This is a sponsored post. I was hosted by Dolphin Mall in exchange for this post.
When you think of Dolphin Mall, you probably think of Johnny Rockets and outlet shops. And while it is Miami-Dade County's largest outlet shopping center, there is a lot to do at Dolphin Mall. Especially in the summer months, when you need to beat the heat, Dolphin Mall has it covered for you, your kids, and everyone else in the family - from shopping, to dining, to entertainment, and then some.
A couple of weeks ago, the mall hosted me and a few other mommy bloggers who are from Miami. I attended with Chloe, so there were a few things we didn't really get to enjoy as much as if I had had Caleb with me, but Caleb went to camp because I wasn't ready to brave the mall with both of them at the same time, especially when Caleb is hit or miss in situations like that.
We started off the morning at Dave & Busters, with some breakfast and game time. Kids really love Dave & Buster's because of all the games. I know the last time Caleb was there he had a blast!
After Dave & Buster's we hit Forever 21, where the older kids got to do some crafts and activities, while us moms browsed all the cute merchandise. This Forever 21 is enormous, so you are bound to find something to fit your needs!
Then we were off to Cinebistro for lunch and a movie. Cinebistro is a movie dining experience. The way it works is you book your seats in advance when you purchase your tickets. They suggest arriving 30 minutes prior to the movie start time so you can place your orders for food and drink (they have a full service bar), and you can order anything up until 5 minutes before the movie starts. The waitstaff brings you your food and drinks, and you never have to get up out of the big, comfy seats. It is kid friendly for any showings before 6 pm. Any showings after 6 pm, and guests must be 21 and over. The food was good, the dessert was even better!
After the movie, I hit a couple of shops, including H&M (they have a pretty big location here with a kid's section, too). Then Chloe had a diaper blowout and I had to pick Caleb up, so we headed out. But Dolphin Mall really has so much to offer. Below I'm listing their summer promotions. If you need something to entertain your kids (or yourself) this summer, and beat the sweltering South Florida weather and the afternoon thunderstorms, Dolphin Mall definitely is the place to go!
Cobb Theaters: Tuesday June 12 - Thursday August 2, Cobb theaters will offer free admission to kids for screenings of kid friendly movies every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 10 am. [305.591.9380]
Dave & Buster's: All games half price on Wednesdays. [305.468.1555]
Buffalo Wild Wings: All summer, kids eat free every Wednesday from 5 to 11 pm. [305.513.2660]
Monday Mayhem: $14.19 Unlimited bowling with shoe rental. Food & drink specials starting at 8 pm.
Wednesdays: Unlimited Laser Tag Missions - $15 per person starting at 6 pm.
Mondays: BOGO 50% admissions.
Tuesdays: $5 off admission
Wednesdays: Kids eat free
Fridays: BOGO 50% off on select appetizers
Before I became a mom, I had all these ideas in my head of how I would be this “perfect parent.” You know, the one every book and blog and sanctimommy (a sanctimonious mommy) tells you you should be. I would only breastfeed, I would read the perfect amount to my baby every day, I would feed him the most perfectly balanced, completely homemade organic diet, I would do all kinds of activities for his development. He would never touch sugar, and I would never have to punish my child. My house would be a spotless dream home because my perfect child would allow me to keep house like a good wife should. Real moms, are you laughing yet? Because I’m killing myself with this daydream.
Over the years, I’ve learned to throw out the image I had in my head and the expectation that I would be this “picture perfect” parent. For starters, I’m not Susie Homemaker, nor will I ever be. I forget to switch the laundry and have to re-do a load sometimes more than once. More often than not, 5 pm rolls around and I’m face palming myself thinking, “Oh crap, I forgot to defrost something for dinner.”
I did manage to breastfeed well past my goal with Caleb, but it wasn’t without its hiccups. I struggled to produce enough milk for a while, and I had to come to terms with supplementing with formula or donor milk until I could get my supply to where I needed it to be.
And while I did manage to make a lot of his meals, I also learned really quickly that I needed to make the most efficient choices for my family sometimes, and sometimes, a homemade meal was just not in the cards. Pouches and store bought foods became my BFFs. And even though I managed to keep him away from added sugars his first year, after that it was a losing battle - so I limit it when I can and I don’t let him have it in the evenings, but I’m not going to lose my mind over a little frosting.
And my perfect house? Haha. You can only imagine how that turned out.
But what I have learned is that motherhood doesn’t have to be ALL or NOTHING. It is a huge balancing act. And we need to stop feeling guilty for not being the perfect image we had in our heads.
Picture this... you’ve been breastfeeding your whole maternity leave. Come the time you go back to work and you’re struggling to pump and keep your supply up while you’re away from baby. You’re not producing enough while at work. Does this mean the end of your breastfeeding relationship? If you don’t want it to end, why does it have to be breast OR formula, when it very well could be both? Breastfeed while you’re with your baby, and give formula when you’re not. Simple as that. You stop making yourself crazy and you stop beating yourself up.
Food? Pick your battles. All organic can get expensive, and sometimes you just don’t have the budget for it. So stick to buying organic when it comes to the “dirty dozen,” and don’t worry about the rest. Whole Foods doesn’t need to take all your money, contrary to popular belief. If you're really set on home-cooked meals for your toddler, a service like Babe Appetit (which I have talked about here) could fit your bill - and it's been a lifesaver in our house.
And my house? Well, I’ve succumbed to the organized chaos around me, but when we were married, one of the non-negotiables was someone to clean the house every two weeks. So it may not be perfect all the time, but it’s clean.
When it comes to gear, you don’t NEED all the “latest and greatest” contraptions that exist on the market. All these companies are constantly ploying to get you to open up your wallet for them. They convince you that you NEED the $1000 stroller or the $200 baby food maker. Truth is, your baby will be just as safe and just as comfortable in the less expensive stroller and with baby food you made in a blender you already own. Pick and choose what makes sense for you and what will truly SIMPLIFY your LIFE. Babies actually need very little when it comes down to it.
What I’m trying to get to is that there’s no perfect way to parent. Love your kids. Do your best by them. Your best may look different from my best and that’s okay. You have nothing to prove to anyone and nobody needs to be involved in the decisions you make in parenting your children. And if another Mom tries to make you feel bad about something you’re doing, then throw her a bone, because she’s probably beating herself up about something, too.
About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.