family

Healthy Screen Habits in the Encarnacion Household 

Setting digital ground rules for the girls was something I realized would be important very quickly as they started to come into an age where they’d have their own cellphones, tablets, etc. 

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As a blogger, it’s an honor to have an audience online, but growing up as the internet has evolved I’ve seen how it can be scary, time-consuming, and outright disturbing. With that in mind, it’s always been important for Jon and me to have space for an open conversation with the girls about both the incredible powers of our digital devices and how they create opportunities for creativity and learning, but also the cons and negative effects of prolonged screen time. 

We wanted to promote a discussion in a way that didn’t make the girls feel like they were limited or restricted, but instead, hopefully, provide education that allows them to actively want to set down the screen for their own reasons. Here are some of the steps we took:

We showed them how the phone tracks screen time 

By taking them through the steps of how they can get to this screen, we were able to empower them to check in on their own screen time and encourage them to reference their limits when deciding to indulge. Knowing that this information is available also remind them that we, as parents, have access to this information if we wish. Then, we set goals together for what a realistic amount of screen time is per day! Since our girls have such an age gap between them we give them both different time restrictions.

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With the Family Link app from Google you’re able to view their activity along with the amount of time spent on each app. You can even add bonus time easily from the app if they earned the time from doing extra chores.

This is so useful when bringing awareness to children especially around time spent in an app, teaching time management at an early age, and positive reinforcement for accomplishing extra work around the house.

Setting limits

Using the same settings, we were able to put time limits on certain apps like social media. After a certain amount of hours, a five-minute reminder will come up and then once the time has expired you can, of course, simply ignore it, but having the notification come up is a good reminder to set down the phone and stay present or focus on other things. One awesome feature about Google Family Link is that it locks the device from additional usage and you’re able to give your child a break before the device get’s unlocked again. 

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The Encarnacion family mission for screen time

We decided to create a mission and goals for screen time that incorporated our values for ourselves, as well as our values as a family. Here’s what the whole team came up with: 

No phones at the dinner table 

Dinners aren’t perfect in our house. We don’t always sit down at the table, we sometimes sit on the couch, or eat at different times, or admittedly even in different rooms, but when it is a sit down meal it’s a no-phone zone! 

No texting and driving with the kids in the car

The girls came up with this one (Mom and Dad need a rule too) and it’s a given! We are committing to their safety which holds us accountable and we know they will call us out if we even think about answering a call. 

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When in doubt, talk it out

This one is straight from the Be Internet Awesome Family Guide. We want our girls to know that no matter what they come across online, even if they didn’t mean to or if they don’t understand it (a phrase, a video, an image, etc.), then they can ask us. We won’t be upset or mad that they came across content that wasn’t appropriate for them, and we welcome an open and honest conversation always. 

This also applies to online conversations. Chat rooms with entirely anonymous strangers aren’t as popular as they used to be, but now we have Snapchat messages that disappear, DMs that can easily be deleted, and text messages that can be manipulated to show any name/number has sent the message. Yeah, that’s a thing. 

We’ve told the girls that if they ever feel bullied, scared, uncomfortable, or confused by an online conversation with someone they know or don’t know, they should come to us and we’re happy to help them work through it. Together we can create a respectable and brave response and the person on the other side of the screen will never have to know Mom and/or Dad were involved. 

For more info on how to create healthy digital habits for your family, check out google’s Family Link. 

This blog post is in collaboration with Google For Families. As always, all opinions are my own and I found their Be Internet Awesome content to be an incredible resource for information and guidance.  








Finding motivation as a parent

They say that you will never know the love of a parent until you become one yourself. 11 years into my motherhood career, I've come to embrace every bit of that truth!

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Did you know that when I was a young naive lady, I said to myself "I'm not getting married till 30. I'm not having kids until I'm 35! I'm traveling the world, moving back to NYC, and becoming a national educator for Bumble and Bumble." None of that happened. And it wasn't because I couldn't make it happen, my life was redirected by becoming a parent. Funny enough when I found out I was pregnant a friend commented "you're the last person I thought would have a family." I responded with "So did I!" But there I was, about to become a mother at 21!

Becoming a parent has taught me so much about life: learning patience under circumstances that are out of your control,  understanding the value of time, and accepting that some moments won't always be perfect. These are just some of the few.

Lately, I've had a number of emails from women asking me how do I manage to stay motivated with fitness. Motivation just like ambition and drive is as personal as your choice of shoes, you gotta find something that suits you best. What pushes me is becoming like my parents and not becoming like them at the same time.

My parents didn't always put their health and fitness first, they put their kids first by working hard and showing me what it meant to pour hard work in. However I saw the stresses their life brought them and all the accomplishments. They didn't have much to give us, but they were both incredible examples to me of two people pushing hard to create a life they could share with their kids.

My two daughters and husband are the biggest motivations in my life especially in my fitness journey. I wanted to be able to grow old healthy and having the energy to run after my grandkids. (many many years from now) When Olivia was 2, right before I committed myself to healthier habits, I was out of breath, I felt heavy, and I had no energy to take her to the park.

It wasn't a life I wanted, never one I had imagined.  I want to travel and have outdoor adventures when my husband and I get old! But if my stamina wasn't there to run after a 2 year old at the park, what would it be like backpacking in Europe at 50.

Making goals like losing 15lbs, getting into a dress for a reunion, or looking hot in a bikini are amazing goals, to each their own! But most of these listed goals are time bound for an event. If you want to make lifestyle changes you have to dig a little past the surface level and ask yourself: What are you trying to change? How far are you willing to give?

Lifestyle changes to go from not working out to working out 5 days a week is a tremendous change and takes commitment, hard work, and determination! It's not impossible and it can and will happen if you pursue it. But your motivation has to be one that is strong enough to carry you through the process and its important to remind yourself that this is a journey and not a race. You're not doing it for anyone else, but your self. And if you're a mother, you're doing it for your family so that you can be a leading example of a woman who can.

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LIFE // Exploratorium

My husband and I have come to this point in life where we have become two very busy entrepreneurs. He has a wedding/lifestyle photography business that he owns and operates full time and I am the woman who's juggling a full time career at VSCO and blogging (which some of you know can be a full time commitment as well). We've come to this place in life where scheduling out quality family time weeks ahead is necessary. To some this may seem "sad", to us its vital. Since his line of work requires him to shoot and chase light, his weekends are often busy photographing people, having client meetings, and trying to find the time to decompress before getting back to the grind all over again. 

We have found an incredible value in scheduling out time in our calendars for family days. It helps us stay committed to those appointments on the calendar as if they were vital client meetings. This past Sunday we decided to head out to SF and enjoy a day exploring our senses at the Exploratorium, a museum focused on science, art, and human perception. A place where both parents and kids can enjoy. The Exploratorium is conveniently located next the the Ferry Building, a marketplace that is curated with some of the finest SF bay area local eats. One of our family favorites is Gott's Roadside. A classic hamburger joint that offers burgers, shakes, beer, wine, and so much more. 

One of the other highlights of my day, which I'm bummed I didn't get a photo of, was meeting Jeremy and Ash of We Are the Parsons. Ash Parson runs a blog called Way to Go Gals. The visions that both her and I have to inspire and empower women in the world of fitness is very similar if not right on point. Check out her blog, she's an amazing individual and the motivation and inspiration she provides to her movement is infectious. 

Below are photos from our family day out. A glimpse of the adventures we share as a family. 

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Ahi tacos from Gott's Roadside

Ahi tacos from Gott's Roadside

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LIFE: Motherhood, life, and getting it all together.

Photos by  Athena Pelton

Photos by Athena Pelton

Becoming a mother at the young age of 21 faced major challenges for me. I was starting my first career as a hairstylist and was just starting to build my clientele. The thought of having kids was definitely not something I had envisioned until I was well into my 30s. God had other plans for me. 

My daughters have definitely become my saving grace. They are the two reasons in life that continue to motivate me to push on for greatness. But, I wasn't always so driven in the health and fitness department of life. Becoming pregnant at 20 rocked my world in ways I can't even begin to put into words. I was not prepared to raise a child, my husband and I were not married at the time and just moved in with one another, and I was definitely not looking forward to my body changing. Just a few months before I got pregnant with my first daughter, I purchased my first gym membership and I was devoted to trying to make that a focus in my life in my 20s. It definitely was not the case. I spent my 20s raising children, creating a family, and developing my career. Fitness and health was NOT in my priorities then. 

As my kids got older and life became busier, I began to become more out of shape. I slowly fell into depression over my self image. My lack of self acceptance and self worth affected everyone in my life. None of my husband's compliments connected with me and even when my 10 year old daughter told me I was beautiful, I snapped back at her telling her I was "fat and ugly". It was in that very moment last summer that something had to change. It took me almost 10 years to realize that in order for me to become a happier wife, a good role model to my daughters, I needed to change some things in my life. I needed to stop making excuses that I had no time and no capacity in my life to make a shift in my priorities.  

Placing my health as a priority and making time to workout has made me the happiest ever. It's allowed joy to overflow into all areas of my life especially with my family. 

A few weeks ago my good friend Athena spent the weekend with us and photographed some of the most beautiful family portraits we have to date. The best thing about these portraits is that they represent our family in the truest form and our happiest. I know one day these kids will no longer want to snuggle, they will be too cool to hang with their parents, and soon these moments spent pillow fighting will fade away. I'm so grateful that we have these portraits to freeze these memories forever.