If you were a fly on the wall at my house, you'd be sure to hear your share of fussing, complaining and whining. Maybe even a slammed door or two.

But enough about me.

In the pressure cooker that's parenting, I have exploded more than once. And it's harder to clean up than spaghetti night with a toddler.

So after years spent indulging in fruitless self-flogging, I finally let go of my obsession with getting it all 'just right.' I confess...I'm not a perfect parent.

Whew. That felt good.

Now, when my son saunters in with his 42nd tardy of the school year, I let it go. When I hear myself hollering "Whatever!" at my teenage daughter, I move on.

Having it all together is overrated anyway.

And I've determined not to waste God's grace. I'll never get it just right. You won't, either. So read on, sister. If you see a little of yourself in me, I hope it helps to know that you're not alone. Nope. If you're a mom, face it. You're never, ever alone.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Winning Wisdom Wednesday: The Simple Life!

I cringe when I think back on it.

My daughter Molly was two years old. It was a busy, stressful morning (as usual). My house was a disaster. The refrigerator was bare and dirty. And I was rushing to put her in the car and running late for a women's group I was leading at my church. Which I was unprepared for because of the 500 other commitments I'd made.

And then I just lost it. I began ranting and raving (to no one in particular) about how overwhelmed I was and how I was late everywhere I went. On and on I went ... I was sobbing. And poor Molly looked at me as if to say, "Pull it together, you crazy woman!"

The fact of the matter is that it took a couple more years of insanity before I hit rock bottom and realized that I had to make some big changes. And that the world would indeed continue to spin on its axis if I wasn't in charge of everything.

One of the books that supernaturally landed in my hands around this time period was called, Simplify Your Life with Kids by Elaine St. James.

Every mama can benefit from reading this book. And the sooner the better.

It gives wonderful, practical wisdom on just about every area of family life from teaching your little ones household chores to limiting the "stuff" to conflict resolution.

It's not a "to do" list for moms. We all need another one of those like we need a hole in the head. It's more like having a really sweet, wise, but firm mother handing down some hard-won wisdom. She convinces you that life really can be slower, sweeter and less complicated -- and gives you the inspiration and tools to make it happen.

The chapters are super short, to the point and easy to apply.

Here's an excerpt from the book:

One of the reasons we end up doing too many things at one time is that we're trying to do it all. Not long ago I met a single mom with three sons, ages nine, thirteen and sixteen. Her kids are polite and well behaved. She works full-time, her house is reasonably orderly, and she appears to have her life together.

I asked her how she did it all.

She said, quite frankly, "I don't do it all. I don't even try. I work full-time, and I spend the rest of the time with my kids. Period. I don't bake for anyone but the boys. I don't accept social invitations unless the kids are invited too and we all really want to go. My kids are my top priority right now; everything else has to wait. And I'm okay with that." ...

Whether you're a single working parent, part of a working couple, or a work-from-home or stay-at-home parent, the pressure to do it all is enormous. One basic way to simplify your life is learning to discriminate between the essential and the nonessential.

So figure out what your top two or three priorities are, spend your time and energy on them, and let the rest go. Simply accept that it's not possible to do it all and that it's all right if you don't -- in fact, it's immeasurably better if you don't. You can have a happy and fulfilling life while doing only part of it. People have done that successfully for years.

Your Chance to Win Some Wisdom:
Each Wednesday, I post a thought-provoking, interesting or encouraging quote from a parenting book I've read. On the last Wednesday of the month, I will give away one of the books (winner's choice) that I've quoted from throughout the month.

How do you enter? Simply leave me a comment on my Wednesday "Winning Wisdom" posts during the month. I will choose a monthly winner from all those who have commented. The next winner will be chosen on June 1st.


  1. This book sounds amazing. My parents were always the over-committed types and while it taught my brother and I a lot about thinking of others first, it also took a lot away from the family life we could have had. My parents always took on more and more, trying to satisfy everyone else, and forgot about themselves. I wish they'd had this book back then!

  2. We all need to read this book. Set Priorities is a key to life....Thanks

  3. I love this book, Melinda. I checked it out from the library for something I'm writing, and I didn't want to take it back!

  4. I'm totally checking this out! I need this now! :) Thanks!

  5. A very timely suggestion (I just googled "how to avoid having a nervous breakdown while raising two one year olds." I'm not kidding.)

    I'd love to win, but either way I will be looking into this book.

    I so enjoy your posts!

  6. Hi buddy! How's life been? This really does sound like a wonderful book!!!

    Oh life has been so busy lately-we've been working on the house, hubby's had more surgery...and I'm finally getting to adopt my "step"son. I've missed you my friend. {Hugs}

  7. Oh brother Melinda - I have been in those shoes. This book sounds great. I think eliminating all of the commitments does wonders in the simplifying process! :)

  8. Even though my kids are adults now, maybe I do need to read Elaine's book.

    Because I'm still trying to do it all!

    I should know better by now.

    Sweet dreams.

  9. Don't we ALL need this book? Seriously!

  10. It sounds like a great book and very practical! Living a more simple life is a big goal of mine.


  11. Yeah. Love this: "It's not a "to do" list for moms. We all need another one of those like we need a hole in the head." So true! It's been making me a little nuts for the past few weeks as things pick up for my coaching and I have to get more and more clear on what is, in fact, essential! Definitely a prayer-walk....

  12. Sounds like a great book, I am going to have to check it out.

  13. I read Elaine's simplicty books years ago, though I am not sure this one was written yet. Her overall philosphy is great. I write at my blog about defining priorities and living by them. We moms need to stop trying to be everything to everybody, and be what we need to be for ourselves and our children!
    You and your readers might enjoy this post- http://livingthebalancedlife.com/2011/stop-telling-me-what-to-do/

  14. Hi...Would love to read this book. It does sound like something all moms should read. I'm in what my doctor referred to as the "Sandwich Generation"..caring for my 'lil ones during the day, working at night and also looking after an elderly parent. Am also new to "mommy" blogging...something I do for ME! I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog and you can find me at www.mommyinconsistent.blogspot.com if you want to stop by and say hi.

  15. I NEED this book ..sounds like good
    solid advise and a boot in the you-know-where to shake ourselves out of our self-set mission of perfection.


  16. I could use a slower, sweeter, less complicated life--sign me up! Thanks for the review. :)


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