Browsing Tag:

mental health

Worry Dolls – What Are They and Why Do You Need To Get Some Right Now?

Lately we’ve been talking about worrying in our house. About how it’s ok to feel worried and how everyone worries about different things but that doesn’t mean that it’s less important.

My one son just tried out for a sports team for the first time and was anxious.

My other son has weekly spelling tests at school that he wants to do well on. And by well he means he wants 100% EVERY time so he works hard at it but he worries.

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In Lifestyle, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
March 23, 2019

Is Your Child Ready For Sleepaway Camp?

In conversation with Dr. Ganz Ferrance.

My kids are getting older, they’re 7 & 9 now, and I’ve been contemplating a summer camp where they actually stay there for a week – the sleepaway camp. I recall being around 8 years old when I attended my first overnight camp and I have really fond memories of it! It was very strange at first, and I was a little homesick too.

We decided to have an expert weigh in on some of the questions I had around knowing if your child is ready for sleepover camp. Alberta Mamas reached out to Dr. Ganz Ferrance, a registered psychologist in Alberta to discuss.

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In Lifestyle, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
March 8, 2019

Divorcing or Separating from a High Conflict Spouse

Does My Spouse Have a High Conflict Personality?

  1. Is your spouse rigid and uncompromising?
  2. Does your spouse have difficulty accepting and healing from loss?
  3. Do negative emotions dominate their thinking?
  4. Does your spouse have an inability to reflect on their own behavior?
  5. Does your spouse have difficulty empathizing with others?
  6. Is your spouse preoccupied with blaming others (mostly you)?
  7. Does your spouse avoid any responsibility for the problem or the solution?

If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions, then your spouse may have a High Conflict Personality. According to the High Conflict Institute, these are some of the patterns you see in a person with a high conflict personality.

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In Parenting, Random Thoughts on
October 20, 2018

The Birthday Tradition I Accidentally Started

I used to go BIG for birthdays. That is actually one of the things Box Social Event Planning did when I started the business. We planned parties for parents that wanted that “Pinterest” party but didn’t have time. We would do such elaborate parties that one time we brought 8 foot trees into a play place to create a perfect Woodland Theme.

But then I stopped. Because I didn’t understand why I was throwing all this time and energy into one day for a little human that wouldn’t even remember it. I still love scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram and seeing beautiful, well curated parties but it just doesn’t work for our family anymore.

I wanted my kids to still have memorable birthdays though. Not something that just blipped by. And then we got the Birthday Banner.

I am not sure when it started but it has become a tradition in our house to hang the Birthday Banner. I remember picking it up at Target (sigh I miss Target even though the Canadian one wasn’t as good as the American one) and hanging it up for one of my kids’ birthdays. It was a September birthday and it was a very busy time for our family between school starting (being married to a teacher in September is not fun) and a busy event schedule for myself. So we threw up the banner and sang Happy Birthday to my youngest around Eggo Waffles topped with whipped cream from a can.  Then I brought it out for the next one. Now a few years later it is something my kids love waking up to. It is made out of felt and gets hung in the same spot every time. Sometimes it gets fancy 3M hooks, other times it is held up by green painters tape.

But it is always there.

 

It took me a while but I have realized that the kids do not care about all the decorations, the cake, the late night party planning. They don’t care whether they have Pinterest worthy handmade cupcakes or a cake bought on the way home from work with a generic “Happy Birthday” on it. They want you to be there. To be present. To sing “Happy Birthday” and watch them blow the candles out not be worried about all the other stuff.

So from now on that is my goal. To be present. And hang the banner every birthday.

 

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Deanne Ferguson is the owner of Box Social Event Planning. When she is not planning fun, family, friendly events she is finding the yummiest food for the Edmonton Home and Garden Show Food Stage. She loves her #cocktailsMonday dates with her husband and chasing around her two boys. You can find her at @DeanneFerguson on Instagram and @BoxSocialYEG on Twitter.

Simple Ways to Curate Lasting Memories

Simple Ways to Curate Lasting Memories

At the centre of my childhood were simple experiences rich with texture and wrought with meaning.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I was able to appreciate the beauty in the simple togetherness my mom wove into the fabric of our family.  Our family didn’t have a lot of money so my mom got creative.  I find myself using many of her ideas with my own children and I enjoy coming up with my own.  Time is the precious gift our children want above all.  Here are some of my favorite memory makers!  I would love to hear about yours.

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In Lifestyle, Parenting on
July 9, 2018

7 Simple Ways to Refresh and Rejuvenate This Summer

By Amanda Cook, C.H.N.

Taking time to focus on your needs is neither selfish nor selfless, it’s simply necessary for your mental, emotional and physical health. When mother’s take the time to care for themselves, they’re better able to meet the needs of their family. Have you ever had a bad day and just watch your intimate world fall apart? I have! A mother is typically the centre of the home and when her needs are met, life just flows easier.  

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In Health, Random Thoughts on
January 26, 2018

Mama’s Mental Health – When the Juggling Act Becomes a Larger Problem

By Joann Fox

Mother, mamma, mom, mama, mum, mommy – no matter which way you say it, “mom” means a lot of things.  She is the caregiver, doctor, psychologist, special event planner, cleaner, chore manager, baker, cook, boo-boo kisser, teacher, provider, bedtime cuddler, seamstress, artist, appointment manager,  [insert one of several other mother duties here]. Mamas – if you really sit down and think about all we do for our kids and our families, we are truly amazing individuals.

But what happens when the mother juggle becomes overwhelming?  

Many of us read about all the other moms out there handling their S*!t and strategies they use to keep their juggle going but what if you begin to drop those balls and don’t care about picking them back up even though they are important to you?  What if you spend days or even weeks not being able to focus on any one task and then start to panic about not meeting deadlines? What if you spend multiple weekends in bed just being sad?  What if your significant other or someone else close to you says “I am really worried about you”?

Sometimes it’s not about managing the juggle.  Sometimes it’s about managing your own health.

Your mental health.

I’m not sure when I started to feel the way I did and to be honest, it was probably for quite some time before I really noticed that something wasn’t quite right.  Any little nagging feeling was quickly dispelled by reading about how other moms are struggling with staying home with the kids or with working full-time and managing the home and its people and activities.  I started to normalize the way I was feeling because every other mom on the internet seemed to be going through the same thing.  Every mom I spoke to also had similar stories about the overwhelming number of things she had to get done that day, week or year.  Lots of moms also had offered coping strategies to deal with the chaos – coffee, chocolate, and wine seemed to be the majority favourites.  Of course for many mamas out there, just talking about the hardships of motherhood is a coping strategy (preferably over coffee, chocolate, or wine ;).  I thought that this was just the way life is for a busy mom.  Everything is fine because everyone else seems to be feeling the same way.

But it wasn’t fine.

I was sad – like,  really, really sad.  So sad that there were some weeknights and weekends that I  just didn’t want to get out of bed – I couldn’t get out of bed.

I was so irritable.  A smear of peanut butter left on the counter for me to wipe up would set the tone for the day as I frustratingly rattled off the 100 things that haven’t been done around the house for the last two years.  Although I knew it was ridiculous to be so upset over something so tiny, I couldn’t help it.  The tiniest things would make me so upset although I knew that it was ridiculous to be that upset over them.

I couldn’t focus.  Tasks and assignments that should have taken me a few hours to complete were taking me days to finish and starting any new project or task was terrifying.  My mind wandered endlessly between tasks and lists and projects both at work and at home that I would spend all of my time worrying about them instead of completing them.

I was forgetful.  I have always been able to keep pretty good tabs on what I needed to get done but I started forgetting things after only a few minutes had passed.  There were several times when I was in the shower and honestly couldn’t remember if I shampooed my hair.  

I was exhausted.  Even though I was getting 7-8 hours of sleep, there were more days than I could count that I would come home and didn’t have enough energy to make dinner.  I was just so tired.  My body was aching mentally and physically and all I wanted to do was sleep.

I didn’t care.  I didn’t care if my friends invited me to go out or not.  I didn’t care about baking or cooking (things I normally enjoy doing), I didn’t care about my birthday or celebrating anything or anyone.  I didn’t care about me.  This feeling alone (as well as my husband’s voiced concern about me) was the reason I finally decided that I needed to see my family doctor.  

As I walked into my family doctor’s office, I was greeted by his friendly,  cheerful smile.  I immediately broke down into tears.  I was so overwhelmed by all of the feelings I had been having but also ashamed.  I wasn’t ashamed that I was there trying to get help but I was ashamed that it took me so long to do it.  As I explained what I was feeling, he didn’t seem surprised at what I was telling him.  He told me that a lot of 30-something moms come into his office on a regular basis describing the same feelings.  Was it normal?  No, it wasn’t normal – but I was the classic, textbook presentation of anxiety and depression.  Some people in my situation might have been shocked with the diagnosis.  

I was relieved.  

I was so relieved that the feelings I was having had names.  I was even more relieved to discuss treatment options with my doctor.  I am extremely lucky to have such a great family doctor who took a generous amount of time to answer all my questions, address all my concerns, and  explain different treatment options for me .  We both decided on a treatment that sounded like a good start and some further appointments so he could check on my progress.

After only a couple of weeks of treatment, I could already notice a difference – subtle differences.  I was getting more done and was more focused.  That peanut butter smear didn’t bother me the next time it happened.  I was happier and much more pleasant to be around (says my husband).  I wanted to go out and be more social.  I finally started my blog.  I wasn’t sweating the small stuff so much.

It has since been three months since I went to see my doctor for help.  I feel great.  Actually, I feel better than I have ever felt for as long as I can remember.  At one of my follow-up appointments I told my doctor that even though the changes are subtle, I felt as though I could have benefited from treatment years ago (like – even before kids).  He surprised me by saying that quite a few people that undergo treatment for anxiety and depression tell him that.  In my case, I think I was so used to feeling the way I was feeling for much of my life, I just thought it was normal – until of course my feelings became overwhelmingly debilitating.  

What is my point and why am I sharing my story with you?  

Because I see tons of posts about needing a venti Americano, a Snickers, or a nice big glass of malbec  to cap off that awful day or week a mama has had and not as many posts about needing a mental assessment by a doctor when those awful days and weeks turn into months and years.

Because although I certainly don’t want a pity party from my friends and family (most of who will have no idea that I am being treated for anxiety and depression unless they read this post), I do want to bring more attention to mama’s mental health.  Moms always seem to put themselves last and when we think about taking care of ourselves, it’s usually thought of in a physical sense.  Although it is true that we should be making our physical health a priority, our mental health should be a priority too.

Because you deserve to be the best “you”.  If you feel that something is wrong and you are really having trouble juggling day-to-day life and coping with your feelings, get help.  Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor.  He or she can help you figure out if your feelings are normal or if there is an imbalance that needs to be corrected.

Not all bad and sad feelings need a prescription.  It’s not about living a life free from trials and tribulations.  It’s about living your best life and being able to cope and adapt with whatever life throws your way.  Many of us don’t need help with that.  Some of us do – and there is absolutely no shame in that.

Take care of yourselves mamas. 

About Me

Joann is a full-time working proud mama of two.  She spends most of her weekends at the rink watching her son play hockey or taking her daughter to dance and gymnastics classes.  On her spare time (what’s that?), Joann loves to cook and believes most of life’s problems melt away with a good bowl of spaghetti and meatballs.  She is passionate about her life as a mom and shares her stories at themotherjuggle.comFacebook

 

In Christmas, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
December 23, 2017

It’s Christmas! Why aren’t I “Merry & Bright”?

By Katherin C.

As much as Christmas brings joy, happiness, and family to many, it can also be a really hard time of year for others.

It could be the first Christmas without someone you lost this past year.

It could be that financially the past year has been tough, you’re exhausted & stressed just getting by and then on top of that you’re faced with “making spirits bright” for your family.

It could be that this time of year makes you think about not just the family you see often, but maybe those you’re estranged from. Or maybe even never met.

I try to focus on all the good around Christmas but it does bring up a strange feeling for me around that word “family”. For as long as I can remember my dad has been my dad but he’s actually my stepdad. And he did a damn good job let me tell you, I’ve never felt like I am not his. But, I haven’t ever met my biological father either. For a stint in my 20’s, I found him and communicated with him and his wife over email. We swapped photos, and around Christmas time we got to wish each other Merry Christmas for the first time. I have to admit there was a bit of a novelty to it.

He lived very far away and neither of us made any plans to travel the distance and meet each other. I was raising a family so there was no way I could go but I got the impression he didn’t really have any interest in meeting me, or my kids. I think once that realization came around (and he had told me previously that he had never wanted kids in the first place) I stopped reaching out. I have to admit it was a bit of a test, which needless to say didn’t go well. I never heard from him again.

I’ve come to peace with the fact that he is missing out on a lot and that isn’t on me, but I still think of him at Christmas and it tinges my happiness with a bit of sad. I wonder if he’s doing ok.  I wonder if he ever thinks about what it would have been like to see MY face Christmas morning when I was little? I can’t imagine missing that – that is what makes this an amazing time of year to me.

Now my story is not as sad as some others. Maybe you’ve lost someone over the past year. Maybe you’re just struggling to get that Christmas spirit going and you’re not even sure why your sad.

This time of year can be really, really hard but you should know you’re not alone and it’s ok to ask for help. I did. Sharing how you’re feeling with others can be weight lifting.

Alberta Health Services has great resources and programming if you need it. They’ll help you find a program in your area and can take stock of your symptoms.  Call 811 or visit myhealth.alberta.ca

You’re not alone. You’re doing ok. And you’re worth every bit of magic that finds it’s way to you on Christmas morning.

Katherin C is a mom of 3 kids from a small town in Southern Alberta. She enjoys making snow angels with them and just basking in the warmth of being a mom. 

In Health, Random Thoughts, Working Mama on
December 21, 2017

How does she do it?

You’ve seen those headlines, leading into the blog post about an awesome and capable mompreneur on the scene who juggles it all: the carpool, the snack bar, the home (or away) job, the kids, the husband or the single parenting, the downtime, the self-care, the manicures, the crafts, the pets. Maybe she even shares the tears, the wine, or the softness of falling apart in the shower where no one can see you…

People have been asking me how I do it all, in awe and wonder how I do it all, painting me as that person. But I’m here to tell you, I am nothing to be inspired by. I am nothing to aspire to.

Doing it all nearly killed me.

I am a Gemini. I am an INFP/INFJ. I love labels because I am a perfectionist whose life is a hot mess of chaos but whose brain doesn’t appreciate disorder no matter how many times her voice drips with denial. “It doesn’t matter; it’s fine.” I also have ADHD, diagnosed in adulthood during university, after years of feeling like I hadn’t quite mastered this whole “adulting” phase of life.

I am a full-time student at 36-years old, finishing an Arts degree in a second language I didn’t speak for 18 years until I actually went back to school in 2016. I am heading into a competitive after-degree program next fall with a 3.7 GPA, with plans to finish my Education degree and become a full-time elementary school teacher.

I am also a Chamber of Commerce award-winning business owner. I run a dance studio full-time, but I barely break even each year because I am also an artist and a creative and an empath with a heart too big for my own boundaries. I care too much about my students to stay focused on the bank accounts, and I try my best to ignore the bookkeeping that is a terrible mess.

I’m a mom to 9-year old twin daughters, one of whom is as roller derby princess in the throes of preteen angst and the other of whom is in a very intense pre-professional ballet programme. I also have a husband whose business is unpredictable. He is often away or works longer hours than expected. We lack the stability (and income!!) of an oilfield family but with all the stress that comes with solo parenting.

I regularly did it all, thanks to that never-ending whirring combo of perfectionist/ADHD/Gemini/creative, piling on the challenges and projects and responsibilities until my life looked the balancing chair act of the Chinese acrobatic circus I saw when I was a child.

My 2017 was already shaky. I had long-time dance teacher leave our studio in an abrupt and unprofessional manner than upset my already delicate balance of passion vs income. I was enrolled in the hardest semester of my degree. I would be subbing at Alberta Ballet every weekend for two months, and my ballerina had taken on extra rehearsals for a Christmas production with her dance school. Somehow I also had to be a mom, be a business owner (not just a teacher), be a wife, and somehow be myself.

Oh yeah: and I was 13 weeks away from taking 17 dancers and their families to Disneyland to perform in one of their holiday parades, during university finals week. Extra rehearsals, extra fundraising, organizing and liaising every aspect of a trip that would not run smoothly, with all the responsibility for its success falling squarely on me.

But I could do this. I could survive this. I am a survivor, and I thrive under stress, and I could do this. I just had to get to December 17th with a strict regimen of university/teach, university/teach, university/drive the ballerina, university/teach, university/drive the ballerina/teach, drive the ballerina/teach, Disneyland rehearsals. Somewhere in that Monday to Friday mess was homework and studio administration.

On Thanksgiving weekend though, a mere 5 weeks in…our friend died. She died horrifically and tragically and instantly and unexpectedly. I say “our friend” because the pain was not mine alone. So many of us, so many of you reading were devastated by Steffi’s death. It broke me into a thousand pieces at a time when I could barely get through my responsibilities in one piece. I cried day and night, never having lost a friend, never having lost a dear family member. Never having lost someone close, I didn’t understand the pain. The never-ending, 24-hour pain.

Then four short days later, one of my dance moms died from breast cancer. And I lost it. I lost everything. I broke more than I’d ever broken before. A few years ago, I had someone tell people that I’d gone crazy. That I had a mental breakdown. Back then, it was all mean and petty lies. This time though? It was really real. On that day, on Wednesday, October 11, I broke down in my car and then on my dad’s couch. I went to my doctor. She took me out of school and recommended I take time off of work. She prescribed sleeping pills, Valium, and an increased anti-depressant. I used our Employee/Family Assistance Program (EFAP) to find a local counselor to help me for free. And I started to my road to recovery.

But it didn’t end there. Rock bottom had a basement, and underground plumbing and the hot fires of hell to still reach first. Between October 11 and December 16, I endured more personal pain than ever. I had people blame me for things beyond my control at my studio and call me some of the worst things that I can’t even write out here. I found out that being an empath means having connections to spiritual energy, and my dead friend was everywhere I looked. Disneyland was killing me. School was killing me. Parenting was killing me. Marriage wasn’t killing me because I didn’t even have time to realize I was married. I’m not a crafty person, but I was stress crafting at Michael’s, gluing rhinestones onto document folders and laminating homemade luggage tags for 47 people.

And on November 30, I spent 3 hours wrapped up on my couch hyperventilating through a panic attack that should’ve taken me to the ER, but instead left me wishing the blanket I was clutching would suffocate me. I spent the next week leading up to Disneyland wishing a truck or a moose or an airplane would hit me and put me out of my misery while I ironed logos onto t-shirts. I created things to control because I couldn’t control myself. Travel-wise, everything that could go wrong with our Disneyland trip was going wrong. I would close my eyes while driving on the backroads to get home, seeing how long I could keep my car in a straight line before survival instincts forced my eyes open again.

I spent the week before Disneyland in a haze, but somehow we got on the plane made it to our hotel. And we danced down Main Street USA in a fury of ponytails and red lipstick and the most Christmas magic I have ever known. I missed out on seeing my own daughter in the parade though; I was on the wrong side of the road. I cried my eyes out over it because I saw all my other dancers completely but missed my own girl, and it was just so par for the course in 2017 to come this far and miss her. But I was proud of my dancers. All of them worked so hard and they sparkled. They were amazing.

And then, it was over.

I was exhausted. I was holding my surface tension up with Disney magic while the storm inside me rolled with Valium, dark humour and a thin string of hope. The last 72-hours of my marathon began our flight landed. Between 3 am on Thursday and 5 pm on Saturday, I wrote three final exams and taught 4.5 hours of dance at Alberta Ballet. I nearly fell asleep on the Yellowhead highway three times and allowed myself to use my doctor’s personal cell number as a lifeline. I coordinated my ballerina’s stage rehearsals and three performances despite her utter exhaustion. And then I stopped.

So after going to bed at 6 pm last night, here I am. I’ve rambled for 1400 words so that I can tell you this:

    Do not think that you can do it all.

    Do not think that you SHOULD do it all.

    Do not think that you NEED to do it all.

You don’t. It’s not good. It’s not healthy. I’m here to tell you that you can’t do it all. You won’t. And that’s okay. It’s really, really okay. If you lose yourself trying to be everything to everyone, you won’t have anything left of you. I’d rather be alive than be everything.

We understand when people eat poorly and don’t exercise and end up with diabetes and heart problems. We understand when athletes overtrain and end up ruining their careers with injuries. But we don’t realize that we average women can ruin ourselves just by keeping up. It might not kill you the way my brain wanted a car to crash into me at 110km/h, but it will kill your soul and your spirit. There’s a reason that minimalism is trendy right now: there is too much expectation.

Keeping up will kill you.

My brain and I have a long road to recovery ahead of us, but at least I know now that I am not all the things. I have a lot of appointments and rest in the next three weeks of Christmas break, and I’m terrified of what the downtime will do to my mind. I’m terrified of the silence that won’t be drowned out by the busyness. I am scared of what my therapists and doctor will ask me to learn and unlearn. It’s unfamiliar and new, and it means letting go of my expectations of myself.

But I don’t want to be everything anymore. I just want to be me.

Magz Dickert is a bit of an overachiever. She is the owner of Expressions Dance Studio in Onoway, AB and used to blog furiously and inappropriately at MagzDLife. She has too many pregnant cats on her acreage, gets distracted by shiny things, and hates glitter with her entire soul. She puts 40,000km on her car each year but refuses to use a travel mug for her coffee when she’s on the road. Oh, and she freaking loves Lilo & Stitch. Like, freaking.

In Christmas, Health, Lifestyle, Random Thoughts, Working Mama on
November 24, 2017

The Struggle of an Introverted Extrovert During the Holidays.

I’m a self proclaimed introverted extrovert. Yes it is a thing. I think. But if it isn’t we need to make it a thing. I love being around people. My whole job as an event planner is to be cheerful, happy, and be good at working with large crowds and I love what I do. I thrive off of planning and executing events for the public.

But it is work.

I get home after an event or social gathering and crash. I cocoon and try to hide out from the world even shutting off my phone and going off social media *gasp*. I am thankful to my husband who after 10 years of being married to me will see the look in my eyes and just pass me a beer and a bag of chips and sit quietly watching bad reality TV with me all evening when I get overwhelmed.

The holidays make it harder. I want to go and do all the things. I will say yes to everything (work and personal) in September and October because writing it down in the calendar at that time looks like it is doable. But then things start piling up. Kid’s get busier with school activities, concerts and field-trips. Work gets busier this time of year with Christmas events. Friends and family invite you over for holiday parties. It adds up fast.

So What’s an Introverted extrovert To Do?

Over the years I have found some tricks that work to help create some down time when things start piling up and I start feeling overwhelmed.

  1. Schedule alone time – It sounds silly but if I don’t clear times throughout the week to do nothing I feel too full. It could be an hour after the kids go to school to just sit and drink a coffee. Or as soon as your partner gets home from work one day pass them the kids and say you’ll be back in an hour and go for a walk or go sit in a coffee shop with a holiday latte. If those aren’t options take an hour after the kids go to bed for yourself. No cleaning or making lists. Do a face mask and have a glass of wine and breathe.
  2. Really be alone – This means turning off my phone and getting rid of distractions so I can enjoy being by myself. I often use driving as my alone time throughout the week. Nothing is better than being able to choose the music, cranking it up, and singing along. Yes I am that girl in traffic belting out Spice Girls and Meatloaf. (and yes that is a weird music combination but it is magical for a bad mood. Try it. You won’t regret it)
  3. Say no – This is a hard one for a lot of us. I want to be a part of everything and go to all the parties and events but saying no is OK when I’m feeling too full. A burn out right before the holidays isn’t fun for anyone.
  4. Diet – I hate this one because I would love to eat like crap and survive off of black coffee all day but I know better. When I drink lots of water and eat a fruit or vegetable every once in a while throughout the day I am able to cope better.
  5. Hang out with people closest to me one on one – Nothing is better than having a chill night with a good friend. Nothing that is work, drama, or high expectations. Just low key and easy fun.

These are just what I have found work for me. I would love to hear your thoughts! Do you love the hustle and bustle of the holidays? Or do you struggle trying to do all the things?

Box Social Event Planning