How to Be a More Present Mom: living on purpose in the middle of the chaos

The baby needs a snack, the seven-year-old needs to do her homework, the toddler is screaming from the bathroom. He needs to be wiped. Fun.

The five year old has been asking me to play Mario with him for the last hour and I keep forgetting, the laundry timer is buzzing, the dishes are calling my name, my husband is running late for dinner, and there are so many crumbs on the kitchen floor I forget what the tile looks like.

Motherhood. The season of everyone smiling and telling you to “enjoy every minute!” when you’re counting down the minutes till bedtime. It’s total chaos, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar and should be deprived of coffee. I’m kidding. I wouldn’t wish that sentence on my worst enemy. But seriously, how are we as moms supposed to soak up the moments that are so fleeting, that we will desperately miss when our kids are grown, when we can’t even remember if we showered today?

As a mom of four kids all born within six years and a husband with some crazy work hours, I’ve had to learn to be a steady statue in the storm. I found myself living every day in survival mode a few years ago, and after my fifty-sixth meltdown from behind my locked closet door, I realized that wasn’t how I wanted to be remembered; it wasn’t how I wanted to spend my child-raising years, and I knew something had to change. Through trial and error, I figured a few things out that shed some light on the pit I was trapped in, and if you can believe it, I’m now able to be a mom who plays, who sits (yes, actually sits down!). I’m able to make memories and soak up those messy kisses and sticky hand-holds because I put the chaos in its place.

Here’s the thing – chaos isn’t going anywhere unless you tell it to. So if you’re tired of living every day in survival mode, tired of being tired, and feeling totally overwhelmed, here are my very best tips for a mom life well lived.

Take it moment-by-moment. Chaos is just what it sounds like – a total disaster zone. It’s hard to be in the moment when things get out of control, but it’s a skill you can train yourself to have, and let me tell you- it’s worth it- your motherhood and your kids’ memories are worth it!

Take one step at a time. Toddler screaming? Get down at his level and smile, pick him up and see what’s wrong. More often than not, that’s all they want from us. Laundry buzzing at the same time as the dishes are taking over your sink and your five-year-old is begging for some time with you? Breathe. Involve your little guy in the chores. Talk to him about his favorite thing while the two of you fold the laundry, then sit and play a round of Candy Land with him. I know not everything can wait, but not everything can get done either. So prioritize, right there in the heat of the moment. Take control of your mind and teach yourself to roll with the punches with a smile on your face. You’re a mama! And you can do this.

Get rid of your stuff. I know this point seems like it doesn’t belong here, but this is so very helpful if you want to be a freer, more present mom! We Americans have a nasty habit of buying, storing, and hoarding far too many things that we don’t need. Our problem is so big that the storage industry is one of millions per year! Think about that – we have so much stuff we can’t fit it in our homes, so most of us have purchased even more space to store it all. For what? It doesn’t make any sense, really.

I’ve found that if something is taking up space in your home, then it’s taking up space in your mind, and it’s taking up your energy and time too. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a myth. If something is in your house, odds are it comes out of its place pretty often (especially with kids who get into everything), so you’re spending time picking it up and putting it away over and over and over again. You buy new bins, you spring clean, you re-organize, and at some point, it’s all back on your floor, or your dining room table, or wherever you don’t want it, and there you are spending your precious time picking it up yet again.

Three years ago I got rid of the stuff in my house that I didn’t need and you know what? My house was nearly empty, and I was suddenly a very free person. I was a lot happier too. There’s something to the idea of less.

Consider the toys, my friend. This goes hand-in-hand with the above point. I mentioned that three years ago I got rid of most of our stuff; I started with the toys. We had a giant play room full of colorful bins that were overflowing with toys. My kids were wandering into that room, getting overwhelmed, and coming out whiny and bored, so I figured what was the point? I donated almost all of them. What happened next was we became a family who spent time together.

My kids’ bond with one another grew incredibly close and has stayed that way, and I find myself spending much more time with them. I’m not saying you have to throw away all your kids toys, but consider the point of them, and how you want your kids to grow up remembering you. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have less distracting them and you? Wouldn’t some purposeful time together each day make for a beautiful childhood? When you think about it, toys and electronics really do get in the way of intentional living.

Make a weird tradition. In our house we have dance parties. Every couple of nights, we get our little bluetooth speaker out, blast some Taylor Swift and cut the rug right in the middle of the living room. The kids love it, I get a workout, and we make some memories that will last forever. You could make it a nightly habit to take a walk around the block, or initiate Friday game nights, or start a new Netflix series as a family- whatever floats your boat! The point is to set up some regular, wholesome family time where memory making is the point.

Remember, they’re kids. Being a mom is no easy gig. It’s so easy to get frustrated and caught up in our own bad day and forget that it’s their day too. We expect our kids to tag along and be quiet and not be hungry when it’s inconvenient and act the way we want at the times we need them to- it’s a lot for them. They’re just little people, and your days are their childhood.

So get down on your knees, look in their eyes, be warm and kind, understand them, smile at them, pick them up and twirl with them. Be the mom you always wanted to be; it’s up to you how this thing goes. Sometimes all you need to do is step back and fill your motherhood with a little intention and purpose.

About the Author


Allie Casazza is a blogger, author and inspirational speaker. Her passion is helping her fellow women find hope and light when chaos has stolen their motherhood, and infusing them with the truth and purpose. She believes motherhood and humor should always go hand-in-hand, otherwise you’ll never get through it.

Allie is the wife of Brian, her seventh grade algebra partner turned sweetheart. They have four small kids who were born in five years, and they’re SoCal natives living in the beautiful Northwest corner of Arkansas. You can find Allie writing and producing live workshops at her blog, The Purposeful Housewife.

Spotlight Feature - Dogwood Canyon Nature Park

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is a 10,000-acre slice of alluring Ozarks paradise that has largely been left untouched since its earliest settlers.

Glory Hole Falls 3

Since Johnny Morris began acquiring parcels of Dogwood Canyon in 1990, conservation education combined with family fun has become the cornerstone for development of this authentic wilderness experience.

Big Cedar Lodge Trail Rides in Dogwood Canyon

The natural beauty of the park includes towering bluffs, waterfalls, creek beds, hand-crafted bridges and wildlife such as bison, elk and whitetail deer. Dogwood Canyon Nature Park offers hiking and biking, Segway tours, park tours via tram or private jeep, horseback riding, and trout fishing.

Big Cedar Lodge Father and son fishing for lunker trout in Dogwood Canyon

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park recently received its largest renovation to date, and will open a fully-functioning mill, restaurant, education, and bike barn this spring.

mill with logos web

The park has also added a treehouse built by Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters and a new stables facility with a rider’s lounge.

DWC Treehouse-Evesmall

Call or visit the website to start planning your exploration!
1-800-225-6343 |

13th Annual April Summer Camp Guide sponsored by Dogwood Canyon Nature Park

Get your calendars ready! The most anticipated issue of the year is here, The April Summer Camp Guide sponsored by Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. We love working with these businesses to bring your family all the resources you need to make your summer the very best! If you’re concerned about summer slump or boredom, check out pages 2-37 then read more about these opportunities in the quick-reference camp guide feature on pages 46-56. You can fill your child’s summer calendar with quality child care, education, sports, creative arts, dance, day and overnight camps and more all within these pages. When you inquire or enroll in a program, please take a moment to offer your thanks and tell them you heard about them from Kid’s Directory.

We’re especially honored that Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, located in Lampe, MO, sponsored this year’s camp guide. Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is a 10,000 acre nature lover’s paradise, teeming with outdoor adventure. Visitors can explore the canyon on horseback, via tram ride, bike, segways or on foot. Other activities and amenities include 3D archery, fishing, a two day fly fishing school, Dogwood Canyon Mill and Restaurant, an education center, and a treehouse featured on Animal Planet’s TV show, Treehouse Masters. To learn more, visit

Come see us April 23rd, 9:00 am-11:30 am at Champions for Kids RazorFest held at Razorback Stadium! We’ll be joined by 16:9 Entertainment who’ll be providing a mechanical hog, the ONLY one in Arkansas! It’s sure to be an absolute blast! Vist for more information about this FREE family fun event.

May’s issue will feature our Moms-in-Business Guide as we celebrate hard-working, entrepreneurial moms just in time for Mother’s Day. Please contact our Sales Director, Katinka Sweet, at 479.616.2358 or if you are interested in being included or know someone who might be.

March 2016 Summer Camp Preview

I’m loving the spring-like days we’ve had this month though I’m bracing myself for the colder temps and snow potential that’s heading our way as I write this letter. My family and I are going to Colorado for spring break so I’ll get my fill of cold and snow while there! Even if you’re a cold weather person, I’m sure you’ll agree that consecutive outside play times have been a VERY welcome change.

The good news about being snow bound is that you’ll have this issue in hand to start spring and summer planning for your kiddos. Look to pages 2-22 to fill their days with camps and programs to suit every child’s interests. And be watching for even more opportunities in our April Summer Camp Guide.

We’re excited to partner once again with Champions for Kids for their biggest event of the year…RazorFest! This year’s event is April 23, 9-11:30 am at Razorback Stadium. RazorFest is a free, family-friendly event held prior to the annual Red-White game (12 pm kickoff) and includes games, inflatables, concerts, performances, autographs, mascots, healthy tips, giveaways, and more. They also host a food drive to benefit NWA Food Bank and UA Full Circle Pantry. If you’ve never been, we strongly encourage you to come and stop by our booth for some fun! Visit for more information about this amazing organization.

Our special thanks this month to Rhea Lana’s for providing our cover models with adorable game day gear! Their spring sale is March 6-12 at 1106 N. Old Missouri Rd, Springdale (previously National Home Center). They offer high quality, name brand children’s clothing, furniture, toys, baby equipment, maternity clothing, video game systems, books, DVDs, nursing items, sporting equipment, and more. Join them as a  Shopper, Consignor or Volunteer Worker. Learn more at

Remember to set your clocks forward on March 13th and enjoy an extra hour of sleep. Ahem…that’s if your kids comply! Happy Spring NWA!

February Baby Guide 2016 sponsored by Harvey Pediatrics

There’s nothing to me as sweet as a newborn and it’s true that they only stay little for a short time. That’s why we love bringing you our special delivery…the 2016 Baby Guide sponsored by Harvey Pediatrics. If you are an expectant parent or grandparent or one who’s in the thick of it, be sure to keep a copy of this issue on hand. It’s jam packed with fun activities, preschools, health care and dental providers, photographers, clothing, furniture, gifts, child care providers and foster care specifically for little ones who’ve yet to be born through precocious 3 year olds! It gives me baby fever every time.

Look for these advertisers on pages 2-35 with the guide feature beginning on page 36. Please be sure to thank them for the services and opportunities they offer and tell them you saw their ad in Kid’s Directory.

We’re honored that Harvey Pediatrics chose to sponsor this issue. Harvey Pediatrics was founded in 2004 in Jonesboro by Dr. Bryan Harvey and he moved the practice to NWA in 2010. Their team is comprised of four pediatricians, a nurse practitioner and a certified behavioral specialist. One distinction that sets them apart is their designated clinic for the well care of newborns through 6 month old babies.They also serve patients up to 18 years old by providing developmental testing and counseling.

This spring, they plan to open a 15,000 square foot state of the art facility at 900 South 52nd Street in Rogers (Pinnacle Hills). The facility will not only house Harvey Pediatrics but also offer office space for other pediatric providers in order to serve as an integrated medical campus for children. You can learn more about Harvey Pediatrics at or 479.254.1100.

Even with all this talk about babies, we haven’t forgotten about this month’s holiday. One of my friends recently posted a creative idea for her little one to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Honestly, this could be used year round. It’s a beautiful reminder to be thankful for the people and things in life that we love.

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Save the date. Our Summer Camp Guide is coming in April. It’s filled with camps and programs to keep your kids active, learning, engaged and having fun all summer! Let the countdown to summer begin!

A Mentoring Story

Happy January, National Mentoring Month, and the perfect time to learn about Big Brothers Big Sisters, the oldest and largest youth mentoring organization in the country! Since 1993, BBBS has been in Northwest Arkansas, forming over 1,900 mentoring matches in Washington and Benton counties. These one-to-one mentoring relationships between caring adults (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”) have documented positive outcomes for the children. Survey results show that Littles have improved school attendance, healthier peer relationships, enhanced self-confidence and outlook for their future, and are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, or get into fights. In 2015, BBBS NWA volunteers gave over 19,000 mentoring hours to help 260 children.

In order to be a Little, the child typically either lives below the poverty level, has a parent in jail, or comes from a single parent home, and often a child qualifies on all three accounts. As child safety is a primary concern, there is structured protocol that all chapters follow regarding the recruitment and interviews of the Bigs, the Littles and their families; the matching process; and then the monthly monitoring by the program staff. It costs about $1,000 to set-up and monitor a match for the first year. All programs and services are provided free to the Little, their family and the Big. Littles joining the program are 6 to 14 years old, and then age out at 18 years old. Many Littles and Bigs are lifelong friends.

We have a significant need for Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Northwest Arkansas, as well as Big Couples and Big Families (where the entire family can enjoy being with the Little.) In fact, putting a child with a Big Family is a great way for that child to experience healthy family dynamics and, in the case of a Little who is an only child, provide him or her with virtual siblings. Participating families have remarked that their family time together actually improves when a Little is around as the family is often more focused on doing an activity together instead of scattering in different directions! There are 40 children on the waiting list right now, many of whom are boys.

Match activities don’t need to be fancy or expensive; it is all about spending time with the child. Activities can include going to the park, visiting a museum, baking cookies or tossing a football in the backyard! And yet, what a difference this attention from a caring and encouraging adult can make in the life of a child.

Here is one of the success stories…

Zayne and his Big, Jeff Young, were matched in 2014 when Zayne was nine years old and going into fifth grade. His counselor recommended to his mother that Zayne might enjoy having a Big Brother. Zayne lives with his mother Melissa and sister, and his parents are divorced. Melissa strongly felt that Zayne would benefit from a having a kind, caring and positive male role model, particularly one that could model how to positively express and control one’s emotions, as at times Zayne would get angry and lash out. She felt the Big Brother would need to be fairly energetic and athletic to keep up with Zayne, and hoped he would be a good leader, exhibit a strong work ethic and be willing to have fun and try new things. Melissa is quite pleased with the match, reports that Zayne is having a wonderful time with Jeff, and is so appreciative of the time and attention he devotes to her son.

Match Day

Match Day

Since Jeff and Zayne both adore sports, much of their time together is spent participating in or watching sporting events (an activity that Mrs. Young is just as happy to miss!) Together, they have enjoyed going to Razorback football and basketball games, watching Naturals baseball, volleyball and other assorted teams. Jeff has also cheered on Zayne at his wrestling matches and baseball games. Together, they have participated in two of the Razorback football practice visits that Big Brothers Big Sisters matches get invited to watch, both in 2014 and 2015, where they were lucky enough to meet Coach Bielema and get autographs from the football team members.

Coach and Zayne and Jeff Young 2014

Meeting Coach Bielema

Zayne also enjoys spending time with Jeff’s family including daughter Rachel, a Razorback cheerleader, and RHS Mountie football playing son Jay, and Jeff will jokingly tease that Zayne prefers spending time with his kids rather than him. Zayne has also benefited from some extra one-on-one reading help from Mrs. Young, and has significantly increased his reading score at school. Zayne has gone to church with the Youngs, and now is interested in getting baptized.

Hog Game with Rachel

Hog Game with Rachel

Jeff and Zayne took part in the inaugural NWA Lemonade Day in 2015 where the two studied the 14 lessons of entrepreneurship, culminating in having a lemonade stand in Rogers on the first Saturday in May. There, Zayne exhibited his salesman skills and sold $150 of lemonade.

A more typical visit includes them throwing the football in the backyard and then going out for some pizza, or maybe out for a fun activity like a quick trip to the trampoline park or golf course. On their first day together, they ended up going to Casey’s for a slice of pizza and a soda, and that quickly evolved into “their spot” to just hangout and talk. According to Jeff, they spend quiet time talking about life, how to handle challenges, school, God, and of course, girls (a thought that sends Zayne into giggles). Jeff says that Zayne is caring and kind, fun and funny, and over their time together, he has seen Zayne grow from a quiet and shy boy to one who is confident and comfortable with whom he is.

First Outing

First Outing

To learn how you can become a mentor, contact us at or (479) 966-4366.

Sarah Van Vleck
Development Director
Big Brothers Big Sisters of NWA


January 2016 Non-Profit Spotlight brought to you by Arkansas Virtual Academy

Happy 2016!

A new year usually brings to mind one thing…new year’s resolutions. For us at Kid’s Directory, we approach the new year a bit differently. It’s our opportunity to salute the organizations who resolve to make a difference all year. These non-profit agencies fight tirelessly for their cause usually with very small budgets. This special issue dedicated to non-profits is our way of saying THANK YOU and recognizing their efforts. Please take a moment to learn more about the work they’re doing in the spotlight feature on pages 34-41. You may find one that provides a service you need or prompts you to give back.

We also offer sincere thanks to Arkansas Virtual Academy for sponsoring this issue. ARVA is a publicly-funded online charter school that provides an education that meets or exceeds state standards using the world-class K¹² curriculum and allows you to be an active participant in your child’s education. ARVA families receive a complete set of curriculum, lesson planning programs, books and instructional materials, the use of a computer for qualifying students, subsidized Internet access for qualifying students, and the guidance of a highly-qualified, licensed teacher. Visit their website at or call 866.339.4951 for more information.

One final thank you goes to The Billings Family for allowing us to photograph Piper Josie for the cover. Her joy and love are contagious. And that smile! It melts your heart every time. We first learned about Piper from Sunshine School & Development Center where she is a student. Their services encompass programs for disabled to “typically developing” individuals through special education, therapy (physical, speech, occupational & outpatient), preschool enrichment and after school care. Learn more at or 636.3190.

If you are expecting a little one or have one or two already, you’ll want to pick up our Baby Guide coming in February brought to you by Harvey Pediatrics! It’s the perfect resource for any parent, grandparent, or child care provider of newborns to preschoolers.

We’re thrilled to share another year with you! Thanks NWA!

December Holiday Gifts and Events Guide 2015

Writing the last letter of the year is a surreal feeling. Knowing that another year has come and gone makes me pause to reflect on what I’ve done with it. Did I waste time? Did I serve well? Was I a person worthy of being called friend, wife, mom or daughter? What impact did I make? Tough questions but in need of asking.

It does seem that every year goes by faster than the one before. Some days I wish I could slow down time but in the everyday moments of life, I find myself wanting the day to hurry up and be over already. Today though I did what I proclaim to never have time to do. I sat. And rocked. And held my little boy while he slept. He wasn’t sick or having a hard time going to sleep. He just wanted his momma. It felt good and precious and I’ll never regret spending my time with him.

During this season where everything seems especially hurried, I hope you’re able to slow down and enjoy the gifts you’ve been given–health, family, friends and jobs and that you’ll experience peace and joy not only now but throughout the new year. We hope this simple resource, the Holiday Gifts and Events Guide, will help you do that by simplifying holiday shopping and giving you the information you need to find special holiday events perfect for your family. We all need time savers and stress relievers!

We had an absolute blast meeting you at the NWA Boutique Show last month. Some of you really rocked the photo booth and we’re happy to know you enjoy a good cup of coffee as much as we do! Look for our float this month in the Rogers (Dec 4th, 7pm) and Bentonville (Dec 12th, 11am) Christmas Parades. We’ll have some super cute “toys” greeting you and sharing candy. We look forward to seeing you.

We’re grateful for another year serving NWA and wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our families to yours!

November Holiday Gifts & Events 2015 Sponsored by Rhea Lana's

Can you believe we’re in November already? It’s hard for me to imagine that Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner though my kids keep reminding me that Christmas is NOT coming soon enough for them! Since we know many of you are planners, we are bringing you our Holiday Gifts and Events Issue in November. But if you need more time, don’t worry. It’ll be featured in December too. These guides provide unique gift ideas for all the special people on your holiday list and fun events that are sure to become family traditions.

Since we celebrate Thanksgiving this month, I have an experiment for you. Keep a record the entire month of how many times in a day you thank someone. This would be fun to do with your kids too. Don’t force a “thank you” but genuinely mean it. Total your results on the 30th then determine if you need to express gratitude more often. Thanksgiving Day is an easy day for us to say “thanks” but shouldn’t it be the norm rather than the exception? Let’s practice true appreciation more than once a year. I think Ralph Waldo Emerson said it well. “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

With that being said, we thank Rhea Lana’s for sponsoring this issue and for continuing to provide the best children’s consignment event venue in NWA. We are honored by their partnership. Their fall sale is November 8-12 at 1106 N. Old Missouri Rd, Springdale (previously National Home Center). Take your Christmas list…you’ll find fabulous clothing, toys, baby equipment, furniture and more all in one location! Holiday shopping made easy.

For more fun and convenient shopping, plan to attend the NWA Boutique Show, November 6th & 7th at the NWA Convention Center in Springdale. They’ll have over 150 one-of-a-kind boutiques including home and holiday decor, clothing, gifts, gourmet food, children’s items and much more. While you’re there, be sure to stop by our booth so you can register for our giveaways and take fun pictures at our photo booth provided by Oh Snap!

Happy Thanksgiving NWA!

NWA Boutique Show Giveaway ~ Girl's Night Out

The NWA Boutique Show is coming soon, November 6th and 7th at the Springdale Convention Center. Shop over 150 merchants featuring thousands of one-of-a-kind and custom items! So, who needs a Girl’s Night Out? We have an awesome giveaway and we will be selecting 3 winners to each recieve 2 Girls Night Out passes ($30 value), 4 general admission tickets ($20 value), plus a $15 gift certificate to one of our merchants!

A little more about Girl’s Night Out:
Join the NWA Boutique Show as the lights go down and the fun goes up! Win amazing prizes from the show merchants, shop to tunes from D.J. Brian, grab a beverage and sample delicious treats from local favorites like JJ’s, Slim Chicken’s, Ozark Natural Foods and Nestle Waters!

Tickets are just $12 in advance online, through 11/5/15, or $15 at the door with a portion of proceeds benefiting Junior Civic League!

Make it an overnight girls trip! The Springdale Holiday Inn has a special rate of $89 per night for NWA Boutique Show shoppers. (That’s about $40 off the regular rate!) As a special thank-you for advance booking, guests will receive two complimentary breakfast vouchers per room per night AND two complimentary general admission tickets to the NWA Boutique Show at will call. Reserve your room by calling the Holiday Inn directly at 479-751-8300. Simply request to be put in the “Boutique Show” Block. Or, for online reservations, just make sure to enter BOU as the group code!

To enter like Kid’s Directory Facebook page, like the NWA Boutique Show Facebook page and tell us why you need a girl’s night out in the comments below!