Single Mother Finds Stability Through Shelter


Alma was 19 when she left Mexico in 1994. By 1997, she was married to her first husband, and in 2000 she had a baby boy. Six months after the birth of her son, she faced a terrible tragedy: her husband had passed away. Things were tough, but Alma was tougher. With a helping hand from her sister and a new husband in the picture, by 2008, things were looking up again. Alma was excited to have a partner in life again, and her son was happy to have a father. After a few years, Alma gave birth to two beautiful twin girls. But in 2013, things were not working out with her second husband, and Alma had to move with her three children yet again. 

As she started to struggle again, thinking of the needs of her family and the possibilities that might be available, Alma prayed for guidance. She wanted a place she could call home and raise her children with dignity. A few days later, her girls brought a flyer home from school with information about DuPage Habitat for Humanity. Alma says, “It was the answer to my prayers.” 

Now, Alma is on track to becoming a Habitat Homeowner, her son is a freshman in college set on obtaining his Masters in Paleontology, and her girls are in second grade. She says raising her kids in their own home “is so important for me and for their development and confidence.” 
“My biggest inspiration for working toward my home is to guide my kids to be great people that, in the future, will help others as well. Since the day they told us that we are a part of the program, my girls ask me if they may start packing. We are very excited to own a home in the near future,” Alma tells us. 

Alma says the best part of her experience so far is meeting and getting to know all the people, and making new, lasting friendships. She’s bursting with appreciation for the volunteers who are helping to change her life, and the lives of many others. 

If you would like to be a part of Alma’s dedication on April 23rd from 4 – 6 PM, you can find more information and RSVP here:

Get involved with DuPage Habitat’s mission by raising money for our Women Build fundraiser today. Participate as an individual or start a team today and make a difference in another mom’s life:

Hide & Seek


How can I feel so smothered, yet so lonely at the exact same time? I take a ‘break’, two minutes to bend my knees and lower my bum to the couch and exhale. Thirty seconds in my toddler climbs on top of me. He gives so much love…the sweet child must say “I love you Mommy” one hundred times a day. I feel guilty for simply not wanting to be touched. To be left alone. For two minutes. Please. But then the words of society, my peers, my friends ring in my head.

“You’re SO lucky.”

“MUST be nice.”

“I WISH I had the time you do!”

I snap out of it and embrace the hugs, the small moments that will soon pass…because I am reminded all the time by well-meaning older parents.

“Cherish every moment.”

“One day they won’t want to be with you.”

“You’re going to miss this.”

About a year and a half ago I hit a wall. (Not literally…I’m ok). A naturally extroverted person, I thrive around people…I mean, my major WAS Communications for Pete’s sake…I love to communicate, preferably with positive people, adults. Perhaps I like to communicate a little too much (my more mild-tempered hubs would say).

Find your tribe ‘they’ say. They will be your saving grace. It’s a cliché, but truer words were never spoken. I had an amazing tribe when my oldest was a baby. There were five of us. We laughed together, cried together, swapped stories of breastfeeding, sleepless nights and concerns over every little milestone our children did or didn’t reach. We had text threads a mile long, at all hours of the day and night. They were my rocks. But one child turned into two, then three for some. Friends moved, our oldest started school programs, some went back to work…and life moved into auto-pilot. There’s this in-between time. Between baby groups and elementary school. This in-between time almost broke me. But two opportunities entered my life…and they helped me to regain some of what I needed back-communication with adults, a sense of purpose beyond the home.

Let me be clear, many stay-at-home parents don’t seek out a different purpose. After all, what greater purpose is there than to raise little humans? I get that. Of course I get that. I know moms and dads who are their best selves taking care of their children 100% of the time. It seemed so black and white to me. Quit complaining and go back to work, or quit complaining and savor the moments. Could there be an in-between? Was it selfish to want an in-between?

I believe that opportunity presents itself when you least expect it, but are secretly searching for it. I was seeking something. I didn’t know what, how, when or where, but gosh was I seeking. I now work part-time hours from my home, or anywhere I want for that matter. I have a team of supportive, smart, brave, amazing (mostly) women surrounding me and they are all from different walks of life and different parts of the country. We laugh, we lean on each other, we brainstorm, we create and we fill our buckets so that we can pour into those closest to us.

Around the exact same time I joined this girl gang (totally legal by the way!), Dr. Cathy Subber approached me about being part of The Naperville Moms Network cast on NCTV17. We had no relationship other than doctor/chiropractic patient, but it was her office manager Allison who thought I might be a good fit. Remember how I mentioned that I love to talk? Poor Allison didn’t realize she often was the only 15 minutes of the day I communicated with someone over 4 feet. She probably thought, “This girl comes in and talks my ear off. She probably has a lot to say.” Spot on, Allison! This former musical theater gal was thrilled to be part of the panel. And this opportunity has lead to friendships and a beautiful network of local moms trying to balance and succeed.

I was going to title this post lost and found…but felt that was a bit dramatic. I was never lost. I didn’t need to find myself. I do think part of me was hidden a bit though. I sought the in-between, and here I am.

Erica Lopez lives in Naperville with her husband Rick and two children, Natalie and Brandon (7 and 4). She is a former high school English teacher, Independent Consultant with Rodan+Fields and part of the The Naperville Mom’s Network on NCTV17. She enjoys time with her family traveling, laughing and making memories both big and small.

Are you living in the zoo or in the jungle?


Are you living in the zoo or the jungle?

I’m not referring to the loads of laundry, endless dishes, your son’s bathroom, and that massive collection of hot wheels throughout your living room. I’m referring to how YOU are living within yourself.

This seems like a silly question, especially for me. I met my husband in a college bar, fell in love, had our first born, and moved to the suburbs. We chose Naperville because we wanted a great school district, safe neighborhood, and a family friendly atmosphere. Approximately 3 years later, we had baby #2.

Like a toddler, I thrive on routine. Wake up at 5am, workout, feed the minions, down my protein shake, ensure oldest minion is free of breakfast remnants on his face, give his backpack a quick scan, and get him out the door ready for carpool. Then my youngest and I head out to storytime at the library (seriously, Naperville, three libraries? You make it so easy.), a play date, or the grocery store (preferably one that hands out free cookies). We return home, I attempt to get a vegetable in his mouth, and then….ahhhh naptime. Yes, fellow mamas of 2 and under year olds. You know exactly what I’m referring to. Those 90-120 minutes of uninterrupted, quiet bliss to fill any which way I choose. And because I am certifiable type A, my time is typically filled with laundry, cleaning, bills, or organization of some sort. Then, at exactly 2:10pm, I wake up my chunky monkey and we head out in my sweet minivan to pick up my oldest from Kindergarten. Once home, we have a snack, play legos, practice piano, I step on aforementioned legos, curse under my breath, and then prep dinner. Shortly after my husband strolls into the house and our kids welcome him with hugs and excitement. After dinner it’s bath time (or the battle of bath time “This is the worst thing in the entire world, Mom”. We aren’t short on drama over here), then we read exactly 3 books, and send our boys to dreamland. Then hubs and I exchange moments about our day with a glass of red while I prep lunches and set my crack pot (coffee) for the next day’s adventures.

And, repeat…

In case it isn’t clear yet, I love routine.

I like to know what is happening and when it is happening. I don’t like surprises unless it involves my birthday or sushi (how do they sneak so much goodness into one little roll?). I’ve instated Taco Tuesday’s, Pasta Wednesday’s, and so on’s just to keep things in predictable motion. I plan my workouts one month in advance. I manage both a digital and chalkboard family calendar that is updated regularly so we know what to expect throughout the month. I have check lists and chore lists and to-do’s prepped the night before so I know exactly what my day will look like tomorrow. I keep order. I like order. I need order.

Friends, I live in the zoo.

It’s safe. Predictable. Easy. And it’s as comfortable as an oversized sweatshirt with fluffy slippers.

But it isn’t always the best way to live. In fact, if you are anything like me, you could be missing out on some pretty awesome opportunities.

One Saturday morning, I overheard my husband and son discussing a video they had watched on YouTube. It was titled “Learning like a Jungle Tiger”. Whether you have a 6 year old or a 16 year old, or if you are a thirty-something that could use a little perspective (eh-hem, that’d be me), I promise you this 5 minute video will be time well spent. The basis of it is that the tiger that lives in the zoo has a very easy, predictable life. He is super safe in that cage. However, the jungle tiger has to learn how to hunt, protect, and live in a dangerous environment. The jungle tiger has a much harder life. She’s living at the edge of her abilities and constantly stretched outside of her comfort zone. The jungle tiger is growing exponentially and can survive anywhere. And chances are, she’s pretty confident in both her stripes and scars.

Unlike our tiger friends, we get to choose how we live and what we think:

I can’t dance.

I am not athletic.

I am a terrible cook.

I could never wear that outfit.

I wish I could sing.

Pinterest is ruining my life.

These are all limiting beliefs that we’ve become comfortable with self-labeling. We want to do the things that make us feel good (in our comfy cage). But what if we tried doing the things we aren’t naturally good at? Learning has very little to do with our natural gifts. We can learn ANYTHING in the right environment.

Since watching this video, my household has adopted the “zoo or jungle” way of living. Whenever someone is faced with a decision that would normally default to what they are comfortable with, we ask “Do you want to live in the zoo, or live in the jungle?” Without question, it’s the jungle. It’s wild and scary and so very uncomfortable, but my god it is so much healthier for us to experience and grow from, regardless of the outcome.

So, fellow moms, as easy as it may be to keep your routine, I encourage you to unlatch your cage and play outside. Sign up for that Zumba class. Attend a mom’s night out by yourself. Burn tonight’s boeuf bourguignon and sign up for a cooking class tomorrow. Grab a handful of friends, or don’t, and get to that karaoke bar. Make the Pinterest fail. Chances are, you’ll learn from the experience and ace the next one. And if not, that’s ok too. Not every hunt will be a success, but we can still grow from the adventure. What we choose today will ultimately make tomorrow that much more memorable, or, just another routine day.

After all, your minions are watching you. They are growing and learning how to step outside into the wild under the care and direction of you, Mom Tiger. Let them explore, share their discoveries, and learn as much as possible along the way.

Learning Like a Jungle Tiger: Boland

Mama, yogi, health enthusiast, and lover of all things family and the perfect glass of red.

Career break to care for children


Career Break to Care for Children

I still remember the resume writing class I took a million years ago back when I was in college. The instructor told us that our resume shouldn’t be just a list of jobs. It should be the “storyteller of your career.” So how do you write the story of your career when it has a long intermission, a couple of plot twists, and a surprise ending?

After graduating from college, I dabbled a bit in marketing and advertising before landing in public and media relations. I loved what I did and planned to keep working in some form when I started a family.

Then came the intermission. I had three babies all at once.

I stepped away from my career when my triplets arrived. I had fought so hard to have them, and I didn’t want to miss a single minute of their childhood. Not to mention, my entire paycheck would have gone to childcare! I knew I’d probably go back to work at some point. Little by little. Maybe I’d freelance or find a part time gig.

Then came the plot twist. I got divorced.

I had been out of the workforce for over ten years. In those ten years, newsletters were replaced by websites and press releases were replaced by social media. Public relations was not the same field I had left. My computer and writing skills were rusty, and I needed way more than a “gig.” I needed to support myself and my kids. I was worried and overwhelmed and had no idea what would happen next.

Then came another plot twist. I completely started over.

That was 2014. Today, I work for a global, billion-dollar company, have traveled to Australia and Europe, hold four professional certifications, and manage processes that I’d never even heard of until five years ago. I work every day from my home office. And I’m not in PR. I’m in IT Security.

No matter why you want to – or have to – go back to work after taking time off to care for someone else, you can do it. Here’s how.

  1. Find an in. I started at my company as a part time office assistant. If you used to be an HR manager before you left the workforce, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll re-enter as an HR manager. Instead, look for a good organization with a culture that supports career growth and take whatever job they’ll give you.
  2. Prove you’ve got what it takes. You may not find your inspiration by filling up the coffee machine or stocking office supplies but do it well and do it with a smile on your face. I did, and someone noticed.
  3. Tell people your story. It surprised me to find that most working people support stay-at-home moms returning to the workforce and want to see them succeed.  A few of my coworkers – all with 25+ years in the field – heard my story, supported me in my first IT job, and mentored me as I learned the ropes.
  4. Prepare to work hard. “It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.” Amen. No matter what level you were at when you quit, you will have to sharpen your skills and get yourself up to speed. I realized that going back to college was not financially or logistically possible as a single mom. So I studied at home every night for two years – in between fixing dinner, driving carpool, and helping with homework. I took four exams, passed them all, and now hold some of the top professional certifications in my field.
  5. Consider a different path – especially if you need to work. Don’t limit yourself to only what you used to do. My approach to this second career was very different than my first. I recognized that my decision to be a stay-at-home mom coupled with my current life circumstances might not afford me the luxury of pursuing the job of my dreams. This time, it was about finding a career that would bring me financial independence. I’m well on my way to that goal because I was open to doing something different.
  6. But don’t forget what you’re good at. As I was settling into my new career, I talked about my communications background with some coworkers. Turns out that a lot of IT folks aren’t very fond of writing. Now, a large part of my job involves translating technical information into written policy. Surprise ending! I still get to write every single day.

The story of my career has an intermission, some plot twists, and a surprise ending. How do you disguise all of that craziness when you’re writing your resume and interviewing for a job?  You don’t. You own your crazy story and make sure you share it. It’s what makes you interesting and illustrates just how resilient you are.

Sandwiched in between my PR job and my IT job, my marketing degree and my technology certifications, my resume reads “Career break to care for children.” And I typed it in bold.

-Monica Hultgren

Monica is a single mom of teenage triplets and a cocker spaniel named Lucy. She is also a former SAHM with a background in communications and a career in IT security. Her favorite food is pizza, her favorite place is the beach, and her favorite word is “resilience.”

Mom Guilt


Mom guilt

I was thinking of switching up my “Mom In Business” blog post this time to something more MOM focused.  Let’s be honest, there are so many topics to choose from that can make you laugh, cry, or both than mortgages I was thinking of what I would want to talk about since I am not a parenting expert, but rather a work in progress. I have a 5-year-old, 3-year-old and one on the way due March 4, 2019.  Every time I think I have the hang of things, the rug is pulled out from under me. Does anyone else feel that way?

I’m not officially a stay-at-home mom, or a mom that works full-time outside the house, but rather I’m somewhere in between. See, I have an awesome job as a mortgage advisor that allows me to work and be my best professional self, while also being able to raise my kids. I hear the struggles of parents that work outside the home full-time, but also the struggles of losing your “self” staying home to raise your kids full time. No matter which side of the coin you land on, ALL moms experience guilt. Whether the guilt is not enough time with their families or not enough time for their professional selves.

My parents both worked full time outside the home. My maternal grandparents were instrumental in supporting my mom as she was often left as a single mom over the years until the divorce finally happened. Nowadays, it seems like more of us are raising our kids without as much help from family since so many of us must work and work longer in life. My mom always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards for her. She had to go to work in the early 80s during the recession when my dad was laid off. She had 3 kids under 5. Currently, she is still at the “temp job” she got way back when.  However, while she worked long hours, she always made us feel special and tirelessly made sure all our sports uniforms were cleaned multiple times a week, even if that meant doing laundry until the wee hours of the morning. My mom always wished she could do more for us whether that was a bigger presence in our school, or at extracurricular activities. My mom always had the mom guilt as a mom and what she missed.

Reflecting on that, as her only daughter of three, I never thought she was less than amazing. She still made every holiday, birthday and “just because” day so special for each of us, despite how she might have felt during that time.

Personally, after I had my first in October 2013 I was finishing up my masters in the art of teaching and set to student teach March 2014. I went on maternity leave from my loan officer/assistant position and didn’t come back to Perl as an assistant. I had to student teach a few short weeks after my return and had to resign from the salary portion of my job. We paid someone to stay with my 5-month-old daughter while I made no money as a student teacher. However, I finished my degree in May of that year. The following year, I finished my additional endorsement required by the Chicago Public Schools (ESL) just 2 weeks before I had my son. So here I was, an overeducated part-time loan officer and mom. Daycare was going to be somewhere around $3,500/mo., which would absorb my entire salary as a teacher. So, I stayed a loan officer as I have been since entering the business in 2002.

I have been thinking over the years the direction I wanted my mortgage business to go. Finally, last fall I decided I wanted to have a website and use this platform to educate and discuss topics related to my experience as someone who has been in the financial field for 16 years. It’s been fun, and I finally launched this website July 2018.  I still have my masters and started substitute teaching in District 203 when time allows this school year. I like having options professionally, whether I am using my teaching degree now or not, it’s my story that I am writing every day.

For those of you on the fence about going back to work, or staying home, check out This website was introduced to me back in 2014. The woman that created it left the workforce to raise her kids, then realized it was hard going back to work after taking that time off. She is from the northern suburbs of IL and has grown this business to help educated moms with real experience find work that works for their lives, whether it’s full-time, part-time, contract, remote, or in office. You can customize your profile and the team helps find jobs that you might be a match for. This can help you get the best of both worlds should you feel you are missing this.

I felt so lonely after I had my first baby at 34, and often still feel that way since I am not profiled as a stay at home mom or full-time mom. However, I am still writing my story and wanted to share it with those of you struggling. It’s weird to work your whole life, then shift to a life about others and shift your priorities. I feel like I am always holding on to my professional self. This makes me feel good about myself. Perhaps my next topic will be self-care. This can mean so many different things for each of us.

Please be kind to yourself, you are doing a great job. No matter what kind of mom you are, working or not, we need to support each other and be kind to one another. Let me know what you think of this blog post, and how you might relate.

Happy Holidays!!

Mortgage Mom

Pamela Harambasic


Choosing Gratitude


For the past few months I have been going downtown Chicago to be a part of a women’s leadership seminar.  15 women, whom I have never met, from all walks of life and business backgrounds sharing their life experiences and wisdoms.  One thing we were asked to do is take an online test at (try it, it is really cool!).  At the end of the 120 questions that you answered, you got a print out with your “character strengths profile”.  My top character strength was listed as gratitude, my least was love of learning (I’m not a details girl!).

I really thought about the first one. Gratitude.  It is something that is available to all of us and doesn’t cost a cent.  I’m not exactly sure when this became the guiding force in my life, but I am thankful that I picked up this trait along the way.  I, like most people, have been through my share of losses and rough patches.  During those times I really focused on accepting the fact that this was going to be a “down” season of my life.  I worked on knowing that it would not last forever and not trying to fight it and make it “all ok” immediately.

I also tried not to let those rough times define who I was on a day to day basis stealing all of my happiness and joy away.  I would literally set aside specific times to focus on the issues I had to face and tackle them.  Feel them and experience them for future closure. At other times, I would put the issues on the back burner and really enjoy the people around me and parts of my life that were going well.  I would actually visualize that my problems were in one of those big exercise balls and I would mentally sit on it.  This way, I was on top of my problems not letting them be on top of me.

This may seem like an over simplification, but I believe we truly choose our thoughts.  We choose what we focus on and how much space we let those thoughts have in our mind.  The more we let positive, uplifting, empowering thoughts fill our minds, the more we live life with those emotions at the forefront.  When negative thoughts, that do not serve us well, come to mind, mentally put up a stop sign.  Tell them to go back to where they came from.  They just aren’t welcome anymore.

It takes time and it takes practice to slowly train your mind to see things in this way, but it is worth it.  Life is full of ups and downs and unfortunately there are no guarantees of a perfectly smooth ride.  I believe our overall happiness and well being is in our control as we manage our reactions to the times that life shoots out lemons at us.  Finding ways to choose gratitude will always get you going in the right direction and help solidify a life of joy.


Dr. Cathy Subber

**This post was originally written for the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Blog a few years ago, but it is still very true today.**

You are how you eat!


You are How you eat.

If you are what you eat, then are you “how you eat”?   My family life can be crazy – always busy with four to feed and blending to seven kids with my new relationship.  On our most hectic nights, sometimes scraping together a dinner of cereal and leftovers is the best we can do. When my parents were living their last memories, my kids and siblings and I took care of them.  During that time we started a tradition that every Wednesday night we would sit down and eat a home-cooked meal as a family. On family night we would try new recipes. We would have theme nights and dress up.    But most importantly, we would all sit down around the table and connect as a family. To me the most important element of our family night tradition is that kids would participate in the cooking and serving.

My list of worries that I have as a parent are longer than the line at the DMV.   I worry about their grades. I worry about their friendships. I worry about their emotions.  I worry about how they handle divorce. But because of this family night tradition of my kids cooking, I don’t worry about them not being able to cook for themselves when they are on their own or their relationship to food.  Just like sitting in mom’s lap to read and snuggle leads to good readers, us building fond memories around dinner prep will lead to healthy eaters. They will always have this touchstone of mindful, present eating to reach for in the future.  On these family nights we purposely slow down our life. We take our time with cooking and with eating. We make ingredients from scratch. We sit and talk and we read with each other. And most importantly, we enjoy each other’s company by truly experiencing a connection of what family can feel like.  All of this togetherness is held in place with the glue of food! What better way to connect and make memories than over a chicken pot pie and brownies.

While I wish we could eat slow and from scratch all the time, I know that the nights of cereal and quick macaroni and cheese will always continue.  But because they do have these experiences of slow, purposeful eating, I know that will create a thread in the fabric of the adults that they will grow to be one day. So when I sweep up the flour off the floor and wipe the icing off the table, it makes all the mess and all the prep totally worth it.

Kathryn Doyle is a mom if four, blending to seven kids. Kathryn helps busy, driven people hold the identity of strength, confidence and vitality till they are able to hold it on their own using fitness, food coaching, and motivation.

Meet Halina: #thebeautifulsoulmovement


Meet Halina: #thebeautifulsoulmovement

Lindsay Chan- Lindsay Chan Photography

This sweet girl… oh my heart! There truly are no words to describe what it was like to spend time getting to know Halina and her amazing family. Maybe it was the way her eyes lit up when I smiled at her and said, “hello beautiful”… or maybe it was the way she looked at her Mom and Dad and showed me her best smile when they asked for “bunny teeth”- either way she captured my heart immediately. Her story and life are just as remarkable as her beauty, inside and out.

This past fall some photographer friends of mine in the Chicagoland area started spreading plans for #thebeautifulsoulmovement across national and local networking groups online. Jessica Weinstock Photography shared a gorgeous black and white image with a caption for her vision for gifting free portrait sessions to families to help start a movement of “showing the beauty of a child’s soul no matter what their circumstances are.”

It was an absolute honor to receive an email with a nomination for Miss Halina and meet her in my Naperville Photography Studio for a portrait session.

Halina is a strong, sweet and joyful 4 1/2 year old. Within the first year of her birth she was diagnosed with Leigh Syndrome. Leigh Syndrome is a very rare terminal degenerative neurological disorder (estimated to affect about 1 in 30,000 to 1 in 40,000 people at birth. Mitochondrial DNA-associated Leigh syndrome, which is more rare than nuclear gene-encoded Leigh syndrome, is likely to occur in about 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 140,000 births). Halina’s Mom shared with me how truly remarkable her sweet girl is, as most infants diagnosed with Leigh Syndrome don’t make it past 2-3 years old. Halina is defying all odds and proving to her doctors that hope and strength in God’s plan can’t be measured in medicine.

As with any rare condition, awareness is key as there is currently no cure. Halina’s Mom and Dad hope her spirit and attitude can encourage other parents going through similar situations to never believe what doctors tell you but instead let their kids drive their destiny.

Thank you to Halina and her family for allowing me to be a small part of sharing her story! I’m still accepting nominations for #thebeautifulsoulmovement this winter. Do you know of a child who has a condition or special needs but may struggle to smile some days or see that light within themselves? Nominate them for a complimentary studio session, with digital images included so they can see how truly beautiful they are! These sessions will take place throughout the winter and early spring, I can’t wait to share more amazing stories of these kids soon!

Please send your nominations including a little tidbit about the child along with a photo to – If you don’t have someone to nominate, please at least share this post to help spread the word!

Together, we can make a positive change in how children see beautiful.



Make Room for Self-Care


Make Room for Self-Care

Ah self-care. It’s on your to-do list. You’ll make time for it. You’re just too busy right now. If you don’t run your household and your business, who will?

To our own detriment, we prioritize everyone and everything else. I haven’t met a mother who doesn’t struggle with this, myself included. For the longest time my motto was “I’ve got this.” You’ve got an autoimmune disease and you need surgery, your husband has to go to Germany for work and will be gone for two weeks, your son’s social anxiety is crippling and he’s miserable, you need to start marketing the new branch of the company you work for oh and you move in three weeks. Sound familiar? I’VE. GOT. THIS. I didn’t.

In organizing a “perfectly balanced” schedule, I failed to block out any time for myself. As an organized person, that was hard to accept. The harder truth? I realized that if I don’t make room for me, no one else will. I need to make it happen, but how? I can barely handle what’s already on my plate.

Shift your mindset.

Why is your yoga class not as important as a conference call or dance recital? You committed to both the call and recital so, why are the promises you made yourself any less important? They aren’t.

Decide and reprioritize.

What do you need? What do you want more of? Time alone? Time with friends? Exercise? Don’t focus on all the things you should be doing or what others around you are doing. Pick one or two needs and focus your efforts on those. I had to make time for a new diet and exercise regimen. That wasn’t an option. However, I wanted to make friends in my new community and read more books so, I joined a local mom’s book club.

Make room.

In the same way you have to schedule everything for everyone all the time yes, you have to schedule this too. If you can block the same day(s) and time(s) every week, even better. It’s much easier to schedule around a reoccuring event. This will likely require some reevaluating. Yes, you can say “no” to organizing the classroom party. Yes, your kids can do two instead of three extracurricular activities a quarter and be perfectly content.

Organization helps! Here are a few, fun ideas to help you maximize your me time:  A mobile gym. Use an under-the-bed box to store a yoga mat, strap, block, and weights under a bed or couch.  Spa basket. Put a washcloth, loofah, nail brush, and your favorite soaps, lotions, serums, and masks in a pretty basket that you keep under the sink or on a shelf in your linen closet. Use a pretty zippered pouch to create an on-the-go version for your purse or car with your favorite lip balm, hand lotion, essential oil, nail file, tea bag, and mantra card to squeeze in a few extra minutes while you’re waiting in the school pick-up line.  Hobby kits. Knitting. Calligraphy. Scrapbooking. Painting. Place all your necessary tools in a handled caddy to keep them all in one place. It’s easy to carry and put back.

Ask for help.

Somewhere along the way we decided that asking for help makes us weak or lesser than. It doesn’t. Buddy up. Talk to a friend about what you want and what you’re trying. Hold each other accountable. That’s what we do with our clients. When we schedule a session, we’re making a promise that we’ll be there to help them tackle their organizing dilemma. Find ways each family member can pitch in. Yes, you will have to keep asking your kids over and over because they will forget but, keep asking. It’s worth the time you’re gaining for yourself.

Once a week, my neighbor and I take turns caring for each other’s kids so we can each go to a workout class we love. I volunteer once instead of twice a month in my son’s class. We eat leftovers three nights a week. My boys do their laundry. Guess what? Everything is okay and everyone is still alive. Is life still chaotic? Yes! That won’t change. What has changed is the value I place on my time and my need for self-care. My new motto? “I am worth it.”

Don’t break one more promise you made yourself. Make this week the week you make room for self-care. The time and space you give yourself to recover, reflect, and re-energize will make you, your relationships, and your business stronger.

Article written by Catherine Gibel, Professional Organizer

Less is More Organizing Services in Naperville



A Big Sunshine


Heather DeMonte & Stacy Amoo-Mensah, Co-Owners
Klique Creative
Brand Boutique

When one of your favorite clients is also one of your favorite humans, re-branding their company is more of a joy than a job.
Enter Cathy Subber. The Branch Owner and inspiring mom to know.

Cathy came to us with a very specific ask. To evolve the look and feel of The Naperville Moms Network so it would appeal to local moms in local markets everywhere. With Naperville as a shining example of what moms can become when they connect, Cathy grew The Naperville Moms Network to over 20,000 members strong with specialized groups, online sharing, low-cost events, playdates, endorsement and advocacy opportunities.

The result? Mothers have gained knowledge, friendships have formed, new chapters are opening and women-owned businesses have taken off. This is not “just a cute moms network”, this is a group of powerful moms dedicated to connection, meaning and purpose. And Cathy’s purpose sums it up best, “To connect local moms and make sure they always have a home.”

As mothers and women business owners ourselves we knew we had to preserve what was special about Naperville Moms Network but allow it room to grow. So, we put on our best brand hats, interviewed Cathy about her objectives and laid the perfect foundation for building her brand. Then we had a dream…literally! And a new name was born. The Branch. As simple as that. A fitting name for what Naperville Moms Networks was always intended for – a place to “branch out” for moms and amazing humans like Cathy. When we asked Cathy if “The Branch” were a person who would that person be? She had the perfect answer, “A big sunshine.”

And that it is.

We hope you see Cathy’s sunshine shining brightly in our designs and our storytelling. An inspired brand for local moms everywhere who are Always Invited. And always have a place to call home. We are so grateful to Cathy for sharing her sunshine with us.