Enchanted Mommy

Brunch, please! These are the best cities for your next Sunday Funday.

Ecaterina Tanase

Calling all mommas! The verdict is in: you are required to phone your sitter and call up your girlfriends for a Sunday Funday. 

I know, I know. We all love our children dearly and want to spend our weekends with them. From soccer practice, to playdates, your Saturday and Sundays can be brimming with too many activities for you to take an afternoon for yourself. 

The thing is, moms do deserve time reserved for themselves on those busy Sunday afternoons, and it’s okay to call in some back up while you call up your girlfriends. 

That’s why I wanted to share this list of the best cities for a Sunday Funday to inspire you to take some time, grab some wine, and head out on the town. 

The team at Fashion Nova (you know, that clothing company you’ve probably seen all over social media) recently crunched the numbers on Sunday Funday hotspots across the country. First, they determined what makes the best Sunday, like best cocktails, most brunch spots, and affordability. Then, they weighted each factor on a 50 point scale to determine the best cities for your next Sunday Funday. 

Fashion Nova

So if you are in or near one of these top 10 cities, send this article to your besties so you can explore all of what Sunday has to offer. Your after work hours don’t always have to be so busy, girl! Sometimes we gotta be selfish on a Sunday so we can be refreshed for another busy week giving it all to our kids. 

Have fun! 

Are you one of America’s shopaholics? This new survey may have an answer.

Would you consider yourself a shopaholic mommy? Let’s face it, overspending is so easy to do when you’ve got littles ones to purchase for, and your budget can get a little blurred.

Bella Ella Boutique, an online boutique that sells women’s apparel, recently asked people across the country to disclose their spending habits to determine where people are doing the most shopping. 

After all, the past two years have been stressful for everyone—and retail therapy might be the way some are coping with pandemic blues. “Whether it’s coping with a stressful situation or celebrating an exciting, new opportunity, there’s something extremely empowering about buying a brand new outfit that perfectly matches your aesthetic,” says Bella Ella Boutique. 

To find out which states are spending the most on shopping, the researchers asked over 2100 people to disclose how much they spend annually on clothes and accessories, then compared that to the median annual income in their respective state. 

According to the survey, Louisiana is home to the most shopaholics. The average person spends over 8% of their annual income solely on fashion purchases in the Creole state, which adds up to roughly $2,276 each year reserved for the trendiest clothes. 

Following behind Louisiana at No. 2 is Texas, where residents spend more than 7% of their income on clothes and accessories—Go big or go home! Alabama, Nevada, and Nebraska rounded out the top five. 

Is your state included in the list? You can check out the full report here

How to Prepare Your Child for Success in College

A large part of childhood is often defined by education. The school, teachers, and classes a child takes part in have profound effects on their overall development and trajectory. It starts in elementary school with accelerated learning programs which ultimately lead to honors and AP courses. These curriculums affect what (if any) college a student attends and what career path they ultimately take. 

But even if your child earns straight As and follows the highest curriculum, is it enough? College is certainly a big adjustment for anyone, despite all the prep-work high school students commit to. Just as parents are recommended to start making financial plans well in advance, it’s never too early to start thinking about plans to make the academic transition as smooth as possible. 

A recent survey by Grand Canyon University found that 79.2% said they felt adequately prepared for college by their high school. That means more than 2 out of every 10 struggled with the adjustment. When looking at preparedness by specific categories, 53.5% felt their high school failed them in ‘developing skills/knowledge to live on my own in the future’. 

Luckily, as parents, there are many things we can do to circumvent these struggles. If college is a goal for your child, it’s best to start preparing early to make the transition as seamless as possible. Few parents want to think of the idea of dropping off their child at university while they’re still in their early stages of life, but it’s best to be proactive years before you’re actually faced with the situation. 

From an academic perspective, this may mean enrolling your child in additional tutoring beyond what may be offered in school. It’s a common misconception that tutoring should be used when a child is not meeting expectations. In reality, tutoring can be used to build on skills being taught in the classroom and cultivate a customized learning experience for your child’s needs. No matter where your child is in their classroom, one-on-one attention can go a long way. 

What’s perhaps more important than building on what they are being taught is considering what they aren’t. Things like personal finance, time management, and relationship building are important components of living on your own that often aren’t emphasized in traditional schools. Sure, you don’t need to teach your toddler how to balance a budget, but you can start introducing smart money habits at a young age to build a routine. 

No matter what methods you take to prepare your student for a seamless post-high school transition, be sure to provide support and care for your child along the way. This way, even if they face battles when they finally get to the college stage, they’ll know they aren’t fighting them alone.

Single Mom Seeks Love—and a Co-Parent?

Let’s get real, shall we? Being a single mom is hard work. I’m talking back-pain-at-33 hard work. And don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter! She is kind and curious and never fails to make me laugh—40 pounds of magic with a crooked front tooth and dimples I want to build a home in. 

But sometimes—when we’ve had grilled cheese for dinner yet again because I was too tired to cook after work, or when she’s sick and my cool hand on her fevered forehead doesn’t feel like enough, or when I forget to wash her tiny soccer jersey in time for her to stumble back and forth across a muddy field—I wish I didn’t have to do it alone, that there was someone else to say, “look at what we’re building together.”

Dating, though, seems harder than my hardest day as a mom. I’ve been out of the game for a while, but I’m pretty sure a single mom with stretch marks isn’t anyone’s dream girl. Finding a sitter I can trust to watch my baby girl is next to impossible; I was 15 once, and I know exactly just how many boys “helped me watch the kids” when I scored a neighborhood babysitting job.  And honestly, spending money and precious time on two hours of excruciating small talk with  Brad, Chad, or Kevin just doesn’t rev my engine, if you know what I mean. It all feels next to impossible.

But I found this study on the best cities for single parents looking for love, and y’all, it’s a gold mine. Do you want tips on where you’re most likely to find another single parent for a night on the town? The cities with the most affordable dinners for two? Hourly babysitter rates by city? It’s all there, making dating less of a burden for busy moms and dads. My own hometown of Birmingham, AL is ranked #9, which means I’m getting back out there, stretch marks and all. Ugh, but what will I wear?!  

My 2021 DIY Outdoor Entertainment Space Project

It’s official: Summer is here! And I’m spending way too much time and money trying to get the most vibey back patio in the neighborhood this summer.

It’s my favorite time of the year again. The weather’s warm, the kids are out of school, and the mouth-watering smell of a backyard barbecue is just around the corner. As our first season post-pandemic—or at least, post-vaccine—I’m determined to make this the best summer yet. And that starts with creating the perfect space to bring friends and family together. 

With this in mind, I set my sights on turning the backyard into a beautiful space for entertaining guests. I’ve been slowly adding furniture and outdoor decor to my space, and trying to save money by buying secondhand through Facebook Marketplace. I’ve spent so much time and money making my outdoor space look presentable, it’s crazy! But I recently read that 40% of Americans have spent thousands of dollars landscaping their yards, so at least I’m not alone.

Read on for more on the DIY projects I used to turn my outdoor space into a fun and idyllic gathering place!

The first project that I tackled was a simple, single post pergola. Though easy to assemble, this is a DIY project that will have guests swooning over its graceful appearance and beauty. And even better– it costs a fraction of what pergolas sell for in-stores! You can even use repurposed or reclaimed wood to bring the cost down more. 

The pergola took me a total of three days to complete. I spent two days gathering materials, reading instructions and building the frame. The third day, I took to decorating my new staple piece. I decided to use the pergola as a structure for climbing plants, and took to my local Lowe’s to buy a beautiful morning glory vine. Over time, the vines will overtake the pergola and create a stunning screen for shade and privacy.

Now that I had a gorgeous staple-piece, I switched my focus to seating. My yard already had a patio with several chairs and a table, but I wanted something with a bit more character. So, I built this outdoor bench. I never would have thought that cinder blocks, some wood and fun-colored paint would turn into such a hit, but they sure did! Guests and neighbors alike often ask where they could find such a bench, and the look on their face is priceless when I tell them how easy and affordable it is to do it yourself.

My final addition to the outdoor space was a rustic fire pit. The kids love s’mores– almost as much as us adults do! So, this project was a given. 

These three DIY projects transformed my yard into the perfect space for a summer full of fun, relaxation, good food and many reunions.

My Pitiful Perennials Helped Me Discover Botanical Gardens

We see them covering the porches of our neighbors’ houses. They’re even in our backyards. Beautiful plants and flowers! The minute the weather turns nice, everyone wants to make the outside of their homes look like a marvelous greenhouse. But of course, it isn’t always that easy. I myself have faced the trials and tribulations of keeping a plant alive. Asking the age old questions:

Am I watering them too much? 

Is the cool night time air killing them? 

How do I bring them back to life if the leaves have already wilted?

At my wits end, I decided to do some research and seek out a place nearby where I could be transported into the gorgeous scenery I was yearning for (created by people that actually know how to keep a plant alive!) We know that theme parks often have gorgeous landscaping, but I was searching for a trip that’s a little more about mom and less about the kids this time.

Not knowing I lived near one of the most popular botanical gardens, I was astounded to just see how prevalent they were across the country. It really made me want to incorporate some of these gardens into the itineraries of our upcoming summer vacations. I began looking at all of the top gardens on the list, amazed at the bright colors and blossoms of each flower, and of course thinking of all of the family pictures that could be taken.

But until we venture out on vacation this summer, I will use the pictures I’ve seen online as motivation to give my porch plants a go. Who knows, maybe one day my house will look like a mini botanical garden!

5 Family-Friendly Activities to Celebrate Earth Month

April is Earth Month which gives us all the more reason to get outside and enjoy a little extra fresh air. Especially while the pandemic rages on, the great outdoors can be a game-changing, COVID-safe setting for a family adventure. 

If you’re in need of a little inspiration of activities that will keep your kids occupied (and won’t totally break the bank), look no further. Here are our five favorite outdoor activities that are perfect for educating the whole family about the environment while taking in a little extra Vitamin D. 

Go on a Nature Walk 

Find the nearest trail or river (or even makeshift with a neighborhood sidewalk) and grab all the essentials: snacks, maps, backpacks, and water. Round up your squad and go on an exciting new adventure that you didn’t know you had in your own backyard! Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for any plants or pebbles that might be worth stopping for. 

Start a Composting Garden

Not only does composting have several benefits for the environment, it also can be a fun boredom buster for all ages. You can buy everything you need at most major home or garden shops, or double down on the adventure by making your own garden from scratch. This one is a must, especially if you live in one of the best states for composting

Explore Local Wildlife 

Your local zoo might be closed during COVID, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spot some animals this Summer. While birds and insects may be a little less exciting than a tiger or lion, read up on local creatures native to your area and make a game out of spotting and identifying the species. This will have your little ones feeling like professional zoologists in no time!  

Play an Old-School Classic Game 

Tag and capture the flag are classics for a reason. While the games we grew up playing may have been replaced by Super Mario Bros and Animal Crossing in this decade, it’s always a good time for some healthy, old-fashioned competition. Bonus points if you end the afternoon with sharing your school-aged stories from when you played these games back in the day. 

Set Up a Picnic 

It’s an unstated rule that lunch and dinner time are significantly more fun when they’re outside. Grab a blanket, basket, and of course, some delicious goodies and change up your mealtime scenery. You can head to a local park or stay on your own property, whatever you do, don’t forget the SPF and bug spray! 

We hope this list inspires you to get outside and enjoy nature with the family. Before you know it, you’ll be adding these small activities into your routine!

Hey Parents! It’s Time to Schedule that Check-Up.

Parents have certainly been put through the wringer in terms of child healthcare this year. Family contact with the coronavirus, access to nutritious meals out of school, and social development during social distancing are just a few of the complex concerns that parents have had to navigate over the past year. However, now that it’s been over a year since the beginning of the pandemic, and society is starting to return to pre-COVID-19 conditions, it may be time for an important check-up for children and their parents alike. 

A new report shows that over the past year, there has been an over 17% decrease in medical visits by Americans, primarily due to concerns of entering medical care facilities where contact with a COVID-postitive individual may occur. Furthermore, statistics show that nearly 70% of individuals have put off some form of medical care over the course of 2020 as fear of COVID-19 exposure grew in our country. 

However, as more and more individuals are vaccinated, it’s a good time to consider your child’s next check-up at the doctor. As stated in this Children’s Health Care Blog, regular check-ups aren’t just important in preventing unwanted medical issues. A regular check-up can help you and your child feel more comfortable addressing issues with medical professionals and can help ensure that your child is on the right track in terms of health and development. 

While many pediatric offices are scheduling in-person doctor’s appointments, there are also many options for pediatric telehealth to make sure that your child is at least having some sort of yearly checkup with their doctor. 

So quick, open up that calendar app and schedule your child’s yearly checkup to make sure they are happy, healthy and ready to grow!

Remote with my kids: It’s not easy being a mom, teacher, and employee

Let’s face it — learning from home hasn’t been easy on a lot of our kids, or us moms for that matter. 

From giving up recess and friends to battling WiFi mishaps and technology barriers, we really have to give the moms a round of applause for all that they’ve done. 

My sons are six and ten, two ages that require a LOT of patience and attention from Mom and Teacher. Although it’s always been wonderful to come home to my boys after a day at the office, I’ve found it difficult to navigate this work-from-home life while my kiddos are also working too.

And I’m not alone, according to the National Women’s Law Center, over 800,000 women left the workforce to look after their children between August and September of 2020. Trying to balance the demands of motherhood and the demands of a full-time career has, at times, been entirely too overwhelming. 

Sometimes I feel like I’m letting down my colleagues. Sometimes I feel like I’m letting down my boys. And almost always I feel my arms being pulled in opposite directions, all at once. 

The light in all of this is how wonderful our school district has been throughout the last year. The transition, albeit hard, was made easier because Portland has some fantastic leadership in education. We were already connected virtually before 2020, and they’ve offered classes and tutorials to teach parents about remote learning.

So I wasn’t surprised when I came across this list of the top cities for remote learning, and Portland was ranked third! 

Although I’m blessed with where I live, I’ve read countless stories from other moms trying to grapple with this new way of life. A word of encouragement: You’re doing just fine. It’s okay to be an imperfect mom and an imperfect employee. We are not superheroes, and we’re probably not going to teach third grade math as well as Mrs. Matthews. 

I can’t wait to kiss my kids goodbye at our bus stop, but for now, I’m just going to try and do my best with what 2020 and 2021 have given us. Who knows, remote learning may be here to stay in some form or another.

Searching for a Baby Name? Look Outside for Inspiration!

Every mom was once a mom-to-be and had to deal with the mountain of tasks to prepare for the arrival of their little one. There are baby books to be read and corners all over the home to be baby-proofed. And of course, the holy grail of baby preparation duties: picking a name. 

Some people turn to family names. Others pick out names from their favorite books or landmarks in their family’s story. But, personally, I’ve always been a big fan of names inspired by nature. Names of flowers, plants or natural landmarks can bring personal meaning to a name while offering a nod to natural beauty. 

In case you’re looking for some ideas for a nature-inspired name, check out this list of the most popular flower-inspired names in the past century from Spring Hill. 

According to the list, the most popular flower-inspired names in different decades-long periods were Rose (1900-1939), Susan (1940-1970), Heather (1971-1991), Jasmine (1992-2006), and Lily (2007-2019).

All these names are gorgeous and call to mind beautiful flowers, and with quite the range of popular names over the past century, you don’t have to worry too much about picking an especially common name. 

Of course, the beauty of nature names isn’t just limited to flowers! Nameberry has a great list of creative nature names that you can check out that include everything from Aspen to River to Stormy. I’ve also heard of people naming their children after national and state parks that have special meaning, like Acadia and Helen. 

Another great part about picking out a nature-themed name for your baby is that it can be such a beautiful guide for nursery decoration or future accessories and jewelry. I mean, come on, just look at this gorgeous nursery inspiration with foliage wallpaper and colorful, bird-themed mobiles. 

So here’s to thinking outside the box by thinking outdoors for your baby name!