James Kicinski-McCoy is a writer and blogger, specializing in strategic marketing and branding, is a co-founder and editor of Mother Magazine, and co-owner and creative director of Two Son. She lives with her husband and four children in Nashville, Tennessee.
Advice is something that people love to give, whether we ask for it or not. Over our lifetimes, we will receive an awful lot of other people’s opinions—some good and some not-so-good. I have received a lot of both, and therefore learned how to decipher between what is helpful and what is not. There are two pieces of advice that I have been given over the years that I would consider to be some of the best. The first is, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” As common sense as this may seem, I think that it has gotten me through some really tough scenarios in life and in business. I have learned to let little things go and to really pick my battles when it comes to conflict. The other piece of advice that I consider one of the best has to do with parenting. A wise woman once told me, “Speak to your children as you would like to be spoken to.” I adopted this wisdom into my own parenting methods by speaking to my kids like equals. And so far, it’s worked in raising confident, self-sufficient children.
I, personally, don’t like to dish out advice unless someone asks for it. I’m happy to share my thoughts and opinions when solicited, but I’ve learned that telling someone how to live their life does not work. In other words, people seldom change their ways to accommodate another person’s suggestions. This is not to say I haven’t appreciated advice and suggestions from friends and loved ones over the years, but I’ve learned to trust my own instincts along the way, too.
I’d love to hear your opinion on advice giving and receiving. Also, please feel free to share the best piece of advice you’ve ever received in the comments below.
There are some people who are completely comfortable baring it all—hello Lena Dunham, Helen Mirren, and Miley Cyrus. I am definitely not one of those people. I am extremely self-conscious of my naked body. I have stretch marks, cellulite, and what many mother’s refer to as “mom boobs.” As women, we can all be our own worst enemy when it comes to body image. I think that every single female that I know has something they don’t like about their body. It’s so easy (and also natural) to focus on the negatives when looking at ourselves in the mirror.
I have several girlfriends who will strip down in front of each other without thinking twice, which I admire, but I’m too embarrassed to do it unabashedly and too concerned with how others will perceive my body. Various studies state that women tend to feel more body confident in their mid 30’s compared to their 20’s. I even feel body conscious around my husband—a man who has seen me push out two children, naturally! I definitely felt my best in my mid to late twenties.
Some experts suggest sleeping naked as a way to improve positive body image and become more comfortable in the nude. With four kids, and a three-year-old who loves to sneak into our bed in the middle of the night, I don’t feel comfortable sleeping au naturel. Others suggest working out in the nude (lol!) or taking more showers and baths with your partner. I am on a quest to deliberately teach myself to accept my body and learn to love it. Here is a great article on why we should be naked more often.
Whether it be a couple of friends or an old married couple, we all have our moments where heads collide. Studies show that 70% of married couples argue about money more than sex, household chores, the kids, togetherness, snoring, and more.
The one thing Aubrey and I argue about most is what’s for dinner—or breakfast or lunch. He describes himself as a “steak and potatoes” guy, with a side of fried food or tacos. Conversely, I love to eat out, try new cuisines, and experiment with different recipes filled with vegetables, new flavors, and spices. It may sound petty, but this difference in preference has caused a lot of arguments over the years. And on top of Aubrey’s eating habits, I have the pickiest 3-year-old on the planet! Sailor will only eat a handful of foods (including frozen waffles, white rice, Ramen Noodles, and cherry-flavored yogurt), so it’s safe to say that I’ve gone a bit of a cooking hiatus for the time being because half of my family won’t eat what I prepare.
In order to keep the peace, Aubrey and I developed a system where we can go out to eat as long as there is steak (or tacos) on the menu. And if not, I go out with my girlfriends who adore food as much as I do. This way, we can still have our necessary date nights without the unnecessary drama. As far as the big kids go, Julian and Plum have an appetite similar to mine, so they are (for the most part) easier to please and also enjoy trying new foods. The three of us go to our favorite hole-in-the-wall Korean restaurant once a week and dine on chicken bulgogi.
All relationships have their issues, whether romantic or platonic. What I’ve learned from our on-going food fiasco, however, is that compromise is key. Aubrey gets his steak-and-potatoes, and I get my sushi, gnocchi, or moules frites one way or another. It isn’t always easy, in fact, we still argue about what’s for dinner about half of the time, but having somewhat of a system in place has definitely helped cut down on the bickering.
What do and your partner argue about? Have you found out a way to compromise? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Aubrey and I have been wanting to read the same book before bed for some time now. We thought it could become a nice nightly routine, followed by our own version of a book club where we would discuss our own interpretations of what we each read. So, this Date Night In is inspired by cuddling up, making cocktails, enjoying a charcuterie spread, and delving into a good book together.
What to do and wear in no particular order… Decide on a book with your loved one and buy two copies. (We suggest Station Eleven.) Head to your local market and pick out a variety of meats, cheeses, and pickled accoutrements to create a beautiful charcuterie board. Make a delicious cocktail. Throw on some worn-in jeans and a soft, cozy sweater. Freshen up with your favorite perfume. Slip on your favorite house shoes. Burn some palo santo to set the ambiance. Settle onto a the couch or floor with a comfortable pillow, and enjoy your quiet night in.
It’s a lot of fun coming up with fun Date Night In ideas, but what about those times when we are blessed with a sitter? You may think that your options are slim and include the same ol’ dinner and movie combo, but if you think outside of the box, you’ll see that there are actually so many fun and adventurous things you can do with the one you love. So, for your next date night, get out of the house and enjoy some quality bonding time enjoying one of the following outings:
Renting Bikes - In almost every city across the country, there are now 24-hour bike rentals that make for a convenient, fun, and affordable day (or night) out on the town. What’s great about these rentals is, you can return your bikes at any location, allowing for you to choose your destination and make a few stops in between—might I suggest hitting up an authentic taco truck, a used book store, and an ice cream parlor!
Cooking Class - Taking a cooking class together is a great way to bond over learning a new skill and enjoying a delicious meal that you’ve made yourself. You don’t have to be a master chef to enjoy one of these. You and your partner can hone-in on your pasta making skills or tackle a sushi rolling lesson. Either way, you are bound to have fun and maybe even leave with some leftovers.
Couples Spa - A little self-care goes a long way in a relationship. Check out a local spa for side-by-side body treatments, facials, or massages, and don’t forget to access the spa amenities like a dry sauna or mineral pool after your treatment. This is a wonderful way to relax together and tune out the rest of the world. You are both guaranteed to leave feeling rested and rejuvenated!
Dive Bar - Throw on some jeans and a t-shirt and hit a local dive bar (or few) for a casual, fun, and inexpensive date night. Indulge in some cheap beer and challenge your date to a game of pool or darts. Tip: Bring some single dollar bills for the jukebox!
Dancing Lessons - Take a trip back a few decades and learn the art of ballroom or swing dancing. Plenty of dance studios offer couples classes for newcomers and experienced dancers alike. If this sounds scary, that’s part of the fun—getting out there and letting loose. So, grab your shoes and get to groovin’!
Comedy Show - Nothing’s better than bonding over a good laugh. And that’s why I had to throw a comedy show date night into the mix. Tickets are often inexpensive and drink menus are always included. Not to mention, a lot of the comedians you see in these tiny club go on to be huge stars. So, head over to your local comedy show and enjoy the ride.
Wine Tasting - Nothing screams romance quite like a trip to a winery. Participate in a wine tasting session, or grab a bottle of your favorite vino and enjoy the scenery. Wineries are often surrounded by acres of beautiful landscape and plenty of places to sit down and enjoy a bottle (or two).
Appetizer Hopping - Instead of making reservations at one of your favorite fancy restaurants, why not book a table at 3 or 4? Restaurant hopping is fun and affords you the opportunity to indulge on several different cuisines by dining on small plates rather than ordering main courses. You can also take advantage of the cocktail menu at each spot, just be sure to leave the car at home and Uber around town.
Open Mic/Songwriters’ Night - For those who live in Nashville, you know how fun open mic/songwriters’ nights can be. It’s a great way to discover new artists, support up-and-coming musicians, and experience the creative side of your city. Not a big live music fan? No problem. Open mic nights can also include poetry readings, sketch comedy, improv, and even spoken word.
Plan A Picnic For Two - Grab a blanket, a bottle of wine, your favorite gourmet snacks, a candle, and head outside for a romantic picnic of your own design. This is a great way to spend a hot summer night or a sunny afternoon with your loved one. Perhaps you two could choose a local park, the beach (if you’re lucky enough to live near one), or even your backyard, and enjoy some time outside.
Visit A Brewery - Check out your local microbrewery for a tour of its operation and some free samples along the way! This is a great way to learn the craft of brewing while supporting a local business. Also, did we mention free beer?
Take A Painting Class - This is just what you’d expect, but it’s adults-only and involves booze. The classes are usually at night, and it’s BYOB, so you can bring whatever drink you please. This is a fun way to express creativity, learn some new technique, and perhaps have a new piece of art for your home.