Calling All Exhausted Mamas + 10 Tips


One of my favorite things in the whole wide world is SLEEP, and I realized this after years of NOT getting adequate sleep. The absence of precious slumbers made me really appreciate how beneficial rest is to both the mind and body. In addition, as someone who suffers from Crohn’s disease (autoimmune disease) I need proper sleep to keep my symptoms at bay. As we all know, lack of sleep leads to stress and and a whole plethora of negative manifestations.

I’m a terrible sleeper to begin with, but throw in three small children and the chances that one or more will get up each and every night is incredibly likely. One of my goals for 2021 is self care, and included in that is the ever coveted sleep. 

Mental health and sleep are deeply intertwined. During these colder months – SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is at an all time high; COVID fatigue has set in; anxiety and depression are ever present; and the exhaustion is real. To help improve your psychological health during these unprecedented times, I’ve come up with a short list to help combat sleep woes.

Here are 10 tips I’ve recently adapted:

1. Gravity Blanket: This weighted blanket is a Godsend. My husband gifted this to me for Christmas, and quite frankly, it’s absolutely lovely. A weighted blanket can help improve sleep quality. The blanket’s deep touch pressure stimulates serotonin, the relaxation hormone, which helps you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and feel rested in the morning. Check out the Gravity Blanket HERE.

2. Cut the caffeine by noon: Believe me, I LOVE my morning java. BUT if I carry on throughout the day, I’m in trouble. Caffeine is a stimulant and can affect your ability to fall asleep as well as decrease the amount of deep sleep you log. The other day, I had an espresso around 3pm, and I didn’t sleep at all!

3. Skip the alcohol: I don’t really drink anymore. This is mostly due to breastfeeding, being pregnant over recent years, and just the mere fact that it just doesn’t really fit into my life anymore. Alcohol disturbs REM sleep which is critical for optimal functioning.

4. Exercise: This is simple. Get moving! Nothing gets my heart rate up, and sweat flowing like running. What do you do to get your blood pumping?

5. Bedtime tea: I find this to be a nice and soothing ritual after the kiddos go to bed. I put my favorite red teapot on the stove and cozy up in a blanket. My absolute favorite is, Yogi’s Bedtime Tea. Mix in a little bit of almond milk and honey and you have a delightful night time treat!

6. Meditate: Meditation is so advantageous. The mental health benefits include better focus and concentration, improved self-awareness and self-esteem, lower levels of stress and anxiety, and encouraging kindness. There are so many apps out there. In our household, we like Ten Percent Happier. Try it!

7. Take a bath: Soaking in the tub, can help you unwind and fall asleep faster because it helps lower your core temperature, which is a circadian sleep signal.

8. Massage: Pre-covid, I was a big fan of getting massages. It’s such a nice way to relax and got your muscles stretched out, so try some deep tissue “kneaded” relief with your partner. Spice things up a bit!

9. Turn off devices: Research has showed that bright lights and sounds are stimulating to the brain. Use your time before bed to quiet down, and decompress from the day.

10. Read: I find reading puts my mind at ease. Here are a few books on my nightstand right now: The Vanishing Half, and The Wisdom of Sundays. If you need some ideas, Oprah’s Book Club is a start. I’ve read several on her list and highly recommend.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like a whole new person when I get a good night’s sleep. Right now that means at least 5 hours, and I’ll take it! Who out there has troubles sleeping? What works for you? “Sleep is the best meditation.” – Dalai Lama

These 3 blessings below are quite possibly the reason for my exhaustion:)

Choosing the right school for your child: 5 Things to consider during your selection process

All schools share many things in common. So how do you distinguish among them all and make a choice? As a parent, you need a plan to follow when you begin looking into schools for your child. The following “To-Do” List (from our partners at Queen of Peace School in Madison, WI) will help you navigate the process of selecting the best school for your child.

Ask Questions and Listen

Ask friends, neighbors, and family for recommendations and then ask why they chose that particular school. Things to consider may be the school’s educational philosophy, religious affiliation, culture, mission, excellent teachers, school community, learning environment, or volunteer opportunities.

Do Your Research

Check out each school website to discern more about individual schools, especially their mission, educational philosophy, and admission information pages. Learn about curriculum, religious education, and after school activities. Ask yourself, “What do I value in my child’s education?” and “How does this school fit our family values?”

Do the Footwork

Explore the school as best you can. Attend Open Houses and Admission Tours so you can “experience the everyday.” Due to Covid, many schools are limiting in-person tours and events, but most schools are continuing to offer virtual options and/or private in-person tours.  Be attentive to the school culture and community as you meet the administrators, teachers, and students. Ask about teacher qualifications and retention. Ask about curriculum, including the arts, world languages, and technology. What areas are important to you? Get details about those. Find out how the school communicates with parents. Ask about parent roles in school life. Try to imagine your child in this setting, then imagine your family at the school.

Study the Options

Make a list of your values and priorities and compare the choices. Points to consider:  Educational philosophy, calendar/schedules, safety, religious education, and before and after school care. Then think through the following: What are your needs? What are your child’s needs? Are you making a short-term decision or a longer-term commitment?

Make the Match

You know your child best. Ultimately, the choice of a school has to meet the unique needs of only one child—yours!

Do you want to discover the possibilities at Our Lady Queen of Peace School?

As a parent you want to make the best possible choices for your child, especially when it comes to their education. We invite you to join us for our Prospective Parent Virtual Open House, Tuesday, January 26th at 6:30 pm. Connect with School Administration, Teachers, and Current Parents. Please sign up for this event HERE.

Our school is a community. From K4 through the 8th grade our students are challenged and supported by a caring group of educators, friends, and parents. Queen of Peace School is a place that celebrates the individualism of the child in a nurturing community with a well-rounded program. From amazing arts to competitive athletics, interactive technology, strong academics, and an inclusive faith life, our students explore their creativity and curiosity and become confident young adults. Students at QP discover who they are through a program of excellence, integrated curriculum, personalized attention, and a faith that guides us to serve others along the way. It is no coincidence that our graduating students cite their service work and caring community as two of the most important aspects of their time here. Our children are encouraged to be curious and that comes alive through creativity, critical thinking, faith-based character development, and collaboration. 

This post was written and sponsored by our friends at Our Lady Queen of Peace School. We are proud of the relationships we've built with local businesses and only partner with those we trust.

What It’s Been Like to Move to Madison, WI… During a Pandemic


At my daughter’s dental appointment recently, I was making small talk with the hygienist, and she asked if we were new to the practice.  

“Oh no, we’re new to the state. Moved here in August.”

“Oh. [Long pause.]  Gosh.  What’s that been like?”

Well.  It’s been about as surreal as you’d expect.  Like almost everyone at the start of 2020, my husband and I had no idea what the year would bring. His job as a flight officer in the Navy had taken us to Washington state about twelve years ago.  We were both raised in Wisconsin, and long before Covid-19 or quarantine became common everyday words, we had a plan to move back home. He would join his family’s small business, my five-year old would spend a good portion of the day at school, and I’d figure out what to do next, since my life would no longer revolve around Navy deployment schedules and solo parenting.

Ah, the best laid plans… Instead, my daughter is doing 4k entirely virtually.  She has never been inside her school building.  We’ve used the outside playground there, but she says it doesn’t feel like her school.  My husband’s job is secure (thank goodness), but he’s at the office for ten hours most days.  It made sense for me to continue to be a stay at home mom for the time being – but now it’s an extreme sport.  Truly STAY at (your own) home mom, and order your groceries for curbside pickup, and play innumerable rounds of Candyland while trying to remember what day of the week it is.

None of this might be any different if we still lived in Washington, but here it feels more alone.  More isolated.  

We had been excited to move to the Madison area.  My husband grew up in Monona and has great memories of attending Badger football games, exploring State Street, visiting Christmas Zoo Lights at Henry Villas Zoo, and getting Babcock Ice Cream from the small bait shop near where he lived as a kid.  We’d talked about taking advantage of the culture and events of a larger city than we’d lived in previously.  I had mentally planned a housewarming party to reunite with family and friends that had lived 2000 miles away from us for so many years.  We had lists of restaurants to try, and sights to see, and Madison hotspots to check out (many of them thanks to a certain mom focused Madison website I had been perusing for months!).  Practically giddy, we talked about what a luxury it would be to have grandparents nearby to watch our daughter on date night!  

But beyond putting a hold on the bucket list of Wisconsin to-do’s, what we’ve realized is even harder about moving during this unprecedented time (a phrase we can happily banish as soon as possible), is the feeling like this isn’t home yet.  We aren’t a part of anything.  We haven’t been able to really meet new friends, establish relationships, or build a community.  Zoom calls are great for catching up with extended family, or chatting with old friends, but the platform doesn’t lend itself as well to making new connections.  We were thrilled when we met a few families on our street after the moving truck left.  But as true Wisconsin winter has descended, even socially distanced driveway chatting becomes too much.  Over many years as an introverted military spouse, I’ve had practice finding “my people” in a new place.  But most of those opportunities just don’t exist when we’re all encouraged to socially distance.  No ballet lesson waiting room time to perhaps strike up a conversation with a fellow mom.  No library storytimes, no playdates, no book club, no school pickup line, no office parties.  It always takes time after you move to adjust and settle in, but Covid has even robbed us of the initial burst of excitement that usually accompanies discovering your new town, meeting people, seeing all the possibilities of what’s to come. 

We are luckier than many.  Our economic well-being and physical health have not suffered because of the pandemic.  Even if we can’t see all of our family in person, we know they are just driving distance away.  We are happy we moved here, because I know this – this strange Covid pandemic life – isn’t forever.  Eventually, things will improve, and we will start to put down roots and make friends and build a new life here. Our house already feels like home; now I’m just waiting for the chance to venture out safely and make Madison feel the same.

Guest Post Submitted by: Meaghan Swanson

Hashtag 5th Baby: Tips from a Slacker Mom Who’s Been Around the Block

5th babyNothing makes the mom of a 5th baby feel like more of slacker than an online moms’ group full of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed first moms. Oh my goodness! The women in my particular group run circles around me. Most of them are 10 years younger than I am and are parenting either their first baby or their second, meaning they have more energy, usually more enthusiasm, and certainly more bandwidth than I do. While I am definitely more chill than my fellow moms, I have also learned a few things from them that I never would have known about before this baby.

Slacker Tips

  1. Nothing lasts forever: Is your baby stressing you out because they aren’t sleeping well at night, or they suddenly can’t nap without holding your ponytail in their hands, or they cannot stand to be in anyone’s arms but yours, like, ever? THAT’S OK. It’s a phase! Just roll with it, and before you know it, you’ll be fondly remembering that stiff neck you got from bending your head just so, so your baby could get comfy with the ends of your hair twisted around their sleeping fingers.
  2. You really can’t teach infants bad habits. It’s so much easier to believe this when you have a pack of big kids who act like regular humans despite taking all naps in an infant wrap, or never crying for a single second all night long, or enjoying a constant breastmilk buffet from midnight to 8 am for like 15 months of their lives. If your baby needs something, give it to them. They are only babies for a second and then you are suddenly buying them the tools they need to shave hair off their face and WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT SWEET BABY? (Puberty. Puberty happened, and it’s kind of like Gremlins, so if Gizmo wants you to hold him, just hold him, you know?)
  3. If your pediatrician wants you to start solid food between 4-6 months, pick the 6. You have a lifetime to make this baby food it doesn’t want to eat and will throw on the floor. Don’t rush it.
  4. Don’t stress about nursing. Watching big kids eat Hot Pockets and guzzle chocolate milk from the carton is a real eye-opener in terms of infant nutrition. What they eat for 12 months is so much less important than the healthy food choices you have the next 17 years to battle over. Focus on making feeding a healthy experience for both of you, and do what ultimately makes you happy.
  5. Stop worrying about sleep, and don’t take it personally. Your baby didn’t take a nap? That’s OK. Maybe tuck them in a baby carrier and see if they’ll drift off while you do some work. You tried to put your baby to bed, but they didn’t want to go? Bummer. Maybe you can snuggle them on the couch while you watch an inappropriate TV show and have a snack you don’t really need. Your baby woke up eleventy billion times between midnight and 7 am? Maybe they missed you or are learning something that’s so cool it makes it hard to concentrate on sleeping. You’re still a great mom if you have a baby who doesn’t always sleep well, so take the stressed-out part out of the equation. (Yes, you can still take care of your other kids/go to work/finish a big project after a bad night’s sleep—or even a bunch of them. You’ll be fine, and you WILL sleep well again someday, so, for now, smell your baby’s sweet head and take a deep breath of pheromones).
  6. Use the Huckleberry app to track your baby’s sleep. This app was a life-changer at 4 months when I worried my baby had no nap pattern. It turned out, she DID! I logged her sleep every day for a week and saw a clear pattern emerge, and I was able to plan my day around these little nap pockets. Instead of imposing a schedule on my baby and creating conflict for both of us, the app let me just observe her natural tendencies and support them.
  7. Get a Newton mattress. This mattress is incredible. It’s breathable—like so breathable you can smoosh your face right up against it and breathe normally. If you are going to use a sheet with it (you don’t have to because the cover comes off, and you can wash everything), use a muslin sheet that still allows you to breathe through it. I have these, but the company sells some as well.
  8. Get a baby toy subscription box. This is the thing that new moms are buying that impressed me the most. Developmentally appropriate toys that just show up on my doorstep? Yes, please!

Real talk? This is for sure my last baby (a weird birth experience, and my age ensure it). She’s also a rainbow baby, and the whole family is committed to enjoying every second of her existence, so it’s easy for me to say that you should take the stress out of the equation. Every second I spend with this baby is bliss, but that’s a perspective that’s made possible by having a million kids.

Give me your best slacker mom tips—I’d love to hear them.

1000 Hours Outside: Get Kids off Their Screens and on Their Feet

1000 hours outsideIn 2021, my family is participating in the 1000 Hours Outside challenge, meaning we are going to be outside for what amounts to about 3 hours a day. Want to join us? It’s going to be so fun!

Or, at least, that’s what I keep telling my kids, who are admittedly kind of skeptical.

Here’s the deal: Teens in the US spend more than 7 hours a day on screens, not counting the time they use technology for school-related viewing and doing. Younger kids spend more than 4 hours a day on screens, not counting school, and this number increases every year, as more kids get smart phones at earlier ages. And if we factor virtual school into the mix? Well, let’s just say we are lucky all of our kids haven’t sprouted screens for faces.

My own kids are EASILY in front of screens for 3 hours or more a day, especially since my elementary schoolers got iPads for Christmas. I want to balance screen time with outside time, so the thousand-hour challenge seemed like the perfect fit.

According to the Alexa on my kitchen counter, to log 1000 hours of outdoor time, we need to be outside for about 83 hours a month, just under 20 hours a week, or about 3 hours a day. So far in 2021, my kids are falling under that mark. I am writing this on the 11th day of the year, and they have only tracked 14 hours, when they should be at like 30.

A couple of notes about that:

  1. My kids range in age from 14 to 4 months. For the purposes of this challenge, the baby does not count, although she and I walk about 90 minutes a day, regardless of the weather, so I think she’ll make it by the year’s end between walks and tagging along.
  2. My 14-year-old and 9-year-old are outside constantly from April-November, so I think they will have no problem hitting the mark.
  3. My 12-year-old is a harder sell, but he has endless patience for taking the younger 2 sledding, is a summer league-diver who practices for hours every day, and, of all my kids, he is the only one who will just lace up his tennis shoes and grab his headphones and head outside for a walk, so I have high hopes for him, too.
  4. My 7-year-old is the weak link. She HATES to play outside in any kind of extreme weather, meaning she is only outdoorsy in May and September.

For all of those reasons, we have decided to only track my 7-year-old’s hours, figuring that if Dorothy can log 1000 outside, then the rest of us will be there, too.

Also I say “us,” but I mean “them.” Reading the website, I suspect that this challenge is really about being a better parent and spending time in nature connecting with our kids and teaching them science-y things. But, um, I have a full-time job and 5 kids, so for me, this challenge is about finding fun ways to shove them outside to play. Don’t get me wrong–I love to take them on hikes, and I am happy to spend every summer day we can at the pool, but I am not concerned with my screen time here, just theirs, because mine pays the bills. As a child of the 1980s, I think the biggest gift parents of my generation gave us was lots of time to play by ourselves and with our friends without interference. That’s what I want for my kids—for them to run out the front door in the morning and spend all day in the yard/at the park/on their bikes, etc, without me directing their play.

I printed a really low-teach tracker from the 1000 Hours website, and so far, my daughter loves to color it in. This morning before virtual school, all three boys ice skated in the back yard (my husband is a HERO for building them an ice rink), and the baby and I logged 60 neighborhood minutes. As soon as my daughter’s nails dry, she’s all-in for a snowball fight, so we’re looking pretty good.

If you join the 1000 Hours Outside challenge, Madison Mom has tons of great resources, from sledding hills to tubing spots to hikes to ice skating to ski resorts to parks to beaches and more, so let us help you get outside in every season. Please comment below with your favorite activity to do with kids outside– 1K hours needs a LOT of great ideas.

Inauguration Day | Why I Want My Kids to Watch


The inauguration of the president of the United States is a ceremony to mark the commencement of a new four-year term of the president of the United States. The inauguration takes place for each new presidential term, even if the president is continuing in office for a second term. Since 1937, it has taken place at noon EST (11 am CST) on January 20 (unless it falls on a Sunday).

I still remember watching the inauguration ceremony of President George Bush Sr. in 1989. I was a kindergartener at the time, young and completely naive about politics. I don’t even remember who my parents voted for in that election, it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that President Bush had been elected and we watched as a family and supported the President. Watching that inauguration left a lasting impression on me — and I still remember it 30+ years later.

Now as a mother to twins in 1st grade and a 2nd grader, I look forward to watching the inauguration with them (in 2021). They ask a lot of questions and it gives me an opportunity to answer those questions in a clear way – in a way that they will understand and in a way that allows them to hear about how democracy works. I am able to tell them how or why I voted how I did – but also tell them that through the years they will form their own opinions and world views and will have the opportunity to have those views heard once they turn 18.

Through the years our country has become more and more divided – but I believe it is our job as parents to raise children who look at the full picture. Children who understand how democracy works and why it is important. Children who love their country AND love the people in their country. Children who will grow up to form an opinion and who will seek to understand perspectives of those who may have a different opinion or life experience.

So next week my kids and I will watch the inauguration together. I will answer their questions, and I hope that 30 years from now they still remember watching it with me. Kids are influential and what we (as parents) say, matters. We have a tough job ahead of us in raising the next generation of leaders, and I hope more than anything that they grow up to be loving and accepting and that they always have the ability to view things from other peoples perspectives. Because that is how we grow and that is how we will unite.

Virtual Indoguration Ceremony | 1/17/21 at 2pm


Dogs are generally non-partisan and loved by all and this is for a great cause! Coming up on Sunday, January 17th at 2pm (central time) – you can take part in a virtual ‘Indoguration’ ceremony with your pet!

Delaware Humane Association & Pumpkin Pet Insurance invite you + your pup to the world’s largest virtual party for dogs in honor of Major Biden’s Indoguration. They will celebrate the first-ever shelter pup to become First Dog and raise funds to help more DHA shelter animals like Major live the American Dream!

Zoom in with your pup for ‘furbulous’ activities with the Today Show’s Jill Martin, and special guest Sir Darius Brown. A donation of $10 (or more) to the Delaware Humane Association will get you and your dog a spot!

Where to Go for Fitness, Workout Gear and Nutritious Meals at Hilldale in Madison, WI

(Madison, WI): Fitness, health and wellness can be fun — and Hilldale has something for everyone. From fitness opportunities to gear to some of the best places to refuel. All in one place!

Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. When you feel physically well – it often crosses over to other areas of your life.

Hilldale in Madison, WI has lots of ways to make it fun and easy to achieve wellness (ie: delicious meals, locally sourced food, the best workout gear, and some awesome gyms where working out can become a sustainable routine)!


Burn Boot Camp

  • In person camps
  • Virtual options also available

Burn Boot Camp is a local, woman owned business. With a focus on both cardio and strength training, Burn Boot Camp’s 45-minute workouts provide the balanced fitness routine you need. The workouts target different muscle groups throughout the week, giving you maximum results. Burn Boot Camp trainers will challenge and push you at the level that’s right for you, creating the discipline you need to transcend fitness and maximize the quality of your life.

To get started, email [email protected]


  • Now offering Open Ride sessions with limited capacity (ride on your own time, using the cyclebar app)
  • Class sessions resume February 1st

CycleBar Hilldale is more than a ride. It’s a journey of self-discovery. With indoor cycling rides designed for all fitness levels, we promise to empower, inspire, and elevate you throughout every day. CycleStats measures the six key metrics of your daily and historical performance and emails you the result after each ride to help track towards your fitness goal. Cyclebar has something for everyone with a rocking mix of strength, endurance, challenges, hills, and drills.

To get started, email [email protected]


[solidcore] is unlike any Pilates workout you’ve ever done before, which means you get results like you’ve never seen before. What makes us so different? We put you through 50 minutes of slow and controlled Pilates-based resistance training to break down your slow-twitch muscle fibers. Why? Because science shows that this is the most effective way to create long lean muscle tone.

To get started, email [email protected]

Storybook Ballet

Registration now OPEN for winter/spring sessions

At Storybook Ballet, your child’s spirit comes alive through music and dance, while the magic of children’s stories inspires their imagination. Adorned in handmade costumes, your dancer transforms into the lead character of a storybook and dramatizes the tale through enchanting choreography. During our classes, ballet basics are mastered while pointing toes as a princess. Coordination and balance are enhanced while leaping through the jungle as a lion. Creative expression blossoms while fluttering as a fairy. Classes are offered specifically for ages 3-9, with five levels of ballet classes within those ages. Storybook is a local, woman owned business!

To get started, visit their website.

Workout Gear + Accessories

L.L. Bean

L.L.Bean believes the more time you spend outside together, the better. That’s why they design products that make it easier to get out there – no matter the season, the weather or where you come from. You can buy online and pick up curbside or in store.

New Balance

New Balance Madison carries everything from footwear in a wide range of sizes and widths, to a versatile offering of apparel and accessories. Whether it’s running, walking, or simply looking good, their selection can help you reach your goals. They are locally owned and part of the Morgan’s Shoes family of stores. You can buy online and pickup curbside or in store.


lululemon is a yoga-inspired, technical athletic apparel company for women and men.

The store is open but at limited capacity, you may have to wait your turn to get in. Don’t want to wait in line at lululemon? Skip the line all together by booking a personal shop before the store opens or an appointment to shop during store hours by clicking the link here.


Lush is serving up the best fizz in the biz. Their bath, body and skincare products are all made with ethically-sourced ingredients to benefit both mind, body and the environment. You can buy online and pickup curbside or in store.

Fuel Up with Food + Drink


Blended is open for delivery, takeout, + curbside pick-up. They are a local, woman owned business and they offer fresh, frozen and exotic super foods blended to create the greatest taste explosion ever. Fuel up with fresh juices, Acai bowls, smoothies, energy bites and more! They have outdoor dining tables available near restaurant. You can view their menu and order via phone, 608.232.2233 or onlineUberEats, or EatStreet.

Forage Kitchen

Forage Kitchen is open for dining + delivery & takeout. Founded in the heart of UW-Madison, Forage prides itself on local health conscious food. Forage aims to bring healthy foods to communities throughout the Midwest. Outdoor dining tables available near restaurant, including globes you can reserve. View their menu and order online or via EatStreet.

Metcalfe’s Market

Metcalfe’s Market is open with limited capacity. Metcalfe’s is a fourth-generation, family owned and operated neighborhood market overflowing with good things to eat. Our markets are known for an abundance of local and premium quality foods. Metcalfe’s Market is home to fresh baked breads & pastries from 25 local bakeries, more than 500 varieties of artisan cheeses, Boar’s Head deli meats, and the largest variety of local & organic produce in the area. You can shop the aisles online and shop online for pickup or delivery.

And now for a giveaway!

Head to Instagram (Sunday night starting at 7:45pm) to enter. If you do not have Instagram, please comment below and we will get you added to the entries.

One lucky winner will receive: 

  • $100 Gift Card to Forage Kitchen
  • $50 Gift Card to Blended Madison
  • $50 Lululemon gift card
  • Relax Gift Set from LUSH
  • Free Ride pass for Cyclebar Hilldale
  • One month Free Membership to Burn Boot Camp Hilldale
  • A sampling of local cheese and meats from Metcalfe’s Market
  • LL Bean canvas insulated backpack
We have partnered with Hilldale for the content of this post -- we love partnering with brands and businesses we love and who are relevant to our audience.

Just Keep Swimming…!

Life will always have it challenges, but I don’t think I’m alone in saying that right now is exceptionally difficult. The global pandemic, racial injustice, offensive rhetoric, and political mayhem are almost too much to bare. The intense division among Americans is palpable. Whether you live in a small, big, rural or urban part of the world, we’re all feeling this unsettling pit in our stomachs. Fatigue has set in, and it’s up to us how we handle it.

I’ll be honest. As a 41 year old mother of a 5, 3 and 10 month old with a husband working from home…..I AM EXHAUSTED. Our baby boy has lived his entire little life in quarantine. Most of our family members haven’t even met him. Lucy, our oldest, has been in virtual school since early September, and there isn’t a day that goes by where she doesn’t ask when the coronavirus will be gone, and when can we get our vaccines. Yes, she’s a smart one. Alice, our middle child, is missing out socialization opportunities, and my heart constantly breaks for everything she’s not participating in.

Our small struggles pale in comparison to the current state of the world and the challenges most people are facing, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have hard days. What do we do on those hard days? We get up, get dressed and show up because for all of those “off” days, there are wonderfully beautiful days with many special moments intertwined. Through all of the struggles, we’ve been given the gift of time. To quote the old adage, the days are long, but the years are short, and that couldn’t ring more true with our son’s 1st birthday quickly approaching.

When I look into the eyes of our 3 blessings, I see beacons of hope. Hope for vaccines and herd immunity, hope for racial equality, hope for a unified nation, and the list goes on. I leave you with this. If you wake up, and are having a bad day, know that you’re not alone. Put one foot in front of the other and just keep swimming my friends.

Guide to Private Schools in Madison, WI


The Madison, WI area has some amazing private schools and options for educating your kids, but researching those options can be a bit intimidating. If you’re planning to choose a private or independent school for your children, we hope this list will give you a head-start on finding the best option for your family.

Below you will find a comprehensive list of Madison, WI area private schools – along with schools we have partnered with for features with extra details and highlights.

Please let us know if we’re missing any from the comprehensive section (you can comment below!). And if you are a private school that would like information on being featured – please email: [email protected]

You can also view our Madison, WI Preschool Guide.

Madison, WI Area Private Schools

Hickory Hill Academy

Hickory Hill Academy (HHA), formerly Kids Express Learning Center, is the only independent, private school in Dane County serving children as infants through 5th grade. Located on 10-acre campus, Hickory Hill Academy provides quality education and a summer camp for children up through age 12.

Hickory Hill Academy cultivates children’s growth in a stimulating and compassionate environment. Our supportive teachers engage the curiosities and needs of each child, fostering self-esteem, the confidence needed to benefit from our robust academic programs, and the interest to embark on a journey of lifelong learning. Our focus on empathy, character, and individual well-being encourages our children to envision how they will serve their community beyond the expanse of our campus.

Grades: PreK – 5th grade (up through age 12 for summer camp)

Financial Aid Available: Yes

Other Programming Available: We offer unique enrichment programs for children enrolled in our private school, preschool and school-age summer camp. Some of our programs include:

Art – Our art program comes alive with creative energy and excitement as our budding young artists experiment with techniques used by “Master Artists.”

Mandarin + Spanish Instruction

Gardening – Sensory-rich learning flourishes as the children help care for the gardens and watch the smallest seeds sprout, leaf out, and turn into edible treats or colorful flowers.

Farmer Will’s Nature Nook – In Farmer Will’s Nature Nook, a school bus classroom, children engage in hands on experiments and experiences to grasp concepts in physics, chemistry, and more.

PE: Weather permitting, PE lessons are held outdoors in the gardens, lawns and sports court on our campus. If the activities are best served by an indoor environment, two gyms are available for PE lessons.

Music: Bucky Beats is an interactive music experience rooted in percussion, vocal exploration, music reading, exploration of several instruments, and song writing.

Culinary: Our culinary class promotes a lifelong skill of cooking, builds a sense of accomplishment, and encourages children to try new foods.

3276 South High Point Road
Madison, WI 53719

(608) 845-3245

Edgewater Campus School

Edgewood Campus School is a thriving and progressive Catholic 4K – 8th grade school that offers a well-rounded and rigorous education. We are committed to deepening knowledge, honoring individuality, enhancing personal awareness, fostering strength of character, and building global connections.

We believe that each child has the potential for amazing growth, and they are a precious gift entrusted to us. We believe that the partnership between our school and your family is key to your child’s positive growth and development. Edgewood Campus School is the best choice for your child to discover and develop their greatest potential.

Edgewood Campus School, a private Catholic school for students in 4K, 5K, and grades 1 through 8, admits students of any gender, race, religion, color, and national/ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate based on gender, race, religion, color, or national/ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, financial-aid programs, athletics, or other school-administered programs.

Grades: 4K + Kindergarten – 8th

Financial Aid Available: Yes

Other Programming Available: We offer an after-school program, safety patrol, big buddy mentoring programs, boys’ and girls’ choir, 7th & 8th grade musical productions, student talent shows, Math Club, Leadership Council, Scripps Spelling Bee, National GEO Bee, Book Clubs, Brownie Girl Scouts, Band, 1st Act Children’s Theatre, chess classes, guitar lessons, art classes, coding and programing classes and league sports including cross country, volleyball, basketball, and track and field.

829 Edgewood College Drive
Madison, WI 53711

(608) 663-4100

Blessed Sacrament School

Blessed Sacrament School serves families and students in 3K – 8th grade. We are known for our multi-age classrooms and programming. We teach to the whole child with an emphasis on community, service as well as academic excellence.

Our Vision:  We provide a program of academic excellence within a Catholic environment. A variety of teaching techniques and multi-aged settings enable children to work toward their highest potential, have opportunities to experience success and see learning as a life-long process.

Our Values:   Blessed Sacrament School’s core Catholic values are at the center of our school’s philosophy. We believe that strong, positive relationships among home, school and community are essential.

Our Mission: As a ministry of Blessed Sacrament Parish, our school’s mission is to foster discipleship, academic growth, self-confidence, and personal responsibility. Children are taught to respect others through living our Four Pillars and by recognizing and appreciating the similarities and differences among themselves and others.

Grades: PreK – 8th

Financial Aid Available: Yes

Other Programming Available: We offer an extensive sports program to students in grades 5-8. Our regular curriculum includes Spanish, Music, Art, PE, Tech, Life Skills, Faith Formation and Library. We also offer Band and Strings as well as extracurriculars such as Battle of the Books, Math24 Club, Forensics and more.

2112 Hollister Avenue
Madison, WI 53726

(608) 233-6155

Madison Waldorf School

The Waldorf educational philosophy nurtures the whole human, and its pedagogy fosters healthy emotional development by conveying knowledge experientially as well as academically. The belief that education is an uplifting process is central to the Waldorf philosophy.

Young children in our preschool and kindergarten classrooms experience a day rooted in play and wonder, and gentle, predictable rhythms. Our grade school curriculum integrates arts and movement into a rigorous academic education to foster artistic expression, critical thinking, problem solving, athletic judgment, and sound intellectual reasoning.

Our unique story curriculum brings a study of history and civilizations that flows from fairy tales, to fables and then Hebrew scriptures, to Norse mythology, Greek mythology and Ancient Greece, Indian civilization, Ancient Rome, and the revolutionary movements of the early and mid-20th Century.

Grades: PreK – 8th

Financial Aid Available: Yes

Other Programming Available: Special subject teachers instruct the students in Spanish and German, woodworking, handwork, games/physical education and Pentathlon (for fifth graders). Play block is an important part of the year for each class. In winter, cross-country skiing is part of the curriculum. Classes enjoy several field trips and community outings each year, with overnight camping trips beginning when children reach third grade.

Our school offers a band program in collaboration with the Overture Band Program, and several clubs for elementary-age children, including a running club.

6510 Schroeder Road
Middleton, WI 53711

(608) 270-9005

Madison Community Montessori School

Madison Community Montessori School offers an authentic, AMI Montessori education that is an aid to life where your child’s passion and creativity is funneled into meaningful work.

Our teachers have the advantage of working with each child every day over the course of several years, producing a relationship of familiarity, trust, and mutual respect between student and teacher.  The teacher knows what sorts of topics will spark interest, what strategies foster confidence, what words inspire extra effort, and ways to provide reassurance for each particular child.

Within an elementary classroom, a group culture of shared memories, jokes, stories, challenges, and celebrations is built hour by hour, day by day.

Community members teach and learn together, weaving math facts with science, writing with geography, reading with history, music with botany, and art with geometry. This open-minded approach enriches their lives, even as they each go on to develop particular aptitudes and interests according to their unique blueprint.

Grades: PreK – 8th

Financial Aid Available: Yes

Other Programming Available:

In addition to the rich Montessori curriculum, which includes Botany/Zoology, History, Geography/Science, Language Arts, Math/Geometry and Music, MCMS also offers additional lessons each week in Art, Fitness & Wellness, Spanish and Singing.

MCMS also offers an after school program for elementary children whose parents are looking for care and fun for their child after the 3:15 PM dismissal time. This is complementary to the work of the school day with attention given to the child’s need for physical and creative activities.

8406 Ellington Way
Middleton, WI 53562

(608) 827-6267

Our Lady Queen of Peace School

We are a K4-8th Grade School that believes in teaching the whole child, and providing an engaging foundation for learning, where morals, character, and values are taught and instilled every day.

Grounded in our Catholic faith, QP students gain the skills to become innovative problem solvers, confident learners, and leaders in our community. Our full day 4 year old Kindergarten Program provides a play based and faith filled foundation for academic and social success in the years ahead.

Grades: PreK – 8th

Financial Aid Available: Yes

Other Programming Available: Queen of Peace offers the following enrichment activities; Athletics (Volleyball, Basketball, Football, Softball, Track & Field), Band, Musical Theatre and Drama, Engineering for Kids, Choir, Math Club, Homework Club, Spirit Squad, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Houses of Faith Leadership, Art Club and Community Service.

418 Holly Street
Madison, WI 53711

(608) 231-4580

Madison Country Day School

Madison Country Day School is Dane County’s only independent, private Pre‑K‑12 school, offering a challenging and comprehensive college‑preparatory education, including the Madison area’s only International Baccalaureate program.

Our mission is grounded in two key beliefs about children and learning:

  • Every child possesses an extraordinary capacity to learn.
  • Effort is generally more important than ability.

These beliefs drive our decisions, inform our curriculum, and inspire our teaching and learning. They are touchstones to which we return again and again.

Grades: PreK – 12th

Financial Aid Available: Yes

Other Programming Available: We offer a wide variety of extracurricular activities, including: Coding, Mandarin, STEAM Club, Girls on the Run, Martial Arts, Art Club, Bollywood Dance, Guitar Stars, Theater, Chess Club, Cooking Club, Gardening and Knitting

5606 River Road
Madison, WI 53597

(608) 850-6000

East Side Private Schools

Central + Downtown Area Private Schools

Near + Far West Side Private Schools

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*Disclaimer :: This post is sponsored by our featured schools. We truly appreciate the local community’s support of Madison Mom and only work with brands and businesses we believe to be reputable or who are personally recommended to us!

Part of our mission is to help connect Madison families with local businesses. Partnering with us allows your business greater visibility with a large targeted market of local families. Get in touch to learn about this and other partnership opportunities!

Ice Castles Returning to Lake Geneva this Winter + PROMO CODE

(Lake Geneva, WI): The Ice Castles – a winter wonderland will be returning to Lake Geneva this winter! This is the third year Ice Castles has built its winter experience in Lake Geneva. And this year we have an exclusive promo code for our readers:

Use promo code: madisonmom for 15% off your tickets!

Ice Castles is an award-winning frozen attraction located in four cities across North America. The experience is built using hundreds of thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists. The castles include breathtaking LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains and much more.

According to the company, the Ice Castles will operate under reduced capacity to promote social distancing, along with placing markers throughout the tunnels and crawl spaces to avoid face-to-face contact.

“The same magical winter appeal this year with ice slides, crawl spaces, caves and fountains illuminated at night, but the experience will be slightly different,” according to the release.

The ice castles are set to open January 2021.

Tickets will be available here. 

You can also find the ice castles in Utah, Colorado and New Hampshire.

Snowshoeing In + Around Madison, WI | + Where to Get the Gear

We are looking for all the outdoor fun this winter. There’s only so much time you can spend indoors before you start to get cabin fever.

Snowshoeing is a fantastic way to explore many of our parks during the winter months and is easy to learn. It’s a great activity for any age and much easier than snowboarding or skiing! It’s something that even young kids can do — if you are taking young kids, make sure to focus on the experience versus the distance.

Best Madison Parks for Snowshoeing

Other Places to Snowshoe in the Area

Tips from the City of Madison Parks website: 

  • DO snowshoe anywhere in a general park with good snow-cover, except on a cross-country ski groomed trail (Door Creek, Elver, Odana Hills, and Yahara Hills).
  • DO snowshoe on a trail in any conservation park, except those groomed for cross-country skiing (Cherokee Marsh South, Owen, and Turville Point)
  • DO snowshoe with sufficient snow (typically 4″ or more).
  • DON’T snowshoe off-trail in a conservation park.
    • Snowshoeing, hiking, and skiing off-trail can destroy snow tunnels used by native small rodents (deer mice, shrews) by the trampling effect. These small mammals are an important part of the wetland and grassland ecology in our conservation parks. Destruction of these tunnel networks makes the small mammals more vulnerable to predation.
  • When in doubt, it’s always best to stay on a trail.

Where to Get the Gear

UW-Madison’s outdoors group Wisconsin Hoofers has snowshoe rentals available through its location at Memorial Union, including for students, Union members and guest users.

You can also purchase locally or online from these stores who have a presence in Madison: Fontana Sports (locally owned); LL Bean; REI; Cabela’s. Or check resale pages; eBay or FB Marketplace – as you may be able to get some like-new for a great price!

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