In Praise Of Not Doing It All. At Least Not Right Away.

I should probably be weeding this garden right now

I should probably be weeding this garden right now

I’m a person who likes to do everything. All at once. Preferably simultaneously while also eating a snack. And this trait has served me pretty well these past six months, which for my family have been nothing short of a combined marathon, sprint, and biathlon (yes, that’s where you ski and then shoot a gun because obviously those two things go together).

Since Babywoods’ birth, we’ve been running nonstop. I’m not complaining, because everything we’re preoccupied with has been the absolute fulfillment of our dreams: having a baby, purchasing and moving to our homestead, renting out our Cambridge house, and creating a successful freelancing business for me.

Yes, it is all awesome and yes, it is all everything I ever dreamed of; but in total honestly, I’m exhausted right now. I’ve been feeling lethargic and out of sorts for a few days and earlier this week during our customary evening hike through our woods (which doubles as our chance to check our mailbox), Mr. FW gently pointed out that I need to slow down. He reminded me that the pace we’ve been operating at is unsustainable, although I continue trying (in vain) to sustain. I’m a badly recovering perfectionist who just had a relapse.

Before Our Move: Epic Hustle

Babywoods loving her first solid food: avocado!

Babywoods loving her first solid food: avocado!

While still in Cambridge, my days were populated with packing up the house, coordinating logistics for our rental/home repairs/move/new house/the purchase of our cars (so much paperwork, people!), writing, going to yoga, and–of course–full-time care of Babywoods. Plus all the standard household maintenance rituals: laundry, cleaning, eating chips at inappropriate times of the day, grocery shopping, blah, blah, blah.

But we told ourselves we could do it because it was for a short period of time: it was only until we moved. And, it’s entirely true that you can push yourself to do just about anything, but the key is for a short period of time. Not forever.

Now that we’re settled in Vermont, we’re suddenly surrounded with both the majesty and also the needs of our property. The other day as I scurried between baking bread, meeting a freelance deadline, harvesting rhubarb, doing laundry, and feeding Babywoods solid food for the first time (so cute! avocado everywhere! she loved it!), I was overcome with exhaustion. I felt weary–and not just because our daughter still wakes up every night at 4am to eat. No, what I felt was a profound, deep fatigue. And so, I’ve realized that I can’t–and shouldn’t–try to do it all at once.

One of my rhubarb creations: compote! To be given as gifts I think!

One of my rhubarb creations: compote to be given as gifts.

Yes, I want to create a fabulous permaculture homestead where animals and plants frolic in harmony and yes, I want to learn how to use our chainsaw (Mr. FW recently took a two-day logging instruction course, so he’s our de-facto expert), and yes I want to can and otherwise preserve our massive crop of rhubarb, and yes I want to learn the names of every piece of flora on our property, and yes I want to weed our flower beds and restore them to their former glory, and yes I want to develop an amazing home yoga practice, and yes I want to volunteer in our community/church, and yes I want to plant a tremendous vegetable garden, and yes I want be the best writer, wife, and mommy I can be.

But I can’t do it all today. Or even all this year. Or perhaps ever. And that, my friends, is OK.

An Endless List

My latest haul: celery, flowers, asparagus, green garlic, and of course rhubarb!

My latest haul: celery, flowers, asparagus, green garlic, and of course rhubarb!

Something interesting I’m learning about living on so much land is that our projects, and our to-do’s, will never actually be finished. Rather, life out here is an ongoing, revolving experience of opportunity: there will always be weeds to pull, culverts to repair (we seem to have about 9 million culverts on our property), dead trees to bring down, firewood to spilt, bread to bake, and rhubarb begging to have something done with it (sidenote: if anyone nearby would like some rhubarb, come on over! seriously. like soon.). And that’s a beautiful thing. This is a life of wonder and adventure that we’ve chosen; not a life of clean, perfect, completed boxes of organized work.

Our rhubarb row (it's somehow even more than it appears... )

Our rhubarb row (it’s somehow even larger than it appears… )

This is not a life where you make a list in the morning and mechanically tick down it. This is a life beholden to the whims of nature, to the whims of our baby, and to our own physical capabilities. It’s the life we want and the life we chose. Adjusting to this entirely new mode of existence is fascinating for me since I’m obsessed with how people live.

We all choose how we allocate the hours in our day and I’ve never before felt so fulfilled by how I’m able to control my daily output. I don’t have to sit through meetings, or slog through work I find tedious–what I do is arguably more freeing, but also more challenging. I have to self-regulate and create “off” hours, which is tough since I work from home and my home(stead) is also my work.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’ve essentially undergone a total life transformation these past six months: I became a parent, I changed careers, I moved states, and I radically altered my lifestyle from ultra-urban to super-rural. I went from having apartment buildings as neighbors to having cows as neighbors. I’m recognizing that’s kind of a lot to process and kind of a lot to become proficient at all at once. I’ve had a few memorable slip-ups and I know there’ll be plenty more as we get our farm legs underneath us.

Rather than feel frustration over our rank inability to work the land to the extent we wish we could, we’re choosing to instead feel immensely grateful to be where we are. To profess profound thankfulness for the frugality, the luck, the everything that’s brought us here. We are so fortunate and I never want to forget that.

Taking Actual Break: Putting Actual Feet Up

Yes this girl really likes food!

This girl really likes food!

Mr. FW was out of town on business for three days this week, which thrust me into a wholly new experience: single parenting and solo homestead management. I’ve never done either before, so it was quite a learning curve. There were a few tears (both mine and Babywoods’) and I definitely ate chips for one meal, but we all survived and I learned that I’m rather more resilient and capable than I often give myself credit for.

Furthermore, I discovered yet another instance of the miraculous serendipity and generosity that exists out here in our small town: I stumbled upon a community lunch at our town hall. Babywoods and I were at the local library for storytime and we were invited to the lunch. I almost cried. My incredibly thoughtful new neighbors held Babywoods and entertained her while I ate a wonderful meal in the company of new friends. I’m overcome with how friendly and welcoming our new community is and I can’t wait to start giving back and repaying the kindness we’ve been treated to.

The other night, I was so wiped out after dashing around keeping things humming all day long that I did something I rarely do. After I put Babywoods to bed, I practiced yoga for a bit (ok that’s not rare), then I poured myself a glass of lovely boxed wine (ok admittedly that’s also not rare… ), and then? I watched TV by myself.

Another rhubarb creation: pie!

Another rhubarb creation: pie. Yum.

Sounds ridiculous, but I can’t remember the last time I did that–probably sometime before Babywoods was born. I was emotionally drained after my few days of single parenting (I have MASSIVE respect for full-time single parents; I truly don’t know how you do it) and I needed to decompress.

Normally, I’d push myself to continue accomplishing things, but I looked at my rhubarb and I looked at my unclean bathrooms and I declared “nope! mommy’s headed to the couch.” And what a good decision that was. There needs to be space in my life for vegging out sometimes. I need to allow myself to let go lest I become an interminable stress case. Sidenote: I watched an episode of PBS’s Home Fires (produced by the terrific WGBH in Boston) and it was superb! 

Stop And Do What You Want To Do

My amazing new writing office/yoga studio

My amazing new writing office/yoga studio

There is, at present moment, baby spit-up on both my foot and the floor. There’s a stack of rhubarb on the counter waiting to be chopped, and I can practically hear the weeds growing in the garden. There’s a looming pile of partially unpacked detritus waiting to be organized in our basement, not a single thing is hung up on our walls (not even the key rack), and we need to install a new toilet upstairs. But instead of dealing with those pressing items, I’m doing what I want to do: I’m writing.

I could easily never write again for how many things I have to do in a day, but that’s a decision I’m unwilling to make because I love to write. It makes me happy and it keeps me sane. Far too often, we shunt aside the very thing that brings us the most happiness because we deem it “unworthy” of our time. We consider it a luxury and not a requirement. So here’s my challenge to you: what is it that brings you joy? That fills you with excitement? And do you do that thing every day? Maybe it’s playing an instrument, or creating art, or playing with your dog–whatever it is, why aren’t you doing it more often?

Giving myself the permission to not accomplish everything in this first year here on the homestead is important. Yes, we could continue with our sprint-marathon lifestyle and probably get everything done, but at a certain point, I have to take stock of when I’m going to start living.

Mr. FW and I always held the homestead out as the time when we’d do just that: live. And so, I’ve got to take my own advice and enjoy my surroundings, enjoy my daughter, and let go of the millions of pressing tasks. To relish one’s daily existence is something I think we all strive for. When we stop spending money in damaging ways, we can free ourselves financially. And when we stop exerting ourselves towards futile ends (like keeping the kitchen floor clean all the time), we can then free ourselves creatively. And when we forgive ourselves for not quite doing everything we set out to, we can then free ourselves mentally and emotionally. And then, perhaps we are indeed free to truly live.

What do you want to do more of with your time? How do you fit relaxation and fulfillment into your schedule?

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126 Responses

  1. Susan says:

    Wonderful post! You might consider strategically hiring some help to do certain things like weeding the garden. School will be out soon and I am sure there might be some local teens who are savvy about gardens and who would like to earn some spending money. I was one of those teens years ago and I always appreciated both the cash and the opportunity to help someone. I work full time, am married, our son is home from college, and in a fit of madness I signed up for two online graduate courses in systems engineering. So not everything gets done, but we triage what we need to do and what can wait and it’s okay. I like to cook so that is an outlet I do every day. And I read select blogs for ideas of how to live better and focus on what is really important…I really appreciate your writing as it puts thing in perspective. I am so glad you are taking time to take care of you as that is so important both for you, your family, and the people you influence every day! Blessings! Susan

    • Nick says:

      I second Susan’s idea about involving local youth! It’s a great way to get them involved, let them earn a little pocket money, and make friends in the neighborhood. I’m not sure of the best way to advertise a requested service like this, but I think it can work. I imagine it will also satiate some of those perfectionist urges.

    • Kim says:

      That’s also a good way to scout out future babysitters 🙂

  2. Raina says:

    I once read that sometimes the “urgent” (sticky floor) tends to drown out the “important” (exercise, playing with your kids, self care, ect). There will always be urgent things yelling at us, but the important ones whisper. Those are things that will still matter in ten years. I’m still learning and I love to read how you are too! Thank you! (And I wanted to cry about the community lunch invite too. So sweet).

  3. Elle says:

    Loved this; I feel the same way ! We moved a few months ago and I also want to go out there and build things up in the property (watching and learning from an NC State permaculture course that was posted online).

    It’s exciting and I’m eager, but it’s draining, especially with two little ones.

    I’ve changed my writing schedule to accommodate things and give myself some breathing room. Part of the problem is that my projects do deal with my personal finance and home sites, but with I usually don’t have the energy to write after tackling a big one. I’m learning to pace myself better.

  4. Mrs. CTC says:

    Yeah, what’s the deal with skiing and shooting? I don’t see the logic, it’s a good analogy though.

    You post is food for thought. I always do ten things at the same time as well. Most of the time that serves me well, it keeps me focused (although that may sound strange). Sometimes however, our house looks like a raid did take place. It’s the downside of wanting to do everything in life: so much to do, so little time.

    What I love to do is to run, practive yoga and read. I hardly do any of these things currently, so thanks for the reminder!

    Oh and babywoods keeps getting cuter every day, doesn’t she?

  5. Phew. Your family has made quite a few major changes recently. Just reading this post made me tired. I think an evening of TV watching was much needed. You guys are killing it. Just don’t kill yourselves in the process 😉

  6. NOREEN says:

    I retired from work on Tuesday, 5/31/2016. Fifty one years of working behind me! I raised twin boys by myself and owned/and maintained my own house. Your post was refreshing. I have tons of things I want to do but have been mostly sitting in front of the television, planting flowers, and shopping. It seems that I need to just veg for a bit. I remind myself that I don’t have to cram everything into the day because there will be many next days without a work deadline looming above. I too like to accomplish at least one fairly significant thing every day but I also believe in listening to my body, and my body is telling me to chill. I’m sure I will be revitalized once the adjustment to retirement is complete. You have a very good perspective on life and what’s important. I think it’s great that you are so balanced and centered at such a young age. Some people never get there…

    • Marie-Josée McDonald says:

      I truly admire you for raising your twins and owning and up keeping your own home. Bravo!

  7. Liam Goble says:

    This post is awesome. It sounds much like the transition my wife went through after having our daughter, especially the perfectionist to “it’ll get done sometime” and the resulting harmony(?) of life with a new person in the house. The homestead sounds awesome. If you haven’t found him yet, Ben Hewitt writes out of the Northeast Kingdom about life on the homestead. He’s worth the read.

  8. Faith Shook says:

    you sound like u got your hands full. Just want to say stay strong and positive and ALWAYS take a little time for yourself. You deserve it and need it so you can carry on. How is frugal hound doing??? Take care and enjoy your new home. love, faith

  9. Bethany says:

    Awesome post! I get up early to write–5:30-6:30 is my writing/coffee time…it’s a way for me to quietly and mindfully start the day. With three kids, it’s imperative! Plus it forces me to make other wise decisions…like go to bed early and organize my day so that I have time. If you’re interested, check out FlyLady. Her strategies have been really helpful to me for keeping my house efficiently running in the least amount of time possible…which gives me time for other things. Every afternoon from 1-3 while my two year old naps and my preschooler has quiet time, I read and rest. It gives me energy to get through the evening of dinner, homework help, and bath/bedtime. It’s important to take breaks to recharge! If I skip any of these things, my day totally falls apart at the seams. Our country doesn’t put enough emphasis on the importance of rest!

    • carissa says:

      I love how you have scheduled rest/hobby time for yourself throughout the day. So important, but so few of us actually do it!!

  10. I seriously thought this was a break up post- I thought you were going to say you were going to take a break from blogging. I’m so glad you didn’t! Wonderful, wise words as always!

  11. This is one your best posts. No one can get it all done although we all try. I learned when my sons were little that playing with them was the most important thing, followed my meals, dishes, and laundry. When they napped, I cleaned. Whatever didn’t get done during nap time didn’t get done. When they went to bed at night, it was time to veg out with Hubby. By doing a little every day, the house stays pretty presentable. Projects outside were for weekends where we could share watching the boys.

    Once Estelle starts crawling and walking, you will be chasing her. You will have toys everywhere. That’s okay. I only picked them up once a day before bedtime and had the kids help.

    You will find what works for you and get the hang of it. We all do. You are a wonderful wife and mother. Estelle is beautiful and always looks so happy.

    BTW, did she feed herself?
    You will never get it all done and that is okay.Take the time to smell the flowers. Life is short.

  12. I love this. Beautifully written. Thanks for the reminder. I hope you remember to keep reminding yourself too.

    And if I was closer, I’d totally stop by for some rhubarb. I picked a whole bundle from my parent’s backyard 2 weeks and then like a dope, I forgot it. I’ve had a hankering ever since.

  13. I’m so glad you’ve come to this realization. We feel like there is always more to be done on our tiny ‘burbstead, as we call it, so I can’t imagine how pressing things would feel on a larger property. It helps to view it with gratitude for all the wonderful ways you could spend your time now. I know that helps me, especially when I’m tempted to over-schedule.

  14. Debbi says:

    The avocado pictures brought me back to that day with my second child (the first was positive solid food was my attempt to poison her and managed to scream continuously with her mouth clamped shut). The happy grin and layer of avocado everywhere was so familiar. Isn’t it great that something so healthy is both eminently machine washable and good for the dogs as well? A big win all the way around. Give yourself a hug and congratulate yourself for figuring out that you were pushing too hard before your body had a complete breakdown. Take care.

  15. Karen says:

    I always enjoy reading your posts. You write from your heart and I appreciate that! So glad you are slowing down and enjoying your new life!

  16. You deserve a break! You folks have definitely gone through a lot of significant life changes recently, time to stop and settle in a bit.

    Oh, btw, I love me some rhubarb! Rhubarb bars, rhubarb pie, rhubarb cake, rhubarb fresh from the garden…anything rhubarb and I’m all in. So…if you could pack that up and send me a slice that’d be great 🙂 !

  17. Alison R. says:

    I like you aim for perfection but, since our 3 grandchildren (8, 5 and 17 mo.) came to live with us a little over a year ago some things are on a “when I get to it I get to it” list. I am now fine with this. It took a little coaxing from my hubs but I feel better. I have also decided that when you are truly tired in the evening, sleep is a magical thing! Hang in there, you will adjust to the new normal.
    YES! Single parents deserve an award!!!!
    Happy Summer!

  18. My homestead task list often feels like an ER nurse doing triage, and I run just a small urban homestead plus starting a sub-1/4 acre mini farm about 45 minutes away. Every night this week I’ve reached a point where I just said ‘stop, I’m done’, I took a shower, then brought a chair over and kept our new rabbits company.

    A permaculture concept that may help you are the zones. Focus as much as possible this year on zones 1 and 2.

    Rhubarb is awesome. If you’ve got freezer space it freezes really well. Chop it up, spread it out on a baking sheet and freeze for at least an hour, then transfer to a freezer bag. Come dead of winter you’ll enjoy having a small dessert or canning project that brings back the taste of early summer.

    Nice looking plants, btw. Mine are divisions I’ve taken from family members so they’re still pretty small and getting established. Need to give them some rabbit poop.

    Another option is selling it. Around here it goes for $4/lb.

  19. Pat Pickett says:

    What a great article! I agree with Susan – if you can get some help for some of the outdoor chores – do it. I love to mow – but I’ve let it go (a little too long) because I really needed to weave and like you, I could hear the weeds grow and the grass jump to new heights. But, I learned a long time ago – if I’m not re-fueled…I’m not good for anyone. The church I serve deserves the best I can give them…so art gives to me so I can give back. Course, the farm is a gift, too, (still not sure what the difference is between the farm and homesteading) but weeding and some of the other chores are like dusting – always there. Have one thing to think about – as you live there longer I know you’re going to discover the rhythm of the seasons in a new way. Each one is a surprise with new discovery. There is a time when nature slows down, too. A wonderful lesson for all of us.

  20. Erin says:

    I’m so grateful that you are choosing to prioritize writing, as you are such a gifted writer and I love reading every word!!! Your life sounds absolutely idyllic, dirty floors and all.

  21. Julie says:

    I am a compulsive list-maker who is trying hard to resist the urge to get everything done so that I can cross things off… Your post is a good reminder that we should not wait for the list to be completed to be happy – with two full-time jobs, 2 kids, a house and eight tenants, I have to get real and just be happy with what we can accomplish! Love your blog.

  22. Such a wonderful post and important lesson. I’ve struggled with this too, balancing a full-time job, multiple side hustles, trying to start a website, and friends and family. This has really inspired me to stop and take some time off. Hopefully with wine, tv and yoga.

  23. Vivian Lake says:

    I love this post! It’s absolutely essential to adjust expectations when you have a lot going on — you’ve learned this sooner rather than later. Definitely take time to enjoy your beautiful little one and all you’ve accomplished.

  24. Stacey says:

    I grew up on a farm, so I can completely relate to the endless opportunities for work. My friends now are constantly asking how I have the energy to do what I do, but to me, I’m keeping a slower pace than what I grew up with. It’s hard to wrap your head around, but you’re getting there. I promise. I can hear it in your writing. Motherhood is enough to throw you for a loop, add in the rest and you need some extra downtime and TLC to really adjust.

  25. Leah says:

    Great post! What hit me the hardest was the revelation that life is an ongoing, revolving experience of opportunity and that there will always be something to do. Our house is semi-rural and there is a never ending list of to-dos. And the weeds…….omg, the weeds……. But you’re right, we shouldn’t be ticking down the list, we should be going with the flow and enjoying each day, accomplishing what we can and letting go of what we can’t. I’m going to refer back to this this weekend as our to-do list grows!

  26. Dieter Beutel says:

    Diddo to what Susan said about your blog as far as putting things into perspective… you definitely have a knack for doing. Have been looking forward to getting your new posts as they come out! Also – I just love your new property in Vermont. Thanks for doing this and thank you for sharing! Best regards, Dieter

  27. Oh dear, this post hit home for me big time. I’ve been a single mom of two for almost nine years now. just this week, I spent not one but two evenings on the couch watching movies (a rarity for me also). Sidenote: Why didnt I remember the boxed wine in my frig.?

    I only have 1.5 acres not the huge amount you have, but I’m here to tell you, it STILL never all gets done. While I’m not a perfectionist, it’s been tough to learn I can’t do it all, and it’s okay. I have had to decide which things I really enjoy and which I don’t. What is truly necessary and what do I just feel I “should” do? One thing I’ve let go of is gardening. I went from having a huge garden, to a small raised bed, and this year I didn’t plant a single thing. For me, the time required to maintain (lots) + the amount of food produced my kids will actually eat (small) + my enjoyment of the weeding, watering, etc (miniscule) = No garden this year. It’s okay for this to be one frugal living activity I choose not to partake in. I don’t have to do everything. If I decide I want to do it next year, I can. (Doubtful)

    You are going through HUGE adjustments right now. It is absolutely essential that you take care of yourself. Know that there is probably not a single thing on your to do list involving the homestead, at least, that can not wait. The dead trees aren’t going anywhere. The weeds will die in the winter and return in the spring whether you pulled them or not. Relax. Breathe. Play with Babywoods. Those are the things that can’t wait until tomorrow.

  28. Bonnie says:

    Wonderful plan you have set upon for mental peace – on both fronts – to be accomplishing what you want in moderation while also taking the time to appreciate what you’re able to accomplish. I have a steno pad with my To Do listing that is the non-routine items … and it never seems to end. But I decided I want to appreciate what I’m able to do and take peace in that, rather than the lines and pages of undone items. What’s the priority will rise to the surface, or what I need to do (for my mental peace or my soul) will also get done. But maybe learn to make the best savory cheese crackers might not get ticked off this summer…or autumn or winter. I, too, enjoy writing – the actual handwriting of letters. I’d let that go when my parents passed away recently … there is no joy in getting the mail anymore without any anticipation of a letter from my mom. But in talking with my brother, he loves handwritten things as well, so we’re aiming to not share all on the phone or via email, but to save some items and take the time to sit and jot those thoughts/experiences out.

    Lately, what brings me joy has been being more present when interacting with our pets. Instead of mindlessly petting or stroking one while doing something else, it’s to look in their eyes and pet/scratch them and really let them feel they are 100% in my presence then. And it calms my anxious mind as well. So while today I am on vacation from work after a very busy, intense spring, I’m looking forward to doing a couple of “need to” items, and then trying my hand at a rough mosaic on a pet memorial stone that is long overdue.

    A new reader here – found your blog last week and we’re working to a not-so-early retirement, yet the idea of it still brings us excitement.

  29. I know just what you mean. And as you get older and have less energy, you really have to pick and choose and acknowledge that—gasp!—you can’t do it all. I have become a huge fan of “good enough,” and I most usually apply it to housework 😉 As long as the house looks relatively decent, then that’s good enough. I save “very good” for the few things I want to master. In my case, writing and photography. A bit of advice: You don’t have to eat every bit of that prolific rhubarb. (Boy, the previous owner sure liked rhubarb!) It will come up again next year. And never, ever begrudge yourself some well-earned couch time, whether it’s to read or watch TV. Everyone needs a break, like everyday.

  30. Mitch says:

    You left out something: Every day, prioritize time to do nothing, actively do nothing. You remind me of the saying: You can do anything, but not everything at the same time.

  31. Kathy says:

    I don’t have any children but I am always in awe of anyone who does. As in you must have super hero powers. I do have a large garden of my creation and yes, it is full of weeds. Gardening teaches me patience, resilience, discipline, magic, faith, religion, life lessons and I could go on and on … that rhubarb looks fantastic (and yes, mine is still out in the garden growing bitter). My favorite rhubarb recipe is Heidi Swanson’s rhubarb crumble – I should pause and make it! Thank you.

  32. Brenda Weitendorf says:

    I have just recently discovered your wonderful blog and primarily it resonated with me, as I am embarking on a life of simplicity and the frugal tips were very helpful. The reason for this is that I, too, am buying a tiny little piece of land that I plan on turning into a Permaculture homestead. Imagine my delight when I discovered that you and Mr. Frugalwoods were doing the same, but on a massive scale! So yes, do step back and give yourself some breathing space and time to reflect on just living. You have taken on an enormous stewardship of a large piece of the earth, but you have a lifetime to care for it. As you said, it’s a process and you will all evolve together. I, on the other hand, am eight years from retirement and yet to plant my first fruit trees. Congratulations to you all and take the time to relax and enjoy it!

  33. Justin says:

    You’ve got a lot on your plate right now! 🙂

    I try not to be too busy. Maybe I’m a slacker. But that’s why I chose to retire early – to reclaim most of my schedule for leisure activities (and shepherding these three kids through life).

    Even without a job, it’s always a challenge to balance my different pursuits or spheres of life – the blog, the wife, the kids, the finances, volunteering, the house and yard. Netflix is usually how I end the evening after the kids are in bed. Pure leisure time. 🙂

  34. It wasn’t until I read this that I realized I, too, have a perfection problem. Trying to keep up the constant pace of being busy and being perfect can ruin you. Thank you for encouraging people to do what they WANT to do in the moment, and not based off of a to-do list. I’ll try to be better. 🙂

  35. Nancy Bean says:

    You have read Scott and Helen Nearing’s Living the Good Life, right? If not, GET IT. They did and said essentially what you are learning, and in a similar location if not a similar time. You have time. Savor it as you use it! Wonderful post, as yours always are!

  36. Bob. Frugal+as+dirt. says:

    For those of us old enough to have reinvented our lives a time or two, (or three) it’s never without deep introspection on how to re-prioritize daily life. How lucky I feel to have that choice.

  37. Money Beagle says:

    Sometimes you need to take a step back from it all. You’ll find that when you step back in, you’ll make up the difference and be more productive moving forward.

  38. Laura Gail says:

    The invitation to community lunch made my eyes well up. I have two little boys and I’m in my 3rd trimester with our baby girl. I know how much those simple things can mean to a tired mama. Yesterday, my neighbor babysat and fed my boys lunch while I got a mani and pedi. Her gesture meant so much to me. While school is out and the heat is on in Alabama, I was feeling so run down myself. It’s a constant adjustment with little ones in our lives but it sounds like you are wrapping your brain around all of it. It is a lot of change at once, which can be good, but change nonetheless. When I hit those exhaustion moments, I ask hubs to pick up a redbox and I drink a cup of dark chocolate cocoa. I just do a 1/2 cup but this is my fav recipe: 1/2 cup of 2% milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon of Hershey’s dark cocoa, pinch of kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon or less of vanilla extract. Microwave for a minute and stir with a fork to break up the cocoa. It’s so delicious, simple and easy. Blessings on your family!

  39. Long time reader, first time commenter. You guys totally deserve it! I’ve been listening to Todd Tressiders podcast Financial Mentor and they talk a lot about the important balance of happiness. And really that’s what this whole financial independence things about anyways! The new place looks great and baby woods looks even better 🙂

  40. Mireille says:

    Wow, this post was so beautiful, it almost made me cry (at work!). I love how you say that it’s okay to take time for things that bring us joy, even if we consider them “unworthy”… And I really feel you about the rhubarb, and the weeds – we only have a couple of fruit trees + a small veggie garden and yet I also feel the need to do ALL OF IT, even when I’m past the point where it makes sense. Good luck figuring things out – you’re clearly on the right path.

  41. Isn’t the whole point of moving out to nature to realize that your land will be there long after you’re gone and to therefore recognize your place in the world? Sure, you’ve agreed to work together with the land for a short time to produce vegetables, pies and gardens, but it’s a temporary pact. Some day it won’t even be your land any more!


    The rain to the wind said,
    ‘You push and I’ll pelt.’
    They so smote the garden bed
    That the flowers actually knelt,
    And lay lodged–though not dead.
    I know how the flowers felt.

    – Robert Frost

  42. Cynthia says:

    Good for you! It’s important to recharge your batteries. What good is powering through everything if you don’t have time to enjoy it because you are already on to the next thing? That old cliche about stopping to smell the roses really is timeless good advice.

    Your health is more important than ticking off boxes on a to-do list. I am so glad you listened to your body and took a rest. That feeling of fatigue and to-the-bone weariness does not bode well for one’s immune system. I hope everyone who reads your post will follow your example if they have been feeling that way.

  43. Cindi M says:

    You are so wise to realize this now. Homestead life has its own rhythm and it takes a while to find your groove. I agree with hiring a local teen to do some of the big jobs like weeding — once you’re on top of those kinds of jobs, you won’t have to devote so much time to it — (Mulching is key).
    If you put a notice up at your church or on the community bulletin board that you had excess rhubarb, you would probably get lots of takers, make new friends and learn a bunch of new rhubarb recipes.
    And yes — freeze the stuff now and turn it into compote, jam, etc. in the winter when you don’t have quite so many demands. You can do this with a lot of garden produce.
    If you have a lot of trees that need to be cut, why not share the wealth? Offer firewood in exchange for help cutting and splitting your own. You might even find someone with a log splitter who will bring it over and help cut and split wood in exchange for half. We have done this before and it works out great for all parties involved.

  44. I’m right there with you! I just quit my job that I’ve had for nearly 8 years. I’m resisting my natural tendency to fill up my time and become just as busy, if not busier, than I was before! This came at just the right time. I’ve also been enjoying re-reading Your Money or Your Life. It’s affirming the decision to slow down and focus on things that align with my values and purpose. Sounds like writing does that for you! Keep at it!

  45. Caroline says:

    Remember your adage, luxurious frugality? Well, I think you are entirely correct that you do need to decompress and have a few spots of time every so often to just… sit. Staring, with your mouth hanging open. For yourself and then also for those you cherish, like Mr F and precious little Estelle. When a person is pushed past exhaustion and it becomes routine, they start to suffer from all kinds of things that are unfun and sometimes have long term implications for mental health. You do not deserve this and I hope in rereading all that you do in a given time frame, you will see that actually, you are past due for a break. Watching TV for a bit is a good one, a morning off or an afternoon off, or a long nap would also be ideal.

    And so… I am going to suggest to you that you hire in some help with the homestead, the outside bit at least, for a few months. You are not superwoman and Mr F is only one (skilled, hard working) person. Give yourself that luxury of a person, ideally someone local with good experience, possibly someone who could use a few dollars extra, and just get that person to help you. Ask at your church, put it on a community board, for – say – 3 hours, maybe twice a week. In years to come you will laugh because you’ll have it all under control and be so experienced, but for now, for your peace of mind and happiness, get some proper, experienced, meaningful help. You deserve it, it is NOT a waste of money and your life will be happier and more tranquil because of it.

    Love your writing, glad you enjoy doing it as much as you do!

  46. Ashley says:

    My husband and I talk about this often. We have a toddler and newborn. We moved into our house last year and have lots we want to do to it. We are somewhat new to our area and want to explore and meet more people. We want to volunteer. We want to do more and more and more! But this is a season of life that requires a little less of some things (big house changes, long outdoor activities) and more of other things (kid friendly hikes, more hanging around the house). We have many years left for the other things. In 5 years, our kids will be school age and things will be easier in certain ways. But now, now is the season of survival. Some weeks we buy bread even though I prefer to make it myself. Some weeks we take the car more, even though we like to bike. Some days I plop the toddler in front of the tv for an hour so I can get things done. It’s ok to readjust life and expectations to fit the needs of this time and it doesn’t mean it will have to stay that way forever.

  47. Leah says:

    This whole article really resonated with me, thank you! I even took a screen cap of a section to remind myself to slooooow down.

  48. SusanM says:

    So many big changes, so glad you took some time for you! When I mentioned to my mom that a coworker had a bumper crop of rhubarb, she had me bring it to the senior apartment complex she lived at and shared it with the others there. No matter how much I brought over, there was always someone happy to have it. I hope you can find others in your community to enjoy it too.

  49. Josh says:

    We hit the same realization in August of ’15. We had our first child almost a year ago now, broke ground on our new house at the same time & are building it in the evenings. Plus I left my job two months later & doing a couple different self-employment ventures. We had to give up the garden this year because of trying to do too much. One of the reasons we moved to the country is because of having a garden…maybe next year.

    My opinion is that the 24-hour day is a Catch-22. I wish there were more hours, but it’s nice to know that the fresh start will come again in the morning.

  50. Dani says:

    Out of curiousity, what is your plan for yoga going forward? Is there a yoga studio nearby? Do you plan to pay a monthly fee for an online yoga membership? YouTube?

  51. Misttan says:

    My grandma always said it’s not going anywhere and no one is going to do it for you so it will get done when it gets done.

  52. Marilyn says:

    Wonderful post! I too have always said that there would never be enough time to do everything I wanted to do. I’m retired now and have finally learned to let go (a little) so I can concentrate on sketching. It’s what makes me happy. So I finished baking bread at 10 p.m. in order to I devote my day to walking and sketching. I’ve packed a lunch and my art materials and I’m off to do what I love doing.
    Take care of yourself! As you can see by all of the comments, your posts are thought-provoking, honest, refreshing and very much appreciated. They always bring a smile to my face!

  53. Holly says:

    I am a single parent and it is tough. Glad you gave yourself a break. Definitly need to slow down and enjoy the journey. Your perennials will be there next year!!

  54. Natalie T. says:

    So good to read about life in the FWs household. Did Frugal Hound attempt to lick Babywoods’ avocado-smeared face? XD

    “How we live our days is, of course, how we live our lives.” – A. Dillard.

    Do less busy work to make room for the important work. And for maximum contentment, design your day with equal part productivity and pleasure.

    Perfection is also the enemy of the good (I think a certain wise person wrote this on a prior blog post ;)) So good enough is good enough. Good enough is good enough, Mrs. FWs!

  55. lena says:

    I’m so glad that you are finding balance in your life. That is key. I think I tried to do WAY too much when tiny eivy was born and I’m still burnt out from it (she’s 8 now!). The hardest part is getting over the judgements of myself. Always thinking that I should be doing something more.

    Keep it up!

  56. Congrats on your new home, new baby, and fulfillment of your dreams. You have accomplished amazing things and deserve a pat on the back (and a massage!).
    As for the rhubarb, you can dehydrate it and deal with it later. Here’s a brief tutorial if you haven’t done it before.
    Good luck! We’d love to have more friends and neighbors like you guys.

  57. tess says:

    teary eyed reading this, so true about putting off the things one loves,
    prioritizing the things ahead of people,
    weeds will still be there tomorrow, rhubarb will keep in the freezer

  58. Jessica says:

    I have a feeling you would like this blog:

  59. I’m exhausted just reading all that. Major props to you!

  60. Joanne says:

    I’ve just read your post with tears in my eyes recognising how much we all put sooooo much pressure on ourselves to be perfect and to ‘get everything done’. My boys are 14 and 12 now and I’d go back to those mad days when they were little in an instant (but only for an instant lol!) to tell me back then to just enjoy the time and not worry and whirl around trying to achieve everything, at once. Dust, weeds and frozen dinners once in a while doesn’t hurt anyone and talking of freezing wash, chop and bung that rhubarb into ziplock bags then straight into your lovely freezer where it can wait ages until you’ve got the time to make it into jam or chutney – cold autumn nights are the perfect time for this activity. I only have 1 rhubarb plant so I have to do this to ensure I have enough to make the pots and pots of jam and chutney I make each year and it’s always yummy! Good luck and chill out Mrs FW Xxxx

  61. Beautifully written and thank goodness you had this realization early on instead of another six months or even a year down the road. I continue to be completely in awe of and inspired by you!

  62. More to do than you have time to do it, eh? Life is like that once you have a child. I know the feeling. I try to pace myself and reserve a bit of ‘me’ time everyday (after the kids are in bed).

    Also, about the rhubarb – Give some of it away. That’s a great way to make new friends in your town.

    I know some people who even sell it to grocery stores!

    One tip about rhubarb – It freezes really well. We never bother to can it. That’s too much work when it freezes so well. I assume you still have your chest freezer after the move. Just dice it into chunks, pop it into a freezer bag, then toss it into the chest freezer. Done!

  63. Martha Wood says:

    I love your honesty! I Hope you will keep giving yourself the time you need to get your “farm legs.” I so much admire the way you and your husband have saved and planned for realizing your dream. If you haven’t tried meditation, you might give find it surprisingly liberating. Hard to slow down enough to do it at first, I’ve found, but sooooo worth it when it becomes a habit! (I have lapsed…) Enjoy some much-deserved rest..and bask! 🙂

  64. Lauren says:

    Thank you for this. My husband and I have just spent the last four years (the whole of our married life) preparing our land and building our dream house on it. It has been an incredible journey with many ups and downs, laughter and tears, and it is now, finally, coming to an end. We have been on a similar race to finish and complete the various projects that go with building a house yourself (there is a lot of trim that goes into a house and it all has to be painted once it is put in! And that’s just a small bit of the finishings). We are now beginning to feel what it is like to take an afternoon and rest or start the garden we have been dreaming of and planning for so long. We find ourselves so often putting those things we love to do on the backburner because they are not what the inspectors are looking for or what the bank requires. We’ve said countless times “We will get to it once we are in the house” and now that we are in we have found that there are still a million things that need our attention. I appreciate and plan to take your advice to slow down and enjoy painting again-something I’ve not done in about 2 years (can’t believe its been that long!!) and begin a yoga practice at home-something I’ve been wanting to do for about 2 years. I am so excited for you all and your new opportunities! We hope to be in a similar place with our home(soon to be stead) soon. I look forward to reading more about your journey and I appreciate all that share! Thanks again!

    P.S. I also look forward to your Babywoods photos. She is so adorable!! And avocado is an excellent first solid food-Yum!

  65. Mark says:

    That picture of the bed you said you should be weeding is beautiful just like it is, I don’t think there’s any reason to weed that. Honestly, with that much land, I wouldn’t be weeding anything unless it was growing food. Weeds are in the eye of the beholder, its just a matter of convincing yourself that a certain plant is not a weed to you. I much prefer a more natural, less manicured look anyway.

  66. Marcia says:

    I have to schedule relaxation, ha! I have a problem with wanting to do everything. I have to force myself to stop. Especially with a FT job and 2 kids (one toddler, one in school). I am over-extended.

    I decided to dial back a bit and have not signed up for PTA board next year. Except…5 board members did the same and now there are 6 openings that nobody is volunteering for. Oh well.

  67. There is nothing like being a parent to teach you the importance of understanding you are not in fact superhuman and you need to accept your weaknesses; but like you learned, through parenting, you also realize that you are capable of more than you can ever imagine. Will is 10 and I am still learning these lessons. For me, I find that my natural biorhythms now almost force me into slowing down and I am getting better at realizing when I need to do it. I give myself the breaks I need and appreciate how much they do for me rather than take away from anything.

  68. Since my daughter was born, I realized that not everything needs to be done right now. A lot of stress is released once you finally realize that sometimes it is better to just stop, breathe, and relax instead of working on the endless list of things there are to do because unfortunately, the list will never be completed. Everyday something new will pop up and you will end up burning yourself out if you try to do it all.

    Avacado was one of the first things we gave our daughter as well and it is still one of her favorite foods!

  69. ZJ Thorne says:

    I’m delighted to have a week of no work at my W2 gig. I’ve been focusing on joyful days. I’ve done some errands (hello, haircut) and spent time with and helping friends. My outlook is amazing. Definitely needed this staycation – even with the loss of pay.

  70. Diana says:

    Well, I just love your blog. Estelle is so precious. Let alone frugal hound. I miss her pix. Seeing your home with all the greenery was such a delight. I look back on my youth reading your blog. I don’t know how I did it. Since I’ve retired , I’ve actually become a slob and a recluse. I love it. I finally feel no guilt. I can take a nap and not feel guilty. Stay up all night binge out on Netflix. I love my retirement now. Took me two years to adjust to my freedom. Just enjoy each day to the fullest with Estelle. When you all get my age, all that perfectionism means nothing. Time with kids and friends is what sustains the memories in senior years. Perfectionism sucks. Like I shared before be present in the moment and your 24 hours. God bless you all

  71. Kendra says:

    Freeze the rhubarb – you can deal with it when you have more time this fall and winter.

    If you don’t have one already, a stand-alone freezer can be a huge help when it comes to processing overwhelming amounts of garden produce!

    Enjoy your new life! Since it’ll never all get done, only worry about the really important stuff, like babies and sunrises (or sunsets).

  72. Cognitive Miser says:

    That’s a lot of rhubarb! If you don’t actually LIKE rhubarb, I highly recommend just digging up the plants. Give them away through Buy Nothing or Craigslist… heck, let the person who wants them dig them up! That was our solution to simplifying our garden. You are a creative soul and I bet you can find other rhubarb -free ways to treat your family, neighbors, and friends.
    Also, as a mom to a 2 year old I can say that you are going to need a LOT more than just one night on the couch. Please take serious lifestyle-changing action on this NOW. Adrenal fatigue is a real risk for Type A mommies and can take months to overcome.

  73. mesquite says:

    Oh! Thank you for reminding me! I need to get chips. 🙂

  74. This is EXACTLY why I don’t bother making the bed every morning. 🙂

    Have you tried weed fabric in the garden? I just got back from installing it all over my garden. I’ll be travelling a lot this summer and while my husband has agreed to continue watering the garden, I’m not confident on his weeding drive/ability. This will make things a lot better.

    Also, I’d totally take some rhubarb if I were near you! I LOVE rhubarb, but I can’t grow it in my garden because it’s in a community garden, and no perennials allowed. Sad face.

  75. I feel for your struggles. Yes, many might question how you could be struggling now that you’re living a dream life on a homestead while doing freelance writing instead of working a full-time job. But I get it. We all feel pressure to be productive with our time and often the things that give us the most pleasure don’t seem “productive” enough to be afforded much of our time.

    My current struggle is how far to push myself to get out of debt and achieve our own “dream life.” There are so many ways to hustle and earn an extra dollar here and there, which we need to get out of debt. However, I can’t put my life on hold for the next five years or so. There is too much awesome stuff to miss.

    We all struggle with balancing acts, they just look a little different in each individual situation.

    • K says:

      I’m having the same struggle. If I scrimped to the max, I’d also be out of debt in five years, but, like you, I’d also be putting my life on hold. It’s exhausting. And even more exhausting dealing with the conflicting advice on what to do.

  76. Mari says:

    I have been reading your blog for a while. Congratulations on the homestead.
    Just thoughtbI’d say that rhubarb freezes well. I just choo it up and freeze it raw until I’m ready to deal with it. It makes great wine and jam and crumble filling.

  77. tammy says:

    If its a permaculture garden you want- just relax and observe your land in each season. Take notes, draw pics and then next season get into it. In NZ its called a lifestyle block (or life sentence block). We’ve been on our 5 acre block in NZ for almost 3 years and just getting on top of things now, don’t sweat the long grass and weeds I’ve learnt they keep the bunnies away from your crops.

  78. Mikel says:

    I can sense your excitement in moving from the city to the country, trying to “take it all in” in one big gulp!! I moved from a city/suburb several years ago to rural New Hampshire and had to adjust to Mother Nature’s timetable quickly. Just a couple of gentle suggestions as you adjust to country living: 1) beware of ticks! they lurk in the tall grass everywhere and some carry nasty diseases, such as Lyme disease. 2) Don’t go too overboard with the rhubarb. Freeze enough for yourself, give away some, and don’t worry about the rest. The nice thing about rhubarb is that it’s a perennial and will be back next year without any effort. 3) Line up your snow removal strategy ASAP. Cold weather and winter comes early to the north country. If you need equipment and/or a plow guy, start asking around. 4) Don’t over commit to the community until you see how much time and energy your family and homestead requires. And, most importantly, 5) ENJOY the short, sweet summer! I enjoyed this post immensely. Country living certainly agrees with you!

  79. sharon stanley says:

    you are correct in saying your have undergone HUGE changes in the past 6 months. country living and city living are so completely different in every way that you really must just take time to let those differences sink in. it will take a lot of time. and the difference between having a baby and NOT having a baby is also huge. they are both life changing changes! and to try and process both at once is mind boggling. you must let a lot of things go for the time being and i know how difficult that is. i live on a farm and when my children came along, stayed home with them. in doing so, i, for a long time, felt like i should be able to accomplish at least keeping the house clean and tending the yard and garden. when i couldn’t do as much as i wanted, i got a young girl from our church to ride the school bus to our house in the afternoons just to play with/entertain the baby so i could fix dinner in peace, and maybe clean a room or two or pull weeds. best money ever spent. really. it was totally different within a year or two when the ‘baby’ was bigger and could ‘help’ by being with me and helping with the weeds, dishes or cleaning….but it was surely helpful just to have that second pair of hands for a while i can tell you. just being able to get outside in the fresh air and get something done made me feel great. (which i didn’t like to do when baby slept). allow yourself time to adjust. that is really important, or you will feel overwhelmed and not enjoy your new life to the fullest. you’ll do great and it sounds like you have a lovely community to grow in as well!

  80. Maria says:

    Love this post, and your writing, always. Epic last paragraph. I hope you manage to follow your own advice at least part of the time (from one recovering perfectionist to another…)

  81. Wonderful post. From one mum to another, you need time for yourself and to recharge. I’m typing this as I should be getting breakfast for me kids and off to ballet lessons. Thankyou for writing – I look forward to your blog every week.

  82. ThyPeace says:

    “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” What I have learned with working, including working on land, is that the first year is hardest because you don’t know what to expect. The second year is easier because you start to see patterns and cycles, and you can work within them instead of across them.

    You’ve changed all your routines now — sleep, eating, working, living — and nothing is smooth. That’s okay. Finding the smaller patterns is easiest — what are we going to do each day? What about each week? As you see the months and seasons, you’ll start to see the patterns there, too. A quick note on your calendar can help. I have a pop-up each year in July that says “Thanksgiving Travel.” Every year I think it’s ridiculously early to start then. And every year I’m glad that I do because it helps down the road. FlyLady, mentioned previously, is a master of these routines and building from the smallest to largest.

    The idea of getting partway through something is also worth considering. Rhubarb that’s just chopped up and frozen for some later time, for example. Far faster than making a compote or rhubarb pie, and still makes it so those things can happen in the future. And the same with the other things you want to do. Weeding — as someone mentioned — won’t really do much because they’re going to die at the end of the year no matter what you do. So instead, about an hour of preventing a few square feet of weeds from ever coming up at all?

    Similarly, nurturing a desirable plant that’s already in the ground is more important than planting a new one. Seeing that larger pattern is going to take a lot of time. energy, and study. You’ll get there and the spiral of doing projects will steadily improve everything. Just keep going!

  83. Suzewannabe says:

    I chuckled and shared as we round the last hours of our road trip from Chicago to Houston in the rented “puttymobile”. Far from relaxing.

    Next week, I’m going to be in my PJs all day and watch movies on one day and do Ancestry on another!


    We have a ranch and the weekends are NOT relaxing now because it is for sale. We are selling on the older age end of owning such a big place.

  84. Linda Manson says:

    Great post. I feel exhausted just reading it though! You might find this episode of the Slow Home podcast helpful –

  85. Elsie Brown says:

    I really enjoyed this post. You guys are doing what so many people dream of if only they could overcome the fear. I’m personally inspired. I also love what you said about keeping things “humming” I think that’s a term only a highly skilled multi-tasker really understands. Indeed, we don’t take enough time to relax and feel guilty when we do.

  86. It’s great to read you’re doing well and managing the stress that comes with lots of activity doing.
    I believe the key is to forgive ourselves for not quite doing everything we set out to, being fine with that will bring mental peace which brings freedom! 🙂

  87. I needed this post. I’ve been hustling and grinding and I’m starting to go a little nuts. I need to carve out more time for me. And just be. Do nothing. Or whatever I want. But not work in front of a screen until I go to bed.

  88. Beth Janes aka The Infamous Miss Beth says:

    You guys are awesome! You will get it all figured out and find the perfect balance I am sure !!
    Best wishes and enjoy every minute of your new life!

  89. MS Barb says:

    THANKS for an honest, up front post! When my youngest daughter was about 15, we volunteered to help for a week of VBS (Vacation Bible School) On the drive home after the 1st evening, she complained about “the parents who just dropped their kids off & left!” I explained to her that as a single parent of 4 kids, I was thankful to have VBS programs in my local community, because it gave me a couple of hours to go do something (errands, a much needed household chore, etc) & know that my kids were safe! You don’t have to do it all–give back in a different season in your life! I like the suggestions about paying young people to do some weeding… Is there a support group like MOPS in your community? B-R-E-A-T-H-E!

  90. Chris says:

    As is I wouldn’t spend too much time weeding and focus on a few smaller patches; usually having groundcovers helps a lot. Seeds don’t germinate under them. The rhubarb looks great. It freezes week, and cans well. However, if you get way too much you could stop harvesting from a couple of plants for this year; just keep in mind that once the plant starts blooming you don’t want to harvest from it until next year.

  91. Sarah M says:

    Glad you’ve decided to take time to breathe! Rhubarb freezes beautifully. Just wash, chop, and put it in bags for cooking whenever you have time. That way you won’t feel you’re wasting it, but you don’t have to constantly be cooking it. Plus, a midwinter rhubarb pie is a huge treat!

  92. barb says:

    Chips for breakfast with a pot of tea and a great book. My trifecta of the start of a great day.
    Also popcorn for dinner, but not on the same day……yet!

  93. Linda says:

    I’m really happy you decided to do what you love to do-write. Chores will always be there, but a person needs to have that one thing that is their’s, that they can retreat to when they need a break. Your writing is always beautiful and truthful, and I hope you keep sharing your new journey with us!

  94. deva says:

    Your beautiful wildflower garden in the picture with the remark “I should be weeding this” doesn’t need weeding at all. When we bought our country house the guy who owned it before us scalped our hillside with a riding mower every week. We immediately let it grow as nature intended cutting only a flat portion near the house. Ten years later it is covered with a huge mixture of grasses, wild flowers, trees such as oak, white pine, maple and hemlock (birds love dropping seeds as they fly over!) and is home to hundreds of butterflies, bumble bees, honey bees, spiders and bugs and we even had a red fox who dug out his home next to an old tree stump (from a tree the previous owner cut) for 2 years. It’s a living and vital nature preserve – let it bee. A beautiful jumble is what nature intended.

  95. Mortimer says:

    Love this. Especially as a parent of 3, it’s so easy to constantly think about all the crap it’s possible to do, including cleaning up crap (literally). But preserving moments for yourself to recuperate is critically, especially when you are busy. I continue to appreciate the advice of another writer, who told me “You have to learn how to protect your time.” Learning what time to protect, and when, is something I’m still working to master. Current favorites include: writing, meditating, yoga, and morning coffee with Mrs. Mortimer. Thanks for the reminder.

  96. Bathsheba says:

    There will be time, there will be time…

  97. Lori says:

    Such a great reminder! The LIST will never be completed. When you own a large amount of property and plant bigger gardens than you probably should (every year!), there is always work to be done. We have to remind ourselves to stop and enjoy life.

  98. TKW says:

    … it gets interesting – HA!
    I love your blogging, always excited when the next “episode” comes out – your story leaves Downton Abbey in the weeds – so many fascinating life lessons.
    Thanks for sharing.

  99. We have definitely become a culture of busy-ness and it is important to remember that slowing down can actually make us more effective and productive. I like the phrase: “Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment.”

  100. Hmmm my more of is different. Thanks to chronic fatigue I hit a wall much faster than most people. At some point I too realized I’d never get everything done (even without a homestead — though with multiple chronic health problems between the 2 of us). So I started having just one or two goals a day. If life is insanely hectic I still cap it at 4. Because anything else just brings (extra) fatigue and despair. And I get depressed and feel ashamed. And that just sucks up even more energy I don’t have!

    So when I start to feel overwhelmed, I sit down and watch some TV or write a post. Okay, usually it’s TV. But the point is that you do have to recognize your limits. And preferably stop before you hit them.

  101. CentSai says:

    Really great post! Thanks for sharing! We agree with your point about taking a break and doing what you want to do sometimes. Life isn’t all about getting things done all the time, and you definitely need time to just enjoy yourself!

  102. You sound very much like Ms. Financial Slacker. She too is a superhuman. Getting more accomplished in any given day than I get accomplished in a year.

    I do what I can to help, but often times I feel like I’m just slowing her down.

    I am not sure you really could get “everything” done even if you kept up the crazy pace. It seems to me that no matter how much you get done, the to-do list just continues growing. And having a little one in the mix doesn’t make it any easier.

    It sounds to me like you have figured things out. Maybe you don’t think that’s the case, but it seems pretty solid to me.

    You’ve had so many changes so quickly, that I’m sure at times, you feel completely exhausted, but from my vantage point, it’s all working.

    Nice job!

  103. NZ Muse says:

    I feel so much of this post! I LOOOOVE my house but there are so many things I want to do with it that cost money and time. I want them all done NOW. I know I can’t and I don’t need to. I CAN relax and just enjoy my sunny deck and yard and dog.

  104. Jackie says:

    I think you’ve given me an idea! I’ll put a sign up in front of my weeds with my blog name that says, “this is what I’m doing instead.”

  105. Adrie says:

    I just love how honest you are.

  106. SisterX says:

    As a writer/mom/gardener/preserver of foods myself, I can completely sympathize. I want/need to get all the things done, all the time. Sometimes it’s hard to make time for what I enjoy. It’s helped me to set things up so that I’m forced to do some of the things that I love. For instance, I love biking. So I bike to as many of my errands as I can, and I have a bike group that I ride with regularly. The second one is a double whammy: I get the socialization I crave, and I get to bike. The only (unsolicited) advice I can offer is to try to set up certain parameters for yourself. Work a full day, yes, but when Babywoods goes to sleep, take time for yourself and what you like. Or do it in the morning, whatever works for you. Then you can go onto autopilot, and always know that you get time to yourself as long as you stick to your schedule. And as Babywoods gets older/more self-entertaining, it will get a bit easier. You can send her out to play in the yard while you write on the porch or weed the garden. 🙂

  107. Trish says:

    I very much identified with this article. My daughter is almost exactly a year older than yours and I have gone through many of the same changes. We moved from an urban area to another state when I was 7 months pregnant. We now have 5 acres and I am a stay at home mom. In addition to the changes and adjustment to motherhood and living in a new place, I experienced a loss of professional identity. I feel that I am still adjusting and a big part of that is being realistic with the expectations I have for myself as a mother, wife, and individual. Thanks for the great post!

  108. Mary in+Maryland says:

    Canned rhubarb is nasty. I chop and freeze and break a chunk into our oatmeal shortly before it’s done cooking. Also frozen works for Grandma’s rhubarb cake or fruit crisps.

  109. I do not think we could ever use up all of our rhubarb. Some rhubarb crumble makes for a great treat.

  110. TomTrottier says:

    Once upon a time, when I was living in a commune, I came across a quiz that purported to measure how much cleanliness was enough in your family’s particular circumstances. Factoring in all the communards, we were WAY above the standard. Lately I have become aware of the Hygiene Hypothesis…. Dirt is Good.

  111. CrankyOtter says:

    New reader but will come read more! This post totally resonates. Moved from Cambridge to SoCal to KC now, and fixing up a house. I want food plants but may be too late for some and don’t have time to plant properly (aka protecting from moles & rabbits) because I’m not even in the house yet. I’m moving windows still. (Which is how I found your blog).

    One of the most heartbreaking but freeing epiphanies I had, only a few years ago, was that while maybe I can do anything I set my mind to, I can’t do *everything* I set my mind to.😣 Noooo!!!! But, huh. Maybe that’s ok. And sometimes I should hire work done even if I’m only going to use the time to sit on the couch and eat a sandwich. With my feet up.

    So yesterday I hired help and we cut out the holes where my windows will go, then boarded them up again because it was hot hot hot and we were just done. I needed time in some AC. For eating Doritos.

  112. Sabbaticalia says:

    Good to hear about the community lunch! You now have more people you can invite over for work parties! 🙂 Seriously, work-parties such as barn-raisings and harvests are a wonderful part of rural community life.

    Meantime, I’ll remind you of one concept from permaculture: zones of activity should concentrate around the house — the more often visited, the closer. You might consider planting your herbs and the rest of your kitchen garden very close to your kitchen door. Not sure that rhubarb row is close enough; depends on what else you’ll be growing.

    As always, take it one step at a time, and get the closer (and more visible) areas in hand first. Make your favorite view-while-writing a priority if you can!

  113. A.Simon says:

    Hi there. As a relatively new mom I read your post with some concern. It sounds like you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself to, as you say, “do everything at once.” I urge you to slow down a bit, pick priorities, let some things wait until next year when the baby is bigger, and above all, take time for yourself! Now that you’re caring for another human being it’s harder than ever to find time for yourself and keep your strength up. Nursing requires a lot of energy, and waking up at night to tend the baby does too! Nobody can tend house, homestead, baby, and themselves simultaneously without help–so don’t try! Seriously, pick your priorities and don’t exhaust yourself! Also, you’ve just made a huge transition with the move and baby, and you need lots of support. If you haven’t already, look for other moms in your area and hang out with them–this makes such a huge difference in your emotional well-being. If you can’t find them use online groups. Take time out to compare notes–your experience and dawning realization is common, and it helps to know others are going through the same thing.

    Leave the dirty dishes and write. No one is going to see. It’s ok. Do more of this: “I looked at my rhubarb and I looked at my unclean bathrooms and I declared “nope! mommy’s headed to the couch.” and less of this: “Normally, I’d push myself to continue accomplishing things.”

  114. Rebecca says:

    Rhubarb lentil soup at fine
    Frugal and delicious!

  115. Raynee says:

    Wow! Isn’t it funny how the times we are finished accomplishing something and can breathe, become a time of gaining speed for moving on to the next important thing in line. We often forget to take a breath before moving on to something else even though we do have the time to take that breath. I always think I will have time to breath next week when I’m done getting the carpets replaced but then the unpacking begins, then I think I need to do extra Spring cleaning, which then creates a thought to deep clean the cars and get the yard in better shape……it is always something and I too have to remind my perfectionist self to live in this very moment and breath sometimes. Thanks for the inspirational and reminder post:) It is welcomed!

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