Slowing Things Down

photo of me taken by my daughter
Yours truly, in a photo taken by my two year old. I’m surprised I’m wearing that shirt.


January is always filled with planning, doing, and organizing. February always seems to have a general feeling of “running behind.”

It’s easy to see what’s missing, what’s still left undone, and what’s a mess, instead of looking at what you did accomplish.

I leave a lot undone.

  • Last week I didn’t do much cooking, but I did keep my house clean.
  • The week before that I didn’t do much cleaning, but I did potty-train my child.
  • And the week before that, I didn’t do any paperwork, but I did cook dinner every night.

I would much rather look at what I was able to do. Anything I accomplish makes things better, even if I don’t do it all. In this season of my life, normal means some things don’t get done.

I completely understand the feeling of running behind. As a mom, my work really is never finished. There’s always something being used, eaten, or messed up. But if I always feel like I’m behind, then I can never rest.

I’ve been tired for weeks because of pregnancy (and not having caffeine every morning). I hope to have more energy soon, but then I’ll be in the middle of moving. After that, we have a full calendar of birthdays and events. There will always be something happening — that’s how life is.

I’m only behind if I think normal should be perfect.

I would love it if I could do everything, but I am not that awesome. What I try to do instead is rotate what I focus on, so everything gets at least some attention.

I’ve read several excellent blog posts lately about refining expectations and focusing on the basics:

Enjoy your weekend, and get some rest too. Let some things be good enough.
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Sounds like you are doing a wonderful, full-time (plus!) job of caring: for your family by creating a calm, loving and meaningful home life, for yourself and the new baby as you strive for a healthy pregnancy, for friends and even strangers through your informative and inspiring blog. All of which make this world a much better place.

    Julie Marr´s last blog post..sign + seal + deliver

  2. Excellent blog! I think we suffer from superwoman syndrome – we expect ourselves to be superwoman. I keep reminding myself, I’m the other woman, not superwoman…. and yes, some things just don’t get done. But we are doing OK as people, because compassion flows, kind deeds are done and good thoughts are spoken…. the rest will get around to being done later.

    angelvalerie´s last blog post..The excitement of something new

  3. amen for good enough

    renee @ FIMBY´s last blog post..Springtime’s a comin’ ~ Eventually

  4. Love this post. Loved the links. Thank-you!

  5. That’s a really good way to look at things.

    And I love that shirt, btw. :)

  6. i just wanted to post and say hello. i am impressed and focusing on the “done” and positive is a good route. i am on my own with the kids this weekend and i just hope to make it through happily and healthily!

    nicola´s last blog 5

  7. I needed this today. And, then what a surprise to see my “let’s be real” post included in your list. Thanks for the mention and take care!

  8. Thank you for including me in the list. The whole reason I wrote out the series about my mess is because I realized there is something comforting in not being alone. I wanted to be there for someone who came across my blog. Then to be blessed by finding out that you and Emily are also in similar boats…. when I admire you both so much. (I can’t wait to read the others.) It feels like I’ve gotten an online group hug!

    We are all human. We are all similar in having strengths AND weaknesses. The things we share on our sites are the things we have figured out. On those good days. I guess the reason there seems to be so many superwomen online is because we forget about the things that are not shared. The things that may not have been figured out yet.

    I remember how exhausting pregnancy can be – especially during the early months. If you do nothing but continue to put one foot in front of the other and love your family, you have accomplished a lot! Everything else is gravy. {Hugs and kisses!} Hang in there!

    Laurel Plum´s last blog post..Climbing Out of the Mess – The Rest of the Week

  9. Thanks so much for your encouragement! Yesterday, I didn’t mop the sticky kitchen floor, but I was a guest at my girls’ homemade “spa”. The day before that I did not organize the overflowing paper pile, but I did make health a priority by juicing vegetables. Thanks for the reminder to look at the positives! :-)

    Meriann´s last blog post..Slumdog Millionaire Review

  10. Hi. I have never commented on a blogsite before but after seeing this post I wanted to say, “Thank you.” This is just what I needed as a new stay at home mom following the birth of our second. I have felt behind and unsuccessful since April! This is a wonderful perspective.

    I enjoy your blog very much. Also, after seeing Lane’s gutter bookcase, we put one up similar in our playroom. My husband thought I was nuts but now think it is the most brilliant addition to our house ever.

  11. I’ve learned over the past few months as well that anything crossing anything off my to do list makes me feel more accomplished. It doesn’t all need to get done right away. How nice to see it reiterated.

    Have you tried drinking hot water with lemon in the morning? I sometimes do this when I want to feel more awake (I can’t have caffeine: migraines) — lemon is such an invigorating taste that it perks me up.

  12. one thing my mother has always said is that children don’t remember days of spotless house cleaning, they have memories of fun time w/ family…anyway congrats on potty training!!

  13. Amen girl! I loved what you said about being behind only if normal is perfect. At some point, we have to stop. At some point we have to say good enough is good enough. At some point we just have to stop. I think it’s good to have an end time in the evening, after which you won’t do any housework or cleaning or anything (unless absolutely necessary). I don’t always do it but I try for it!

    momstheword´s last blog post..INTERNET CAFE DEVOTIONS -QUESTIONING GOD

  14. Great post! Very true. It put me in a calm, cheerful mood :)

  15. Thanks for the reality check! I’m going to go take a nap now…

    Rachel´s last blog post..BurdaStyle Corinne Yoga Pants

  16. I needed this today. Thank you!

  17. Perfect timing. I needed to read these words today. I was feeling bad that my to do list was only half complete. I was feeling angry with my hubs for not helping when CLEARLY my floors needed mopped and the bathroom needed scrubbed and a hundred other things needed to be done. NOW I am thankful that I got to hang out with my son and hubs most of the day and I didn’t even have to get out of my lounge pants.
    I think I will clear off what I can from tomorrow’s to do list and slow down enough to be in the moment as I make time to play with my son.

    Liz´s last blog post..Crimson is complete!

  18. I love that thought: “I’m only behind if I think normal should be perfect.”

    Some of the best advice I heard was an off-hand comment by someone that said they had certain things they did in their house everyday and then they were “done.” They knew there was more to do tomorrow, but that they accomplished what they planned to do regarding their home and then felt a sense of accomplishment and completion. Then, they tackled it again tomorrow.

    Being able to say, everyday, I am “done” is a wonderful thing and makes me feel more content. With big projects I accomplish this by choosing either a small step to complete for the day, or a certain time limit, such as 15 minutes. When I have worked for that long, then, I am “done” and can celebrate my accomplishment for the day, even if I need to start again tomorrow.

    Taylor at Household Management 101´s last blog post..Feb 7, What Laundry Symbols Mean And When You Can Ignore Them

  19. I love the idea of focusing on what we have accomplished, rather than on what we haven’t. That’s a real struggle for me, but certainly it’s valid to say at the end of a hard day that I cared for two small children, made and cleaned up after three meals, nurtured a babe in utero, etc, etc. It may not be all that I wanted to accomplish, but it is worthwhile and it is enough!

    Thanks for the link, and the other great links as well! Guess several of us are feeling the same thing right now, huh? That’s kind of comforting. :)

    Blessings on you and all of the wonderful things that you are doing this week as a busy mama!

  20. “I’m only behind if I think normal should be perfect.”

    I think I might have to print this out & tape it to my monitor. And my wallet. And the palm of my hand. And my forehead.

    WhenIGrowUpCoach´s last blog post..Motivation Monday: Installment 14

  21. Well written, thank you for this piece. I need to come back and re-read it….like every week.

    Cara´s last blog post..First-ever product giveaway (!)

  22. Great word!! That’s so true and such a freeing thought! Thanks for sharing!

    Heather´s last blog post..Frugality 101

  23. This is a great post! It would be helpful for me to read this once a week. Thank you.

  24. Jaclyn Reynolds says:

    Thank you for another excellent post!!