Enchanted Mommy

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.

How Moms can Achieve a Work/Life Balance During COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed virtually all parts of our work lives. Most of us working moms are now working remotely from home, many of us have had to pivot in our projects, and regardless of which industry we are in, personal safety and health take precedent more than ever. However, an all-too-familiar struggle for working moms persists in the fight for a work/life balance. 

The burden to help children and families navigate COVID-19 has disproportionately fallen on working mothers. Research from Syracuse University showed that over 80% of individuals taking time off from work for childcare due to COVID-19 were women. 

We all want the best for our children, but finding the right balance can be frustrating and hard. Disproportionate time away from our work could put us years behind in our professional trajectory.

Still, there are some practices we can all aspire to in order to achieve a work-life balance. 

First, share your goals with those around you.  At home, clearly communicate boundaries to your children, and ask your partner or other family members for help. At work, communicate your increased demands with your team. I was recently surprised to learn that nearly half of business industry workers reported feeling failures in maintaining family relationships due to their work. Still, on the plus side, this means that plenty of people on your work team will be able to empathize with you and work with your hectic schedule. 

Next, it’s important to set yourself up for success. If possible try to set up a space for your remote work separate from where you work as a mother. This will signal to your own brain and to those around you that you are either in work mode or mom mode, not both. 

Finally, take some time for yourself. For me, taking time to workout in the morning before my work has started or my children are awake is the best way to get in a good state of mind. It’s during alone time that I am able to set goals for work/life balance and check in on myself. 

Certainly, finding balance during this difficult time is no easy feat. But, if there’s one group of people who can find a way to juggle it all, it’s working moms. Good luck ladies!

Where You Live Matters: Looking at Children’s Healthcare Costs Across the Country

It’s no secret that American healthcare is wildly complicated, and, for many young families, intensely intimidating. When figuring out how to insure your child’s health, managing trips to clinics versus the hospital and trying to create a healthy baseline for your child with as much preventative care as possible, it can be hard to determine what’s right. A factor that adds yet another layer of complexity to the youth healthcare dilemma is cost. And certainly, taking care of kids is expensive. 

Interestingly, as pointed out in a recent study by Weiss & Paarz, a medical malpractice attorney team, where you live in the United States has major implications on the expenses associated with a child’s health. 

According to their study, the cost of healthcare for children from birth through age 18 spans over $14,300 in statewide averages across the country. 

On the low side of costs is Hawaii, where healthcare costs through age 18 average out to around $7,500. According to the Honolulu Civil Beat, Hawaii’s low healthcare costs are no accident. Per Hawaii’s 1974  Prepaid Health Care Act, all employers must provide health insurance to employees working over 20 hours a week. This means that Hawaii is generations ahead of the rest of the country in terms of healthcare accessibility and employer stipulations, helping create a healthier state, which, in turn, has lower childhood healthcare costs. 

But, as much as we’d like, not every family can up and move to Hawaii to save some money on healthcare. It may be more realistic for families to rule out states with exorbitantly high childhood healthcare costs. 

The state with the highest healthcare expenses through age 18 was Washington, D.C., where childhood healthcare expenses averaged around $21,900, over 39% above the national average. There has to be some explanation for these huge numbers. 

It just might be that everything associated with raising a child becomes more expensive D.C. lines. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Washington, D.C. has some of the highest costs of childcare across the country. The district ranked 1st of 50 states for the most expensive infant care, averaging at around $2,020 a month according to the 2019 report. Childcare costs remain high and exceed the costs associated with yearly housing and college payments for parents in the area.

Given these high costs of childcare, the costs of healthcare might appropriately match the location-specific inflation. And so, for young families looking to move near the D.C. area, living in a nearby suburb where both babysitters and routine check-ups are cheaper might be a huge budget saver. 

No matter where you live, child healthcare costs may be helped down by offering your child a healthy life, full of nutrition, exercise, and education in between doctor’s visits. So here’s to healthy kids and happy families!

Ladies Can Pop the Question Too!: Here are Some Fun and Exciting Ways to Propose to Him

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life is too unpredictable to wait around for happiness to come. The same can be said for the future of your relationship. Despite women leaders like Elizabeth Warren famously beginning marriage with their own proposals, centuries of tradition tell women that they must wait for men to propose in order to start planning for a future of married joy. 

Well, according to a new survey from Shane Co., over 60% of men would be thrilled if their girlfriend proposed to them-exciting news for all the ladies who are ready and excited to ask their partners the big question. 

Still, it can be a little tricky to brainstorm a proposal to the man in your life. So, here are some ideas, tips and encouragement on how to propose to your boyfriend. 

  1. Know If You Want to Give Him Something

As discussed in a Slate.com interview, one complication for women proposing to men is the question of the engagement ring. While the Shane Co. survey reported that over 60% of men think a ring isn’t necessary, you might still want something to symbolize a proposal. Whether that be a ring, a donation to a cause you both care about or a couple of tickets to start out life’s adventure, decide if you think a gift should be part of your proposal. 

  1. Get Some Inspiration

Look to some other ladies who have popped the question to their man! Coming through some ideas and super cute stories like these ones on HowTheyAsked.com can get you excited about proposing to your partner, and help you leave behind any old narratives that say you can’t take a knee! 

  1. Be Yourself

As stated in a list of tips from TheKnot.com, it’s most important to be yourself. No matter what your proposal is like, your hopeful fiance will want to see you and all your wonderful personality in your proposal. After all, a lifetime of happiness depends on love for your truest self! 

Double Digits: How to Plan a Birthday Party for Your 10-Year-Old

And then there was 10! This is perhaps the most important milestone birthday since the first birthday. Your child has gone through so many changes and grown so much up to this point, and you want to celebrate how far they have come. It’s time, they are crossing over into the double digits, and on the hills of adolescence. 

This is such an important and exciting time as kids begin to develop a better sense of who they are in the world. Many are preparing for junior high school and are ready to navigate new social situations. According to Very Well Family, 10-year-olds have the ability to sense the emotions of others and read facial and body language. At this age, the acceptance by peer groups is very important and is a critical step that can strongly affect the next level of development.  

At ten, most children have developed the ability to be pleasant company at social gatherings such as parties and dinners. They can clearly express their thoughts on current events, music, art, etc. 

The type of party you throw will not only help further groom your child for social settings, but it can also play a major role in peer connection and acceptance. So, let’s jump into a few tips on how to through a rockin’ party for your 10-year-old. 

Theme Ideas 

Picking a theme can difficult, whether it’s for a boy or girl. So here are a few theme ideas for boys and girls. 

Boy Theme:

  • Sports Theme (Base the party theme around your kid’s favorite sport)
  • Space Theme 
  • Super-hero Theme (Base the party theme around your kid’s favorite superhero) 

Girl Theme: 

  • Tea Party Theme
  • Slumber Party 
  • Fairytale Theme (Base the party theme on Disney Princesses) 

Venue Ideas

When it comes to parties, venues are everything! You may want to keep it traditional and have a themed birthday party at your house, but if you’d like to take it to the next level, book a venue. Your 10-year-old will probably appreciate it, and you don’t have to worry about a huge clean-up!

  • Bowling Alley
  • Movie Theaters
  • Bouncy House
  • Park Party 
  • Skating Rink

Food 

Food can be difficult to get right at a party. Kids may have allergies or preferences, so simple is better. Check out these food ideas, that allow everyone to enjoy. 

  • Chips and Dip (Buy an assortment of chips, so that kids have a variety to choose from)
  • Pigs and a Blanket (This fun activity allows kids to participate by making their own snack, and it’s a classic party hit) 
  • Make Your Own Pizza (This allows kids to pick what they want on their pizza, and leave out things they can’t eat or don’t like to eat)

With these tips, you can provide the basics for a good party! However, 10-year-olds are at an age where they can entertain themselves and their guests, for the most part. You don’t have to over-plan activities, because they’ll most likely want to do their own thing, and engage with their peers. Ready, set, let’s go party!

Movies for the Best 9th Birthday Sleepover Party

Slumber parties can be so much fun…even if there is actually very little sleeping involved. And right around the age of nine, kids may be starting to host and attend their first sleepover birthday parties.

With the newness of these extra long parties comes some understandable anxiety for hosting parents. After all, entertaining a house full of nine-year-olds can be pretty daunting. An easy fix-the classic sleepover movie. Pressing play on a perfect flick is a great way to distract kids for a few hours of cleaning, making cake or even just having a break. Here are some age-appropriate movies that will give you some time to be the coolest party parent ever. 

If You’re Celebrating a Sport Star: Little Giants

This classic movie, about the scrappy underdog Giants football team, is funny and heartwarming. With lovable characters like the tomboy football star, Becky, and the hilariously clumsy Rashid, everyone at the slumber party will have a favorite teammate on the Little Giants. Just be sure that the kids are all exhausted, or you may have them trying to run the “Annexation of Puerto Ricos” in the living room. 

If You’re Hosting a Room Full of Rockers: Sing

If your nine-year-old and all of his or her friends are constantly moving and grooving, Sing is the perfect pick. A movie that features all types of animals performing all types of music, each kid will be sure to have a favorite. For extra fun, you can throw on the soundtrack during a pancake breakfast the next morning and see which songs everyone belts out with spoon microphones. 

If You Have a Little Action-Loving Daredevil: The Lego Batman Movie

Superhero movies might still be a little intense for kids under 10, but no need to fear! The Lego Batman Movie is here! The movie has the perfect mix of laughs, action and even some silly songs performed by Batman and Robin as they get into cartoon hijinks. Plus, with accompanying movies The Lego Movie and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, you can even recommend that parents hosting the next sleepover join in on the plastic figure bandwagon. 

If You’re Raising a Little Astronaut: E.T.

If your child loves all things sci-fi, why not put on the classic oldie E.T. The heartwarming movie about Eliot and E.T. will inspire your nine-year-old and their friends to never stop exploring the skies and feed their interest in both science and the supernatural. The whole room will grip their sleeping backs as the movie’s crew of kids bike into the air. Plus, once you get your son or daughter hooked on E.T., there’s a whole world of oldie-but-goodie movies you can add to the family watchlist. 

If You’re Bookworm is Having a Party: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Odds are that if your nine-year-old is making weekly trips to the local library, then Harry, Ron and Hermione have already become well-known names in your house. But, if your little witch or wizard and their friends haven’t already started watching the Harry Potter movies, then this is the perfect time to start! They really are fun for the whole family and you can even have an entire Harry Potter-themed party, complete with a sorting hat and games of imaginary quidditch in the backyard! 

Hopefully, these movies offer some help for planning the perfect movie for the perfect sleepover. Most of these films can be found on different online streaming services, but if not, it’s a great idea to check at your local library to see if any DVDs are available in the kid’s section. Don’t forget to dim the lights low so kids feel like they’re at a movie theatre. For added fun, you can even put out movie snacks like popcorn, pretzels and candy for kids to munch on during the movie. Good luck with the party and happy birthday to the newly-nine-year-old! 

Eight Do’s and Don’ts for Your Eight-Year-Old’s Birthday Party

At eight years, your child is really coming into his or her own and will be starting to remember and treasure their birthday party traditions. Still, as your child gets older and you deal with more expectations from child-age…. and parent guests, being a great birthday party host requires some know-how. Here are some tips to help make eight great! 

Do…Get The Birthday Kid In On the Planning

Now that your child is taking on more responsibilities and has more defined interests, it’s a great idea to have them help you plan the party. Not only will they be able to offer their ideas for their favorite themes, games and birthday snacks, but they will also learn a little about what it takes to be a good host. Make sure they are learning about everything from writing out the invitations to scheduling in time for cleanup so that the birthday celebration can be an opportunity for growth. 

Don’t…Let Your Child Run the Whole Show

A caveat for the above advice is that giving total reigns of a party to an eight-year-old probably isn’t your best option. Instead, offer options for them to choose and plan from that you have already decided will fit your time and means. For example, let them help you plan the menu for the party snacks, but keep their option to healthier treats with maybe one or two sweet selections. 

Do…Let The Kids Loose

If your son or daughter and friends are around eight-years-old, they’ve been in school for a fair amount of time and have likely built up skills in playing nicely on their own in the classroom and on the playground. Therefore, you can probably trust the kids to do their own thing for a while during parties without extremely close supervision. Let them run around for a game of soccer, work on crafts or eat their meal with light supervision, and you can take the time to set up other activities, take a break, or snap some pictures from afar. 

Don’t…Tolerate Drama

With consideration to letting the kids be independent, it’s important to keep a light radar out for drama, so that it can be stopped before ruining your child’s party. As your kids self-regulate, there will be room for certain children to take charge, argue or depart from party-planning etiquette. If that happens, don’t be afraid to have a timeout or switch to a different activity so that the party doesn’t go awry. 

Do…Get Creative

With more than a few birthday parties under your belt, why not have a little fun with this one. Switch out the classic birthday cake with s’mores or even donuts. Instead of party games, put out your child’s favorite board games. Even consider switching the classic afternoon party for a breakfast bash. There are no rules for birthdays, so simply lean into your child’s favorite things and have fun with it! You’ll be teaching your child that the key to celebration is good friends and family. 

Don’t…Break the Bank

Your child is going to remember a few things about their eighth birthday party…but the extravagance of the party won’t be one of them. While it may be really tempting to try to impress your child and your visiting friends and parents with impressive color-coordinated decorations and magazine-ready goodie bags, don’t fall into this trap. It will only make you stress more about the party and your bank account, not to mention adding a sense of competition among parents trying to top one another in party planning. Keep it simple and all about fun. 

Do…Get Your Child in on Thank You Etiquette

Now that your child is eight, they should know their P’s and Q’s from school, sports and your own family lessons. While you may have written thank you notes in the past for your guests’ attendance and gifts, it’s about time to get your kids into the habit of sending out thank you notes after parties. Take them to the store to pick out some fun thank you cards that they can get excited about and have them send out thank yous to all their friends and family. 

Don’t…Forget to Smile

Don’t forget to take time for pictures. Whether it be a family pic before the guests arrive, a group shot of kids’ faces covered in frosting or a picture of the parents coming together for their little ones’ fun, capture it all. Believe me! In ten years when your child is *technically* an adult, you will treasure these pictures from the eighth birthday party!

So You’re Celebrating a 7th Birthday?

Celebrating birthdays with your child or children is only going to get more and more fun over the years. Why? With each birthday and corresponding age, your child is developing their likes, dislikes, opinions, and it’s easier to shower them with events and excitement. They even understand the specialness of a birthday at this point. 

Let’s talk about age seven. The number itself is usually really special – seven is one of those mystical numbers in fairy tales, stories, movies, and lore. It’s also the age when your child is probably making the jump from preschool to grade school. That’s, for sure, something to celebrate, right? 

At this point, the parties are generally longer than an hour or an hour and a half. Guests are often playmates from school, activities, or neighborhood friends. If your little one is celebrating their seventh birthday at school, there’s never a wrong time to bring in cupcakes! 

For your celebration, consider making your child’s seventh birthday party special by planning significant gifts which support the theme of a special seventh. 

  1. Something they want

A great gift is usually something special an individual wants. It’s pleasantly frivolous, typically a toy or an outrageous outfit, accessory, or otherwise. 

  1. Something they need

Did your 7-year-old recently outgrow their soccer cleats and uniform? Did they start a sport you could outfit them in? Gifting your child something they need is a great way to build gratitude, and show them they’ve got the gear to do what it takes for a sport, hobby, or interest. 

  1. Something to read

Is there some book series, set, or universe you can help introduce your child to with books? Or, alternatively, if they’re interested in puzzles, a game-book is a good route to go. 

  1. Something to watch

This one can run the gamut from a video game to a video, a movie to a TV show series. It could be an app you purchase that helps your child learn something, or it could be a more interactive show than the ones running live on streaming services or cable. 

  1. Something they can wear

Whether they’re gifted a party outfit or a new pair of light-up sketchers, something to wear is a great gift for your seven-year-old. Having a new outfit for their party or celebration could be exciting, but it could also be exciting for them to have that pair of sneakers that are just a little too expensive for everyday wear or a costume of their favorite movie character.

  1. Something to play with

Toys are also in the categories of something they want and something to watch, but something to play with is always memorable. Gift sets of ponies, play gardening gear, hot wheels, and more are the type of gifts your seven-year-old will love. Pick a set based on their budding interests.

  1. Something to remember 

At age seven, I received my first cross necklace. It was a special gift and signified a new age of independence, guided by my values and ideas. With that in mind, gifting your child something to remember —  whether it’s an important accessory like a necklace or watch, or instead an event like Monster Jam or Frozen on Ice — is the ultimate way to make an experience a magical memory.

Birthday Party Ideas for a 6-Year-Old

When your kid is turning six, it’s such a fun age, because their birthday is the BEST day as far as they’re concerned and they’re super excited about everything about it. Of course, you want their party to be amazing, and the best part is, kids are so enthusiastic that the sky’s the limit. We’ve outlined a few ideas for kids parties below so you can make sure that 6 is the best birthday ever!

Dinosaurs

  • Activities: Have a sandbox set up for archeological investigations. Bury some plastic dinos and have the kids take them home as party favors! You can also bury some “dino eggs” with candy or other small prizes. 
  • Adults: Adults can enjoy an adult beverage in a dinosaur cup that they can take home.
  • Cake: To make a dinosaur cake, you can bake a regular round cake, frost with green and blue frosting, and set dinosaurs up as though they’re grazing! You can also include ground-up Oreos as “dirt”.
  • Gifts: Dinosaur themed gifts

Beach Bash

  • Activities: Have a limbo, make your own lei, and have the kids decorate their own flip flops or crocs!
  • Adults: Parents can decorate their own stemless, silicone wine glass, and enjoy a Blue Hawaiian during the party.
  • What to Wear: The kids (and adults!) can get into the spirit with grass skirts for the girls and Hawaiian shirts for the boys. Everyone gets sunglasses too!
  • Cake: For the cake, you can bake a sheet cake, frost it with blue frosting on one side, and graham cracker crumbs on the other. Add in mini “beach” umbrellas on the sand side using little drink umbrellas and Swedish fish in the water!
  • Gift Ideas

The party shouldn’t last too much longer than 2 hours at that age- that’s probably the max you and the other parents will be able to take! Within that time frame, you’ll have time to do a couple of activities, eat cake, open presents, and let the kids work off their sugar rush.