As a full time wife and mom with a full time career, I’ve learned to be super intentional about how I spend my time. Wherever I am, with family or at the office, my daily goal is to be “all in” the moment. Take notes during meetings. Follow-up on actions while it’s on my mind. Run out for lunch with the Hubby. Leave my phone in the car when we go to the park.
Life goals are all about progress.
I thought that organizing playdates and scheduling elaborate outings would alleviate the career mom guilt. Turns out, keeping it simple usually works better. I asked my kids about their favorite things we do as a family, and I was surprised and delighted to learn that the things they enjoy most cost very little money and are easy to do.
Kid-Inspired Family Fun
Friday Night Pizza and a Movie
This is a staple. After running from school to work to baseball to gymnastics to soccer all week, we’re all exhausted and just wanna cuddle. We each get a turn to pick the movie, order in (or cook from scratch when energy is high), and snuggle on the couch in our PJs. Heaven. I’m usually the first the fall asleep.
Bring Your Kid to Work Day
2 or 3 times a year, I plan a day when the 8 year old or 6 year old can hang with me at the office. I plan a “no meeting” day and offer important paperwork that must be completed for review by my boss. My daughter especially loves this responsibility, and of course that makes me proud. If not a full day, I’ll have our sitter bring the kids for lunch in the Sam’s Café during the summer.
Barnes and Noble in Rogers
This one is especially a treat for mom since there’s a Starbucks. I feel pretty comfortable with them browsing the kids section and playing with trains while I shop for new releases. I do end up spending at least $50 by the time we leave, but books are special so it’s worth the cash.
McDonald’s or Chick-Fil-A Walton
An experienced and wise fellow career mom once told me: “Never feel ashamed to throw a little money or McDonald’s at the drama and call it a day.” They always find a friend in the play structure and bedtime is a breeze after scrubbing off the germs in the tub.
Ice Cream on the Bentonville Square
Weather permitting, you can find us there pretty often. I spend less that $10 on the whole family at the Spark Café, and we enjoy balloon animals and live music before they all run around the fountain and throw pennies in the water.
A Bear Hunt to Crystal Bridges
Of course there aren’t really bears on the trail (I don’t think), but we like to pretend they’re hiding while we hunt for Bentonville Rocks to post on Facebook and take pictures posing on Stella the Pig. Once we get to CB, we play in the Kids Art Studio and sometimes check out the gift shop.
Let’s Go on a Hike
There are so many awesome trails in Bentonville. We love the Coler Hill mountain biking trails. We have to move to the side when the bikes come through, but the best ones for hiking are scariest for bikes so they are few and far between. When we hike “Drop the Hammer” I’m always curious about the fearless biker who’s braved those rocks.
Get the membership. Then it’s a no-brainer to stop by for just an hour.
Harps on North Walton
We are avid Walmart shoppers, but for the quick in and out down the street from our house, we love going to Harps to shop produce and check out the lobsters. They have adorable car carts that make shopping fun for a 2 year old. Plus we can get firewood from Veterans and roast marshmallows when get home.
Great Day Skate
Kids who aren’t as skilled feel brave with the trainer skates, and my 2 year old can move around all he wants without fear of crashing in the middle circle. The music is awesome and it’s a nice trip down memory lane for mom.
Also, because I’m often too exhausted to actually get dressed and leave the house (hence staple Friday Movie Night), here are a few more ideas for fun stuff at home:
- Play with old toys one last time before you donate them to Helping Hands
- Take a bike ride around the neighborhood
- Have a dance party with a disco light to Kidz Bop
- Watch Go Noodle videos on Apple TV….My personal favorites are “Peanut Butter in a Cup” and “Pop See Ko”
- Have a picnic in the backyard
- Bake dog treats and deliver them to the neighbors
- Check out the Smithsonian channel or National Geographic
- Wash your car the driveway
- Have a water day with a blow-up pool and sprinklers
- Plant dormant bulbs
- Have a puzzle race
- Look through old family pictures and tell funny stories
Don’t get me wrong, I also over-spend on birthday parties at Fast Lanes, twisted ankles at High Rise, and greasy pizza at Chuck E Cheese. But it’s nice to know mostly our kids just wanna hang out with their mamas. Because after all, we rock.