The things you need to make getting divorced happen now—even when you’re too drained to do it

You never thought you’d be here.

Well, maybe you did. There’s an internet statistic floating around that says 80% knew on our wedding day that we were making a mistake.

Too bad for us now though! So what can you do to make this complicated and scary process go just a bit smoother?

First, make sure you’re safe. If you’re in any kind of abusive or threatening relationship, please seek out police protection and get a protective order in place.

A protective order can:

  • grant you permission to stay in the house.
  • keep a locksmith from letting him after you’ve changed the locks (put a copy of the order taped to the window by your door!).
  • help you breathe easier and sleep soundly at night.

Next, change your passwords. And not just your passwords, but set up an entirely new email address he doesn’t know and begin having mail sent there. The two of you have so much history together and you never know when he may feel desperate or angry and try hacking your personal files.

Sharing custody? Instead of sitting on your couch watching the seconds tick by and listening to every breath and wondering where that random creaking sound is coming from, please promise me you’ll take some time to yourself to recover. As a single parent, your opportunities for me-time shrink way down. So make a list of things you want to do—paint your nails, watch Ali’s season of The Bachelorette when she kicks Justin to the curb as he hobbles away like a big baby, whatever it is—and reference that list when you find yourself alone on the couch, sweating, and worrying about what your ex is up to at this moment with the kids.

Finally, find a support group. I’m not so woo-woo and didn’t feel like talking about my feelings to strangers and admitting my ‘failure’ but I sure as heck wanted to hear about theirs and learn the tips and tricks. I didn’t have anyone close to me going through what I was, and I needed a tribe to lean on. I used DivorceCare, but there are lots of local or online options. Find what works for you.

If you found these tips helpful, check out my book on Amazon, Divorce: Easier Said Than Done, filled with practical tips like these to help you navigate a confusing and emotionally-draining time in your life.

I remember days and days of just saving up my tears for my 25 minute commute to work where I played Sara Evans’ Stronger over and over just to get it all out before I had to go and pretend I had my life together for the next 8 hours.

It’s important to remember that you aren’t always going to feel the way you do right now, and it’s up to you to be an active participant in your life and in this divorce. You get one good shot at it, so make it count. I’m rooting for you.

Available in Paperback or Kindle

Our surprise road trip from Virginia to Orlando

For Spring Break this year, I did something I swore I would never do—I went to a major theme park for the week.

It was an impulse purchase a few months ago because the deal was too good to pass up, and I paid an extra $100 a person for “cancel for any reason” insurance, so COVID didn’t stress me out.

The times I’ve been to Disney in the past, we always go after Thanksgiving when the crowds are light and it’s easy to get onto rides and visit with characters. But last year, we had to cancel our trip, and when I heard that Universal was capped (in theory, don’t know that I believe it now) at 35% capacity, I decided it was the perfect time to try a Spring Break trip.

The entire thing was a surprise because I had no idea if it would even happen. My husband and I both got our first vaccine dose, and everyone was healthy, so it was looking good by March. Then on Good Friday, my kids thought they were just hopping in the car with me to drop off our new puppy for a week of training camp, but secretly, dad was packing up the car while we were gone and we were sending the dog to be boarded (and trained?)!

We’re in Virginia, so we planned a layover in Savannah and didn’t even tell the kids where we were heading. As I mentioned in the last blog post, the big kids had iPads that I preloaded with movies from my MoviesAnywhere account (no internet required) and I got a portable DVD player to strap on the headrest for our toddler. Both worked really well! Plus, lots of snacks of course.

Other than a lot of bathroom breaks and diaper changes in the front seat, we had a pretty smooth trip. It was leisurely, which made it less stressful too. We spent over an hour at South of the Border, on the NC/SC border, and if you have never been, I don’t really know how to describe it to you. It’s a rundown tourist trap, and when we told the kids that we were staying for the week, they were THRILLED. Clearly, their expectations were low.

We ended up getting to Savannah around bedtime, and we stayed at a gorgeous hotel on the water thanks to a friend who had some Marriott points to spare. It was beyond anything we could have imagined and not like any place we’d stay on our own. But if you find yourself in Savannah, you need to at least stop in to the JW Marriott at River Street and check out their rock and dinosaur exhibits. It was like a mini-museum. And now I KNEW it was going to be hard to tell this kids this wasn’t actually where were were spending the week.

So the next morning, I told them we had to pack up and change rooms because our friend only gifted us one night in this room, and we went to Forsyth Park to enjoy the gorgeous views. I told them if they humored me, I’d give them their next surprise.

Ok, so technically my kids had no clue what Harry Potter World was and hadn’t heard of Universal, so this needed a bit of explanation. Once they got it though, THEY GOT IT.

I’m not sure it would have been possible to have more traffic on 95 than we did during the two days down, but our 4 hour drive on day two turned into 6, so we didn’t get check in to our hotel until dinner that evening.

I’m a big believer in looking for two bedroom suites for trips like this, especially with babies and toddlers. Both Disney and Universal offer value properties (Art of Animation for Disney and Dockside/Endless Summer for Universal), so it can be totally reasonable to go this route. My toddler transitioned to his own bed last month, so we packed bedrails, and he and I slept in the bedroom during week while the kids and dad stayed in the two queen beds in the main living area.

The benefit to having Caleb in a separate room meant he could nap mid-day, and when he woke up super early, only I had to suffer through!

It was a bit challenging when my husband and I wanted to stay up after the big kids’ bedtime, but overall, it was fine. We let them fall asleep to Shrek or another themed movie, and then we’d sit in the “kitchen” area for a night cap or just to relax for a few minutes.

I used AmazonPrime for a grocery delivery for fruit, water, beer, and other snacks to get us through the week, and it was perfect! It was nice having snack and drink choices other than $12 platters from the hotel’s dining hall and gave us stuff to take into the parks that we couldn’t bring in our car with us.

Some of these things may be a result of COVID, but a few things I learned from our first trip to Universal:

  1. Make dining reservations whenever you can. I had booked only 2 dinners (NBC Grill and Cowfish) at City Walk in advance, and those were the only meals we could get if we didn’t want a 3pm or 930pm!
  2. Come home mid-day when crowds are at their peak. We were at the parks by 7:30 most mornings and could ride a lot. Then suddenly the waits were 90-120 minutes by 1030 or 11. We made our way out of the parks and back on the shuttles for lunch/snacks at the hotel. Caleb took a nap and the kids either went to the pool or played on tablets. We would head back around 3 and had no issues!
  3. Consider if the dining plan actually works for you. I’m glad we didn’t purchase one. The lines were SO LONG in the park for quick serve meals. The only thing that saved us was that Mardi Gras was still going on, so there were food stands all around, and we were able to do that for dinners one night.
  4. Get the Photopass and USE IT. This isn’t remotely close to the Disney one, but for $100 or less, you can easily get your money’s worth. I didn’t learn until the LAST evening though that there are a ton of places that have fun photo experiences that are included with your pass. It’s not just ride photos and photographers at the entrances! My kids did a green screen shoot on our last night that I stumbled on by accident. They are some of my favorite pics from the trip!
  5. Buy the refillable Freestyle cups (the 12.99 ones, not the $25 ones). The Coke Freestyle stations are all over the parks. You can get water, lemonade, powerade, and even slushies! So don’t worry if you aren’t a soda drinker. You can refill every 10 minutes! We accidentally bought a fancy insulated cup for $25 before we entered the park, so don’t make that mistake.
  6. For the virtual queue, keep hitting that blue button. A few rides right now (esp. Hagrid’s Motorbike) are available via a virtual spot in line. Don’t mistake this as an express pass. For Hagrid’s, it was still a 90 minute wait (!!!) once we snagged this spot. If you can make it to the screen where you’re reserving the number of people for the ride and it tells you no times are available, just keep clicking. It took me about 10 minutes of trying to finally get a time reserved.

We spent one final night at a friend’s house on the water an hour north of Orlando, so it was a great way to unwind from a hectic trip, AND I got all of our laundry done! We decided we wanted to attempt the full drive home in one day, so I packaged up bags of snacks for each kid. That is what they had for the full trip, and they could eat them whenever. It kept them super quiet!

For the little guy, I bought him one of those $5 DVDs from Walmart that has 4 hours of various cartoons. He did much better than I thought on the drive down, so I wanted to double down on the DVD situation. 4 hours was awesome and kept us from having to change the DVD 10 times during the trip!

We timed our departure so we could get in 2 hours, have lunch, and then he could nap. Then we did another couple of bathroom breaks, and dinner later. Somehow, we made it from South Carolina to VA without a stop. The kids fell asleep and my bladder cooperated!

All in all, a great trip and now I know we can do road trips successfully! DM me with any other tips you have to make these trips go smoothly next time.

Planning a family road trip to Florida

Last Thanksgiving, I had a big Disney trip planned for our family. I love going down there immediately after that holiday and before the hustle and bustle of Christmas. I always find the crowds to be super light, and the weather is still a pleasing 70-something, compared to the 30s and 40s we’re starting to see at home. But as you know, there’s this annoying little thing called a global pandemic going on, so we canceled.

Then around the holidays, I saw a Harry Potter themed special come up for Universal Orlando. It was so cheap that I felt like I had to snag it and hope for the best come Spring. I bought cancel for any reason insurance and decided we’d drive from Virginia to Florida. Never in a million years did I think I’d go to a Flordia theme park over the wave of Spring Break holidays, but with the park in theory being capped at 35%, we decided there was no better time.

It’s a secret through, and I am so excited for the kids to find out. We’re breaking the trip up in two days, so we don’t even have to tell them on day one. We’ll let them think we’re just going to Savannah and that’s it. I’ll have a follow up post on our Universal experience, for sure. But today, I’m focusing on the things I’m doing to prep.

  1. Tablets/screens: My older two each have tablets, and I will download movies for offline use from my MoviesAnywhere app, which I am obsessed with. Until very recently, I still buy a lot of Disney DVDs with the digital codes, so we’ve got a great travel library that doesn’t require any internet or bluetooth connection.
  2. A portable DVD player: I’ve got a toddler who needs to be entertained, but I can’t trust him to hold anything for the trip. For less than $50, I bought a portable DVD player to strap over the headrest, so he can watch movies/shows. I found a few free Thomas the Train DVDs from my neighborhood Facebook group and will bring along a few of those to hopefully entertain him.
  3. Snacks! I’ve bought individual sized goldfish and veggie straws, plus some chocolate milks (a treat for our kids!), and other small snacks like granola bars. I’ll cut up some apples for day one too since my boys are obsessed. My husband is usually a stickler about the kids eating in his car, but those rules kind of have to go out the window when you’re driving for 7+ hours in a single day!
  4. Backstock: To borrow a term from The Home Edit, make sure you have extras of everything on hand! One time my middle kid threw up on a back road during a 4 hour road trip, and I had NOTHING to clean it up and no easily accessible clothes for him. We had to drive another 10 miles and luckily found a Walmart where I could stock up. Then we had to take out the car seat and wash it in a hotel laundry room at midnight when we finally arrived at our pit stop that night. Diapers, clothes, towels, flashlight, waters etc. And I love having some extra large ziplock bags or grocery bags for when there is a mess to clean up.
  5. Non-screen games: Inevitably the battery will die, the sun will be too bright, or they’ll get bored and just need a break from routine. I recently got a printer (only a year into quarantine!) and use the HP Ink program, which is ahhhh-mazing. I use my color ink all day long and print out bingo cards, list of the 50 states for license plate games, and other I Spy activities! It’s a great way to get kids looking at what’s around them. Who will be the first to spot a palm tree and know we’re really getting close!? I also grabbed this Rand McNally 3-in-1 book off Amazon for $9.99.

Most importantly – bring chargers, snacks, and stop early and often to pee! And have fun!

4 Things to Do to Create Memorable Birthdays

I am by no means a party planner. I don’t color coordinate well for family photos. I am an impulse shopper. And I’m constantly busy between my full time job, 3 kids, my side hustle, and keeping the house running. But what I do like to do is make birthdays special for my kids, and that gets spilled over to me and my husband sometimes too!

Here I’ll share 4 easy things you can do to make birthdays special and memorable without spending a fortune!

  1. Cupcakes for breakfast. This is a tradition I’ve been doing since the kids turned one. It’s such a treat and a great way to kick start the day. When I get my act together, we also do half a cupcake on half birthdays too.
  2. Silly themes. This is a newer one for me, but it started last year when I asked my husband what kind of theme he wanted for his birthday and he jokingly said he wanted a “haunted” theme, whatever that is. But a haunted birthday he shall get. So I hopped on Party City’s website and ordered a ton of random Halloween decorations. On his birthday morning, I got up early and decorated and packed him a lunch filled with plastic, bloody body parts too! This year I let the kids pick his theme, and they opted for golf and Where’s Waldo, which made for an interesting morning!
  3. Birthday week notes. I’m obsessed with words and notes. And I love a good post-it or lunchbox note. And during the week leading up to someone’s birthday, I leave them for my kids or husband!
  4. Balloons. For my kids, we blow up a dozen or so balloons and leave them all over the floor of their room after they go to bed, so they wake up with those first! When I’m feeling motivated or have the extra time, I swing by and order some helium balloons the day before as well, and I store them in our guest room and close the door until it’s time.

Guys, it can be that simple. And because these are traditions I’ve been doing for years (the cupcakes and balloons), the kids look forward to them and have come to expect them.

Hit my up with any of your easy birthday ideas to make the day memorable @theothersideofmotherhood

21st century COVID-friendly playdates

I have at least two (or twelve) moments a day where I feel sad or frustrated about the upheaval COVID has had to our lives over the last 12 months. And then I look to my son, who has his best friends across the street. They have barely skipped a beat. Once we started outdoor play with others again, he’s been in Heaven. I’ve never seen him happier. And it’s all thanks to creative styles of play they’ve had to get familiar with. 

My pre-teen daughter, on the other hand, doesn’t have her friends within walking distance. She has had a much more challenging year, and when I think about the isolation and lack of control that kids have experienced this year, it’s hard to stomach sometimes. At least you and I can hop in a car and go escape to a Target, a Starbucks, or a friend’s house if we really need something or someone. But these little guys are wholly reliant on us. You and me. I may say my kid can have the tablet from 5-6pm on Tuesdays but if her best friend only gets it from 8-9pm on Thursdays, then how can you connect? How do we help facilitate connection?

Over the last year, I’ve seen my kids come up with some pretty creative ways to connect with their peers, so I’m here to share a few of them today.

  1. Movie sync up. There are some fancy ways to do this, but I don’t think kids really care. My daughter was big into the Disney Zombies movie last year, and she and her friend would start it at the same time while they propped up their iPads on the couch and watched it together. They’d laugh; they’d pause when someone needed to pee; they’d talk about how they wanted to be cheerleaders now. It was almost like a normal afternoon playdate.
  2. Messenger Kids/FaceTime. Here’s your 2st century version of “Mom, I want my own phone line.” My new rule for my 10 year old is that she’s allowed to be on her tablet in the evening IF she’s talking to a friend. If it’s just her and an app, then it’s not allowed. I realized my desire to keep her “device-free” wasn’t fair when it was her sole form of connection.
  3. 90s style outdoor play. Hi. Captain Obvious here, but going to play outside like Nintendo is just becoming popular and internet is dial up has been all the rage with my kids. For my seven year old, that’s been easy because he’s got 3 best friends as direct neighbors, so as soon as we started letting kids play together outside again, that’s all they did all day long. Last summer, he’d literally be outside from 8am until 8pm and I had to drag him inside for meals. They built forts, rode bikes (and built a small ramp with one of the dads), had a million Nerf battles and water balloon fights (um, self-sealing water balloons are a top 5 recent invention), and they ate about a million Icee pops out of our garage fridge.
  4. Virtual “house” or “family.” A few weeks ago I could hear my daughter in her room playing “family” but she didn’t have any friends over. I slowly peeked my head in and there she was playing Roblox, and she had 2 friends on FaceTime with her. They were all in the same game. One was playing mom. And the other two were sisters. I couldn’t believe how creative they were.
  5. Zooming virtual school. This version of virtual school is way more fun for them, I think. Now that these kids have mastered the art of Zooming and creating backgrounds, I find my daughter creating her own Zoom calls with friends, and they set up virtual backgrounds to pretend they are in a classroom or their bedroom, etc. Similar to how they were playing house in Roblox, they were creating their own pretend worlds through the use of a background. 

If your kids are already doing these things, great! Keep it up! Let them explore new, creative ways of play.

Hopefully you found at least one or two new things to encourage your kids to build connection with peers when the world is a bit upside down. I think they’re going to be coming out of this pandemic with incredible life skills, and hopefully some new ways of thinking too.

6 people who want to hear from you today: Why sending a card can mean so much

One of my favorite emails to get every morning is my Daily Digest from USPS with my Informed Delivery of what’s coming to my mailbox today (If you have never used it, go sign up! It’s free.) I LOVE letters in the mail. Love them. They don’t even have to be in the mail. They can be left on my bathroom mirror, my laptop, in the freezer. Don’t care. I just love words and knowing someone thought of me enough to write to me. Since it’s clearly a love language of mine, I try to return the favor and send little notes, letters, and texts to people in my life. 

To make it easy for you, I’ve got 6 people you should send a card to TODAY and an idea for what to say to each. 

💜 Your partner: Easy peasy. Grab a post-it and write a note with something you love or appreciate! For example, Thanks for letting me fall asleep first so I didn’t have to hear you snore.

🤎 Your mom or dad: Drop them a card in the mail with something obnoxious one of your kids has done recently and thank them for putting up with you and congratulating them on their freedom now!

💝 Your kid: If your kids are in school and pack a lunch, put a note in their lunchbox. If they’re not quite reading, it can be as simple as “I love you. From, Mom” or if they’re a bit older, you could write a silly joke or wish them luck on a big test.

💚 Your co-worker: Are you still remote? Just check in then to say hi. Or set up a spontaneous virtual coffee date! If you’re back in-person, grab a post-it to say hi. One time, I noticed a co-worker doing work for a more senior employee that I didn’t think she should be doing, so I left her post its on her desk saying things like “Don’t Do It!” and “Just say NO!” 

🤍 Your neighbor: Another low effort, big impact one! Is there a neighbor who always borrows en egg? I’ve had to borrow frosting before after I baked with the kids and realized we’d used all of our funfetti icing! Drop them a note with the item and say something like, “Thanks for always keeping me stocked!” Or, has a friend been laying low and you miss them? Drop them a note to say just that. Maybe it’s a bottle of wine or a bag of their favorite candy with a note that says, “Miss you! Can’t wait until we can hang out again.”

💞 A friend: I love shopping for funny cards whenever I get the chance, so I always have a big stack at my house to send whenever the mood strikes. One of those cards with a quick note to say, “Miss you so much!” is sometimes all it takes to make a friend’s day!

And there you have it. Such quick and easy things to do that can make someone’s whole day! 

5 things to do when starting the divorce process

Getting divorced can be a confusing, life-altering, and emotionally-draining time. It’s even harder when you don’t know where to begin or even what to ask. There are so many things to think about and do, and it gets overwhelming. Today, I’m sharing 5 things that may not be on your radar that you should do TODAY.

  1. Change your passwords. The two of you have a lot of shared history together. You may even have a shared email address or Facebook account! Are stored passwords in the laptop he has? Do your passwords use nicknames and special dates? I remember the first thing I changed (after he moved out) was our keypad code to the house. I changed it to something that actually had meaning to him and I had always mocked. Something about that irony felt funny to me.
  2. Create a new email address. While you’re updating those passwords, go ahead and create an entirely new email address too. If things get contentious, you’re going to want to find as much privacy as you can. With many providers, you can just have emails forwarded into the same account to view. I have multiple Gmail accounts, but when I’m looking on my phone, they all come into the same inbox.
  3. Remove your ex from your emergency contacts. Make sure that as you call up your medical professionals (Doctor, Dentist, Therapist, etc) that you remove your ex as your emergency contact. Make sure that your ex can no longer access your personal information. This one isn’t necessarily urgent, but it’s one you could easily forget about, so you’re better off doing it now. Additionally, make a note to yourself to remove your ex as your beneficiary. In most states, you cannot do this until you are legally divorced.
  4. Always write out your texts and emails as if the judge will read them aloud in court. Be as objective as possible. I don’t want you to learn this one the hard way. In the early days, we’re either very trusting and open or things are a hot mess with insults and tempers all over the place. 
  5. Get a planner. This was one of the greatest tips I got when I went through my divorce. I had a small daily planner where I notated everything: the times he failed to show up for the kids, the times I thought he was intoxicated, when he lashed out at me, comments from his friends and family that supported my case…the list goes on. Use it to log any issues that come up with your ex. Having a record of every time he bails on the kids or fails to do something he says will help you so much when it comes to court proceedings. Take time everyday to update your planner – you have so many moving parts that things will quickly get away from you if you don’t do this daily.

Divorce is never easy on anyone, but having some guidance along the way can make the experience a lot more bearable. 

You’ve got this!

These tips are an excerpt from my new book Divorce: Easier Said Than Done and it comes out at the end of March.

A love letter to the brokenhearted mama

Dear Newly Single Mama,

It’s Valentine’s Day, and maybe it’s the first one where you’ve been on your own in a really long time. No one is buying you flowers. No chocolate covered strawberries or box of mystery chocolates. No card expressing adoration for you. Sorry to be that buzzkill. Was your ex really good at those things? Did they make you feel loved?

For me, I was never a big fan of Valentine’s Day because it all felt forced—especially when I had a partner who didn’t do a lot of thoughtful things like that without a holiday telling him to. My favorite part of Valentine’s Day was always the sweet things the kids would bring home from daycare, and now you may not even have that this year thanks to the pandemic.

What I’ve learned about Valentine’s Day is this: the day is as special as you want to make it, in whatever form you want that to take. I decided on my first single Valentine’s Day that I wanted the day to be about our love as a family. I wanted my kids to know how special they were and all of the reasons why I loved them so much. If I wanted their cute little hands on a canvas, well then I can drive my butt to Target or place an order on Amazon for a 5 pack of them.

And as my daughter prepares for middle school next year (and the obsession with boys and if she’s cute enough for them to like her, already seeps into her sweet little mind), I’m spending THIS year reminding her what Valentine’s Day is really about. Why it’s an expression of love. Just love. Love is love is love, after all.

We grew up in a different time, perhaps feeling like our happiness hinged on a man finding us worthy or desirable, and as we grow older, I find myself calling bullshit on all of that. Why do I need that validation to make me feel worthy? And why would I ever want my daughter to feel that way? I don’t.

And so, I create traditions that have nothing to do with romantic love. We belong to each other and have accountability to our family and friends. That is what I want to value, and how I want to raise my kids.

Mama, there’s a lot that you and I have to untangle as adults. So much to undo about how society raised us to believe in our value as women. But I’m here to tell you:

You are loved.

You are worthy.

You matter.

And you are perfection.

So on Valentine’s Day, if there’s something that you want to need: do that thing for yourself. If it’s a love letter, write one to yourself—examining all the ways you are absolutely incredible as a woman, a mom, a co-worker, friend, etc. If it’s a fancy dinner you want, order a steak, sit by the fire, and turn on a romantic movie (or comedy, or WHATEVER YOU DAMN WELL PLEASE). Buy yourself some flowers. Your very favorite, not just red roses because it’s tradition.

And lastly, write another woman in your life a love note today. Remind her how amazing she is and why you celebrate her today.

Valentine’s Day is for everyone to enjoy and celebrate love. Especially you.

New Year Resolution Check In

We’re just over 3 weeks into 2021. How’s it going for you? Did you make any resolutions or set any goals that are still kicking? I sure hope so! The odds are in your favor if you can make it even 30 days.

A few weeks ago, I shared my plan for goal setting this year. It was a new take on resolutions for 2021, and I broke my milestone goals into mini goals each month.

Overall, I’m really proud of how I’ve done so far this month. I have only missed one or two days of prayers for Josh, and even though my workouts haven’t been anything to write home about (literally, a quick 3 sets of 3 exercises before putting someone to bed at night), I’m mostly sticking to the goals.

My biggest accomplishment so far this month has been all the progress I’m making on book #2. I wanted to get my launch team restarted this month and I did that Saturday. I want to finish my draft by the end of the month, and it’s all typed up with a few gaps to fill in before the editing begins.

I’ll say this—the mini goal chunks are amazing for me. And there are so many components to a goal that if I don’t get all of them, it’s okay! They are all progress to the bigger dreams.

And P.S. My dry January is still going strong. This has been an insanely hard month, and we got a puppy last week that has turned my world upside-down in a way I wasn’t prepared for at all. And with the scary, the exciting, and the stressful moments this month, I’ve done it all with water, lemonade, and some soda. I’m so proud of myself to know this can be done even if there’s no baby in the belly. But that said, I’m so excited for February 1st to sit down with The Bachelor and celebrate my kids’ 1st day back to in-person school (for as long as it lasts).

Activity: A Daily Valentine Love Note

Original heart project from 3 years ago still going strong
(PS – the black cross outs are from times her pre-teen angst came out and she wrote things like “LIAR” or “NOT TRUE” on them! And then she felt bad and crossed them out)

Over the last 5 years, I’ve grown more and more into a words of affirmation love language gal, and it’s pretty typical that the love we want to receive is the love we tend to give as well. I love writing little notes in my kids lunches and post-its on my husband’s bathroom mirror. And this little craft is the pinnacle.

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to make the kids (and my new husband) feel really special for Valentine’s Day. But not on Valentine’s Day. I wanted them to feel special the whole month leading up to the day. Think of it as my take on the 12 Days of Christmas (although that technically starts on Christmas and runs until January 6th). Each morning I put one heart on their door frame inside their room so it was one of the first things they saw in the morning. By the 3rd day, they couldn’t wait to see what I was going to write because now they knew it was coming!

This is such a simple project, but it does involve a lot of thought if you want to do it well, so I suggest mulling over each “I love you because” fact for a few days to get you to 14. I might also suggest that if you do have another parent in the home, they could take 7 and you take 7! My husband isn’t the best at expressing himself to the kids, so having these daily visual reminders means a lot to them!


  1. Scissors
  2. Sharpie or other fine point marker
  3. Construction paper (I like red, purple, and pink for variety)
  4. A list of all the things you love about someone

My hearts are a mix of serious, funny, and personal thoughts—same with my husband’s. The intention behind it (particularly for my kids) is for them to know that Valentine’s Day is an expression of love, and it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not someone in your class likes you or has given you flowers or chocolate. My oldest is about to hit middle school, and next year, things like Candygrams and other cute deliveries will become a reality to her. I want her to always know that her worth isn’t determined by things like that, and Valentine’s Day is an excuse to tell everyone you love how you feel about them—mom, brother, grandma, best friend. You name it! There’s a reason we did Valentine’s for our entire class as children. Sharing the love and kindness to many is what the day is about. And while it’s nice to get some flowers or chocolates, it’s more important to feel loved. And that is the point of 2 weeks worth of affirmations that they keep up in their rooms for months.

These hearts have seen better days, but I love that they are still hanging 3 years later.