Get Rid of the All Or Nothing Mentality

posted by Andrea | 05/24/2019

Over the last decade, a lot has changed in my life, in my family, in my home, and even here on the blog. However, the one thing that has stayed exactly the same is my desire for MODERATION in every aspect of my life. If anything, I feel even MORE strongly about moderation than I did 10 years ago!

I am not one to follow fads or trends, I have never been the type to “jump on the band wagon” just because “everyone else is doing it”, I rarely have super strong opinions about specific topics, I don’t see many things in life as “black or white” with no middle ground, and I strongly dislike all-or-nothing decisions and situations.

Instead, I opt for a mentality of all-things-in-moderation — which has been a HUGE asset in my quest for simple living. 

I am less-stressed, my life is “easier”, my decisions are quicker, and my family is happier! 

Let me explain: 

PARENTING with moderation: 

I would never consider myself a parenting expert; I just keep pushing forward and taking things one day at a time. 

That said, one thing I feel I do OK with is modeling balance and moderation for my children.

There are days when our kids watch a bunch of TV and eat lots of snacks because it’s raining outside and I’m tired of listening to to them whine. There are many other days when they are outside for hours and hours, playing happily by themselves. 

At times, I’ve gone the extra mile to have various crafts and activities all planned out and ready for them; while other times, I send them off to play by themselves so I can get a few things accomplished. 

Sometimes I do such a good job of calmly discussing a child’s misbehavior; other times I yell more than I should and send them to their room so I can cool down! 

In my opinion, when we have an all-or-nothing mentality in regards to parenting, we are simply setting ourselves up for failure

  • I “never” let my kids have screen time…
  • I “never” let them have sugary snacks…
  • I “always” have their days planned out with fun activities and craft projects…
  • I “never” yell at my kids…

I honestly don’t know of any parent who can truthfully say “never” or “always” to any of the statements above… which means they are also lying (to others and to themselves) and probably feel extremely guilty if/when they they slip up and turn the TV on for a few minutes or give their child a piece of candy. 

When it comes to parenting, an attitude of moderation alleviates so much stress, pressure, and anxiety — all of which are more beneficial to me and to my family than the absence of sugary snacks or screen time. 

ENJOYING ALL FOOD in moderation: 

Speaking of sugary snacks, FOOD is another biggie for me when it comes to moderation. 

Yes, the way we eat now looks radically different than it did 10 years ago — BUT that does not mean we ONLY eat healthfully now days. If that were the case, we’d never be able to go to anyone else’s home for dinner, we’d never be able to go to a restaurant ever again, we’d never be able to accept food gifts from others, and we’d never be able to eat at holiday parties or any other social gathering. 

I won’t live like that! 

  • I will enjoy grinding my own grains and making almost all my own bread products at home… but I’ll also eat a Culver’s burger bun, a Sprinkle’s donut, or any other non-whole grain, non-homemade bread product I’m served at someone else’s home.
  • I will faithfully serve a huge variety of vegetables for every meal (even breakfast)… but I won’t stress about a meal or two without veggies while we’re traveling or eating away from home. 
  • I’ll do my best to keep nutritious snacks with me at all times and have lots of fresh fruits and vegetables available for snacking throughout the day, but I most certainly will not prohibit my children from enjoying a friend’s birthday treat, special snacks from grandparents, a ginormous piece of cake on their birthday, or any other special treat or reward they get from school, church, etc.
  • I will continue to implement small healthier changes into our diets, but I will not ban certain foods from our kitchen, nor will I stress out about what my children might eat at a friend’s house or at school. 
  • I will keep tweaking many of our old family favorite recipes to make them more nutritious, but I will also use some processed foods when it just works better with our schedule or with the recipe. 

Food has always been a very important part of my life (food gifts are my absolute favorite gifts to give and receive) and without an attitude of moderation, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy nearly as much food in my life! 

I might be the person who turns down a dinner invitation because we just want to be home and get our kids to bed on time, but I will NOT be the person who turns down a dinner invitation simply because I’m worried we might have to eat some non-organic, overly-processed food or a little extra sugar.

It’s just not worth the stress or mental energy to worry about these things

MANAGING a HOME with moderation: 

I’m home almost all day, every day — this is preferable for me.

I love being home, my kids love being home, Dave loves being home, we love having people over to our home, we love working on home projects, and we love improving our home and yard. 

Over the years, we have renovated almost every single space in our home (and garage), and we have completely overhauled almost every square inch of our landscaping

It has been a (mostly) fun and enjoyable process, but we are definitely glad to be nearing the end! 

When it comes to managing our 130+ year old home, we most certainly need to keep moderation in mind as there are so many things we just can’t do with an old house! There are lots of other things I CAN do to keep our home up to my standards, and that’s what I try to focus on. 

Allowing for lots of moderation when it come to managing our home and landscape has made the time we spend at home (and our renovation process) so much more enjoyable! 

RUNNING a BUSINESS with moderation: 

Oh… where to start! 

There are SOOOOOOOOOOO many changes and tweaks I’d love to make on my blog and within my business, but I just haven’t been willing to steal time away from any other people or activities to do them. 

My business has (surprisingly) been way down on my list of priorities for a few years now, but I’m OK with that for now. 

  • I still really enjoy writing and sharing my life on my blog, but I don’t let it consume vast amounts of time each week. I write enough and then I close up shop to spend time on other activities. 
  • I still love the idea of working with clients in their homes or speaking for women’s events, but for now, I am satisfied to share my expertise and advice online from the comfort of my own home. 
  • I have grand ideas and plans for my blog and business, but since I’m still not quite at the point of life when I’m willing to devote tons of extra time to these projects, I will stick with making slow and small changes over time (some new improvements should be rolling out this summer though!)

If I didn’t have an attitude of moderation towards running my business, I could very easily become a workaholic and devote every second of spare time to maintaining and improving my blog/business. It would consume me — and I DON’T want that! 

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I realize there are almost always exceptions to every rule — as well as medical, religious, and personal reasons an “all things in moderation” approach to various aspects of life will not work for some people. 

However, the more I’ve thought about it over the years, the more I realized that living with moderation has been one of the most important reasons I’ve been able to create (and enjoy) a simplified home and life for myself and my family. 

Strict rules, ultimatums, harsh restrictions, and complete abstinence have their places; but for me, for my family, and for my life, they are definitely the exception to the rule of all-things-in-moderation. 

(Our recent church directory photo — LOL!)

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22 comments

  1. JoDi

    05/27/2019

    Totally unrelated comment, but how do you keep your beds weed-free? I prefer the look of mulched beds with plants nicely spaced like yours, but after years of hand-weeding and using Preen to help keep down the weeds, I have thrown up my hands and given up in a lot of areas and started planting ground-cover like pachysandra. Nothing I do seems to stop this from being an eternally massive time-consuming chore. You have even more beds than I do so do you just weed constantly or do you have some secret to share??? (Hope springs eternal!)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’m super surprised you still have so many issues with weeds EVEN with Preen! I feel like preen does a fantastic job of keeping weeds from germinating!
    This is what we do every year…
    Spread mulch down in early May and immediately spread Preen over all the planting beds. We then spread Preen again in early August, and then again in late October (I feel like this keeps them from coming back in the spring).
    We also usually go through our entire yard with each week and pull any stray weeds we see. We usually just take a 5-gallon bucket around with us and often it’s not even full.
    So no big secrets — just mulch, preen, and a once-a-week weeding

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  2. Rehana

    05/26/2019

    Andrea, thank you for the post- it was just what I needed today. In my flesh, I am an all or nothing type of person. I tend to see things as black and white with no middle ground.

    25 years ago my sweet Mama gave us an enormous, elaborately hand painted set of beautiful china. The set is enormous 12 of everything including all sorts of serving pieces and it takes up the majority of our china storage area..

    Fast forward to our life now, and we just don’t have a real use for them. In fact, they are in the way and I am shuffling everything in and out of the china cabinet when I am trying to find something else.

    I have wanted to donate the entire set multiple times, but was unable to do so as my sweet Mama passed away 7 years ago. I have had multiple conversations with myself about the fact that Mama would never have wanted me to feel chained to a gift (hers or anyone else’s), but I still couldn’t shake that all or nothing feeling… until yesterday when I read your post.

    It was so obvious! I got boxes and began packing immediately. First in went the items we have never used then I kept putting in items that just don’t serve our current needs. I ended up keeping the dinner plates, the salad plates and the bread plates. They all fit in one little shelf and I have loads of room for other storage needs.

    I just got back from dropping off three boxes filled with the other china to Goodwill. What a relief. In 2 or 3 years from now if the remaining china has stopped serving our current needs, I will feel free to let bits of it (or all of it) go. It just never occurred to me that I didn’t have to keep all of it or donate all of it.

    Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — this is fantastic Rehana! Thanks so much for sharing with me!
    I’m THRILLED my post resonated with you and motivated you to take action so quickly!

    Congrats on your big purge. I hope you enjoy all that extra storage space!

    [Reply]

  3. Wendy

    05/24/2019

    I think your church photo looks great. Beautiful family.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Wendy 🙂

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  4. JJ

    05/24/2019

    Needed this! I *used* to(kind of still am!)be an all or nothing kind of woman. But having a husband and children has broken me in a needed way. I can’t just tell my kid to stop puking and lie down, because Mommy had baking banana bread on the schedule. Haha! I have a long way to go, because I do struggle with things not being done. I don’t do well with interruptions. That is all my life is filled with now(and I’m so thankful for my crew!). But your concept of a little when you can and seeing interruptions as opportunities to love and serve others instead of annoyances and frustrations(this is my struggle!) helps!!! My momentum gets greatly shaken when I’m interrupted, and I need to learn how to transition better. When I taught in a classroom I would always tell the school secretary that I could never do her job and constantly be interrupted. Now it’s my life. Haha!!! Being stretched is an understatement, but my lack of flexibility is a character flaw and needs smoothed. The process is rough for sure! These ideas are helpful!

    Do you have any suggestions how to transition from interruptions? Thanks!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    ahh… kids have a way of humbling us mothers!
    I was also just telling Dave that my lack of flexibility is my biggest “negative” in regards to my personality. I truly do try to be more flexible but it is NOT easy. I feel like I haven’t made much progress over the years, but I know I have. That said, I still have a LOOOONG way to go.
    Sigh…

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  5. Alison

    05/24/2019

    It sounds like you are a “moderator”. Gretchen Rubin has some work talking about “moderators” and “abstainers”. People usually feel better and do better when they are aware of which they are, and live their lives accordingly. I’m definitely an “abstainer”.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, definitely a moderator!
    And I do understand there are different personality types and traits… I think you are probably correct, that people feel and do better when they are aware of their own personality (I’ve written on this too!)
    Sometimes I wish I could be an abstainer when it comes to sweets!! LOL!

    [Reply]

  6. Katy

    05/24/2019

    At my bridal shower, a wise friend told me that when talking to your spouse avoid saying “always” and “never.” Example: you always leave your laundry on the floor! You never do the dishes, etc.
    Because it’s very rare that someone always or never does something. Throwing those words in just creates a more dramatic statement. It also applies to talking with my kids! Love the wisdom of good friends 🙂

    [Reply]

  7. Roxie

    05/24/2019

    I recently was overwhelmed about everything that needed to be done. I work full time and feel like my home was falling behind. I adopted the ‘everything in moderation’ and ‘just do one thing’ mindset. My chest of drawers needs cleaning – so I cleaned out one drawer. Weeds needed pulling – I pulled SOME weeds. The chest of drawers isn’t perfect and all of the weeds aren’t gone – but by imposing guilt on myself (all or nothing mindset) – nothing got done and I felt defeated. Just doing one right thing at a time feels so much better!

    The old saying ‘how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time’ works for me!

    [Reply]

    Allison Reply:

    Roxie I love this! I too am a full time working mom (I worked almost 8 years as a part time worker and the balance was easier to fulfill home duties) and I get very overwhelmed. I love this nugget you shared. Just do one thing… thanks for this! It’s simple, but so rewarding.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes yes! “one bite at a time!”
    You’re so wise to see this, realize this, AND take action on this. So many people I know just get paralyzed and do nothing at all — which obviously isn’t helpful!

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  8. Stephanie

    05/24/2019

    Kathy from Canada expressed my thoughts exactly! Your blog is my absolute favorite. I love your posts related to the home (improvements, decluttering, organization) and your personal philosophy/attitude. So encouraging.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    thanks so much Stephanie!

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  9. Paulette

    05/24/2019

    This post is so encouraging and I love the family photo!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — thanks! I laugh every time I see that family photo — Clara and James are especially humorous to me

    [Reply]

  10. Kathy

    05/24/2019

    I am not kidding when I say that each morning I am so excited to get my cup of coffee and sit down and read your blog! I absolutely love reading it and am so happy that you share a piece of your world with us. I wish I had found your site years ago! I have adapted many tips and tricks that you have shared with us. Your family is adorable! God Bless !
    Hugs from Toronto , Canada.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh thanks so much Kathy! This makes me so happy!

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  11. Chris

    05/24/2019

    The trees lining your driveway are beautiful! What are they? They look similar to our flowering pear trees but ours are a different shape.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Chris — They ARE ornamental pear trees. I’m not sure of any other details regarding the variations of type. We DO love them though!

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