Just over a year ago, I finally convinced Nora to eat a sandwich for the very first time ever. At the time, Simon was almost 2, so he naturally wanted to eat what his big sister was eating!
Although this might sound like such a small thing to many of you, the fact that my children would finally eat a sandwich meant I no longer had to make them a hot lunch every single day!
The only stipulation was that I had to cut the crusts off the bread — a relatively small price to pay in my opinion 🙂
I remember mentioning how happy I was for my kids to eat sandwiches, only to have someone respond by telling me that I was giving in to my kids by cutting the crusts off… and that sandwiches really weren’t very healthy anyway.
I shrugged off the rude comment because, hello — no more making hot lunches every single day!
Then last week, when I was cutting crusts off sandwiches for my kids, I remembered her comment and began thinking about the concept of “the next best”, and how cutting a tiny bit of crust off the edges of their bread is such a “non-issue” when I consider the fact that my kids wouldn’t even touch a sandwich if I didn’t cut the crusts off.
As I continued thinking about “the next best” I quickly realized that one of the reasons my life is simpler, less stressed, less chaotic, less busy, and less full is because there are SO MANY times when I choose “the next best” due to the fact that the supposed “best” choice is too much hassle or effort and doesn’t make sense for my stage in life.
- We eat some processed foods because I will not be a slave to my kitchen and spend every spare moment making every single ingredient and food my family eats completely from scratch — it’s just not a priority for me. If I didn’t allow myself some processed foods, I KNOW I would resort to fast food and take-out much more, and I have a feeling eating some processed foods is still healthier and more nutritious than eating fast food day after day.
- We let our kids watch some TV because it’s one of the only times they are all somewhat still and quiet. My kids also play outside for hours and hours every week, they do crafts, they read books, they play independently, and (in my opinion) they are very well-rounded little people, who just so happen to love watching their afternoon “shows” with a snack!
- I eat gummy prenatal vitamins because I throw up any time I try to swallow the gross-smelling free vitamins from the pharmacy. Yes, the gummy vitamins have more sugar in them… but I’ll take a little sugar if it means not gagging and throwing up every single day for months and months. And I’m sure the gummies are better than not taking anything at all.
- I put sunscreen on my kids… and I don’t always care if it’s completely mineral based or not. In fact, Nora is now old enough that she requests the sunscreen that “rubs in better and doesn’t stay all white”. Yes, we try to stay in the shade and wear protective clothing most of the time… but for days when we’ll be in the sun a lot, I’m certain a little non-mineral sunscreen is a better option than letting my kids fry in the sun.
- I use non-stick pans almost all the time, even though they apparently cause cancer. I absolutely hate scrubbing stuck-on food… and the non-stick pans we have are amazing! Absolutely no scrubbing required for sparkling clean pans, and since Dave and I both dislike washing dishes, the non-stick pans are definitley the “next best” choice for us!
- I use floss sticks — even though I know they are not quite as thorough as using strings of floss. However, I also know that I would never even consider flossing if I had to jam my hands into my mouth with a little string of floss. The fact that I now floss every day with a floss stick is certainly a better choice than not flossing at all.
I could go on and on with examples from my own life — but I believe I’ve made my point.
There are SO many times in life when we can obsess, agonize, research, and question what the absolute “best” options or choices are… only to realize the “best” is too much effort, too time consuming, too expensive, or just too difficult to fit into our current stage of life.
We can then drive ourselves crazy by continually pushing to make the “best” option work, we can let ourselves feel guilty for not doing what we felt was the “best” option, OR we can simply accept that “the next best choice” is often not all that bad and a much better fit for our current goals and priorities.
It might not be easy for some (especially those with perfectionistic tendencies) but I promise your life will be easier and less stressful if you allow yourself the next best choice every now and then!
So you see, cutting the crust off my kids’ sandwiches a couple times a week has saved me a full year of arguing with them over how close they need to eat to the crust, it has saved me countless hours making hot lunches, it has expanded their food selection, it has made it easier to go on picnics or eat out in the backyard, and it gets them excited about the special lunch times when they “get” to have a sandwich.
Maybe crustless sandwiches aren’t the “best”, healthiest, or most nutritious lunch option around; but in my situation, I would definiteliy say they are“the next best” choice for me — I don’t feel guilty about that in any way!