This is how to work hard and still be a great Mom!

It is possible to be a successful working mom and to still be a good mom. I have been the stay-at-home mom, but I am currently the mom who works full-time. Let me tell you, both are hard work and it is true: a mother’s work is never done. We are always on call.

Here is how I have been able to get things done and still be present for my family when I am home.

Planning is key!

I have always been the person who must write everything down. It helps me to process and focus. If I know what I have coming up with work events, appointments, and meetings then I can compare and plan. I make sure I am not losing quality time with my kids. This is huge! When I am working, I am all in. When I am home, that is my focus! Business hours are established, and if I need to figure in a meeting or event, then I make sure to make the time up at home. When I am with my family, I am 100% focused on them. No phones, tablets, computers, or any other distractions. I work hard so that when I am not working I can live my life!

Establish “me” time.

I need time to refocus, re-energize, and find my center. This can be accomplished in small pockets of time, and it’s usually short and sweet…reading for 20 minutes before I go to bed, listening to a podcast on my way to work, meditating during my lunch break. Other things I do for me are: waking up earlier to enjoy my coffee on the porch before my kids get up. Whatever you can make work for you—do it. It will help you become happier and less stressed when you are at home, and you will perform better when you are working!

It is possible to be a successful working mom and to still be a good mom. Here’s how to find the balance.

 

Have fun!

When at work, smile, joke, and take that coffee break. Enjoy the moments of connecting with people you encounter throughout your day. You can still accomplish all you need to do and have a good time while doing it. Plus, you never know who needs a smile! When you are at home with your family, then dance in the kitchen, have a tickle session with your kids, and cuddle up and watch your favorite cartoons. I am convinced that the power of laughter and smiling can change the world. Don’t take everything so seriously and make light wherever you are.

Utilizing time is vital, and it doesn’t just fall under planning.

The thing is, us mamas have so much to do even when we aren’t at work. Games, appointments, chores, house and yard work… Take these times and make it a family event. Need to get your workout in? Get everyone on their bike and do your cardio. Make cooking a family occasion; have the kids help you wash the veggies while you prep something else. Turn chores such as yard work into bonding time. They will get a lot of reward out of the process, and you are teaching them qualities that will stay with them for a lifetime! I have found that some of our most favorite times have been created in these moments. My kids appreciate that I trust them to help me, and we always have such a good time while spending quality time together.

The thing is, there is no perfect way to be a working mom or a stay-at-home mom. You must find the best formula that works for you and your family. By using a few or all of the steps above you might find that it is possible for you to balance working and family life in a way that works for you.

Shine bright and share love!

Ashley

Original written and seen on

Thegritandgraceproject.com; edited to reflect our current path of life. – Ashley Vancil

Winter weather and Skin care

Let’s talk skin care shall we? Who knew that at 30… something =) I would be dealing with more acne then I did my freshman year of high school? Because, hormones. Aggghhhh. Then add in some new wrinkles and winter coming so now acne prone, dry skin is a thing. Y’all being a woman isn’t for the faint of heart. Here I am though and I am learning skin care is so important. Wish I had learned this lesson a little earlier but it is what it is.

My skin care routine has changed a lot to say the least. My morning and night routine are very important to me and help me combat this mess and bitter cold weather we are having in Misery, I mean Missouri. I had a friend introduce me to Beauty Counter when I was mention all my new found problems and so far I am loving it. Mind you I have oily/ combination skin with dark spots and large pores. (Thanks Mom.) But here is what has been working for me.

 

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I use the CounterControl system that is for acne prone oily skin. It truly is heavenly. My go to items are all pictured above. Girlfriend, let me tell you want baby smooth skin at 34? This may be for you and my girl Lindsey can hook you up with beauty counter so let me know if you need her deets.

Morning Routine:

I start with the face wash which isn’t pictured here. (My bad it was in my shower and I forgot to grab it.) Then I use the toner and follow up with the moisturizer and spritz in a few sprays of the Rose Spray by Stella and Grace! I clean homes so that’s my general weekly morning routine. NO makeup on the average day because what is the point when I am going to probably sweat it off.

 

This keeps my skin clean and my pores from getting clogged. My breakouts and pesky pimples have decreased 85% since I have started this routine. Say What? Yes, it is working that well for me! Nights I do a little more and I take my time. It is my chance to unwind and wash away the day. It helps me to really calm my mind to relax and head to bed too. Don’t ask me how, it is just magical that way; and it works. lol

 

Night Routine: 

I start with the face wash. Then I use the toner follow up with the all over acne moisturizer and top with the moisturizer. After that I use my microneedle roller. I apply the Vitamin C serum when I am done micro needling my entire face and neck. Once I have patted that on my face I use my Jade Roller for around 5 minutes, then I spritz on a few sprays of the Rose Water Spray! My face feels sooooo darn amazing once I am finished.

A few more things that I do to help is drink LOTS of water. I can’t stress this enough. There are so many amazing benefits. Once a week I derma plane my face as well. Keeps it smooth and when I do wear makeup it helps keep it even. I add in a charcoal mask 2 times a week and eye mask every few weeks to help with brightness under my eyes.

 

I have made it a habit to read more on skin care, preventions and products. Keep yourself familiar with what you are using and the benefits; regardless of the products you choose! My biggest tip to anyone at ANY age would be to start now and use sunblock. Your skin will thank you!

Stay Luminous Babes,

Ashley

 

Keeping balance during the holidays!

Please tell me I am not the only one who struggles with this? Why is it that when Halloween is over we seem to go, “From the window to the wall….” for all the sweets and unhealthy food? I blame cold weather because it is simply the worse for me. I want all the cozy comfy clothes and comfort food. Please? And Thank you! If you aren’t like me than scroll on and I will just make this my own journal entry because I am definitely so freaking guilty of this every year…

 

So here is the thing; this year has been a lot about balance for me and here we are in the thick of all the holiday shenanigans and I am trying to apply balance here as well. This is what I am doing. Maybe something will resonate with you and you will be able to add it to your routine as well.

  • I allow myself treat and not “cheats”! I don’t know what it is about the mindset and changing those words, but it is magical. I don’t go crazy and I still try to reign it in, but I enjoy things as well. I want my eating to be a lifestyle and that means getting to also enjoy the things I love.
  • I have my treat but then pass on all the leftovers. I don’t allow myself to over indulge. This only ever results in me feeling terrible and being mad at myself for treating my body so badly.
  •  Drink LOTS of water! My body, skin and digestive system love me for this and I can’t stress enough how much better this makes me feel.
  •  I stay active even if I am staying in and out of the cold. Want to know some amazing workouts you can do at home, get awesome results and in a short amount of time let your girl know. There is no excuse. If you can move your body; then you are blessed and you need to move your body.
  •  Eat some extra goodies one day then I balance it with doing a little more work or adding in some extra healthy veggies the next day. Make sure to give your body what it needs and it will treat you well.

The holidays are about traditions, treats and wonderful time enjoying the things you love with those you love. Just remember what also makes you feel good. Keep those things in mind and find your own balance through the season and you will be thanking yourself come the New Year!

 

Love & Light Dolls,

Ashley

 

To the Momma of young kids..

My boys are 8, 6 and 4 now and yes they are a little older so we are thankfully out of the diaper stage and having to pack the entire house when we do something, but we have entered a whole new complicated stage of life.

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Being a Single Momma is hard. You are doing all the things and running on no sleep all while having no one to bitch to about all the crazy. Not having anyone there to support you, help you make decisions or tell you that it is all going to be okay. You just have to hope that you are doing alright and pray for all the Grace on days when you know you fall short.

Here I am in this new phase of life where my kids are developing into their own little personalities and have BIG feelings about everything. While I love this stage and how they are finding their own it can be a tad overwhelming and embarrassing when we are out in public and it is 3 again me . I struggle with wanting to take them to do things and then just staying in because it can be so exhausting and draining at times.

 

Momma, Yes you! You are not alone!! It doesn’t matter if you are a single mom, working mom or stay at home mom. We all understand how hard it is and here is why I think you should push through and go take your kids to do the things even when it is hard!

 

It is so rewarding even when it is hard. You are teaching them how to act and react to things. They watch EVERYTHING you do. They pick up it all. How we treat other people, how we teach them to behave and respect others. How to smile and be happy through it all. Even when things don’t go as planned. You are making memories with them that will guide their childhood. Quality time and love are what are children crave. It may not always seem that way because they have no idea how to tell you what they need at this young age, but it’s in our makeup. We are made to need connection and community. We thrive on it and we grow from it.

 

Teaching our children how to express that and show that is only going to help us more as parents. Our kids will want to share and talk with us more. They come to you more when they feel safe, loved and respected. All things we teach them as we do more with them. Again, they are watching how we interact with others and learn from us.

 

If we don’t make it an effort to put our words into actions how will they ever truly learn how to act. The whole, “Do as I say not as I do!”, saying is bogus. You are teaching your children. If we can’t brave the crazy of real life situations with our kids how can we ever expect our kids to be brave and face things? It is hard. It is exhausting and it is SOOOOOO draining. It is also so worth it. For you and them. I promise the experience will bring you moments of stress but it will also bring you moments of pure happiness. Let those moments drive you and be what push you to brave the next event. Push through the impossible moments and the more you do the less and less they become. They slowly learn how to act, how to be and how to enjoy it all with you.

Always remember Momma, you aren’t alone. We are all here just trying to figure this out and make it. You got this and we will look back on this stage of life one day and wish we were here again. Sitting in the middle of the crazy. Time is fleeting so soak it all up!

 

Love and Light,

Ashley

This Is Why You Need to Start Your Day With Intent and Purpose

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One of my main goals at the start of this year was to begin each day with intent and purpose. I am so glad that I stuck with it; it has allowed me to appreciate every day and helped me focus on what’s important. My year has been full of setbacks, triumphs, accomplished goals, and shattered dreams. Without it all, I wouldn’t have been able to see that I can focus on my purpose every day no matter what is going on.

In order to achieve my main goal of living with purpose, I must focus on being intentional with my time and energy. There are small and simple ways of doing so, and I think everyone could benefit from some of them.

The first thing starts right when you wake up: stay unplugged.

Resist the urge to look at your phone. The emails, texts, and notifications will still be there in an hour. Take a few minutes and set your goals for the day, and make positive mental notes for how you want the day to go. You control your mindset and that affects how the rest of your day will play out. Make it count from the time you first wake.

Second, create a morning routine that works for you.

It’s easy to let ourselves go when we are so often taking care of other people. Setting aside time for myself in the morning has been my key to overcoming this battle. I wake before everyone else does, even when I am exhausted and sleeping in sounds so much better. My mental health needs that time each morning.

I start by feeding my cats and letting my dog outside. That way everyone is content, and I can focus on me. I like the quiet when I first wake. No noise at all and Lord bless the person who tries to talk to me before I have my first sip of coffee, the juice that fuels my soul. It is my breathe of fresh air as soon as I wake. (For you, it may be water, tea, or juice—just find something that you look forward to after getting out of bed!) After I grab my mug, I sit outside and take 30 minutes devoted to something that feeds my soul: my devotional, prayer, reading some of the current book I am working on. I also enjoy listening to the birds, taking deep, deliberate breaths, and stretching. You might even want to do a short yoga flow. Just get your blood circulating. Say your affirmations while you do this, and set the tone for the kind of day you want to have!

Use these simple suggestions to make your day count from the first moment you wake!

 

After your mind is in the right place for the day, switch the tone.

This is what I like to call “Wild and Ready.” I turn on upbeat, fun music. Whatever I may be in the mood for that day. Pop, Christian, Rap, Best of the ’90s… Just make it fun, do a jig, laugh at your dance moves in the mirror! Then commence getting ready while you sing to your heart’s content. And sing, girl! Don’t hold anything back; you are building the stepping stones for your day. Once my mini debut for America’s next big star (home edition) is over and I am ready to walk out the door, I check my agenda for the day, gather my things, and head to the car.

Maximize your drive time.

My time in the car in the mornings is dedicated to personal care. Let’s also call it mental health, personal development, and growing my mind. This is when I tune into my favorite podcasts. My top three favorites are This Grit and Grace Life, The Dr. Zoe Show — Redefining Your Superwoman, and She Thrives (if you find cursing offensive, this one probably isn’t for you). These are just my top picks that resonate with me. Listening to them helps me get out of my head, learn something new, and receive encouragement from an outside source. You may not like any of these, and that is fine. There are so many options; find some you like and tune in. I promise you this will become a great time for self-reflection and mental growth.

Find simple ways to make an impact daily.

Once I get to work, I check my emails and see what I need to tackle. Before I do that, I take a quick five minutes and send a thoughtful, positive message to the first five people who come to mind. You never know whose day you might brighten. If they message back and I don’t have time to respond, I get back to them on my lunch break or the next time I have a quick moment.

Ladies, I think a lot of us get tied up in the go, go, go and forget to find the joy in everything. We can get so much more out of our day when our attitude is properly set. Whether you use my tips, tweak them, or discover your own—find a way to find the sweet moments and create a hopeful, optimistic mood for your day. Your life matters, so make your time count!

 

Article was originally written by Myself for, The Grit and Grace Project Online Magazine

Please Check out their amazing site at thegritandgraceproject.com to read some amazing and inspiring articles for women who are living this Grit and Grace Life!

 

Love and Light,

Ashley

Get out of bed… you are worth it.

12869717-785A-4609-9D3C-74699218E569.pngI have dealt with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. As a child I didn’t know what it was called but I knew how bad things would get for me at times. I felt very strongly about things. When things were good, they were amazing. When things were bad, they were really bad. As I grew up I heard from a lot of people that,

“It wasn’t that big of a deal.”

“That I was overreacting.”

“That I just needed to get over it.”

“There is no reason for you to sleep this much.”

“You are so blessed in life, you have no reason to be sad.”

The thing is, I felt bad for feeling. I knew something was wrong but I felt bad that I felt this way. I didn’t know that at the time I was fighting something dark within myself and that I had no idea how to fight it. Depression, as I later learned it’s name. And life crippling Anxiety with a small spectrum case of bi-polar disorder.

I was so embarrassed for years. I refused to tell anyone what I WENT THROUGH. I begin self harming myself at 11. At 11! I would cut myself in places where I knew others wouldn’t see and on the weekends I began to drink a lot. This is when I began my attempt at self medication.

 

As I grew I didn’t stop this habits I just got better at them. I of course added in other things to self- soothe. I never sought actually help until I was in my mid-twenties and I still never told anyone. My husband at the timed didn’t even know. I was embarrassed.

I never started to really realize and talk about my depression and anxiety openly until after my separation and then divorce with my husband.

Here are somethings depression has taught me.

It is debilitating. It is dark. It is lonely. It lies. It alienates you. It controls you completely. I begin my journey for the right medicine cocktail of anti-depressants and  anxiety control medication. This was a terrible journey. The meds that worked for me also caused weight gain, insomnia and you guessed it depression and possible suicidal thoughts.  After my divorce when my children would be at their dads for the weekend I wouldn’t leave bed aside from going to the bathroom. I wouldn’t eat. I wouldn’t shower. I wouldn’t talk to anyone. I didn’t care and I didn’t want to think, feel or be. I had some very scary close calls.

Depression is controlling. I remember everyday when I had good intentions. When I planned to be happy. When I wanted to change and when I decided I would be in control. Then I would make excuses to get out of whatever I had planned, had to do or whatever those good intentions were. I would roll over in bed and go back to sleep. Relieved and defeated that depression won again.

Then one day I remember being fed up. I remember saying to myself SCREW THIS! I AM DONE! I struggle daily with the easy way out. The path where I let depression win. I fight through it and get out of bed. I get ready. I do something that makes me feel good about myself and I make myself leave the house. At first I would literally just go to the gas station. Just made myself get out of the house. I knew I was done though. I was done with those patterns and letting depression win.

I don’t think depression goes away but I do think we can find healthy ways to deal with it. This is something that I plan to dedicate time to daily in my life for the rest of my life. I will do this because I am worth it and my kids deserve the most kickass momma that I can be!

So let me tell you this. You are not alone. This battle you are in isn’t just yours. We share it, others share it, our families and friends share it. How you deal with it is your choice though. You have to decide to be stronger than your disease. Only you can decide you are worth it. Only you can Get out of bed and fight!

Fight dear friends! Fight for yourself, your children, your parents, your siblings, your friends, your job, your pets! Yes depression sucks and is hard but life has way to much beauty to also offer us. Do it for me but mostly FOR YOU!

 

GET OUT OF BED!!

Love and Light

Ashley

Seasons Change

The older I get it still completely blows my mind how quickly the seems to slip past us. I swear Summer just got here and now it is almost gone. Let me tell you; I AM NOT READY! This Summer was one for the books with my crew and myself. We soaked up all the sunshine, water and even the killer heat was embraced laying in the river as much as we could. We adventured our little hearts out and this season has honestly been one of my all time favorites for my boys and me. We spent countless weekends in “The Wandering Poppy”, our new to us popup camper we got and have been working on all summer. Found some campgrounds we love and some we don’t. We have endured pain, hurt and sickness as well. I have personally went through so many changes this season.

 

Some were definitely harder than others and they all taught me some tough life lessons. As the seasons change, so do we. Y’all, I have grown so much! I have learned to freaking love myself again! I have learned I am okay being alone. I honestly have learned how to thrive alone; not just survive. I have went to work for myself and I am quickly growing a good business that will provide for myself and my kids like what I need to. I have rekindled an old love that I have always had with Nature and I have embraced that every chance I have had! I have become a mom who listens, slows down, loves hard and most importantly smiles and laughs with my babies again.

 

When you watch yourself go through tough season we tend to lose that smile and laugh. The first time I caught myself smiling for no reason I knew I was finally headed in the right direction. That direction was found all on my own with deep soul searching. Once you can find that on your own without depending on others you know you are finally healing from those bad seasons of life. As I sit here writing this reflecting back I truthfully have no idea how I did it some days when I was drowning in my depression. All I know is that each day I tried to push harder, do better and be present. Then one day I was there, smiling. With each passing day I just push back. Only I can control how I react to what life throws at me and I hope my boys learn resilience from me. I hope they know that even at my worst I was trying. I was trying for them in all my faults and failures.

As Fall quickly approaches and the leaves begin to change colors and fall from the trees that carried them so beautifully all season, I want to remember what this season meant for me.

This Summer and this season of life. How they have helped me grow in ways most will never recognize or realize and that is okay. I don’t need anyone else’s validation but I know in my heart how damn far I have come. How hard I have had to fight to get here and how hard I will have to fight to continue to grow. But I am worth it. My boys are definitely worth it and so is the future I will build for us.

The season approaching is already so busy and filled with promises. Things that I can’t wait to see fall into place. Growth that will be amazing to watch unfold. More healing and I am sure heartache. That is the beauty of this chaotic life though isn’t it. For everything that is taken away something gorgeous will come to pass.

 

It may be hard but it will be worth it! Hang on tight doll, the best is yet to come.

Shine Bright,

Ashley