I am a wife and mother to one child. My family and I live in Nashville, TN, and love to travel, but find ourselves limited by our schedules and money. As a result, we mainly take day trips, usually two or three weekend days per month.
What is your biggest strength as a mom?
I don’t know that I have one or, if I do, it is dependent upon the situation. I have a really great daughter, and she makes parenting very, very easy.
How do you spend time away from your children?
Usually my time away is spent at commuting, at work, or grocery shopping, but I try to squeeze in time to nap or read when I can.
Can you describe your weekday routine? You seem very organized with school, work, etc. What is something that helps you stay organized?
A typical weekday starts around 5:00 a.m. I am up first, and I set up the coffeemaker and fix breakfasts/lunches, if I haven’t already done so the night before. My daughter and I came up with a morning routine which she wrote out and taped to the wall near the breakfast table which helps keep her on track. Public schools in our area require uniforms, so mornings aren’t too difficult. I get on the road before 6:00 during the school year, and my husband takes our daughter to before-care which starts at 6:30.
I do pickups in the afternoon. Our daughter’s school doesn’t offer any extracurricular activities, so we participate in an aftercare program through the local YMCA. When we get home, we walk the dog, work on homework (she started bringing home homework last year), and fix dinner together. My husband isn’t usually home until after7:00 because of his commute, so my daughter and I eat dinner together before he gets home.
7:00 is the end of the day for my daughter, and it is when reading time begins for her. She reads from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. each evening, and then goes to bed at 8:00. After8:00, if my husband doesn’t have any schoolwork, we watch TV, read, or chat. Lately, we’ve been binge-watching Stranger Things on Netflix before bed. I usually go to bed around 9:30 – 10:00 p.m., but my husband will often stay up later.
You always seem to be doing something fun on the weekends. Some families are just so wiped out by the time weekends come there isn’t a lot of energy left for Saturday and Sunday. What are your thoughts on that?
We try to take care of all of our chores, work, and schoolwork during the workweek, so that we have at least one free weekend day to do something fun as a family. It helps having a really small house—ours is about 850 sf. Each of us has chores that we do throughout the workweek to stay on top of things. We also keep a limit on the number of household items, clothes, shoes, and ‘things’ in general that we buy and bring into the house, because having fewer things means less maintenance is required. For example, I just have one drawer of clothing and four pairs of shoes, and replace things as needed. We also keep just one set of dishes per person.
I am so inspired by the one set of dishes. That would really help with my overflowing sink problem! Where did your adventuring spirit come from? Did your parents take you out and about as a child? What pushes you out the door even if you may not want to go!?!
We took a lot of vacations and road trips growing up, so I think my adventuring spirit came from that.
We plan most of our trips about a month ahead of time, and look at websites like Roadside America to get ideas of where we’ll want to go, and that keeps us motivated.
On weekends when we’re faced with unexpected free time, we will often just take a 2-3 hour drive somewhere, just to get out of the house. My husband will say, “Which direction?” and we’ll drive until it gets dark or we’re ready to turn around.
Can you share some of your favorite weekend outings?
In the summer and early fall, we tend to stick to state and county fairs, but nearby cities also have heritage days or multiple-day festivals to enjoy. In late fall and the early winter months, our day trips often fall under the category of a specific destination or a nearby city we’d like to visit.
I keep a laundry basket in the house for trips, and pack an extra set of clothes, socks, and shoes for each of us, plus a plastic trash bag, sunscreen, wipes, paper towels, and hand sanitizer. The night before we travel, my daughter adds the books, crafts, and stuffed animals that she wants to take with her in the car, and I’ll add water bottles, snacks, and drinks to avoid temptation along the way. Taking along snacks and drinks provides an easy out if there is any begging for overly expensive fair/festival food ($20 funnel cakes? No thank you!).
If we’re visiting a city instead of going to an event, we tend to pick one restaurant plus one attraction with an entrance fee, like a children’s museum. Then, with those destinations in mind, I’ll make a list of all the free things to do in the area nearby, like the local arts district, walkable historical neighborhoods, thrift stores, nature centers, or playgrounds. (If we’ve been in the car for 3+ hours, we always try to go to a park or playground when we first arrive. I also scout out bathrooms and parks/playgrounds for pit stops.)
One of our first festivals, the RC Moon Pie Festival, in Bell Buckle, TN
Lover’s Leap in Chattanooga, TN
Louisville, KY Riverfront
Food truck find in Nashville, TN
How do you believe this is shaping your daughter? What are the benefits of activities on the weekends as a family? What are some of the challenges?
Being in a car makes her a captive audience, so we have a lot of discussions in the car that we might not have otherwise due to distractions at home. I don’t find that there are too many challenges, other than my husband eating pork rinds in the car, which is disgusting, or everyone getting tired of my constant 80s music.
What is on the books for this weekend? Or another event coming up that you are planning on attending?
We don’t have any plans this weekend, because we are traveling to the Ozarks at the end of next week for four days. While there, we plan on swimming, hiking, and visiting a nearby town called Eureka Springs. My husband has a busy semester this fall, so we’ll probably only plan for one or two day trips. We try to go to Chattanooga, TN at least once a year. It’s a quick trip from Nashville for people who love hiking or history. We also want to go back and visit Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville, TN.
Candyce! Ew pork rinds are disgusting! We are so grateful you shared a snippet of your world with us, thank you so much for sharing!