5 Things I’ve Accepted In Exchange for a Happier Life

posted by Andrea | 03/13/2017
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Although I would consider myself to have many good life skills, being overly-accepting of random quirks and differences is not one of the life skills I’ve mastered yet 🙂

However, I have noticed that (especially when it comes to my own children) I have become SO much more accepting of their mistakes, their crazy antics, and the changes they bring about to our home and our lives.

I don’t just “tolerate” them, I truly “accept” them — and as a result, I enjoy simpler, happier, more peaceful days at home. 

Let me give you a few examples…

1. What My Kids Wear

I’ve never been big on fashion — but I do always try to look presentable and somewhat put together when I go out in public. I’m not the type to lounge around in PJ’s all day, and although I do wear the same things on a regular basis, I don’t often see the same people so it’s not a big deal 🙂

However, I honestly never thought I would be 100% OK with letting my very stubborn and opinionated children pick out their own (completely mismatched) clothing on a daily basis.

Nora and Simon both insist on picking out their own clothing the night before, and while this does help our mornings run very smoothly, there are plenty of times when I wonder what they are thinking as they get dressed.

Nora is a huge fan of single-color outfits (pink pants + pink skirt + pink shirt + pink sweater) as well as single pattern outfits (flower leggings + flower skirt + flower shirt). She also gets ideas in her head for what “goes together” and then will always and forever wear those items together.

Simon, on the other hand, goes for comfort every time.

He has a whole section of what he considers “cozy clothes”, and that’s what he wears 95% of the time. Some days, this means he takes off one pair of PJ’s and put another pair on. Other days, this means his favorite jeans and t-shirt. And still other days, it means lounging around in gym shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of the winter. It almost always involves a pair of boots though!

Simon loves wearing shorts and t-shirts in the winter — and since I have much better things to fight about, I just make him put on snowpants and a winter coat any time we go outside, even if it’s not snowing or not all that cold. He thinks it’s great that I let him wear “summer clothes” in the middle of winter, and I think it’s great that we never argue about clothing choices!

Also, Nora and Simon change their clothing (on average) 4-6 times every day. It’s totally ridiculous, but they have specific reasons for changing their clothing and they are responsible to put it all away. Sometimes, this creates extra laundry for me, but I figure they will be in school all day before I know it and then they’ll only get one outfit dirty every day!

I have fully accepted my children’s individual wardrobe choices, and despite comments from others, I am truly not bothered by whatever they choose to wear — even when their clothing is on backwards or inside out!

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2. Crumbs… everywhere!

I will never deny being a very neat, organized, and tidy person. I like things to be picked up and put away… and with very few exceptions, everything in our house is always picked up and put away at the end of every day.

But then there are the crumbs!

I’ve limited myself to sweeping our kitchen floor ONLY after dinner because it literally doesn’t matter how many times I sweep, there will always be more crumbs.

Also, do NOT look under my couch cushions!

We regularly lose game pieces in our couch cushions, and I’m always shocked to find full-size crackers, goldfish, pretzels, and cereal chunks (amidst a sea of crumbs) under the cushions. Sometimes, I take the time to vacuum it all out… but most of the time, I simply grab the game piece and put the cushions right back.

I realize this might be difficult for some of you to imagine — but it is very, very true.

I try to keep our car somewhat crumb-free, but only on the surface level. I vacuum the carpets and mats, but I rarely dig to the bottom of the carseats (and you know it’s nasty down there!)

I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but I have come to accept that my life and my home will be full of crumbs for the next few years. I will clean them when I get around to it — until then, things will be a bit crumby 🙂

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3. Somewhat selective eating.

In general, I honestly think my kids are good eaters — but that’s also because I make a lot of foods I know they really like.

They are good about trying things once (and regularly discover new foods they actually like) but they definitely have their favorites that they request on a very regular basis.

We eat a lot of pancakes, eggs, sausage and fruit for breakfast and a lot of meat, cheese, fruit, and sandwiches for lunch. I used to feel bad that we didn’t have a ton of variety for these meals, but now I find it somewhat comforting.

We never argue about food choices or menus, they usually eat their breakfast and lunch fairly quickly and without complaining, and I don’t need to come up with creative ideas of foods I think they might like.

We always have plenty of veggies with dinner, and if I’m going to try a new recipe, I do it for dinner so Dave can be there to encourage trying something new.

Yes, our kids could probably be more adventurous with their food choices, but the fact that they are eating from multiple different food groups at every meal AND eating without much complaining means I readily accept their somewhat selective eating for breakfast and lunch each day!

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4. Toy overload.

Before we had children, I swore we would never accumulate “too many toys” and I stood by this mantra until baby #3 arrived. Since then, Dave and I have been on the losing side of the war against toy overload in our house.

Yes, we purge VERY regularly. Yes, we have plenty of storage space for our toys. Yes, our kids enjoy playing with ALLLL their toys. And YES, we could easily get buy with 1/3 the number of toys, books, and games we currently have.

It bothered me more a couple of years ago — but now, I think I’ve honestly come to terms with the fact that our relatives are going to load our kids with new toys for every birthday and Christmas no matter how many times I suggest practical gifts like socks, a new water bottle, or diapers 🙂

My small victory is when they purchase cheap toys that end up breaking after a week or two so we can toss them guilt-free!

However, for the most part, I’ve come to accept that for the next few years, our house will have more toys than I would ideally want… but at least I’m not wasting my own money on them and my kids really do have so much fun with their toys and games.

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5. Sibling bickering.

I know, this might sound like bad parenting — but honestly, I don’t think I would believe you if you told me your kids never fight or bicker back and forth.

I know my sisters and I fought all the time growing up, and we turned out OK!

And really, I think letting them fight and bicker a bit can actually be helpful. There are so many times when I hear Nora and Simon start to fight, and then one person gives in and the fight is over. And both Nora and Simon are quite generous with James — letting him have the toy he wants instead of playing with it themselves. It’s actually sort of sweet to watch.

Of course, there are still plenty of times when I step in and dole out punishments, but for the most part, I’ve come to accept general sibling bickering as a part of our daily lives and not something to get overly worked up about.

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If I really wanted to keep you here a while, I could start listing many other things I’ve learned to accept within the various different relationships in my life (Dave included!) but I won’t bore you with all those details.

The point is, by learning to legitimately accept these things (not just tolerate them) my life is simpler, less stressful, less uptight, and less “angry”.

Yes, there are many things I have not learned to accept yet (like loud smacking and slurping noises while eating or anyone who drives too slowly for my preference) but I figure I will hopefully have lots of years left in my life, so there’s no sense rushing into too much acceptance just yet 🙂

Learning to accept certain quirks in people you love (or just people you’re around on a regular basis) is a very simple concept that’s not nearly as easy to actually do. However, it’s definitely worth it! 

Just think of all your relationships — family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, committee members, fellow church-goers…

What could you learn to accept?

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27 comments

  1. Marisa

    03/22/2017

    Whew! Thank you for this! Sometimes I really need encouragement to quit letting things bother me. It’s as though I feel obligated to be annoyed by something… stupid, I know. But I don’t realize it until someone points it out.

    Anyway, you make total sense. Thanks. You’re awesome!

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  2. Alicia

    03/14/2017

    I agree with all of these, though I’m still working on accepting some of them! I’ve always let my kids pick out their own clothes and, with the exception of Picture Day at school, it doesn’t bother me in the least what they decide to wear. I think it’s actually pretty cute what they come up with at times! However the sibling bickering and picky eating…I definitely need to work on those, as they drive me CRAZY!

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  3. Angela

    03/13/2017

    Our four kids have tons of toys as well, most of which were gifts or hand-me-downs from relatives and friends. Our house used to be itty bitty before we built an addition, and the toy clutter drove my husband crazy. He worked as a plumber so he was inside many houses each day, and he’d tell me that most people don’t have tons of toys. I would always counter by saying “Maybe so, but I’ll bet they have a stack of video games!” We had NO video games for a long time (now we only have a Wii), so our kids, like yours, thoroughly enjoyed playing together with their toys. I’d much rather have a happy house filled with joyful kids playing with their excess of toys, than little zombies who play video games all day and don’t know how to REALLY play. : )

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    Andrea Reply:

    well this is a good point I guess — I actually never thought about the fact that my kids PLAY WITH TOYS versus playing video games (we don’t have any either). Also, I recently read an article about kids playing and it said the best “toys” for kids are dressup clothes, blocks, balls, trucks/cars, and play house items (babies, kitchen sets, etc)…. and these are basically the only types of toys we even have. We might have A LOT of them, but oh well 🙂

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  4. Karlyn Nance

    03/13/2017

    Isn’t it great how much our kids teach us about flexibility! When I see childless adults who are rigid, perfectionistic, & unaccomodating, I often think to myself, “If you just had kids, you would be more flexible!”

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah! I’m not necessarily the most flexible person in the world but I’m definitely getting a lot better since having kids!

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  5. Elizabeth

    03/13/2017

    I think a certain amount of kid bickering is healthy. It’s a learning experience. They learn how to negotiate, they learn how to argue within stated boundaries (no hitting, no name calling, etc.), they learn empathy and generosity when they decide to compromise, they learn how to disagree and move on within a relationship. These are all critical learned skills and much better to learn them within a loving family than at school or at work when older.

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  6. Evie Fieseler

    03/13/2017

    Oh Andrea, I am laughing (WITH, not AT) as bit by bit I come to realize how many (formerly) “awful, annoying” quirks I apparently have come to accept over the years! This is a spectacular article, revealing truth in layers. Ha, the latest truth that comes to mind as I write this comment is that if so many others in my life have quirks needing ultimate acceptance, uhm, maybe I have some, (a *few) too?! Can it be? Gasp and LOL!

    BEST EVER PIC OF SIMON: STANDING ON CHAIR, LEANING ON TABLE. What a beautiful expression on his face and in his eyes you can see to the depths of his heart and soul!

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks Evie — that’s one of my most favorite pictures of Simon too! And yes, I’m positive I have MANY quirks that annoy those around me as well. Such is life!

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    Evie Fieseler Reply:

    Simon is so amazing. All you Dekkers are! Oh gosh, wasn’t even thinking of your quirks when I wrote that, just my own, but you’re right, just life…we all are quirked and need acceptance and love *anyhow!

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    Andrea Reply:

    no, I know you weren’t referring to me — but I also know I have lots of silly quirk too 🙂

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  7. Christine from The (mostly) Simple Life

    03/13/2017

    Accepting is definitely the hard part. There are some things with my husband or in-laws that I’m pretty good at tolerating, but they definitely still bother me. I love that you pick your battles with your kids and try to let them be independent as much as possible.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh yes, I’d say accepting quirky behaviors in children is probably the easiest to do — adults are much harder 🙂

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  8. Adri

    03/13/2017

    This is awesome, no-wait…YOU’RE awesome! Life’s not perfect, and you keep it real.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Adri 🙂

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  9. Michelle

    03/13/2017

    I knew I loved you before but now I love you even more! Thanks you for your honesty and showing us another side of yourself!

    I had a hard time letting my kids fight. I just wanted peace and less stress. When I finally realized I didn’t have to get involved every time my life got simpler. My only rule was they were never allowed to let it get physical. Once I had to get involved I never took sides.

    Oh…and the outfits my kids could come up with! Wow! As long as we were staying home they could wear what they wanted, but if we were going out somewhere I insisted we compromised.

    Dust. Where does this stuff come from??? I have to accept it because it’s always there. I was shopping this weekend and saw a sign that said “Dust gives a home it’s warm fuzzy feeling” or something like that. I laughed when I saw it.

    Some things just aren’t worth the extra energy are they?

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — thanks Michelle 🙂
    Today, Nora worn solid grey leggings with a solid grey long-sleeve shirt to school (with polka-dot boots). I almost wanted to take a picture and update the post after I got back from dropping her off, but I figured I had enough pictures in the post already. Sigh…

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  10. Pamela

    03/13/2017

    I admit that I get irritated when my daughter’s clothes don’t match. Right now she doesn’t yet dress herself or seem all that interested in what she wears (she’s 2). However, she goes to daycare every day and her teachers are great but they don’t make an effort to “match” her clothes if something needs to be changed. My solution is to have 90% of my daughter’s wardrobe as denim pants (or shorts/skirts for summer) with bright tops. That way everything matches! It also helps that she’s not picky about clothes.

    I have come to accept that there are worse things than being a picky eater. Ideally, yes, she will learn to eat (or at least try!) everything. But I also recognize that 1. I don’t eat everything either (mayonnaise – yuk!!!) and 2. if she is a picky adult, she can learn to make her own food and be polite with others and that’s just fine.

    The one thing I DO need to learn to accept is my husband’s tendency to be a packrat…it drives me crazy! But I need to get over it.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — exactly (also, about 5 years ago, I started liking mayo after a life-long hatred — so there’s still hope for you!)
    For the most part, I am not a picky eater — but I will NOT eat pickles ever. Also, there are definitley times when certain foods just don’t sound good to me or taste good to me. I try to keep this in mind if one of my kids is randomly protesting eating something they normally like. Maybe it just tastes “off” to them so I don’t usually force it too much.

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  11. Janet

    03/13/2017

    I say that my house is always tidy but not always clean. Dust accumulates and I have a golden retriever and a chocolate brown carpet. Silly, huh? Just invite people over at night. You can hide a lot by lamplight and even more by candlelight!

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    Andrea Reply:

    This is what I say too — my house is almost always neat, tidy, and organized, but it’s not always “clean”. We have dust, we have crumbs, we have water stains on the mirrors from kids who LOVE brushing their own teeth, etc. 🙂

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  12. Chris from Normal

    03/13/2017

    I accept that my house most of the time has the illusion of clean by keeping things put away. It may be dusty and have loads of cat hair in places, but I don’t care because I don’t have that many visitors.
    I have no one to blame but myself and I’ve given myself permission to “let it go” (No Disney reference there).

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — the “illusion of clean”. Love this 🙂

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  13. Mara Yager

    03/13/2017

    Great post

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  14. Paulette

    03/13/2017

    I meant to add, children making their own choices as long as it’s a safe choice. 😉

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes, I know what you mean!

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  15. Paulette

    03/13/2017

    Good for you, Andrea! When it comes to our children, there are some things that are just not worth the battles. I honestly believe it’s healthier for everyone concerned to allow children to make their own choices. I don’t remember where, but I read that children’s tastebuds are very sensitive and that accounts for their “pickiness” and that as we age, our tastebuds become dulled. Makes sense to me. I applaud you.

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