the lazy gal’s guide : a few mantras

Yep. We were overdue. It was time. Here we go!Recently, a sweet reader named Aubrey wrote :

First of all, I adore this series and your honesty. I have read every post in this series MANY times. MANY! I have talked about it to anyone who will listen.

Second of all, I need help. I cannot seem to do it. I look around my house and all I see is clutter and chaos. We moved into a bigger house thinking we needed it with three kids – and boy were we wrong. More house, more stuff. This house causes me a lot of stress. To the point I feel like I am not appreciating anything lately. I NEED HELP! Where do I start? How do I overcome the crappy fact that when I do get a room in order it is NOT within HOURS?!

I need simplicity. I needed it yesterday. Any honest advice?

Simplicity seems like an unattainable goal right now. Yet I know what I could actually accomplish and what a happier person I would be. I am off to read this series – again! I hope to hear back from you!




Last night, in an effort to attain some sense of relaxed normalcy, I tried my best to let it go. We decided to grill out, cook s’mores and rest. And when I came back inside, bathed the kids (somewhat) cleaned the mess in the kitchen, and got them down for bed, I realized how stressed out I was. I usually stay up late and work. But Emerson’s room is a construction zone. So the rest of the house is a construction zone. And I was freaking out over the clutter. We have so much to sort for the yard sale… I was suddenly on this anxiety-driven downward spiral of a tirade about everything that was wrong with our home.

Jamin looked at me with wise words and said: ‘We can’t live in a magazine. No one does. Chillax.’

Okay. He really said relax. But I thought chillax was better.

So I went to bed at 9:30 instead, and today things look much better.



Parenting. It’s hard. 

Why am I focusing on parenting? I thought we were talking about purging.

Maybe I sound like a broken record but I think it’s because we don’t listen to it enough. I don’t listen to it enough. We don’t give ourselves enough due credit for the daily ins and outs and difficulties of raising a child. Or multiple children. Caring for a family is a full time JOB.

It’s just hard. Really, really hard.

In the past six weeks alone we’ve had: Lasik surgery (yes, this was elective, more later- I couldn’t see) strep (a clean sweep, three times + Jamin) flu (yes, we had shots) and a massive gash in an ankle that required 4.5 hours at the local (after hours) Primed with a screaming five year old. This isn’t counting the tests, reports, homework, volunteer hours, activities, field trips, parties, social stuff and about anything else you can think of to throw in that just comes along with children. We both work. And they’re not nine-to-fiver kinda jobs. Oh and in the meantime, we need to focus on manners, dealing with the daily ins and outs like bullying and mean girls (yep, they start early, and, for the record, not my kids) and various rites of passages in the grand mantra that is parenthood. Have they memorized their bible verses yet? And don’t forget to feed them unprocessed foods and veggies! How’s Emerson’s cartwheel coming along? Also, let’s purge our house and make it simple and perfect.

Oh, and don’t blink. Because …You’re gonna miss this. {???!!!#$%&*@}

My 3.5 year old still craps his pants.

I love my life. But if I sound overwhelmed, it’s because I am. If I want to cry, I can call my mom, so I’m not sharing because I want to have a gripe fest on the www. I’m sharing this because I know I’m not alone. 



Raising a family is a process of finding balance. Sometimes, it can feel oh so ever elusive. No matter where you are in life, from newlyweds to that first baby, and beyond to even grandchildren, there’s a balance in what we do. Will we perfect it? Probably not. Maybe simplicity… the perfect ideal of it all IS unattainable right now. I picture myself trashing everything and living in an all white Danish minimalist house with two pieces of furniture. I know that’s just not going to happen. The survival mode stuff? This too shall pass. I just think it’s insanely important that we’re patient with ourselves in the meantime.

We’ve covered simple beginnings, motivation, the ins and outs of guilt and fear, and you can read the entire series here. This journey to simplicity is just that. A journey. And a hard one to tackle.

So the clutter? Right now, the clutter, for me, comes last. Should I be ashamed at my clutter? I should think not. I’ve already shown it to all of you, after all. I’m doing the very best that I can, right now. It goes through phases with when we can tackle it.

I feel like a lot of times we put the pressure on ourselves.

So here’s a few simple, attainable ideas I’m still sticking with, no, clinging to with this phase I’m in right now. Because it’s all I can do.

Make these your mantras. 

1. Try to stick to what goes in, must come out.

I’m not always good at this but even if it means once a week, grabbing a trash bag and heading through the house, until you feel free again, just do it. Purge it. Trash it. and don’t look back. Aint nobody got time for that? Then start monthly. You’ll feel better. Easter alone nearly killed us, and I find our valiant efforts from our new year being swallowed whole by more stuff. But I’m gradually whittling away again until I feel better. And that brings me to…


2. Let go of perfection.

Or our perfect ideals, anyway. We get frustrated when we peruse Pinterest a little too much, don’t we? I feel like sometimes, we set the bar a little too high for ourselves, and forget to cherish the moment. Jamin and I toe the line between presenting pretty spaces, and reminding you all of the reality behind those pretty photos. We’re raising a family. I can assure you, our home looks nothing short of chaotic right now, and that’s what it is this week. Maybe for a few more. This is more than okay. It has to be, or I will lose all of my hair.


3. Just keep swimming.



It’s not January anymore so it’s hard to keep that motivation. But this is a lifestyle change and a process of finding balance, not a one-and-done kick. Finish the purging, as you can, first. It will happen in spurts because you have to live your life. Remember that’s okay. You will have to redo some things until you figure out what works. Until you establish systems. I think the key for us, we’re slowly discovering, is shelving. And baskets. That cuts down on the clutter, and we can easily see where everything is. We’re in the process of working on a few systems to make sure it stays that way. It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you’re still doing it. Just keep swimming.


Which brings me to…


4. A place for everything and everything in its place.

I say this to myself over and over again to keep myself in check. I say it when I can’t find something as a reminder that I need to try to do better. It’s true. I am a stuffer. Meaning I go through the house in a rampage trying to clean the surfaces and I don’t know what to do with ‘this magazine that the children might read’ or ‘that happy meal toy they might ask for later’. Sometimes you have to be ruthless, and if that means that things need to go to the recycle pile or trash bin, then so be it. Right now, I have a secret drawer where those things go, and they’re on a time-sensitive stay. No ask = trash a few days later. So It’s definitely a process with children, though I wish I could Harry Potter my way through this. When we establish better systems in our lives, we have places for them. The most important part of all this? It takes time to find a place for everything. And sometimes, I’m bad at this one. We try to avoid bringing it home in the first place.

5. Remember what really matters. 



Finally, while I want to instill great habits in my children and teach them that things just don’t matter, I also don’t want to lose sight of my ultimate goal. I may teach them just the opposite by obsessing over it. My ultimate goal is to be the best I can be in loving my children. And that doesn’t mean that I can constantly fret over what our home is NOT. I’m a perfectionist so I catch myself struggling with this.

In short, be nice to yourself.

You are enough. Not once you’re organized, not once you’ve bleached your teeth or once you’ve lost those last five pounds. You are enough, now. When we can accept this, if we can ever, we will be our best selves. And therefore the best parents we can be, won’t we?


Aubrey… that may have not been what you were looking for at all. I just know that I’m struggling right now and it helps to feel the camaraderie with others and knowing we’re not alone. It takes time and it’s a personal battle. I hope this helps, even if just a little.

Also, naps are always good. I love the rarity that is a nap.

Hang in there. ;}

Basic RGBIn the meantime, don’t forget about our Lazy Gal’s Gallery!  or this. We’d love to see you show off your progress in simplifying your lives… you’re inspiring and I can’t wait to see what some of you guys have been up to! Please share!

What has been your greatest struggle on this journey? Any advice you’ve found works for simplifying while balancing the craziness that is raising children? We’d love to hear. Spill it!

Have an inspired day, friends!

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Responses to the lazy gal’s guide : a few mantras

  1. Layla K says:

    I love this. So true! 😀

  2. April says:

    I think you all will feel a huge weight lift once the yard sale is over. I spent the past two weeks rounding up our yard sale items and temporarily storing them in open spaces throughout the home and I thought I would lose my mine. But finally once it was all hauled of the house and sold or donated….I felt so much better and I could see our house again. It’s make me really think about what items I want to bring back into our home and what things I want to change over time. I think you will feel so much better once all that temporary stuff is out of your home. I hope you have a successful yard sale!

  3. molly richardson says:

    Wow!! And, thank you!!! Sometimes we all just need permission or validation from someone else that we are still ok and that what’s important is raising our babes to be good people! You gave me that today, and I apperciate it!!

  4. Madonna Rheingans says:

    I just sighed a sigh of relief, empathy, momeraderie, joy after reading this totally totally totally relatable post. Thank you for the perfect perspective on being a great parent vs. being a magazine parent. It is what it is & what you make of it, no?! Cheers & Blessings to you!

  5. julia says:

    Oh my gosh have you been a fly on my wall?. These last 6 weeks have been crazy! Thanks for the reminder its ok not to be perfect!

  6. Jill K says:

    Thank you so much! Your blog is such a refreshing read – I love love love your ideas for home, but I REALLY appreciate your honesty and reflection on perfection and parenting. Reading this post, I feel like I just had a much-needed, long, deep breath. Not to be confused with a long, cool drink of… Maybe later. It’s still before 9am here! 😉

  7. Sara Iles says:

    Thank you. For your honesty and encouragement. And for the picture of your laundry room. :) I posted just this morning about the Lord’s goodness. Today, I am reminding myself that even when things are NUTS (house, church, grad school, babies. . .) The Lord is still so good.

  8. Alexandra says:

    AHMAHZINGGG!!! This is suuuuch a good post. Your description of parenting is so spot on, and your advice is so practical. Thank you.

  9. Sarita says:

    Deco uttering is like trying to eat an elephant bite at a time. I have no great words of wisdom ..sorry. Only you and your family knows what will work. Oh yes…I do say let your children help in this. Yes! Let them help. And oh yes! Do a bit of praying for calmness.

  10. This post is why adore you Ashley. Laugh out loud, keep it real, tells us what we need to hear without us preaching. My favorite, and the reminder I need a lot – we are enough right now. Thank you – I feel uplifted and inspired. Thank you sweet lady!

  11. Brittany says:

    Thank you for this! I’ve started our own ‘Great Purge’ and I’m slightly overwhelmed after one closet! I’m finishing up reading 7 and it has changed my thinking. Thank you for introducing me to it, and thank you for sharing :)

  12. Pam Ekker says:

    Ahh, yes this is my daily battle as well! Parenting is way hard and I feel I blow it every 30 minutes! My house always needs cleaning (and I like it clean so it is especially hard). I feel your pain. Glad to know I’m not the only one. :)

  13. Holly Mc says:

    I love the pics of your messy house. They actually help me more than the pics of the “everything in its place” house. Just feels so good to know I’m not the only one!

  14. Stephanie says:

    Awesome post. Just awesome.

  15. Tanya says:

    Thank you SO much for your words. This is those battle cry for weary parents and those of us who are recovering perfectionists. Peeing alone and a nap are high on my list for a great day now! Hugs to you :)

    xo, Tanya

  16. Lauren says:

    Thank you so much for this. Sooooo needed to read this today,and yesterday, and the day before that… Might just print it out, put it on the wall and read it every day! And it doesn’t hurt that you are absolutely hilarious. Laughed out loud several times. Made my day. Thank you.

  17. anne bradley says:

    thank you for writing that..I am new to blogs and have felt like such a loser..;i have nothing white..i have 4 boys and i work…i loved seeing the picture of the mess in your felt real and made me think if twice a year my house looks ok than that’s ok…..

  18. Rebekah T says:

    Wonderful post, Ashley! Exactly what this mama needed to hear…again. I think my family would agree that my motto is “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Makes life (and clean-up) so much easier if we all know where everything goes. It means my kids also know where their toys should be when they are looking for them…assuming they put them back where they belong. Thanks again for another great post in this wonderful series!

  19. Valarie N says:

    I found a site called that changed my life. It is all about cleaning, organizing, dropping the perfectionism, and feeling overwhelmed by it all. I highly recommend it to everyone I know. It sounds like it would be right up your alley too!

  20. Jaclyn Mariani says:

    Amen. Thank you for this. I laughed out loud several times and couldn’t relate more if I tried. I needed this read today. Thanks!

  21. Charron Ann says:

    Thank you, thank you!! I truly needed a smile! You are so freaking funny, it is like you are in my head saying the same thing… it ain’t a southern thang either… I am a native Wyomin’ite… and just got to the south as fast as I could ;-). (but still debating that on the 37 day of 100+ temps each summer…watching my plants die..) Anyhoo… love the mantras… think I might go after my office door with the “I am enough, NOW!” one… love that :-) Need to remind myself that when the world is against me and I am screaming at the wall for being in the way… been there.. i think last night.. 😉

  22. Maryann C says:

    Love it! I can’t tell you how much I look forward to reading your new blog posts. I actually get excited when I see a new one is out. Sad and pathetic, or awesome and cool? Who cares! Thank you so much for keeping it real. I wish every home dec blog posted pics of their REAL, lived-in rooms once in a while like you have. It would keep us all from suffering from I’ll-never-be-Martha-Stewart-Syndrome.

  23. Jennifer Savage says:

    At the risk of sounding redundant, AMEN SISTA!!! Had a mini meltdown yesterday myself :( There is definitely comfort in the camaraderie! Thanks for that today, sweetie;)

  24. Claire says:


  25. Jane says:

    When I was a young mom, me and all the other neighborhood moms hung out at the park together with our kids and of course, traded stories back and forth about messy rooms, toys everywhere, food and crumbs and trying to stay on top of it all. It’s an age old problem and it’s never going to change. I wish I had had the confidence back then to just say, It Is What It Is!! We can’t change the fact that kids are inherently messy, that there aren’t enough hours in the day, that our homes will never be perfect. We can only change how much it’s going to make us stress. Thankfully, there are tips and solutions out there to make our days easier, but we have to accept that we are doing the best we can and then get on with life!


  26. Erica says:

    Ashley, thank you for this post. I also re-read your ‘enough’ post … and wept. Your words were so beautifully written, so touching and so damn true. Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why do we let satan pick at us? It’s our Father in heaven that matters. Anyway, thank you. I posted the ‘You Are Enough’ sign with some of your poignant word (giving you credit, of course) on my Instagram page. I felt it was important to share.

  27. You just made my day with “my 3.5 year old still craps his pants.” Seriously made my day. Not that I wish that upon you, I just love raw, straight up, this is it verbage sometimes. Thanks for putting it all out there. I can relate. I’m doing a purge-o-rama and have started to hit a wall this week, but we’ll get there. have a good one…

  28. Rebecca says:

    Amazing post! And so true. We moved into a new home (and to a new city) approximately 4 months ago, leaving a familiar town and a century home that I finally got just right and loved. Now we live in a ’90’s build (my least favorite) and have to learn a new town. Did I mention we have a 9 month old? Life has been a little crazy lately and as I struggle to start a home business and decorate I am drowning in projects and forgetting about the most important thing, enjoying the moment. So thanks for reminding me that it is ok to not be perfect, even if I want to be.

  29. Amy says:

    I read your blog religiously and this one came at the most perfect time. My husband and I have our first date night planned in almost 6 months. Instead of picking out a cute outfit, I am running around house trying to clean up for the babysitter. Seriously I need to get a grip. She is getting paid to watch my kid, not critique my decor. It is what it is. Thanks to your post I am letting it all go and happily thinking about dining at a place that does not serve chicken tenders. Cheers!

  30. Claire says:

    I have 4 boys (ages 9, 6, 4 and 20 months) and two of them crapped in their pants at 3.5. While I blinked, they turned into 4 year olds who pooped on the toilet. It will happen, I promise. :)

  31. Jeanine says:

    Let me just say you made me smile and not in the way that I am laughing at you, no I just remember these days and they go by way too fast. And now here I am at 52 and wish I was in your shoes. Really I do. Want to trade? Some days I try to remember what it felt like to have my youngest son sitting in my lap and wrap my arms around his squirmy little stinky boy body. And when was that last time? I want to smell that stinky little boy again and tell him that I know he did not wash his hair. I get to see him tomorrow on his birthday. 24. He’s a man now and won’t sit on my lap. Well maybe he would, but his wife would think it strange. Relish these crazy insane days. Soak them up. Take a moment and know that they don’t last, the frenzy goes away, it’ll be okay, your children will be great, but these memories will slip away if you are not careful. Guard them with your life. Blessings my friend.

  32. Sharon says:

    I could have written this post. I think every mother could. Over these years in raising 5 children in a house less than 1,000 square feet most of those years….I found a little helper in storage tubs. I’d start feeling overwhelmed and couldn’t stand the everyday life of clutter…I’d go to Target or wherever and get 4 or 5 storage tubs. Once home I would then just start loading them up with everything that was in my path. Once the “stuff” was out of my way….I could breathe easier…set those stacked tubs aside…until I could go thru one box at a time and declutter. It takes time when you have little ones glued to your leg. If people stop in when you have storage tubs stacked up?? It looks like you’re working on a project….and you are! Sanity! Sure…I now have the largest collection of storage tubs….but I also usually have a smile!

  33. Alicia M. says:

    Reading this post has made me feel so much better. I am so overwhelmed with four kids, a dog that is only semi-housebroken, work, 47 loads of laundry to do and in-laws arriving tomorrow morning (!) that I have plopped down on the couch for a little dose of blog reading. I get so caught up in feeling like a failure when my house is not beautiful and clean. Thanks for the reminder that real life is messy for everyone. Love your blog!

  34. Chris says:

    I have a 7 week old. It’s our first. And these have been the hardest 7 weeks of my life. Giving birth once a week would be easier. No one told me it would be this hard. Not a soul. But I’m reserved to the idea that they can’t really. I’m exhausted, I don’t think the laundry has stopped, my work is piling up (I’m self employed) and to top it off the hubs is sick and I have quarantined him to our bedroom because the last thing I need is to get sick or have a sick infant.

    All this and all I want to do is go through the clothes in my closet and purge “the stuff”.

    It’s good to know I’m not alone. It’s good to know mothers do live through this stage. It’s also good to know people survive with multiple children. I’m way impressed. Thank you for your honesty and your support. :) Purge on and take naps.

  35. Bekah says:

    My almost 3.5 year olds still crap their pants, too. You are not alone, and thanks for letting me know I’m not either :).


  36. Aubrey says:

    Hi Ashley!
    Although not this is not exactly what I was expecting, it lends a new perspective… And a much needed reassurance that I will get there. Right?! 😉
    Thanks for your encouragement. Keep these posts coming. Please!

  37. Oh my, I NEEDED this tonight! Than you for your honesty. It feels like you just verbalized the last 6 months of my life (6 years really)! I am right there with you!

  38. Erin says:

    I loved your paragraph about your last 6 weeks. Mine has been much the same, except add having baby #4, putting your house on the market and looking for a new one. I have found good communication between my husband and I has helped a lot. We’ve discussed on a few occasions what we really “need” as individuals and have done our best to help fulfill the basics we need to be happy. I think I have finally come to grips that it’s ok if my kids watch an extra show ’cause I’m changing the baby’s entire outfit for the 5th time that day. I’m not perfect, but I’m getting better at the “it is what it is”. I’m new to your blog and LOVE everything about it. Thanks for the candid honesty!!

  39. Thank you for sharing. My mother of the year moment was when my older kids came in from playing outside in the front of our house…”Mama, brother {my then 3 year old) is pooping in the neighbours driveway. Yea, parenting is not always what you expect it to be.

  40. Jeanne says:

    Ashley, I just read this today, even though it’s an older post. Been one of those weeks at work, and home, and this was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you for being so honest. We ARE too hard on ourselves as moms, wives, sisters, daughters, friends, etc. We feel guilty for things that men never think twice (or once) about. I am a mom of two girls, ages almost 6 and almost 3, with another girl due in mid-July. Right now, we are working on redoing my eldest daughter’s room so that her younger sister can move into it before the baby arrives. I am also a perfectionist and would love it to be done yesterday, but you’re right, it’s a process, a journey. And I AM enjoying it. I’ve done a few DIY projects which was extremely gratifying and I can’t wait to see it all come together. Patience is not a common word in my vocabulary lately. I just wanted to say THANK YOU again, for reminding me why I’m on this journey. To love my children, make sure they are healthy, happy and safe, and try and be present for all the little things with my family. My husband turned 40 in April and I’ll be joining him later this year in that decade. Lots happening, lots to celebrate. And hopefully a few naps sprinkled in for good measure.