I rationalized my transition to full time entrepreneurship by acknowledging that I had way too much work to do and needed those hours to focus my energies on my business. That part was true…but not quite as literally as I began to take it. Suddenly, if I did not work every second of 8AM – 5PM, I felt like I was slacking off, not working hard enough, and that my departure from my corporate job was no longer justified because I now had “free time.” Free time to do laundry, go grocery shopping, clean the house, go to the gym, run errands. Somehow those didn’t qualify as worthy work-related tasks.

I found myself in the same cycle I was in as a corporate captive. The alarm would go off extra early, I’d rush the kids to daycare, work like crazy until 5:15PM, race to get them from daycare and then come home with grumpy kids to plan a later dinner and a soon-to-follow bedtime. Then back to the grind, just for extra measure, to prove I was busy. Prove to whom? Myself?

It wasn’t until Somer (and a few other trusted members of my Modern Femme™ tribe) called me out on my captivity that I realized I wasn’t being fair to myself (or to my kids or boyfriend). I needed to hear that self-care is part of my job as a mom and that grocery shopping, resting, going to the gym, running errands, cleaning, prepping for dinner, laundry…those were all worthy tasks I was completing during the day so that I had more time with my kids at night and on the weekends. Wasn’t that why I made the leap to work from home full time? To remove the burden of the corporate schedule, pressure to perform and anxious accessibility that never let me “turn off” and focus on my family? Wasn’t that decision a life-changing move? And yet, here I was…in the same cycle as I was before. Just sitting in my home office instead of a business one.

That realization prompted me to make some pretty hefty changes. I’d be lying if I said I have this all figured out now and life’s a breeze. Nope. I’m still struggling to wrap my head around this and shed the guilty conscious. But I’m getting better.

I now have a no phone, computer, social media rule after 5PM and on weekends. NONE. Nada. Off. Cold turkey. Let me tell you – that’s not easy. But once you do it, it’s incredibly liberating. You know when I felt true (deserved!) guilt? When I told my kids I was shutting off my phones and they looked at me with shock and excitement that they had me all to themselves. Oh what love and special moments I had been missing out on! They were missing me still! I did not make the decision to dive into my business full time so that my family could continue to struggle for quality time. No. I made that decision so that I could take my life back and freely pour myself into my kids and my passions.

If I’ve learned anything from this transition, it’s to be grateful for the community of women I have had the opportunity to build as my support system in all of these big life changes. Placing those women in a trusted position of accountability has enabled me to recognize errors in judgement and when I’m veering off course. Their gentle nudges back towards that which is most important to me, my family, have been truly invaluable. I’m still a work in progress. But I’m free. And I’m surrounded by people that love me, celebrate my decision to follow my heart and my dreams, and continue to challenge me to hold true to why I made that first leap of faith.

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Purposeful Parenting

Year-End Money Tips for Working Moms and Female Entrepreneurs



Money Tips for Working Moms

I don’t know about you but the end of the year brings two thoughts…well, three thoughts for me. One, CHRISTMAS!!!!! Two, fresh start on January 1st! And three, holy cow, what’s my money situation? Taxes are coming.

A big, big thank you to Kristen Robinson, SVP of Women and Young Investors at Fidelity Investments for taking the time to develop these year-end money tips for working moms and female entrepreneurs!

Money Tips for Working Moms

2 Tips for Female Business Owners / Entrepreneurs:

Keep Your Future in Mind with the Right Retirement Account for Your Needs

  • Look into the different plans available to business owners, such as a 401(k) for Small Business, a self-employed 401(k), SEP IRA or SIMPLE IRA.  You may need to appoint a plan administrator- someone who takes care of administrative responsibilities and ensures the plan is operating according to the Plan Document.  Learn more about these different types of accounts here.  
  • Contribute to your account. The deadline for depositing employer profit-sharing contributions for the current calendar year is generally the business’ tax-filing deadline, plus extensions (for unincorporated businesses, this date is usually April 15 of the following year, plus any extensions).

Business Succession

  • If you own a business, have you considered how best to plan for the future?  If you plan to keep it in the family, consider creating a structure that makes it easier to transfer the business’s assets to other family members, such as a family limited partnership or a family limited liability company.
  • There are many options; your attorney or tax adviser can help you select one that is appropriate for you in light of your specific situation.

4 Tips for Single Moms:

Get Involved in Your Family’s Finances

  • It’s important to have a full picture of the family financial situation. At minimum, know what accounts you have and with whom. That includes banks and investing accounts, life insurance, mortgages, and loans. Having a handle on this information is an important foundation as you plan for the future, and can bring greater peace of mind.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes! Yes! Yes! I am still getting a grip on my finances after the divorce. I realize now how little I knew before and how problematic that can be.)

Money Tips for Working Moms

Save for Retirement

    • Retirement is not a destination but a journey, and it’s never too early – or too late – to start putting away savings for the future.  Along the way, there are myriad opportunities to get off the path—and back on it.  And at virtually any turn in the road, there are possibilities to speed up your progress.
      • Make it a goal to save 15% or more of your income each year. If that’s not reachable today, make sure to make it a priority to carve out what you can. Even smaller amounts will add up over time.
      • Aim to have no more than 50% of your take-home pay go toward your “must-have” expenses.

Try to Save Three to Six Months of Essential Expenses in an Emergency Fund.

Look for Growth Potential from your Investments

  • Knowing your financial personality can help you determine the right mix of stocks, bonds and short-term investments that match how comfortable you are with risk, and have the growth potential to meet your life’s needs, be that when you want to retire or when you want to send kids to college.
  • If you’re not sure where to start, read up online, or reach out to a professional.  There’s never a fee to come into Fidelity to talk to a financial planner, but we do recommend you reevaluate twice a year. Just like you take care of your physical health by visiting the doctor and dentist, think of this as taking care of your financial health, which is vitally important as well.

Protect your Legacy

  • In order to ensure that what you’ve accumulated is distributed to your children, family and causes you care about most, it is important to name beneficiaries and create a will and health care proxy. Yes, it can be uncomfortable to think about the ‘what it’s,’ but it’s important to be prepared for the unknown. Do you really want someone else making these decisions for you?



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