...is the process by which we create, discover, learn and grow with those we cherish most.


first annual parent retreat

With Aaron and I being work-from-home parents, and raising our 2 kids beside us - it has been an extremely challenging and yet fulfilling two and a half years. Wow. Has it really been that long? Making the decision to take our careers indoors rather than trade them in was semi-planned. I knew for certain that I'd want to be home - but what I didn't know, was how to make it all fit.

For Ava and Noah to be able to see us "work" is heartening - I sense their appreciation for our time, as well as the opportunity to understand a bigger picture outside of their own worlds. It also gives them their own "space" to explore and "play" throughout the house without us monitoring them like hawks. My annual bonus comes to me daily - by spending all day with them and even stealing moments of them during my "office hours."


From the moment our children wake up - to the moment they lay their heads on the pillow - our hours are preciously spent nurturing, loving, teaching, and learning as a family. We feel blessed to have this way of life, which is why if we want to maintain it, keep it healthy and strong. So we invented our own "Parent Retreat" - a weekend specifically dedicated to the cause of our family by reflecting, repositioning, and redefining our commitment to parenting.

This past weekend, we drove down to the Texas Hill Country and stayed at a cozy B&B so that we could relax, rejuvenate, and realign what we work so hard for.


Our Parent Retreat kicked off with first examining our calendars and how we could better prioritize our individual roles. We created a family calendar using Google so that we could update and access it anytime and anywhere. Then we ran through the gamut of important topics such as:

Managing the flow of money is a job in itself. You can't rely on your financial adviser to plan your future for you - only we can do that - because our goals change so much and ultimately, are responsible for what we want to achieve.

Great resources: Mint.com is a free website that pulls and updates all your accounts [from banking to investing] in one central place. What I love about this site is how it gives me a clear [and sometimes scary] graphic picture of our spending habits and how easy it is to adjust, prevent, and prepare with this knowledge in my hands [sorry Starbucks, we had to let you go].

Motivational reads:
Smart Couples Finish Rich and Smart Women Finish Rich

Weekly menu planning
Our biggest expenditure no doubt is food. And that's a good thing since it's our primary source of health and energy. Not having a planned menu has caused fatal incidents - like throwing away unused fruits and vegetables... to therefore not getting a good balance of healthy choices each day.

On top of wasting food, we weren't spending enough time in the kitchen cooking. What was a chore is now something I look forward to as a family. We blocked off times each day for just meal prep - with planned ideas on how we could include the kids [such us ripping the lettuce or setting the table...]. This requires dedicating a day for shopping and drafting our menus - and includes pre-washing, chopping and preparing our ingredients ahead of time - not to mention another way to involve the kids.

Great resources:
Spreadsheets - we created ours in Excel, but any notebook will do if you want to try this. We categorized each meal time and filled it in using cookbooks and memory. This was tremendously helpful because the overview allowed us to see how balanced our diet was - as well as categorize exactly what we need to put on our grocery list. [On Monday when Aaron did the grocery shopping for the week, we cut our average grocery bill by $40!] Buying exactly what you need saves money, time and food from being wasted - and not to mention agony over, "what's for dinner?"

Children's education and daily learning

A very huge topic that is personally sacred to me. With a little pre-planning, we can take advantage of our resources and produce creative experiences for our children. From listening to music to clearing out the furniture for an evening of dance... art projects to express ourselves to dressing up and making puppets for a show...There's also nature walks, reading books, playing instruments [bought and made], board games, and even attending local festivals around town. All of this could easily be done in a week by making use of what we already have and planning ahead so that the creativity continues indefinitely.

While I see the importance of setting routines for Ava and Noah [meals and nap time], I also see the value in letting them lead me in the direction they are feeling creative. For example, I started with finger painting - it may lead to playing with cars instead... and that's ok. Because my overall goal for that activity was practicing fine motor skills...

In addition, we also dedicated time each night for the family to do something together. This helps us wind down [even when we are dancing] simply because Aaron and I have committed to this time to not think about work... or the tiles falling off in the bathroom...

Great resources:
The Complete Daily Curriculum, The Playful Toddler, Child of Wonder, The Creative Family and of course, Savvysource.com. There are also countless wonderful parenting and educational resources available for late night online browsers [like me] to check out too...

There were a few other items on the agenda - such as date nights once a week and designating home chores [We decided it's fruitless to stress over chores left undone and therefore simply split the responsibilities and designated various "clean-up" times throughout the week]. Ahh.....


We ended the weekend with a couple's massage, and got back in the car and headed home. The four hour drive gave us a lot to think about.... and look forward to. First being, the look on Ava and Noah's faces when we walk through the door.... and then all of the new fresh ideas we have in store for them.

The main idea or purpose behind a Parent Retreat - is to dedicate some time to yourself - and your partner.
We are accountable for how we spend each precious day we are given - and the idea of a parent retreat is just one way to help map out our days ahead. I would encourage it for every dynamic family - in whatever shape or form that may be. Just as birthdays or anniversaries are celebrated - so too should parenting.

This is just a sampling of what we've experienced, and I hope you find your own way that works for you and your family.

Happy retreating...
If there are additional resources or shortcuts you've learned along the way... we'd love to know!


  1. a parent retreat?!! what a great idea! I think I'll have to borrow it. I have some tips on time savers, e-mail them to you later.

  2. Please do! That's why I wrote about it. But promise me you'll email me and tell me how it goes. I can't wait to get your time saver ideas... do send when you can! xxoo

  3. Hi!
    I just wanted to say that I recently discovered your blog and am finding it very helpful. I'm also a work-at-home mom, and you give me hope that I can find a way to successfully manage it all--and stay sane!


  4. Hello there McBabble and welcome! I am honestly excited to hear how helpful this blog has been for you - it makes writing it worth it. So thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me today.

    From one Mom to another, working and mothering together at the same time has been well, a process. And there were days when I didn't think I'd make it, and something would have to give. [It was usually sleep - smile]. But over time, the subtle transitions have taught me that indeed all of this is manageable - and more.

    I hope you will return soon and share some of your experiences with me. Best, Zarlacht

  5. Dear Zarlacht,
    I wasn't following your blog the past one or two months I think, because of the tyrant lack of time and also because I was not seeing new pictures uploaded from you on flickr, so I didn't have the reminder.
    I find this idea of the parenting retreat totally great! We went on a couple's trip with Oz a month ago, and it was the best thing... We did that last year, but only for two days. This year we added a day. And the funny thing is that it precipitated a big change in Zoe's life, that was planned for a few weeks later. She left her night diaper. She was still sleeping with a diaper. And the beloved lady that stayed with her on these days (a person of our choice and someone after our own hearts, who we have known for many years now), couldn't find them, so one night she slept without diaper. She kept herself dry so we put it on again, and prepared her for the last goodbye two days after our return home. And it turned out great because she was finally ready and she is always dry in the morning after twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep.
    But that's the cherry of the cake. The main thing is, we got to spend almost three days together, talking like mad, being madly silent too, and reading books. And those days served us also to talk calmly about all this things about parenting that we usually can't talk properly about in the rush of the everyday, and under Zoe's vigilant ear and perpetually talking voice!
    So... phew! This comment is far too long, sorry.
    What I was wandering was, how do you manage to do all these things during the days? Ours seem to be so short after all... I can't really work, because mostly I have to do it when I am with Zoe, and that's not really possible. At least not in a very productive way since I have to stop every two minutes to answer something or save something or someone from an accident... But mostly because she talks so much that I just can't concentrate. Next year she will be attending to kindergarten, we finally made the decision and chose the best one for us. But until then... Not too much working possibilities for me.
    Still... I do work. Something.
    And I plan some things.
    And I do some other things.
    But you sound so organized... I think we have to try a schedule, that is something I didn't try with the whole family.
    OK, I'll let you sleep now.
    Sorry for this neverending comment.
    I missed you.
    Hi friend!
    Bye now, I swear...

  6. What a great idea. Would you mind sharing the B&B where you stayed? Many, many thanks. I'm sending this blog off to my husband to read!


Thanks for sharing - I will respond to your comment here as well so check back! xo


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