Working Weekends is a series that goes beyond the Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 grind. What does a working mom’s weekend really look like? If you’re a working mom like me, the weekends are for fun, food, and family. In that order. Just kidding; food comes first. Be sure to follow along on Instagram as well.

You know how you’ve lived in a city on and off for a total of 10 years and you still haven’t gotten around to seeing certain sights or attending certain festivals? You keep saying that you will eventually, but eventually never seems to come. Oh, that’s just me? Okay. Well, this weekend I finally got around to actually attending an Omaha event that I’ve been hearing about for years. Taste of Omaha was this past weekend and we decided to head downtown on Saturday to partake in the festivities.

So what’s Taste of Omaha?

As a non-native Omahan, let me see if I can explain this. From what I gathered from my limited research, it’s a food festival where different vendors come together to let patrons sample their menu. It’s not the whole menu, but some items (maybe the best ones?) from it. I have to admit that even though we’re making it a point to try a variety of restaurants in Omaha, there were so many vendors there that I’d never heard of. Everything from Thai to Greek was in the building…er, park. There were just so many things to choose from! So…I got a cheeseburger. Haha, I know. Very adventurous, indeed.

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Jam had a hamburger and both she and Hubz tried a Chocolate Chocolate Chip  cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes. Of course Jam wanted that to be her dinner, but umm…no. We also made sure to grab some Sno Cones! They were “help yourself,” style so we certainly got creative.

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After making our way through the crowd (OMG, there were so many people!), we headed for the carnival side and this is what I learned:

  • There are so many things that I don’t know about my husband. His immobilizing fear of heights is one of them.
  • Jam is a thrill seeker. She wants to get on the highest, fastest rides, and then ride it again. And again.

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After a whirl on the ferris wheel, we headed out. I would have liked to have stayed longer, but the way my anxiety and introversion are set up, that just wasn’t a possibility. There were just so many people!! Next year, I’ll do things a bit differently.

How to Have a Great Time at a Large Festival for Highly Sensitive People

A large, crowded festival can be difficult for a highly sensitive person. Here are a few tips to make these outings fun, even for the most introverted person.

Visit during the “off time.” For someone like me, attending on a Saturday night was just not a good idea. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but an early morning or midday Sunday probably would have been better.

Get familiar with the area. Prior to going to Taste of Omaha, I had been to Heartland of America Park exactly one time. One. I had no idea how the park ran and with the festivities spanning into Iowa this year, I was really lost as to where I was going. It’s funny because the park is not huge or anything, it’s just with the amount of people, it was a tad bit overwhelming.

Have a plan on what you want to try. That cheeseburger from above was a direct result of being too overwhelmed with choices. Yep. That’s how it manifest for some of us, me included. We just pick what we know instead of trying something new because we don’t know what to try. Too many choices. Next year, I’ll have it in my mind of what my “must try” items are!

Come prepared. Why oh why did I not remember to stop by the ATM before getting to the festival? I have not paid ATM fees in YEARS and just like that, the streak was over. And because I didn’t know if the festival had ATMs available, or if they accepted debit cards, I was ruminating on this as well. Ugh.

Leave when you’re ready to leave. It’s so easy to talk yourself into staying just a little while longer because: you’ve paid your money, you planned this as a day long event, your friends/family want to stay, etc. Unfortunately (fortunately?), highly sensitive people like me can only take so much stimulation before it gets bad, really bad. So know and respect your limitations! We ended up only staying for about 1.5-2 hours and then headed for a quiet park nearby.

Overall, Taste of Omaha was worth the hassle and we had fun! Next year, though, we’ll be a little better prepared.

How was your weekend? What did you do?

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
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Figuring out how to be a better mom can be difficult when you're exhausted and overworked. Check out these tips and tricks from a mom who has been there.

Lately I’ve been exhausted. I used to be able to come home from work, cook dinner, get the kid ready for bed, help with homework, plan for the next day, and blog, without skipping a beat. I would will myself to stay awake and stay productive so that I could get everything done. Well, that’s not the case anymore. Now when I get home, I can barely finish dinner let alone do all those other things. Maybe I’m just starting to feel what moms all over the world have already been feeling–exhaustion. I am exhausted. No longer tired, but flat out exhausted. My mom duties though? Those suckers don’t take a break and each and every evening, I find myself asking, “Okay, what do I have to get done tonight? What can wait?” The thing is though, I want to be a great mom–not just a good enough mom. So to know that I’m not giving my best to my daughter on a regular basis is heartbreaking and that’s why over the weekend, I had a long talk with myself. “Get it together, Vaneese. You don’t have to be a perfect mom, but you can commit to being a better mom…even when you are exhausted.”

Okay, Self. I hear you.

How to be a Better Mom When You’re Exhausted

  • Fuel yourself for the work you do. To be a better mom, you first have to be a better person. Not in a “we are the world” type way, but in a “I need to take care of myself first” way. I recently picked up a few V8 V-Fusion+Energy Drinks from Walmart and they’re great for boosting energy throughout the day. When I’m busy + thinking about all the stuff I have to do, it’s so easy to forget to take care of me in the process. The V8 V-Fusion + Energy drinks boost my energy and has a full serving of fruits and vegetables. And the energy is natural, not artificial, because it has green tea in it. Being energized and not super sluggish definitely helps me be a better mom.

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  • Give up on perfection. Kids gonna kid, right? When I’m tired, there’s nothing more frustrating than my child being a kid. “Did you really have to drop that, spill that, break that? Ugh.” Exhaustion has a way of magnifying everything—especially the bad. To be a better mom, I had to give up the idea that everything would be perfect at all times. We all make mistakes and our children are no different. There is so much to be said about the phrase, “Just breathe.”

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  • Accept that some things won’t get done. This is, by far, the hardest thing for me. I overbook myself and think of myself as Super Wonder Mom. I can make every single appointment, the school play, and leap tall buildings in a single bound. I can take care of dinner, do the laundry, and feed starving children all in one evening. That would be nice, but it’s not reality. In reality, in order to be a better mom to my daughter, I have to pick and choose my battles. I have to be okay with saying, “You know what? That laundry can sit in that chair for another day. It’ll be just fine.”
  • Be present. When you’re with your children, you’re with your children. Jam (and Hubz) have gotten on me several times for being distracted when I’m supposed to be paying attention to them. Since I’m pretty heavy into social media, it’s really easy for me to get bogged down on Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes instead of being in the moment, I’m busy taking pictures of the moment for Instagram. I’m learning that divided time is not quality time and that being a better mom means being great at quality, and not at multi-tasking.

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  • Plan the work and work the plan. I am a big fan of planners, organizers, and calendars. My life would come to a screeching halt if I didn’t have access to my agendas at all times. Since making the conscious decision to be a better mom, I’ve relied even more heavily on my planners. When you’re already tired, not having a plan makes it even worse; it becomes downright overwhelming. When I have a clear picture of what to expect in my day, I can focus on mommying, without feeling that I’m dropping the ball somewhere else.

These are just a few ways to be a better mom when you’re exhausted. The list of things you could do is extensive, but it all really comes back to making the conscious decision to be better. It’s all about making choices that support what you want out of life and out of motherhood. I know that I have a long way to go because, as the name of my blog states, I work a lot. But nothing, NOTHING, is more important than the relationship I’m building with my daughter. She deserves more than a tired, overworked, second rate version of her mama.

If you’re looking to boost your energy throughout your busy day, please grab some V8 V-Fusion+Energy Drinks on your next trip to Walmart. You’ll be happy you did! In the meantime, be sure to enter the this sweepstake for a chance to win one of 5 $500 Walmart gift cards! V8 V-Fusion+Energy #V8EnergyBoost $2,500 SweepstakesLearn more about V8 on their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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What other suggestions do you have for those of us who are mothering while exhausted? Leave a comment below!

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Getting kids to read can be tough. I know that it was tough at first for me to get Jam to read. She wanted to do anything BUT read. We bought her books about every topic under the sun.  Anything that she remotely expressed interest in, we bought her a book on it. Butterflies, science, dolls, cars. You name it, she had a book on it. But still, she wouldn’t read. And even when we read to her, it didn’t seem like she “got” the story.  My poor baby was too busy jumping around on the bed, talking about what happened at school that day, or just doing random things to distract herself. It was almost like she wanted to be distracted! As a mama that loves to read, it was so disheartening. I was so scared that Jam was going to miss out on how truly life-changing reading could be.

Well, eventually I came up with a few ways to get my child to read. One way, in particular, I want to expound on a little bit.

DIY Paint Chip Bookmark & Reading Punch Card

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 This easy, little project works wonders. We went from pulling teeth to get Jam to pick up a book, to directing her to put them down because she needed to be doing something else. I love it!

Here’s what you’ll need to make your own paint chip bookmark & reading punch card:

  • Paint chips
  • Permanent marker
  • Hole punch
  • Yarn

Honestly, the hardest part of this project is keeping the numbers straight as you write them down the paint chip. That, and getting the hole punch right in the middle. Everything else is just cake–good and easy, cake.

The reading punch card works like any other punch card and combines goal-tracking with incentives. Get all the numbers punched (i.e. read 12 books) and get a prize. So far for us, it’s been more books. Haha!! That’s a win-win in my opinion. Plus the fact that the reading punch card doubles as a bookmark, makes it even better.

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Now, of course, I’m looking for suggestions on what to read next. I usually keep a list of books that I want to read, but I haven’t been as diligent about keeping a list of books that Jam might like to read. I know, I’m a bad mama, but that’s why I’m coming to you for help!

What children’s books should we read next?

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If my husband and daughter ever saw fit to give me a gift certificate to a rock climbing place, I would have some choice words for them. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s the thought that counts, but if they’re giving me those things as gifts for Mother’s Day, then they are obviously not thinking. See, I am an introverted person, an introverted mom, and some things, no matter how much thought the person thinks they put into it, are just not for me. I’m not interested in your loud, crowded comedy shows, or any other overly stimulating activities. No. Just no. Here are a few things that I am interested in, as an introverted mom.

Easy Mother’s Day Gifts for Introverted Moms

Noise cancelling headphones. Please get me these. Please, please, please. To be able to drown out the dribble at work or at home would make you forever my favorite child/husband. Take note–these [amazon text=Alienvibes Active Noise Cancelling Headphones&asin=B00CIRLITA] are amazing.

A book. Not a gift card to Amazon, but a book. It lets me know that you care and that you actually listen to me when I go on and on about the latest and greatest in literature. I still haven’t read, [amazon text=Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?&asin=B004JN1D3M], so feel free to get me that.

An e-reader. While we’re on the subject of books, a [amazon text=Fire HDX 8.9&asin=http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HCNHDN0/ref=kin_comp_dk_sa_txt] will do just fine. And please be sure to remember to get Prime. There’s even a free trial going on right now that I’d be happy to use.

A gift certificate to a class that I’ve been dying to take; you know I like to learn! A gift certificate gives me a chance to expand my knowledge and create. Subjects like photography, cooking, or pottery are great because they allow me to work alone or with a small group of people. Perfect for this introverted mom!

A mug or cup with a “telling” quote or saying. As an introverted mom, I say a lot without saying much. My use of non-verbals are impeccable. This “Here to Slay” mug has my name written all over it. Yass! Get me that. My morning coffee and I will thank you.

See, it’s not hard to shop for an introverted mom. It just takes a little thought and a tiny bit of patience to find the perfect gift.

Do you consider yourself an introvert? What’s been the best gift you’ve received?

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I’m officially behind on my GoodRead’s Book Challenge. Yep, I am. I’m not too surprised because life has been taking off, in a good way though. With my new job and newfound love for this blog, along with some other projects that I’m working on, my leisure time has all but seized to exist. For the month of May, though, I’m recommitting to my challenge to read 100 books by December 31, 2015. I mean, I only have about 95 left to go, so why not? Here’s what I’m planning to read in May.

Amy Poehler’s Yes Please

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I’ve been wanting to read this book for the longest. My love for AP (She calls me “VP” and I call her “AP.”) runs deep. And not just because of Parks either. I can’t wait to dig into this one.

Marie Kondo’s the life-changing magic of tidying up

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Late last year, I ran across an article featuring Marie Kondo and her unconventional methods for keeping things clean and organized. I was intrigued because I, too, personify inanimate objects. It sounds weird, but I’m hoping that Marie and I are kindred spirits and that she can crack my code for organization.

Jeanette Wall’s The Glass Castle

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I half read this book in college and remember really, really wishing I had time to read it thoroughly, instead of just blazing through for an assignment. From what I remember, it was a good book and I’m looking forward to giving it the time it deserves in May.

Pearl Cleage’s Things I Should Have Told My Daughter

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I bought this book a few months ago based on Amazon recommendations. I’ve never read a Pearl Cleage book, but I hear they’re all things amazing. Since I have a daughter and I am a daughter, I though I’d start with this one.

Henriette Anne Klauser’s Write It Down, Make It Happen

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This will be my second time reading Ms. Klauser’s book. I enjoyed it the first time, but I don’t think that I was in a place where I actually appreciated what she was teaching. Seeing as though the halfway mark for 2015 is quickly approaching, I think that this is as fine a time as any to revisit this gem and do some mid-year re-assessment of where I am and where I’m going.

Since my bookshelf overfloweth, the only book I’m planning to buy is Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please.” Everything else, I already own.

What are you planning to read in May? Have you read any of these books?