To Do FOR ME List

Part of my year of taking care of myself and being a little selfish involves thinking about what I want and need. With Mother’s Day coming up I thought this was the perfect time to share my “to do for me list”. I am always writing to do lists for myself but this time I wrote one for my family!  

Here it is:

1) Plan, cook and clean up dinner

2) Repair the door handle in the hallway

3) Put up a light in the living room

4) Breakfast in bed 

5) Clean out your closets and bag stuff for donation

6) Let me sleep in 

7) Make me a cup of tea afterschool

8) Walk the dog without arguing for a week 

9) Weed the garden beds

10) Come grocery shopping with me and help unpack it all. 

Those are some examples of what I have in store for my own family this Mother’s Day and beyond.  I hope it inspires you to make a “To Do for Me” list of your own. There really aren’t a lot of materialistic things I want. I want and need help and I have to learn to ask for it. If I don’t, I end up looking and feeling less like the person I want to be.  Trying to be all things to everyone else leaves you with nothing left for yourself. Write a list and ask for help so that you have some time this Mother’s Day that is just for you. 

A Year of Being Selfish

Being a working Mom means there has been little time to spend on myself or even think much about what I want and need. As many of you reading this know - our careers, goals, dreams and selfish wants and needs often get put on the back burner.  I am not complaining as I love being a Mom.  I chose to put myself last much of the time but this does catch up to you. 

Last year I burnt out. When I stopped and looked around and there was no one jumping up to take care of me and put me first. Over the last year I stepped away from my tips blog as I felt as though I had no good advice left and took some time to feel sorry for myself, then to think about what it was I needed and this year I am going to take action. 

I am going to make 2017 the year I take a few minutes or hours a week to be selfish and hopefully inspire you to do some serious and needed self care too. I am going to put myself first sometimes and make no apologies for it. I am going to take good care of myself and teach my children the importance of self care at the same time - instead of allowing them to believe I am super woman that needs nothing. I don’t want my children to think that being a good person or mother means always putting yourself last. 

My first act of pure selfishness was to book two massages in one month. One booking would be good but anyone can make it to one appointments scrape together enough money for one appointment.  Justifying spending money on two appointments is hard.  Two bookings says, “My well being is important and I am worth this expense”.  This month I challenge you all to spend money and time on your wellness more than once. Book two yoga classes, go to the spa twice, get a pedicure at the beginning and end of the month, etc.  Make the commitment to do more than “an one off” gesture for yourself and your wellness. I did and it felt great!  

1001 Tips for Military Families - Tip #460

Easter Hunt for Tweens and Teens (Updated)

FullSizeRender (15)

A couple of puzzle pieces in each egg and sometimes a chocolate egg or two!

With Easter coming, the pressure is on to prepare an Easter Egg hunt and with them being older, they needed a challenge and we have a dog so hiding chocolate eggs isn’t great.  My kids don’t want to give up being kids so I am all for that for as long as I can get it!   This was a big hit last year and I decided that I would do it again.  I bought two 100 piece puzzles, will write on the back of it using markers with the clue to where the baskets were hidden.  Being teenagers, I have written two messages on each of the puzzles.  I will then put the puzzle pieces in plastic eggs and when they finished the puzzle they would be able to discover where their baskets were hidden.

You will need: permanent marker, plastic eggs, two puzzles exactly the same and a few jelly beans, mini chocolate eggs and something you are giving them hidden in a safe location. 


1) Buy 2 puzzles (got mine at Walmart this year and chose two 100 piece puzzles to add the to the challenge I bought two different puzzles)

2) Use a permanent marker and write your message across both puzzles. 

Message Is: Hoppy Easter! Your baskets are somewhere in the laundry room!

Message Is: Hoppy Easter! Your baskets are somewhere in the laundry room!

3) Mix both of the puzzles together and then put a couple of puzzle pieces in each egg (sometimes I put some jelly beans or chocolate in the plastic eggs to keep them fueled up)

FullSizeRender (14)

Two puzzles mixed together


4) Count how many plastic eggs you hide so you know when they have all their puzzle pieces 

5) Hide eggs and then enjoy an hour or so of watching them work together to figure it out, make a coffee and put your feet up! 

Happy Hunting!

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to:

Join us on Facebook at: While You Were Away



1001 Tips for Military Families - Tip #471

Making Time

As the holidays draw closer and closer for many of us there seems like an endless list of things to do, buy, wrap, make, go to, etc.  It tires me out just thinking about it (and then I flop down and watch a couple of hours of Netflix and accomplish nothing)!  This time of year I always try hard not to get caught up in the gifts and things but more in the time with friends and family, doing things with the people I love and letting them know how I feel.  This is always easier said than done, however, here are the tips that I have followed for the last few years and they have really helped me to retain my sanity and have a lot of fun too.

Holiday Sanity Savers -

  1. Bake easy things - I looked through my cookbooks and chose cookies and desserts that are easy to bake and not going to require a ton of steps or days of planning and prep.
  2. Hire a wrapper (not rapper) - My teenager did the majority of the wrapping and this alone gave me hours of additional time!  It also forced me to carefully sort through everything so I knew exactly what I had.
  3. Shopped for it all in one weekend -  In the past my shopping has been spread out over a couple of months.  I think that I spent more (forgot what I had already bought) and wasted a lot of time going back and forth.
  4. Electronic Christmas letter and photo - I know that some people really prefer paper so I did 10 of those and everyone else is getting the electronic version.  It saves money and a lot of time but I am still able to keep in touch with people and share our year.
  5. Made a meal plan for the week of Christmas - this way there is little thinking or prep to do and more time to be spent having fun with the kids
  6. Combining Events - Rather than having 2, 3 or 4 dinners we have invited people to one.  This way we get to see all the people that are important to us but also aren’t cooking and cleaning the holiday away but have time to do other things with our kids and just relax together.
  7. Reality Break - Our kids are in competitive sports and while it is wonderful for them and they love it the holidays are a good time to take a break for all of us.  Even though we aren’t going away, we are going to behave like we are and mark ourselves as busy for two weeks.  Everyone needs a break from reality (and from being a taxi service).  I have put an auto message on my email and stepped away from work until the new year (I know everyone is not as lucky as I am to have 2 weeks off but step away for the time you do have).
  8. Nothing Day - Over the holidays have a day scheduled and planned where no one has to do a thing.  There are no commitments or obligations - no one even has to get out of pyjamas or brush their hair.  Eat leftovers and only do things that you want to do.
  9. Make a list - Everyone makes a list of things that they really want to do, must do and really don’t want to do.  This way we get a sense of what is important, can prioritize as a family and let go of some things that no one wanted to do in the first place.  Having said this - a large portion of my family would love not to have to decorate the tree.  As a parent, give yourself veto power so you get the tree you want and everyone slaps a smile on their faces as they decorate it!
  10. Take Photos - On Christmas day, to make your life easier, use your phone to take photos of gifts & the tag so that you remember who gave what to you and your family members.


Happy Holidays!  From my family to yours. 

1001 Tips for Military Families - Tip #470

“I Love You Because…” Frames

Our lives as a family are busy.  We have chosen to do the things that we love to do and are having fun but most mornings I don’t really don’t see my kids very much.  In fact, most mornings I wake them (after turning on lights, telling them to get up 5 times and then move to panicked pleading) but then I have to leave for work.  Being a teenager is hard, really hard.  I want my kids to know that they are not only loved but why they are loved - at this age they want facts and evidence or they don’t believe it!  I know that they really don’t hear much that I say with their morning and pre breakfast brain.  I decided that I would make something quick and easy that they could read while they were getting ready and try to start their day off right.

Being that we are busy, I can assure you that these were EASY to make, are easy to do and cheap!  All you need is two frames, paper, and a white board marker.  You can change it every day or once a week.  It is up to you.

For more information about our resources, tips and books go to:

Join us on Facebook: While You Were Away

Join us on Twitter: @whileyouwereaway

1001 Tips for Military Families - Tip #469

The Kindness Challenge

If you are anything like me, December is spent in a mad dash to buy things for people that I hope they will like and will show them I care.  However, I think that the Grinch had a serious “Ah Ha” moment when he discovered that Christmas isn’t from a store or in a box.  In fact, this was the inspiration for the December challenge.  Rather than the focus just on buying and wrapping, lining up and getting generally frazzled just trying to find a parking space at the mall - I will do that but… I wanted us to focus on being good to ourselves and each other too.  If you are posted somewhere without family and a lot of friends, have someone on a deployment, etc. this is a good way to refocus you too!

Click Here for our December Kindness Challenge Calendar: December Kindness Challenge

Kindness Challenge


Alter it to suit your family and feel free to share yours too!  Good luck and I hope your December is filled with a little more kindness and family fun and less having to follow someone with shopping bags leaving the mall to get a parking space.

For more information about our resources, books and tips go to:

Join us on Twitter @whileyouwereaway

Join us on Facebook - While You Were Away

1001 Tips for Military Families - Tip #468

Tell Your Story - Tip #468

Everyone has stories inside of them to share about their experiences during a deployment, re-integration, posting or their lives as part of a military family.  Whether you were the one on a deployment or at home waiting for the deployment to be over, tell your story - a lot happens to you!  You don’t have to write a public blog or have a published book but you do need to put your thoughts out there - write them or record them somehow.  By sharing your experiences you are processing your thoughts and feelings, letting others understand your experiences and taking the first step in letting go and moving forward.  This is also a great way of sharing all the things that happened to you while your family member or friend was away.  They can look through it or read it at their pace when they return and it will help to fill in the gaps while they were away.


* If you don’t enjoy writing, tell your story through a video journal

* Take a photo of something or someone every day

* Decide in advance whether or not others are going to be allowed to read it/see it

* Remember to record dates and times (you think you will remember but time really does fly)

* Make time to do this every day - it will be time just for you (which we all don’t do enough of)

* Another option is to consider using StoryWorth.  For Veterans/Remembrance Day,  StoryWorth are launching the Military Stories Project to help veterans across the country share their stories with their families. From November 1st until November 11th, they are offering free accounts to active service members, and 50% off subscriptions to all veterans and their families. Additionally, for anyone else who purchases a subscription during that time, we’re donating $10 to an organization working with veterans (Wounded Warriors).

However you decide to share your stories, make sure you do.  You may feel as though what you have to say is important, not necessary, not worth talking about or too difficult but those that love you will definitely disagree and the benefits of letting it will flow over into every part of your life.  Writing this blog has been one way that I have been able to share my experiences and it has strengthen me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

For more information about our blog, tips or resources go to:

To use Storyworth and make a donation to the Wounded Warriors Project click: