Interview with Kim Wardell of Design + Life + Kids

Philadelphia-based Kim Wardell of Design + Life + Kids gears up for her first big trip as a single mom with daughters Maya (7) and Senna (6 this May). It’s an emotional journey, but a necessary one. We’re so proud of this mama for making travel with her children a priority.

This summer’s vacation is significant. Please tell us why.

Last summer my husband, Scott of 7 years and best friend for 10 passed away very suddenly and without cause. When something so shocking and random like that hits, you never know if you’ll be able to bounce back. So this trip is a big one as I will be going on a two week vacation to California, just me and my two girls. We’ll be doing things that remind us of Scott, stopping places that he would have wanted to share with the girls. And it’s my youngest, Senna’s first time on an airplane!

The week of what would have been my husband's 38th birthday, we spent a few days at the beach to have a memorial for him. We visited his favorite spots and loved the cold air on the wet sand.

The week of what would have been my husband’s 38th birthday, we spent a few days at the beach to have a memorial for him. We visited his favorite spots and loved the cold air on the wet sand.

You and your late husband traveled a lot. Which one of you was more wanderlust?

Oh it’s definitely me. He had done some traveling in college and his business had him on the road all of the time, so he actually looked forward to being home when he was off. I really hadn’t traveled very far before I met him. I’ve always wanted to see, explore and experience everything! So I would usually have to convince him to go, but we always had the same idea in mind — find a special, unique place to stay and explore from there. Once we started a trip, he would light up with excitement. A priceless smile.

What do your daughters remember from the trips before he passed?

They remember having us all to themselves. Vacations are the special time that we can truly spend all day and every day together without distractions. On a vacation in Cape Cod, we rented this amazing mid century home and got anchor tattoos to celebrate our anniversary because we were married on a boat. Ours were real, the girls were temporary of course. Maya mentioned this to me the other day… one summer we drove 17 hours to Nova Scotia. It was long and amazing! One night for dinner we decided to cook a simple lobster dinner, but Senna and I… we don’t eat much seafood. So together Maya and Scott cooked and ate two fresh lobsters, a special date night. It was so beautiful and such a special first for them.

The Sliding House in Nova Scotia sat up on a hill within a field of tall grass where the neighbors horses would come right up to the house to graze. This was our view every day and it didn't get dark until after 10pm each night.Maya's first and only lobster dinner date with her father. We brought home two beautiful, live guys and they feasted.

The first stop on your California trip is San Francisco, California. Why?

One of our closest friends, John lives there. He and Scott had grown up together and he was my rock when Scott passed away. John stayed with me at the hospital when we tried to bring him back and then stayed with the girls and me for a whole month after so I wasn’t alone. We grieved together and he basically saved me, kept me up and smiling and moving ahead. Even before this happened, we had promised we would all visit him one day. Scott did, but never the four of us. I’m keeping that promise (better late than never!) and the girls and I can’t wait to see him and explore his home city.

What are you most nervous about as a single mom traveling with your young daughters?

I’m afraid I’m going to lose my marbles to be honest with you. I have been a stay-at-home parent since they were born so I’m used to caring and doing everything for them during the day, but I always had Scott after work, on the weekends and during our trips. To help pack, plan our route and bounce ideas off of. My brain could rest and I could stop for a minute when he was home. But as a single parent it never stops, so I worry about being overwhelmed with the constant pull and needs of the girls. There’s no one to lean on and I can’t just say, “hey girls, go play in your room for a bit.” As long as I truly keep things focused on fun and us, I know we’ll have a great time!

Every day. No joke, every day we would be on vacation, Scott insisted on ice cream.

Every day. No joke, every day we would be on vacation, Scott insisted on ice cream.

What are you most excited about?

Feeling free. I know that’s kind of contradictory of what I’ve been saying. To be away from work, school and home… Our home has a lot of great memories, but it also houses the worst one. I’m really looking forward to being in a new environment for a bit and going on an adventure as a trio. I think it will be really refreshing for all of us.

You’re a working mom who keeps some crazy hours. Do you plan to keep business as usual while traveling?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. It’s going to be hard for me not to work, I thrive on it. I run DLK solo, so while the shop will stay open orders may not ship until I return. I don’t like having emails unanswered either… I give my customers the same service I expect or at least hope to receive. We’ll see, I may bring some help on before then! It’s really important to keep this trip focused more on us and not the business so we can return fresh and clear minded! I have some planning to do both for the business and for our adventure these next few months.

How do you think this first trip without Scott may help you and your daughters remember him?

My big goal, next to just enjoying our time together is to incorporate things and places that Scott would have wanted to do and see. Things that he would have liked to introduce the girls to. For instance, we’ll be making a stop at Amoeba Music to pick up some new records for sure. He always gave the girls one for their birthdays and Christmas and that was a go to stop for him in San Francisco. I want to check out the Converse store and bring his skate sketches with us so they can print a design on a few pairs for us! Surfing. I’m not a big go-swim-in-the-ocean person, love the beach though… but Scott loved the water and surfing so I want the girls to take lessons even if for just one day. Those are the big ones on the list right now.

If Scott could have said one thing to you when you pushed the purchase button on airfare, what would it have been?

“You’re out of your mind!” Ha! He always said I do too much and that I can’t go long without having a project. But then he would’ve smiled really big and said “First stop, In-N-Out Burger! Then a skatepark.”

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I love the beach, but he loved the water and those two would spend every minute there with him.

I love the beach, but he loved the water and those two would spend every minute there with him.

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