I realized I never shared these photos on here and it ended up being the perfect timing to post them, because there’s a relevant story behind them. One of the best parts about being a mom is getting to create all the fun magic for my kids. I love it. But…. I also think it’s gone a little too far. I hate to bring the energy of ~social media ruined it~ however i do think that’s the case here. The bar for “childhood magic” just keeps going higher and higher.

You can’t just take your kids on a vacation, if you want real magic you need to pack a suitcase for them, wake them up and tell them they’re not going to school, they’re going on a ~special trip~! You can’t just have a little Easter basket, for real magic you need to have goodies and treats that rival Santa Claus’ loot. You can’t just have a cake cutting celebration with family, for real magic you need a $700 balloon arch. Obviously you don’t need it, but it does feel like if you’re not going above and beyond, your kids’ childhood isn’t as magical as it could be. And man, as a mom, that is exhausting and there’s just SO much (undue) pressure. We’re already spread thin, can we please not also be responsible for putting together five themed outfits for two year old’s daycare.

A lot of it is self-inflicted. We might be influenced by social media, but no one is forcing us to do this.

I watched a TikTok recently of a dad recounting this magical trip to Disney that he and his wife took his kids on and he shared a long list of fun things they did over their (expensive) weeklong trip. Ice cream every day! Visits to the gift shop! Character lunches, fun rides, and extra late bedtimes. The kids’ favorite part of the trip? The part that they couldn’t stop talking about the whole way home? …. when their dad fell down the stairs in the hotel. 

So these photos. What’s the story, you ask?

I realized quite late that Jack had multiple days off daycare and preschool and we were really freaking over the cold weather after an extra dark winter. Mike and I decided to take the family on a very last minute trip to Tampa for a “spring break” of sorts. I can’t lie, I started to spiral trying to think of all the ways to make the trip SPECIAL. Including…. attempting a day trip to Disney. 1) We’re not a Disney family so I was already overwhelmed thinking of the details and 2) our trip to Tampa was already short so I was trying to see if we could make it just a day trip. Nothing “over the top.”

The reality though was that even if I planned a perfectly low key day trip to Disney, it was going to be a lot of work and planning. And for what? A few hours of “fun”? For WHOM? Rory certainly would sleep and nurse throughout the entire day and Jack would probably have a blast, but wouldn’t he also have fun playing in the backyard with his grandma and grandpa?

I quickly realize how insane I was being. We didn’t need to ~GO TO DISNEY~ to make this spring break special. And I certainly didn’t need to spend days and days planning a “low key” (lol) day trip to Disney.

I thought, “Jack would probably have equal amounts of fun going to the splash pad down the road.”

And he did. It was wonderful. We went to a family favorite restaurant (that I also love) for breakfast with my mom and sister. We scooted down the road to the splash pad where we all ran around through the water having the best time. It was just what we needed for a magical morning and nothing more.

What else made the trip special? Putting around a golf ball at my parents’ country club. Hitting a baseball into the pool for Dada to catch. Going to Home Depot to pick out colorful flowers and milkweed and planting them for the butterflies in Meesh’s garden. Munching on cookies and lemon bread and marshmallows.

It was magical for everyone. And we kept our stress and anxiety and running around to the very bare minimum– there is some degree of this when you’re traveling with a toddler and a newborn– and I think that contributed to the magical nature of it. Everyone, including mama, was in a great mood which meant we were all set up for success.

I keep trying to remind myself of this. A few times a week I feel this urge to do something a little crazy and a little over the top (likely after scrolling on Instagram or TikTok for too long) and then I have to remind myself that the magic can really glow when the family is relaxed and when everyone is calm…. most importantly when I’m calm as mom.

My Dress (c/o) // My Sunglasses // Jack’s Rash Guard // Rory’s Sweatshirt // The Boys’ Swim Trunks // Jack’s Shoes // Rory’s Hat

As for the matching outfits. Yes, they may be a little over the top and a little unnecessary. But hey, we were all going to need to wear clothes anyway right 😉


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Amen. Happy and relaxed mom to two amazing and happy teenage girls here. I could not agree more.


Carly, thank you for starting another wonderful conversation. I’m a new mom to my 7 month old son and I think about this all the time. We live in a suburb outside of Chicago and people think they need to “keep up with the Jones’” to give their kids a magical childhood. I’m also a teacher and when I asked the kids all about their spring breaks, many of whom went on these magical trips, their favorite parts were getting ice cream! I wish parents could be a fly on the wall and listen to what they have to say because it’s the little things that matter! I think if people want to do these things, great, and if they don’t, thats great too. My parents had a line when we would hear about things other families were doing and we didn’t do and they said, every family does it differently and what’s best for them. I find myself saying it to myself now too. I’m so glad you had a magical trip and you’re doing great!


Carly I LOVE this attitude for you!!! I’ve been following along since your Georgetown days and as weird as this parasocial internet relationship is, I’m just so happy to see these moments of you relaxed and thriving in motherhood. Thank you for sharing this perspective. It’s a great reminder even as a non-mom that there isi magic in the everyday.

Deidre Peterson

As a mom of 3 grown boys you are lucky to have hit upon this right now…..being with them and getting wet and dirty and well fed are what boys of all ages WANT!


That was one of my favorite places to take my kids when they were little. Ballast Point Park has some great features too! Glad you are allowing yourself to take it easy — I didn’t have to deal with all of that. I’m already dreading wedding season for my young adults entering into that zone!


I think this is great, Carly. Good for you reining it in.
I have a four, and six, and eight-year-old, and we have avoided most of the commercial “Magic“ and I’m grateful for that. Sometimes the grandparents pull some thing off, and I’m grateful that it truly was a unique treat for the kids. Like once a year or less.
The other downside to all of this that I see is teaching kids to look outside of themselves for magic and entertainment. My opinion is the true magic of childhood comes from getting lost in make-believe. All they need for that is our patient presence and simple routines.
Keep on keeping on 😉


I love this. I saw something recently that said don’t replace happiness with happiness. If you have plans to go to a big playground but the kids are having the best time running around the backyard – enjoy it! You don’t need to one up yourself just because. With two little ones it really stuck with me and helps me stay in the moment!


Whilst I’m not a mum, I’ve been loving exploring “slow living” lifestyles and living more in tune with seasons and nature. This is a great reminder that there’s magic in the mundane – even more so for kids!


Thank you for starting this conversation! I sometimes joke that I’m a ‘lazy parent’ but that’s actually not fair to myself. By lazy, I mean a slow, simple, and content childhood and an overly produced one. My kids want a present parent more than a picture perfect childhood – and so do I.


I am not a mom (hopefully someday) but I think this can apply to so many parts of life. Absolute love this post!!


Yes! I’m an elementary teacher and fully support finding the *magic* in the everyday parts of life.

Courtney Jenney

It’s so true! I think back to a trip my family took to Mexico when I was just 6 years old… My favorite part? Drinking a milkshake on the beach. Did we need to go to Mexico to get a milkshake?! Probably not. Ha!


Love this. Someone I follow on TikTok ( @emily_wehner – mother of a 3 y/o and a 1 y/o) recently asked what made peoples childhoods magic? The comments were so fun and so simple. She has had a few follow up TikToks where she talks about general themes and is making a doc of all the ideas to share. As a new parent, the ideas shared were all fun and totally do-able in every day life, not in big crazy over-the-top trips. Highly recommend.


Why am I crying about this post? FREAKIN YES!!!!! Thank you for putting all of this into words


your kids got to go on a plane!! they got to see grandma and grandpa and auntie who they don’t just see every day! they got to go to a splash pad! All of that is special and magical to a toddler. I’m not a parent but the social media pressure seems out of control.


“We’re already spread thin, can we please not also be responsible for putting together five themed outfits for two year old’s daycare.”

This kind of thing drives me crazy! So much of daycare and school is homework for the parents! And by parents, I mean mom! And it often means amazon priming things you don’t need or won’t ever use again.


Totally agree! I feel this after seeing parents put the elf from elf on the shelf in front of their ring cameras and I’m like no. This has gone too far! Glad you had a great trip!


Thank you for posting this! We need to make “everyday magic” the new normal. I love everything about this post. Our kids just want to hang out and have fun with us.