Parenting is Exhausting!

Parenting is Exhausting!

We recently took a family road trip. We drove from Chicago to Nashville and had a lot of big fun. Our kids are champs in the car (translation: they watch a ton of movies and play tons of games on their various devices!), and we previously road-tripped to NYC for winter break, so this drive was nothing!  That said, after a long day of driving, my husband was exhausted, the kids wanted to swim and I got to be the one to watch them. Sure, I could have thrown on my suit and jumped in the pool with them, but I just didn't feel like it. As I was sitting there watching them enjoy the pool, I could feel myself growing irritated. Not at them, just cranky in general. So, after the kids were done, I brought them back to the hotel room, changed into my gym clothes, passed the kids off to my hubby and headed to the hotel gym. A half hour on the treadmill was all I needed to feel like myself again. A little sweat, a little quiet, a little kid-free zone. This small amount of time reminded me of how crucial it is for moms to take time for themselves. It isn't always easy, but it's so very important.

Even though we aren't country fans, we had a great time at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Whether you work in or out of the home, moms seem hardwired to do the majority of the worrying and feeling guilty, and therefore are generally the ones on the back burner. This is not to say that dads don’t kick ass, because they really do, they just seem to be better at taking time for themselves.  So moms, instead of letting ourselves go and/or being resentful of our significant other’s ability to hit pause when needed, I’ve put together a few ideas that will help take great care of you and your little ones, and make your life just a bit easier.  Bonus, these are all mom-owned businesses, so you’ll be taking care of yourself while helping out another mom. Win win!

Sweat it out.  This is my go to. When I can feel myself losing it, I throw on my shoes and hit the gym or head outside for a run.

●     Active Moms Club- Cassandra can help whip you back into shape post baby and beyond. She offers group classes as well as personal training. Her classes are encouraging, engaging, and a great way to meet other moms.

●     Primary Crossfit and Yoga- Located in Uptown, this gym offers the best of both worlds. Sweat your booty off one day and soothe your soul (and body) with yoga the next…or do it all on the same day if you can!

Pamper yourself. My other favorite thing to do. There’s nothing like fresh hair or a fabulous mani/pedi!

●     Nails Boutique- Tucked across Webster Ave. from Oz park, this little gem is my go to. Great conversation is always had and, of course, great nails.

●     Chroma K8- This adorable "beautique" is so environmentally responsible, they used mostly vintage furniture when they remodeled. I have seen some very fabulous hair walk out of this salon, including my own!

Get stuff done. Do you need to drop off the kids for a few hours? All day? Do you need a change of scenery, and a place for your kids to play safely? These places have you covered.

●     Take a Break Playcare- I can't say enough about this genius concept. Clearly mom created! At Take a Break, you can drop in and play (with your kids) for a couple of hours, or you can drop your kids off and actually get something done! They offer care for newborns up to age 13. Genius, just genius.

●     Purple Monkey Playroom- I love the coziness of this play space. Purple Monkey is the perfect alternative to the park on those days when you need to let your kiddos run around, but don't feel like worrying about how much bark they're eating or making sure they don't run into an oncoming swing. The park is great and all, but man, it's exhausting chasing tiny people around! Here, you can have a cup of coffee, chat with other moms and ensure that your little ones are nice and ready for nap time :)

●     Little Beans Cafe- Another great indoor play space, that offers locations in both Chicago and Evanston. This is great for smaller kids, but also offers options for older kids as well.

Birthday help. Once you have kids, you find yourself either going to or planning a party, constantly. My son has three parties to attend in the next week. If you are pressed for time (who isn't?!), these fabulous businesses can help.

●     Building Blocks Toy Store- Katherine and her team are AMAZING. You can call the store (two locations, Wicker Park and Lakeview), tell them what you want, pay over the phone and they will have it wrapped and ready for you to swoop in and pick up en route to the party. Not sure what the perfect gift is? If you give them a price range, and some ideas of what the birthday kiddo is into, they will hand select something for you. It doesn't get any better than that in my book. They also have a great selection of party favors, including personalized items that can be ready in minutes. Also great for teacher gifts and holiday.

●     Chicago Custom Cakes- Libby has a great eye for design and creates the cutest cakes. Whether you need a smash cake for you little one's first birthday, or a more detailed creation of whatever character your older kiddo is currently obsessed with, Chicago Custom Cakes has you covered.

Hopefully this list provides a few helpful options that help you recharge and refresh. You work hard and deserve a break. Pat yourself on the back, wipe the spit-up (or banana, or yogurt, or paint, or...) off your shirt and keep on trucking, mama!

So Much Fun in the North Shore!

Have you have recently moved to the northern suburbs, or are you contemplating a move? There are plenty of great, kid friendly businesses to keep your little ones (and you!) entertained and even meet new friends! When I started doing nanny placements in the north shore, I have to admit, I wasn't that familiar with the "burbs", and had to quickly familiarize myself. What I found were so many wonderful places for parents (and nannies) to meet, have fun, and even learn. I feel good things should be shared, so here are just a few of my favorite finds.

Play Spaces: Indoor play spaces are great for so many reasons. I love them for pre-crawlers to beginning walkers especially, because they mirror the park experience without the "Oh wait, don't put that in your mouth!", or "Oh no, what did you just crawl through?!" aspect. They are also great for any age when the weather isn't cooperating. Little Beans Evanston and Growth Spurts in Wilmette are two great options. 

Beyond a Toy Store: The Sensory Kids Store  in Wilmette, was created by a mom of kids with developmental differences, and is the first of it's kind. While this store may cater to kiddos with developmental differences, it is a wealth of knowledge for all parents and kids of all abilities. I love a store I can walk into and know that every item was hand selected with care and purpose, and The Sensory Kids Store certainly qualifies.  

Kid Friendly Eats: Be on the lookout for a great new spot opening soon in Northbrook. The Jar Bar is a genius idea from a mom who understands the need for quick, healthy options outside of the city. They are set to open in April, and with offerings like Cookie Dough Overnight Oats, I'm definitely planning a trip! Jar Bar will be a great, kid friendly spot to meet friends for lunch, grab a portable lunch to take to the park, or swing through for breakfast on your way to the train. 

Party Like a Rockstar: Our friends at Chicago Kids have created a new resource site, Basharoo. This site gives you everything you need for party planning in one place. How great is that?! Basharoo lists locations, entertainers, rentals, and even photos of parties for inspiration. 

Hopefully this list encourages you to explore the beautiful north shore suburbs. This is just a small sample of what it has to offer. Do you have a favorite spot?

Author: Jessica Schwartz, North Shore Placement Specialist

Evanston's beautiful beaches! 

Evanston's beautiful beaches!