Thursday, January 21, 2010

Choosing Simplicity: Getting Realistic

I'm afraid to even think about this or write this post! I struggle with the idea of letting go of the things I enjoy even for a season.


I guess that I am afraid I will stop loving to do all the things I love ~ homey things, crafty things, making from scratch - you know, the longer more complicated - yet more fun way of doing things.

And, it sometimes feels like if I give up one thing - pretty soon it will be a dozen needing to go.

Yet ~

I am going to simplify this year. I. am. Yes, this is a pep talk to myself! My first step was to buy nightgowns for the little ladies on the after-Christmas sale for next Christmas Eve. Yes, you heard that right - no homemade jammies for Christmas Eve next year. Haven't found the right thing for Samuel yet - but I will.

I'm now considering buying Easter and Christmas clothes instead of making them as well. It is hard to say ~ but, there are multiple reasons:

* time - the obvious one!
* cost - buying something is way cheaper than making it; yes, I will still make things - but I'm going to be more selective about what those things are
* enjoyment - I loved the skirts I made for the little ladies this year for Christmas, however - they do not love wearing them. When I consider the cost for the fabric and all the time I spent on them - this is not choosing simplicity. This year, I plan to let them help pick out their new things.
Oh, it is hard to say and to admit - but I'm sincerely trying to make good decisions that are less complicated, less costly and more enjoyable. This has carried over to a few other little things in my life like using minced garlic in a jar instead of cutting my own up for each meal and not getting multiple sets of coupons each week, not to mention that I've quit doing most of the bargain shopping.

How about you? How do you get realistic about choices that will simplify your life?


Ginger said...

Because my life is so insane due to work, I simplify now with my meals. I bargain shop here for all staples, using coupons like crazy. However, in the last 2 months, I have ordered all of our meat from Omaha Steaks. I have gotten ridiculously good deals from them as well as no shipping costs. The chicken breasts come vacuumed pack ready to cook. There is no fat to cut off. Likewise, the burgers are vacuum packed so I don't have to make them. For me it is easier to have the meat ready to go. With what I save with coupons in other areas, this has not cost me any more by ordering it.

~katie~ said...

Great post Monica, and I appreciate your honest thoughts!

One realization I have come to after having three littles in the home and a husband that deploys off and on is simply to let some things go until later(duty wise) and prioritize.

When I had one child, it was rather easy to craft and scrapbook and keep the house spic and span. When our second child came along, I soon realized there was very little time for scrapbooking, crafting, and other things I wanted to do unless I did it when the littles were sleeping (and that wasn't easy as my second woke up frequently throughout the nights for years). Now that baby three has arrived and we are homeschooling, I have found it a necessity to prioritize and set realistic expectations on myself as to what I can (and should) get done in a day around the house. There is very little time for hobbies much less trying to keep the house in order (and doing it cheerfully not grudgingly)!

So, my biggest realization has been that I can't do *everything* I want to...and I really need to have my priorities straight and rely on the Lord to guide me in what He will have me do. If I don't do this (which has been a struggle for me!!), I find myself impatient, stressed, and the house is not only not in's not very happy either!

This has been a work-in-progress though...and I have posted different Bible verses around the house to remind me of my most important roles and duties...otherwise I'm afraid I'll miss out on enjoying my children!

Thanks for helping remind me of this today! Blessings on you!

Philippians 4:13

Leanne said...

Good for you, Monica!! I think having all boys I have never felt pressured to "make" all their stuff!
I try the "coupon" thing, but truthfully...I hate clutter and I just get frustrated keeping track of it all.
I buy tons of my kids clothes, on-line, during major sales with either reduced or free shipping!
I tend to just frequent the same stores, so I have a good idea when things will get discounted!
Finally....I gave up RUNNING...gulp...this was really hard for me. But dragging my kids to the gym all the time was just becoming RIDICULOUS! I have some workout tapes I do at home, and I'm just watching what I eat! And guess what!!I'm losing weight.
I think the whole Haiti disaster showed me that even some of our "frugality" is still "consumerism" in disguise. There are bigger things to deal with than the price of toothpaste. God loves a cheerful GIVER, whether she coupon clips or not!!

Anonymous said...

I am noticing as my kids are getting older (11 and 7) I am able to do more of things I used to love, crafting, baking from scratch,breadmaking....because the kids are old enough to take part for REAL,not just make a bigger mess of it like they did when they were younger.

There are seasons where you need to have more convenience. That's okay. AS they get older they can help you more.

My convenience, non frugal thing was and still is having a full stash of paper plates,cups,plastic forks at all times. I also buy a big pack of foil pans from Sams Club. I don't use them all the time, but it's nice to know they are there if I NEED them. :))


Cheryl said...

Ah Monica, where were you when my littles were little?? This post would of been valuable to me then.
Instead, I learned the hard way. When my children were younger I wanted to do like you, make the jammies, all their clothes, bake and cook from scratch, the whole nine yards. While it was all well meant and we did save a bit of money; it didn't keep me from being stressed out. I didn't always enjoy doing those things sometimes and as you pointed out in your post you could make better use of your time. We can't be "everthing" to everyone, but we can be all God wants us to be in the things we do. Thanks for sharing and being so honest on this topic.

Wendi said...

I have been thinking a lot about simplicity. I have come to realize that it means different things to different people. For some it is a call to make everything from scratch for others it is the need to buy everything that is premade to make life less stressful. I guess what I am trying to say is that you need to find what works best for you and try not to keep up with other peoples definition of simple living.

I too have cut out lots of bargain shopping. I only get extra sets of coupons if there is a fantastic coupon. I haven't found many of those lately. I also only go to a second store if it is a great deal. Other then that I have been sticking to my once a month mega shop and then filling in for milk and such at a store close to home.

As far as crafting I have been asking myself what is that? I haven't been able to make the time and when I do I feel stressed out. It makes me sad that something I love so much is causing me stress. I haven't decided to give up crafting. I am still trying to figure that out. I am realizing that this is just a season and that it is much more important to play Hi Ho Cherry O a thousand times then make bread or craft.

Wishing you peace as you work through this.

Kelly said...

I agree about giving up the bargain shopping. Nothing is on the shelf by the time I get there with all my coupons and complicated lists! but as far as the clothes . . . I remember my mom making some things for my sister and I (we are 3 yrs. apart) and I loved it! She would make fun stuff like pj's in the same pattern but different fabric, I was always pink and sis was blue. Or she would get a nightgown and I would get pj's. That was a good memory, maybe they could help pick out fabric or look at pics in pattern book. What a gift you have, don't give it up, I wish I was a better seamstress. And that is a usefull (understatement) skill for your children all their life. But you should simplify if the need is felt strongly. I am pitching as much stuff as I can from the house. Still looks pretty but drawers and closets are not bulging. Good luck Monica.

Anonymous said...

Life is so very short. Time that our children are in our homes is even shorter normally. Savor all you can and let go of what you can. I think there is great wisdom in your thinking. There will be time for these things later, good Lord's will. There will be time to sew WITH you girls, later.

This past Christmas i was stressed (as SO MANY others are), and i thought to myself, it will ruin no ones Christmas if they do not get a homemade gift from me!!! So i bought some special cookies at Trader Joes for some friends. Ya know what, they enjoyed them!!!! :-) And i could enjoy the season with my fam a little more. Just a very small thing, but it was a good realization for me.

Enjoy your family and friends thru the Lord Jesus' grace and mercy and let go where ya can.

Thank you for your honesty and courage!!! tammyp

Susannah said...

One thing I have started doing is embellishing pre-made things. I have bought plain (and therefore less expensive) skirts, shoes, etc and sewed ribbons, buttons, appliques, etc. The hard and time-consuming part is done and I get to do the fun part!

Julie said...

Oh, it is so hard to give up things you enjoy. Even when you consider the cost in time or money, it's still hard to let some things go. I keep reminding myself that one day I'll be able to return to those activities when life enters a different season.

angela said...

This is something that I have been working at and thinking about for years. Quite a while ago I remember reading something somewhere about Martha and Mary with Jesus comparing Martha to Martha Stewart-trying to do it all but missing out on what really matters. I decided that I would rather be a Mary than a Martha. Although there are many things that I do, that are more time consuming and difficult, I have allowed myself to recognize that there is a time and place for that. I have also allowed myself to choose only the things that I truly enjoy doing that way instead of feeling I must do everything the hard way. This year especially with all that we have dealt with, with our difficult pregnancies I have really learned to let go and know that some things just plain don't matter.

Sarah said...

It really seems that you have put thought and prayer into this; your decisions are wise!

I have had to slow down on my etsy shop-related work. While I still have my shop I have found that I can't make something and list it every day! I had assumed I would be able to. The shop is something that will develop over time (quite a bit of time) compared to the overnight success I thought I would have.

There are no grocery coupons that come with our newspaper! I called the paper's office thinking that there was just a mistake. Turns out that the paper and the coupon distributors cannot reach an agreement. I am not ready to go searching all over the internet for coupons, so the only ones we use are the diaper coupons my grandmother clips for me!

Dayna (Spear) Guenther said...

I can so relate to what you're saying! I too purchased a large jar of minced garlic recently, because I realised I was wasting so much fresh garlic by not using all the cloves in time before they shriveled up. It's much simpler.

Also, I now rarely use coupons. The main reason is because so many times, after I'd spent the time selecting and cutting them out, I would forget to use them until after they had expired. Then I had the extra waste of time cleaning all of them out of my purse. So I ended up going through them twice, and it profited me nothing! Argh!

Thanks so much for bringing simplicity to our attention. I know that there are many other areas in which I still need to simplify.

A good book I read is "Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter" by Elaine St. James.

Tim, Allyson, and kids said...

We've simplified with our meals. Instead on making elaborate meals 4-5 times a week we simply rotate the same 3 meals over and over. Pasta, Fajitas (or fajita salad), and stir fry. We change it up a bit with different sauces and veggies, but it's pretty much the same thing. We also have adopted one lunch Monday through Saturday with a "special" lunch on Sundays.

Yes it gets a little boring, but by simplifying our menu we've also been able to go all organic without increasing our food budget, so we're eating healthier.

This one has been tough for me, but as my husband says, "We should eat to live, not live to eat." It's still difficult to not bookmark new recipes as I find them, but it is definitely saving me time.

I've also decided not to try to make the kids clothes right now. They just grow out of them so quickly. Instead, when I have time I'm doing crafts that will get more use over the long haul. Right now I'm working on a simple stitch in the ditch I Spy Quilt and making matching comforters and new curtains for their room. These will probably be less time consuming than clothes and we'll use them everyday.

Just some ideas on how to keep crafting while getting more bang for your buck (and time).

Thanks for the reminder to simplify and focus on what is most important.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Monica, I so get it! When the oldest of my three was a baby, I was sure I would hand make a gift for him (and any subsequent children) every Christmas...hasn't happened in a long time! I remember feeling frustrated by the lack of time to sew and craft as much as I wanted...I loved being a mom, but I sorely missed my creative outlets. I devoted most of the little bit of creative energy I had at that point to cooking and baking. I love both and I figured we had to eat! Just be kind to yourself and release some of your expectations for a bit. It is a season, and a most precious one at that. My children are now 9, 7, and 5, and while life is busy in other ways, I have more time to craft now because my boys are fairly independent. What I wouldn't give, though, to go back to their babyhood for just one day...just relish the blessings that God is bestowing upon you right now! (I know you do.)


Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Let it go, girl! :-)

Believe it or not, my dh does the couponing and bargain shopping here. He does almost all the CVS/Walgreen's/Rite Aid runs. It's his hobby. ;-)

I made my eldest daughter's first Easter dress (fresh off the heels of a smocking class), and since then I've always purchased them, almost always on clearance. This year's Easter dresses are hanging in their closet now, purchased on clearance before Christmas

The only thing I've really hung on to is cooking more or less from scratch most of the time ('though some real cooks would scoff at me and say that's not what I'm doing at all) and scrapbooking when I have the time. That's it.

Sometimes we just have to let things go. We'll pick them up again in a later season in life!

Blessings to you, sweet Monica!

Anonymous said...

I have often wondered how all you super-lovely moms find the time to do what you do. But through the honesty of your post, I can see it is an issue that we all deal with.
My girls' first few Trick-or-Treat costumes were homemade...and VERY expensive, when #3 came along, it was just no longer an option.*And with girls, they will care what they are wearing, and you will want them to feel good about what they are wearing (so I totally understand the Christmas skirt thing).
With groceries, with 9 to feed, we mostly just use Sams.It's expensive as you start buying in bulk, but becomes less so as you build your pantry.We tried coupons, generic, etc., but it wasn't worth the time or poor quality food.My husband now does the grocery shopping (in half the time it took "bargain-shopping me") and I stay home and continue with daily life (nursing infant:).
It's hard to let go, and I understand that it feels like you're giving in, but I think you are really just letting go of something that used to work to catch hold of something that will bless your family more in this season of your lives.
Have a good day!
- Kathi

Beebe Family said...

Great post. I sometimes feel guilty for not handcrafting more! But since often buying is cheaper than making, I only make those items which I cannot find the specific style I want in the store (like my kitchen curtains).

I only have one child, but he is a handful and I work PT. I have a great local farmer who does buying clubs and I buy meat from there. I do coupon and shop sales and stock up when I can. This allows me to afford the meat. however, there are times where the couponing and sales are just not going to happen and I forgive myself for that. Makes me a much happier person = happier family!

Julie Willis said...

I continually go through this process. Way back when we only had 3 girlies 7,3, and newborn the same thing happened. Also, my husband had to open my eyes to some of it. I would buy lots of cute things on clearance for the girls that they never would wear or use. Are life was becoming a bit cluttered because they were cute and who wants to get rid of cuteness. That year I made Easter dresses and they were beautiful (they are still being worn today) but they took so much time and money. Our girls recognize that I made them for them so I think that's why they have lasted so long. Now I do costumes, quilts, and little useful and cute things.

I like trying new (old) crafts and ways of doing things.Some, I think are great and I keep. Like making bread from scratch. Others I've gotten over and replaced with things that simplfy our lives so that we can have fun with the rest. Like dish detergent. I buy it. Laundry detergent I make, but I make 8 bottles at a time and don't make it again for months. It saves a truck load of money and works well. I'm not a big couponer, but I do make most of our food from scratch and belong to Costco & co-ops were I get wonderful prices on what we find to be more wholesome food.

I feel the Lord has a different plan for each of us and we are all created so differently. No one, person's budget and savings plan should fit all.They may help for a particular season I'm in. For example when our last child was born and all the other girlies were dancing I did once a every 2 week cooking. It really helped to get wholesome meals on the table and I wasn't nightly stressed. But the day I had to shop and do all that cooking was crazy! School wasn't as tough and I had a bit more time. Now I keep a pretty good pantry and cook on the fly. Higher level scienc and chemistry plus ahving 4 or so school years between each child takes up a lot of time. Eb and flow with where the Lord places you!

Ami said...

Thank you for posting this! I have been mulling over the same thing. We are doing kindergarten at home, too, and I also have 3 littles. So I've been wondering...when next fall hits and school is really on - with a first grader and a kindergartener - what am I going to give up? I struggle with giving up the crafting because it is so energizing, but it takes so much time! It is hard because I find so many things interesting, and when it comes to homemaking and crafting, I want to experience it all firsthand. Right now! Like you, I'm winding down on the bargain shopping because it was stressing me out and we've been buying more whole foods from unconventional sources. I've found that reading by myself or reading with the kids is probably going to be my new hobby.

Miranda said...

Monica- Just wanted to say that I have been where you are now. From a mama of 4, oldest is now 16 and youngest is 4, it is okay to let go a little now. Soon you WILL have time for all of the crafts you love. You won't lose your passion for them, it is part of who you are. As my kids grew each year, I found I had larger snippets of time for the things I love. Also, don't feel disheartened about the girls not wearing their skirts. My kids have never enjoyed the clothes I labored over. They do love the toys I make for them. Even my older kids like items that I've made. Even though I would still love to make my littlest a homespun wardrobe... I know better. : ) Hang in there. This too shall pass.

angie said...

I think you will find that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Even if you cut back on the number of sewing projects you do, you will probably enjoy any crafting time that you get that much more. It won't seem like another thing on the to-do list, but rather a reward for a (mostly) completed to-do list.
I too have given up chasing most of the bargain deals. I clip coupons and price match at Walmart. But more often than not, when a deal was mentioned on a blog, it was not available in my area, the store was out of the item, or I didn't have all of the coupons necessary to complete the deal.

Christy said...

Your girls will love those pajamas. My girls have some and they love them. They keep them nice and warm and they look so cute in them. I love to bargain shop but since our Kroger's closed last year I can't get near the bargains I used to be able to, and honestly I do the majority of my grocery shopping at aldi's which saves me money as well. I find a lot of the coupons items are for processed foods which I am trying to not use as much. I try to read up on what coupons are gonna be in the paper before I go spend 1.50 on one.

Davonne said...

This sounds great! After feeling like a HUGE failure for not couponing (or scrapbooking!), I finally just accepted that it's not for me at this season. I have a four year old and a six month old (both girls), am homeschooling, help my husband with his business, etc, etc. At first I felt bad, but now I feel so FREE from the burden of feeling like I need to do what other people are doing.

Lately I've been asking myself what's going to matter more in a year. A year from now, it won't matter that my sink was filled with dishes today, but it WILL matter that I chose to invest the time to train and teach my children.

Barbie @ Mamaology said...

I am so on board with you on this. I have a sign that says Simplify above my stove...I see it every day. It's a wonderful reminder to me that when I simply I have more energy and there is less temptation to be crabby with my family.:)

Agnes said...

oh Monica, I just feel your dilema. I have the same. I can find pyjamas for 4 dollars, how can you beat that when you need to go to the store, buy fabric and make something? this is so sad too, somewhere in the world, someone is making these for nothing...
I simplify my life and I discovered that sometimes bargain are not bargain, I don't enjoy it THAT much... I discovered that sometimes I need to spend just a little bit more (time or money) and I enjoy it much more. I also keep it longer. I think simplifying my life makes me a better person too, more responsible for what I choose and do with everything.
Thank you for your post, it is very refreshing.

khollow said...

I am expecting my 3rd in August and expect that I will have to give up my reading and sewing just to keep up with 3 littles. I guess I am accurate to expect this..? I also want to begin to homeschool my 4 yr old some this fall but I don't even know how to fit that it with a 3 yr old and a newborn....any tips?

Terri said...

The key is BALANCE. No guilt! Everything you said is reasonable and that can only bless you and your family. You are doing a great job and I enjoy what you share. THANKS!

asnipofgoodness said...

Oh Monica, I so have been where you are. When I was caring for Crockett I had to let some things go, and I fought it tooth and nail! The Lord taught me so much through giving up what I wanted, and how I wanted them. I don't think you will stop enjoying those things, making, and crafting. You can still do them when time allows, and when your season changes. You are so wise to see the need to simplify, and be proactive about it.

Brenda said...

I agree!!! I thought, rather cavalierly, after my first baby was born that it was a piece of cake to sew, and craft, and keep busy with wedding coordinating!! I loved being a mommy and getting to do all these other fun creative things too. Then baby two came along....then three....then four....then five....then six. It was a difficult decision to give up ALL my church ministries (playing organ, nursery coordinator, Sunday School coordinator, VBS director)to focus on my children. But I realized THEY are my ministry now. Do I miss getting to sew and craft and coordinate weddings? YES!!!
But I'm realizing that it's a growing up process to be willing to give up some of our own pleasures for the needs of others. The Lord is growing me up!!
Choosing simplicity for me has been choosing peace and calm. No more coupon shopping, no more running around to different stores for the 50 cent box of pop-tarts. No more crafting, but you should SEE the things my girls create!! No more making clothes...but you should SEE the bags of clothes our church families share with us....FREE!!
Less stress = happier mommy = more joyful home!!

~Babychaser~ said...

It was a tough choice, but with our second little one coming a couple years ago (just 15 months after my first), I had to let couponing and bargain shopping go almost entirely. I felt aweful about it at the time, but *realistically* it was the only way to go. Seasons come and seasons go, and if we are working against ourselves to try to do something *good*, it's just not what we were trying for anyway!!

Good for you!

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

I needed this post Monica. I think we Moms put all the pressure on ourselves to be perfect and do everything when all we're doing is making ourselves nutty.
Forgive yourself for not making everything from scratch. I'm sure the kids will love their new Christmas jammies no matter where they came from. They'd rather have a happy Mommy anyway.

Bevy @ Treasured Up and Pondered said...

Wow! This is hard to read - coming from you...surprisingly. I don't mean to this come off sounding like it does...

But, I guess even those who seemingly do so well - creatively - need to really scale it down, at times... and admiting to it and taking this action is just as inspiring.

Blessings on your endeavors and choices that best suit you and your family. I appreciate your humility.

I think my answer to your question is this; It's my hubby who 'helps' me to keep from getting too overcommited or over-zealous. He's really good about getting the family to settle down at a decent hour (me included) which I don't always appreciate - but I know me... I would burn the midnight oil too long. I guess that is one way to stay simplified.

Debra said...

It is interesting how we need to change things as our children get older. Things that worked so well when they are very small don't work as well when they are school age. I have always been on a pretty strict schedule here but when my daughter started doing outside activities I had to change - you could say simplify since I felt like I was fighting it if I didn't change & that's stressful. For example, we never went out in the late afternoon before- it was time to rest and fix dinner and prepare for dad to come home (that sounds kind of 50's ish but that's what I did). Now there are activities pushing right up to dinner - which has had to be simplified alot since I don't want to serve fast food or eat at 7 pm.

I feel like I have to choose what's really important - sometimes that means giving up something I love to do- for now - to make life better for my family. I agree that I don't want to wake up one day and find that I have given up everything but I think we find new things that bring us joy as time goes on.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Monica! I've had to simplify things in our home for several reasons which I won't expand upon here. I am a control freak and a perfectionist so giving up on some things was so hard, but, after the fact, my life has been so much easier and less stressful! I'm kicking myself for not doing it earlier!

1. Kitchen -- I used to think that I had to prepare exceptional meals and serve them to my family in a "perfect", beautiful setting. Stressful? Yes! Did my family appreciate it? Maybe. Did they care if the meal was very simple and served from the cooking pan placed on a hotpad on the table? No! lol (I don't do this every night but some nights I just don't want to have to wash serving bowls, too!) My kids said they didn't care what they ate off of or were served from as long as there was something to eat and we were all there together. Hmmmm.

2. Crafting. I loved the idea of crafting and scrapbooking but did I really enjoy it? Not really. I had boxes of photos piling up because I would fuss and frit for a long time over how to arrange the scrapbook pages that I wasn't getting anything done! This just stressed me out because I was behind and felt like I wasn't "keeping up" with my photos and wasn't able to "keep up" with the trends of scrapbooking. I simplified this area in my life by giving up on the creative scrapbooks and have started purchasing beautiful photo albums that have a bit of room under each photo slot for a little journaling if needed. When I get my photos printed, I take them home and slide them directly into the albums. No more pile ups and the kids LOVE looking at their photo albums! :) Items I want to save such as school papers, game rosters, and other memorabilia go into page protectors and get placed into 3 ring binders the minute I get home with them.

3. Laundry. This area in my life drove me nuts! I work full-time (kids are in school all day) and I would get home at night and see the laundry monster lurking in the laundry room. My family would either just dump their clothes in there on the floor or they would just leave them on the floor of the bathroom/bedrooms and I'd have to spend time gathering them up. I decided to play hardball. I bought a laundry sorter and if clothes are not placed right side out in the appropriate bins (whites, towels, jeans, colors) they do NOT get washed. If son needs his soccer socks washed for tomorrow's practice and they don't make it into the bin, sorry Son. You just have to wear dirty socks or the ones with the pair with the holes. I know that sounds mean and hard core but it has really worked for my family. My time and sanity is just as important as my family's activities (maybe more important). Clothes are placed in the bins 95% of the time and I don't huff and gruff around the house looking for laundry. Each person has their own basket and color coded hangers and they put their clothes away. It took us about 3 weeks to "GET" this system but it has really, really worked for us.

Sorry this is so long but simplifying is something I am passionate about right now! Thanks for your blog and the inspiration you give me!


Trish said...

I'm a step ahead of you...I have 5 children that are ages 7-17. We homeschool too. I hope I can give you a little encouragement... For me, the time in my life when I had babies, toddlers, and small children was the most consuming time of my life. Literally, running the home and school became my full-time job simply because the kids just weren't able to do a whole lot on their own. Then, one day, you'll tell the oldest to get in the car and buckle up...and she will!!! And, you'll tell her to go take a bath...and she will!! And you'll realize that you actually have a couple minutes to yourself to browse a magazine, or have a cup of tea... And, it just gets better as they all get a little older. When my muffins were little, I would grieve as they passed from one stage to the next. I loved each stage so much I just never imagined I could love the next stage. I see now that each stage has it's own kids are so fun to be around and I'm actually enjoying teenagers! I know how hard it is to lay down things...I would feel like all I did was sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice. It brought me to my knees so often, allowing the Lord to help me find contentment in my calling as a wife and mother. So, yes...simplify... Let some of those things go for now... It will be very sweet when you are able to return to them, and really enjoy them in a way that you can't right now.

Unknown said...

Very brave of you! I too LOVE doing things from scratch and particularly sewing things for my family, but its getting hard to justify anymore with the time and cost involved, I try to tell myself it makes the few things I do make from scratch that much more special for my loved ones. And as far as cooking only I know I used bought minced onion and didn't chop it myself etc, and I still give them a homemade meal, I try to get the enjoyment of creating in the little things and not make it everything, but it is hard!

Lisa said...

The simpler my life is the better.

Elise said...

Monica...I hear you loud and clear. I do. I love having cutesy clothes for Lilly, however, she doesn't really like wearing them. Bummer...
On the garlic you have a garlic press?? I use mine all the time and love it!!
I have to get realistic about birthday parties, as in there is a table topper I linked to in a recent-ish post, that I am not going to make because of the time and fabric/cost involved.

being molded said...

Monica, you are such a blessing!!
I so totally agree with what you shared. I struggle with doing all those things I so want to do. Like clip every coupon to get body wash for 3 cents. I just can't keep up. I have guilt when I think of the 65 patterns, no exageration, and 35 yards of fabric I have in my basement. It is just so much easier, with 4 children and a husband that travels to buy all our clothing.Which I do only buy on sale. I also started buing jarred garlic and basil and although I dream of having a mill and baking fresh homemade bread it isn't working for me right now, and that's ok!
I have stopped reading some much loved blogs because I feel so inadequate when I compare myself to what others do, when they have 10 children to my 4 and homeschool which I don't do. Then I realize the Lord, in His grace has me just where He wants me and one day when my littles are grown I will have time to bake bread and learn to crochet. And you too, one day, will be in a place when you will be able to enjoy all those special things you may not bbe able to work in right now.
I hope there aren't too many typos, I need to make lunch :)
God bless~Cindy

Anonymous said...


I think you are smart to make these decisions. I agree with you; I have also actively chosen to cut back on certain things. I don't go to CVS weekly, I don't cut coupons (but still try to shop smart and shop sales and Aldi when I can). I keep the house straightened as much as I can, but sometimes there is a little more dust than I'd like. I've put a "hold" on baking most of our cookies and cakes from scratch; weeknight dinners are more simple than they used to be in the past.

I'm also selective about activities for my 3 year old. I work outside the home 40 hours a week, so I treasure our evenings and weekends. He does not attend every birthday party that he's invited to, he's not overscheduled with activities (I'll pass on t ball for kids that age!)

Kudos to you; keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

I think your honesty here will be well-appreciated.

I have never been much of a crafter (as you are), but certainly got caught up (and burned out) by the whole bargain shopping craze. :) Our grocery budget is what some blogs would call ridiculous and excessive...$600 a month for six people...but we live within this budget, which works for us. Like others, I would print my coupons (w/ expensive toner) and go to the store to find most items sold out. All the stacking was also confusing, often leading me to feel like I was losing instead of winning.

Like some others also mentioned, I think I probably need to cut way down on blog reading and allowing this to be a discouragement.

However, Monica, let me say that your blog always makes me encouraged to pursue this high calling with my whole heart I appreciate that you honestly share your struggles along the way.

Anna said...

Simplifying is always hard for me, because there are so many things that I'm interested in trying or doing. One thing that I read somewhere is that when you say "Yes" to one thing, you're saying "No" to something else, and vice versa-- because of limited time and resources. My husband thinks that's a silly way of putting it, but it helps me to look at it. I don't have to feel like I'm just saying "no" to one thing, but I'm making a choice as to which things are best.
I'm currently living where I have to make everything from scratch, and it takes twice as long to do anything as it should. I have had to let certain things that I enjoy go, just to make sure that I'm not overdoing things and ending up stressed or burnt out.
It helps me to have a written schedule with the things that I want to accomplish. I don't follow it exactly, but it does give me an idea of whether my goals are realistic for the amount of time that I have.

rachel@thecupcakesprinklesinlife said...

Bless you Monica!

Loving the honesty and comraderie here on your post today!

I struggle with this too- I love to create outfits, purses, do my quilting and knitting... but I grow weary from them.
(plus, it can cost more in the end)

The first few years of Homeschooling also taught me to just buy Sonlight curriculum and skip the piecing together stuff. We are much happier this way! (even though it seems pricey, it's worth it's weight in gold) I've got all I need from the get go and library time is more fun not having to scrounge together books for lessons... my kids just pick books for enjoyment now...phew, what a relief.

Keep your held held high Monica-
you exhibit the Proverbs 31 woman beautifully... honesty and all.

Megan said...

I haven't read through all the comments here (choosing simplicity right now...) but wanted you to know that for Christmas this year, all my girls got really cute pjs from Walmart. And I didn't feel one ounce of guilt about it.

I spent about the same on the pjs as I would have on fabric and it was just. so. easy. And they love them. I will make them again sometime, but when I can find a better option that doesn't require 15 hours of time...why not go that way?

I think you are doing the best thing. And the stacks of uncut coupons I have sitting next to my desk here attest to it as well.

I've been shopping at Aldi lately just because it's easy. :)

Shannon said...

I heard Michelle Duggar say once that she got organized around the time they had number 4 because she realized it was a neccessity. That freed me! We've been blessed by God with these littles - I will be organized because it is neccessary. I WILL simplify because it is neccessary. No guilt over the things I can't do and no brooding over what I don't get to do (still working on that last part!). Now I take pleasure where I can find it...making things that I can't find to buy or can't afford when I have the time, but letting go of anything that's not neccessary:)

MrsCoach said...

I have to laugh about your girls not loving wearing those precious skirts... I have a seven year old daughter that I will only dress in age-appropriate clothes. So, at Gymboree, I was purchasing multiple matching sets of each different line each season...spending a fortune, and reveling in how she looked each day...down to the matching socks and hair bows. Well, come first grade, she found her voice and started refusing to wear the "baby" outfits...hairbows and all. I am thankful, because she absolutely loves wearing dresses and skirts, but the matching everything and "cutesy-cutesy" stuff, not so much. So, I have now involved her in picking out her different outfits, which has lead to a simple, stress-free morning. We mothers of daughters need to pick our own battles... and I hate to say it, but the drama, etc, with girls only gets worse as they get older!! (at least that's what I'm finding!)

Anonymous said...

It's been hard for me to let go of things I like to do too : ) Thank you for sharing.

kymk99 said...

I just recently started counted cross stitch projects again only because my now 10 year old daughter has taken an interest. I believe that things you have enjoyed to do will be things you will enjoy to do again in the future. Some of the things you have enjoyed doing, you will be able to teach your children to do. Enjoy this time because it goes so quickly!

Carmen at Old House Homestead said...

For me, simplifying is saying no to people. As a pastor's wife, there are a lot of opportunities to be busy. A good kind of busy, but yet it's a bad kind of busy if that takes away from the attention of my family for which the Lord has called me to care for. We have seven children which we home school, my mom lives with us, and my husband is busy with several part time jobs. My job and goal is to keep everyone sane and focused on the Lord. It's a hard task but when this world is gone those craft,scrapbooks, and sewing projects that I am so longing to get to don't matter at all. Ecclesiastes 3:1 "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." I keep reminding myself of this! :)

Jenny said...

I have to I read this, I was holding my breath the whole time. I was so afraid you were going to "choose simplicity" by choosing not to blog any more. In my mind I kept repeating, "Don't choose blogging...don't choose blogging."

*carrie* said...

Bless your heart, Monica.

Was so glad to see those jammies in your post--I saw them at Kohls last weekend, and thought "Monica's girls would love those!"

Will miss talking today. Have a good Friday!

Mom said...

Dear Monica,
I "heard" some of our recent conversations in this post and waited to comment until after I'd thought about it for awhile. You've gotten some really good comments -- yes, I've read them all!

Caroline Ingalls was an amazing woman and has long been one of my heroines. I admire her industrious, thrifty, patient life and always wanted to be more like her. However, I have to remind myself that she lived in a very different world -- no computers/TV/telephone, rare grocery store trips, no indoor plumbing, no car. Many of the things she did were because she had no choice. I also realize that her story is told through the eyes of a daughter who clearly loved and admired her and is therefore maybe idealized.

Back in the "old" days, sewing clothes was the thrifty option. Storebought clothes were an expensive luxury. This is different now, too. Ma Ingalls didn't really like to sew (revealed by her nearly grown daughter in one of the later books). She did it because she had to.

Thankfully, now we have LOTS of choices (sometimes too many!) -- and the great thing is that you can choose what simplicity is for you. Not what works for me or someone else, but what works for you.

I agree with the commenter that said you will not likely stop liking the homey things -- that's part of who you are. I also agree with the commenter who hopes you will not give up blogging! :)

Love and prayers, Mom

Anonymous said...

Hooray for you, Monica!
I wondered how long it would take you to realize that you don't have to make EVERYTHING from scratch, even though I know you really enjoy doing it. For this season of your life, I hope you can be content with doing things the quickest, easiest way. I think it will greatly reduce your stress level.
Hang in there, Honey. "This too shall pass"

Love you, Grandma

Anonymous said...

Hey Monica,
I found out a long time ago there are so many good deals out there for all the nice stuff I like to buy. No one can believe (I can't either:) the deals I get on all my make-up, clothes (for everyone), and accessories. If you shop at the right times of year, at the right places you can get new mid-level to luxury items for 50-90% off their retail price. I am especially wary since I have bought things at Target for about$15 full price and have then seen them on sale at a consignment store for $36 five years later, and the lady that was buying it thought it was a good deal!!!:0 I have bought three kids fall/winter wardrobes including coats and shoes for less than $75 o.o.p. total. Anyway I hope you don't think I'm trying to flaunt my savings or where I shop:) I just wanted to encourage you since your post was about this.
Kelly N.
P.S. I am usually always able to sell the higher end stuff I buy on ebay, sometimes for a profit, when I am tired of wearing it. That's how I save up for some more goodies.

Sarah said...

I love your post Monica and your honesty. We are all human :) I have to remind myself of that a lot. We all go through seasons of life and it's OK to change things up once in awhile. I think it's so important to sit back once in awhile and reevaluate priorities; figure out what's working and what's not. I think that I'm in need of one of those reevaluation times myself :)

God bless you and your family :)