Work-From-Home Mom Interview + Giving Back

If you follow me along on Insta Stories, you are no stranger to one of my dearest friends, Diana Oates. She is a journalist out of Dallas, Texas and writes about all things fabulous for Condé Nast, Travel + Leisure, Papercity, Purewow, Modern Luxury, and even Food Network. If there is a restaurant to eat at, a resort to visit, or a spa to book an appointment, Diana knows.

I’ve wanted to have her over on COF for a while now, but she’s quite the busy mama of two. Her brother is an emergency room physician in Philadelphia fighting COVID-19 right now. If we aren’t on the frontlines, I know we are all trying to find ways to help those that are. She and I were talking about how this might be a fun way to incorporate COF readers together to give back. Today, I’m interviewing her about all her “must-haves” and any commission earned today from her interview will be donated. She asked her brother where he would like us to donate the commission, and they both agreed on North Texas Food Bank. If you click an item and make a purchase today from this post, I will earn a small commission {like a traditional sales associate would}, this does not add on to your purchase price. This is something the retailer covers as a “thank you” to my site for driving sales and allows me to operate this website. Today, those sales from this post will be our way of giving back together to North Texas Food Bank.

I asked you all on Instagram what you wanted me to ask her and here are her answers!

Interview with Diana Oates, Writer and Mama of Two

You travel quite often with your little ones, which I feel can be intimidating to do. What are the top items you need to travel with a one-year-old?

The number one thing you need for a successful trip with your kids is the right mindset. It cannot be linked, purchased, or borrowed. Parents have to realize that just because travel with the kids isn’t relaxing doesn’t mean that it cannot be rewarding, amazing, and totally worth the hassle. With that said, if you REALLY do not want to travel with your kids, DON’T. It’s that simple. You will not enjoy it as it is hard- even if your kids are angels. Save your money and your time for a different phase of life where your mindset may shift. There’s no shame in this. Just like I have no shame for NOT taking my kids to Disney World right now because, spoiler alert, I do not want to.

  • Bluetooth Headphones – Set them up with Peppa Pig, Blippi, Octonauts, Paw Patrol … etc etc. The key here is WIRELESS.
  • Hands Free Bag– I do not carry a diaper bag on the reg. I am a Louis Vuitton Neverfull gal, however, when you are traveling you are going to need to put your pride aside and wear a hands-free bag. If you are traveling solo, I suggest a straight-up backpack. I know, I know. I can hardly recognize myself.
  • Baller Stroller– Okay, you said one-year-old, however, I want to go on the record and say that the Doona is THE EASIEST thing to travel with when you have a little baby. A stroller for airport, seat for plane, AND car seat for your rental/in the Uber? SIGN ME THE HECK UP
  • Travel Crib– I have been so fortunate that my mom has been a total boss and met us at most of our travel destinations with a portable crib so that I didn’t have to fly with one, however, if you do have to fly with one, this one is super easy to assemble and lightweight. If you are staying at a hotel, call in advance and request to have a crib put in your room. Most hotels these days are on board with the fact that families are traveling and can accommodate. A lot of rentals also have cribs and pack and plays. I recommend bringing your own crib sheet or a lot of Clorox wipes .. because .. you NEVER know where those things have been.

What are your favorite items to travel with once they are a toddler? Any specific stroller you recommend?

Once they are an official toddler, something like this is easy breezy and folds up like a dream. OMG- AND apparently these are a thing now!?! I am not sure I can trust my son not to board a flight to Australia while I am in the bathroom, however, if you feel like you have well-behaved kids maybe give it a go for in airport entertainment.

Speaking of little ones, you have a little boy and girl, but keep your home immaculate. What are your favorite products to use to clean around the home?

First and foremost, I would be a liar if I pretended like I did all the cleaning myself. I have a husband who does dishes (yesssss, girl) and a cleaning lady that comes once a week to help manage the crazy. With that said, here are my favorite tools for keeping the crazy to a minimum.

Taking Disney out of the equation, what are the best places to travel with a 5-year-old?

Okay, I will preface this by saying I do not have any experience traveling with a five-year-old and so take this all with a grain of salt. I would assume that by the time they are five that they have a distinct list of hobbies and also are able to listen to you or someone else explain to them all of the cool aspects of a new place. Here are places I want to travel with my kiddos when they are a little older.

  • Montreal– This is for the family that is dying to go to Europe as a family but can just not stomach the thought of that long flight. Many big cities in the United States have very affordable nonstop flights to Montreal and it has a distinct feel that is unlike anything the US offers. Perhaps it is being in a French-speaking city? It’s French speaking, has more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in North America (hi foodies), and is loaded with culture. Kids will love strolling the festivals, markets, and enjoying the street art.
  • Alaska– My husband spent a couple of weeks as a teen with his parents strolling around Alaska and has such amazing memories. I am very interested in taking my kids up to the area to explore the wilderness and all of the animals that my son loves in their natural habitat. We will probably stop in Seattle on the way there just to break the trip up.
  • Mackinac Island– Michigan? Yes, Michigan! This island is ideal for hiking, biking, and even horseback riding with the family. It’s car-free! There is a lilac and a fudge festival and tons to do if your kiddos like sailing, shipwrecks, or old military sites. Plus, the weather is amazing so no whining and complaining about it being too hot.
  • The Sanderling in OBX– I am from North Carolina, and I am totally biased, however, the beaches of this area are some of the most serene of anywhere in the country. I really like the Outer Banks because it is for real beach people. It is for people who aren’t concerned about outlet malls and constant “beach” entertainment. Pack a cooler, grab your boogie board, and let’s roll.
  • The Broadmoor– We love Colorado. Such an easy flight from Texas. My in-laws gifted us a trip here last Christmas, and it was incredible. So much to do for all ages. The kids’ menu was amazing and the pool was my son’s favorite spot. My hubby loved the golf and the spa was one of the most luxurious I have visited. We stayed in a room that had an office that served as the perfect bedroom for my kiddo. There is biking, horseback riding, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis camps, bowling, shuffle board, paddle boats, canoeing, etc. This is a great place to go if you are VERY pregnant and want to go on a vacation but don’t want to leave the resort. I am speaking from experience here folks.

Note from Katey: I went to the Broadmoor and LOVED it! Here is my blog post. 

Say you get to sneak away with your husband, what are your recommendations for Carmel, Monterey?

Would definitely recommend Carmel-by-the-Sea over Monterey for people visiting the area for the first time. It is more charming in my opinion. If you are more of an outdoorsy type of gal, I would even say to check out staying in Big Sur. If you have a car (and I think this is DEFINITELY something you should do when traveling to this area), you will likely check out everything. This is a particularly pricey area of the country so BEWARE. Here are my favorite hotels and restaurants in the area.

Area Hotels

  1. Pebble Beach Resorts (This includes both The Lodge at Pebble Beach and the Inn at Spanish Bay)
  2. Post Ranch Inn
  3. Ventana Big Sur
  4. Tickle Pink Inn
  5. L’Auberge Carmel

Area Restaurants

  1. La Bicyclette – Carmel ( darling . feels like you are in Europe )
  2. Mission Ranch (Owned by Clint Eastwood .. if nothing else, go for a drink on the patio and look at the sheep that are grazing in the oceanfront field)
  3. The Bench Pebble Beach – Okay honestly the food could have been horrible and I would have been in heaven because of the views and the fun cocktails. That said, the food WAS good. Not gonna make you cry tears of joy… but good.
  4. Casanova Carmel – Think anniversary dinner … v romantic ..
  5. Big Sur Bakery ( If staying in Carmel, rent a car and set out early on a sunrise drive up Route 1 that ends here … AMAZING food ) .. OKAY now I am dreaming of their baked goods.

Everyone wants to know, what is the most relaxing vacation spot you’ve been to?

So hard .. can’t pick just one .. In Texas?

Lake Austin Spa, Miraval, and Inn at Dos Brisas

Anywhere?

The Dunmore was super relaxing even with kids and so I would assume that without kids it would be on another level. We also had a very relaxing experience at the Tickle Pink Inn in Carmel Highland area. Just gonna say it .. the place is DATED, however, the views will make you weak in the knees (AND its close to both Carmel-By-The-Sea and Big Sur ).

I love traveling with my husband and he is more of a busy body when it comes to vacations and so relaxing vacations are not something that happen too frequently in my house. I might get lucky and get a massage or an afternoon by the pool, however, if my husband has his way we are exploring a new city or doing something active.

What are the five most luxurious things you’ve purchased that are worth the price?

  • Barefoot Dreams Throw Blanket– I am not a napper or a blanket girl. The sheets on my bed were always enough for me. UNTIL THIS GEM. So comf.
  • Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker – GAME. CHANGED. FOREVER.
  • Lake Pajamas – I have five pairs because they are that comfortable. A couple of them are breastfeeding friendly for all you pregnant/new mamas out there. These are my favorite. I got a size medium because I like my pajama shorts to be a little roomy.
  • Tempur-Pedic Pillow – I suffer from tension headaches and this pillow was a total game changer for me. It’s a little harder than I thought that I would like, however, it has really made a huge difference in my sleep.
  • BOB Revolution Double Stroller – Okay…..this thing drives like a Porsche. Who knew? I have four strollers and this one is the creme de la creme for neighborhood walks and runs with two babies.

We know you are a foodie, so for DFW girls, help us out! What are your top 3 mid-priced spots in Fort Worth and Dallas?

  • Hudson House – I love meeting up with friends here for martinis and oysters or grabbing a burger with the family. Its vibe is always relaxed yet elevated.
  • Dive Coastal Cuisine – This place is owned by a mama dedicated to food that makes you feel good and tastes great. I really like the salad trio. I go Crunchy Asian, Kale & Parmesan, and Cajun Curry Shrimp. SO good.
  • Gemma – This neighborhood restaurant is owned by a couple that knows their fine food and wine (hi Allison and Stephen), however, they serve it in a way that is approachable and genuine. Adore so many things about this restaurant but my favorites are the warm scones that arrive at your table as soon as you sit down and the fried Texas quail.

When you travel with your husband sans kids, what are your 5 favorite travel products for yourself?

  • Away Carry-On luggage– I do not pack a lot of cosmetics or outfits on trips .. because .. why waste that time (sorry KATEY, don’t @ ME ) .. so a small bag like this suits me just fine. *** Keep in mind I am a travel and dining writer so my photos tend to be of those things versus styled outfits. I understand why Katey packs 204920 suitcases. It makes sense for her.
  • Good book … cannot wait for Emily Giffin’s new book! Pre-order here.
  • Bathing suit – This bathing suit is magic. It has fit me through pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and post-pregnancy. MAGIC.
  • Walking Shoes– Again—we LOVE to explore on our adult getaways. Preferably by foot. Get something that goes with everything.
  • AirPods– You have a chance to listen to something other than Cedarmont Kids, TAKE IT.

You’ve been to spas all over the world, but for those moments a mama needs a DIY treatment, spill the details. What are your top 5 face mask recommendations?

You write for many publications with two little ones at your feet. So many moms work from home, please tell, what are the top 5 things that work-from-home moms need?

  • Coffee Maker – Oh you better believe this engine runs on coffee. And lots of it. I like this because sometimes my husband and I are in the mood for a pot and sometimes we just want a quick K-Cup. Been trying to cut down on actual lattes so that I don’t gain 2094 pounds in quarantine.

  • Printer / Scanner Combo- Not only do I need this for my job, I also need this to print off activities for the kiddos. She bulky, but she is super handy.

  • Moms on Call Schedule – In a perfect world, babies and baby mamas wouldn’t need a schedule. I do not have a nanny and so I need to be able to count on the times when my baby naps to schedule conference calls, tackle deadlines, and respond to emails. I have found such comfort in Moms on Call. I have followed it with both of my children.

  • Quick Conference Call Setup– OMG. As much as I try to tell the people that most meetings can be emails, the industry I am in loves a video chat. Sometimes it is not realistic to be perfectly positioned at your desktop for a call. That said, I got this nifty little gadget and have it set up in my kitchen so that I can talk to the people while I am on my laptop, cutting apples, or washing dishes. I love that it allows me to be hands-free on my phone and the little light helps to shield the fact that I likely am makeup-less. Spoiler alert: most people really do understand that moms have to do more than one thing at a time. They will not judge you.
  • Comfy Chair– Your back is already basically broken from carrying babies around all day every day ( am I right ? ). . . the last thing you need is a chair that isn’t doing you any favors. Invest in something that YOU like, not what the internet is telling you to like.

Lastly, how are you keeping things normal at home right now for your family? What do you recommend for other moms to keep their families and themselves calm during this time?

As a worrier, I like to try to focus on the things that I can control. For example, I have a brother fighting this on the frontlines in Philadelphia as an emergency room physician. I can’t keep him from getting sick or being both mentally and physically fatigued, however, I can send him care packages and call and lift him up regularly. I also live far away from my mother who is battling cancer. I cannot go see her like I planned to many times this spring (all of these trips have been cancelled), however, I can Facetime her daily to stay involved in her fight as well as thinking of creative ways for my kids to spend time with her virtually. Most importantly, I can make my own home as happy and as healthy as I can. For me, this means making sure my family gets lots of food, exercise, and fresh air. I also refuse to not feel joy when moments of happiness arise amidst all the chaos. My kids are getting to spend a ton of time with their dad that they otherwise would not have gotten. That is a very small win amidst all of the loss.

If you enjoyed Diana’s interview, you can follow her on Instagram here. She does a lot of Q&A’s on Insta Stories answering questions about travel with little ones, restaurants, etc.

I hope you all enjoyed this post and I will share when we make our donation to NTFB as the COF community! Thank you so much for reading!

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5 Comments

  1. Katie wrote:

    Wow! I love this post!! We have a three year and up until the lock down, did travel quite a bit with him. I can speak to the Pockit stroller as well- It is such a great travel stroller. We actually get stopped by other parents to ask what it is when they see us fold it down on an airplane! i cant wait to try the wireless headphones!

    Published 09 Apr 20Reply
  2. Annaliese wrote:

    I’ve been following Diana on IG for a little while now after learning about her from you! Love this interview- so kind of you both to give away proceeds of today’s post! <3

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

    Published 09 Apr 20Reply
  3. I feel like I’ve known Diana forever…now can we meet?! LOL! As a former Travel Director (now with kids of my own) I would love to add a few more fun cities to travel to with kids – because we need something to look forward to! All of Europe is so kid friendly. My kids (6 and 4) have been a few times and to see the city thru their eyes eyes has given me an entirely new appreciation for the European cities I love. They notice everything! The Galapogos and South African Safaris – for the animal lovers…your guides will cater to the kids while still keeping the trip incredibly interesting for you! Plus they know how to spoil mommas #spas. And don’t forget Puerto Rico – a quick flight with beautiful beaches (La Concha a sister property to El Convento means you can stay in Old Town but spend a day there). The culture will entertain your kids and allow you to feel like you are a world away!
    XO

    Published 09 Apr 20Reply
  4. Loved the interview! Such a great read! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    Published 09 Apr 20Reply
  5. Sarah wrote:

    Loved this post!!! After going back and forth for a long time on Lake Pajamas – I finally pulled the trigger! Glad I waited until now so it could also do some good!

    Published 09 Apr 20Reply