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Society is opening and people are resuming long overdue vacations. This is great news! I recently posted some tips on making your travels successful, but let’s focus on dos and don’ts of traveling with friends.

 

1. Boundaries: When traveling with others, set guidelines, boundaries, and expectations before leaving town. If you know you and your husband want one night to yourselves, express this up front. If a quiet breakfast in bed is necessary to start your day, see if this fits with the group’s schedule. 

The world is opening, and it is time to celebrate! One of the first things people are doing as they exercise their recaptured freedom is heading out of town to new destinations. I thought a few refresher tips on travel might be good for all of us.

Walking into the room, my husband pauses in front of the TV. Turning to me with a spoiler alert about my favorite Hallmark movie he says, “Hey Lisa…they get married.” And you know what? He’s right! The girl found her prince charming, and the couple has a happy ending, every time.

How many mornings have we left home in a state of utter chaos? Breakfast was late, children were crying, and we hurriedly throw on clothes from the night before only to realize how wrinkled we look. This mad dash makes for an unpleasant parting from our family and it is usually caused by a disorganized approach to our routine. So much of the bedlam we experience at the beginning of the day can be avoided if we are willing to implement a few tasks the night before.

The mamor (mother-in-law) and damor (daughter-in-law) relationship is meant to be beautiful and strong. In parts 1 and 2 of our series we learned why women in these roles might have certain feelings in their new family dynamics. Once we learned the “why” we then explored practical steps we can take to strengthen these special bonds. As we bring our series to a close, I want to impart some words of wisdom we all need to hear, and be reminded of, to ensure we create a healthy, life-long bond between the mamor/damor.

In part one of our series on the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship we learned why the women who find themselves in these roles often experience emotions ranging from pure joy to hurt and sadness. Once we discovered the answers, our understanding of this special relationship came into focus. We had an “aha” moment which makes our path forward easier to navigate.

Do you remember the movie Monster-in-Law? It starred Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda in a romantic comedy centered around the tumultuous relationship between a bride and her future mother-in-law. If you have not seen it, you should. It will keep you laughing but, sadly, may hit closer to home than you would like to admit.

As Texas plunged into single digits with multiple days of a windchill below freezing, millions found themselves stranded with no power or water. Living along the Gulf Coast we have weathered hurricanes and endured power outages for much longer periods, but somehow this seemed different. Maybe for those of us close to the shoreline it was the unusual sight of snow we experienced as opposed to the natural disasters we usually face that arrive with rain, wind, and sweltering heat.

Our son and daughter (in law) were finally able to take a long-overdue honeymoon to St. Lucia in December. Cecelia interned one summer for a travel agent so naturally called the company to book their trip. What an incredible experience they had, and I was reminded WHY using a travel agent is worth the expense. Fees range depending on the service, but most charge between $300-350 to plan a vacation somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. 

Q: I will be a new mom soon, and I have been preparing for life “after” a newborn. There is a lot of information on raising babies, and how dads can support mom, but I cannot find much on how moms can support dads. A lot of my mental preparation has been around my marriage. Specific questions: How do I preserve my marriage? How do we embrace the changes? How do I maintain my husband as a priority when we have a tiny human demanding everything? How can I help my husband bond with our new child?

Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those leaders that have come before us. 

Many of us grew up learning multitasking was a hallmark of a productive person. While sounding good in theory, this practice has proven to be incorrect. Studies now reveal that multitasking is nothing more than switching back and forth between tasks and it lowers our productivity. Below are 5 points that deal with the facts behind project hopping and the lack of performance that occurs when we allow seemingly innocuous interruptions to occur in daily life.

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7 Ways to Save on Gifts this Holiday Season




Does this blog seem early? Did you know we only have 10 weeks before we move into December? It is time to start planning!


1. Decide how much you can spend. If you have a $500 budget and 10 people you need to give gifts, then you can only spend $50 a person. If some of these people are couples, combine their money and buy one gift worth $100 they will both enjoy. A $100 gift certificate to their favorite special restaurant? Great idea! Do not feel pressured to spend more than your budget. Maybe it is time you cut down on who you give gifts to. Do you have a large family: aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, 10 nieces and nephews? Where does it end?!? There comes a point you need to rein in the gifts. Communicate early in the fall if you decide it is time to decrease the quantity of gifts, reduce the amount you will spend on a gift (maybe you agree each family member cannot spend more than $30), or if you plan on discontinuing gifts all together. This way others have time to digest the news, and you avoid that guilty feeling when the person says, “Ohhhh, I already purchased your gift!” Be firm in your decisions. If someone complains or tries to guilt you into giving “just one more time,” politely say no. Putting boundaries around your family budget is important for the health of your financial situation. By the way, you might be surprised how many family members sigh in relief, because they have felt the same way!


2. Instead of a physical gift, create coupons for your TIME. A coupon to wash mom’s car, to organize dad’s tools, or to give your cousin a homemade manicure. What about treating your sister and brother-in-law to a romantic, homecooked meal followed by free babysitting so they can enjoy a night on the town? There is no end to the creative options you have.


3. One way to increase your holiday spending allowance is to adjust your yearly budget. Look at areas you can cut to have a little extra money during this month. Do you normally eat out two nights a week? Tell yourself in October and November you will not go to a restaurant. Use the extra savings to increase your gift giving. There are always ways to reduce your spending, but you might need to get creative, and you will also need to practice a little self-discipline and self-sacrificing.


4. Did you know Christmas and Hanukkah come every December? Surprise! The holidays should not sneak up on you. They occur the same month every year. If you are organized, and plan ahead, you can find little jobs throughout the fall to earn extra cash. This could be as extreme as taking a second job, or you can focus on odd tasks people need help with during this busy season: dog walking, baby-sitting, yard work, gift wrapping, helping serve at private parties. These are just a few ideas.


5. Do you have old gift cards lying around you never used? Did you know you can sell them? Why not gather these up, cash them in, and increase your holiday budget? Here are two sites you can research: https://www.cardpool.com/ ; https://www.raise.com/ .


6. Save money on expensive wrapping paper. This can kill your budget! If you have children, a fun way to wrap gifts is to use their artwork. I used butcher paper when our son was young (you can also use the inside of paper grocery bags). I rolled the paper on the floor, and our son would draw whatever was on his mind. It is a great art project, and parents and grandparents love receiving homemade gifts from the children. (You can also choose to wrap the gift and then let your child showcase his artistic side. Whichever is easiest.) Tie the presents with natural twine you can find at the craft store, and you are set.


7. Never discount re-gifting! There are some rules you need to follow, though. Re-gifting does not mean giving junky gifts you received that you did not like. If you did not like it, the odds are other people will not either. Proper re-gifting means utilizing what you already have that you know will bring happiness to someone else. After all, the reason we give is to show our love and affection for someone else. So, make sure it is something the receiver will enjoy. Were you given two copies of a book by an author your sister loves? Then this would be a good re-gift for your sister. Whatever you give should be new and in its original box. You should not give away a gift that someone spent time and love giving to you. Example, no matter what my husband gives me, I would never re-gift it! This holds true with family heirlooms. Hang onto these, no matter what you might think of the item, because you have been entrusted with a piece of family history. Do not re-gift within the same circle of friends, and make sure you re-wrap the gift. You should treat your re-gift with as much love as you would something you purchased with your own money.


Remember when it comes to gifts, you are dealing with one of the 5 Love Languages. If a person’s highest love language is receiving gifts, you will need to be creative to avoid making them feel you are withholding your love. For the person whom gifts rank high on the love scale, remember it is not about the physical item as much as it is about what the gift means (the time you spent creating the gift, the thoughtfulness you invested). To learn more about the love languages, I highly recommend you read Gary Chapman’s books and review his other resources.


Above all else, remember why we celebrate this time of year. Do not let the commercialism of the season override the true meaning. It is in your control to keep the priorities of your family in check. Happy giving!


Together with you,

Lisa Lou

Get rid of the noise in your life. Join Lisa Lou and receive commonsense, faith-based advice for the modern woman.

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