Whole Parenting Family

Last Year I Said NO. This Year I Say SIMPLIFY.


I learned a really important lesson for me last year. Without deliberating meaning to, my word must have been No.

I experienced saying “no” and how wonderful that was for me. Saying no, feeling guilty about it, sounding selfish, but sitting happily situated knowing that it was a good kind of selfish.


No: meaning, do less, be more. Meaning, say no to the world more, say yes to what’s going to work for our little family more.

The inescapable pressures on a mom of young children to perform every conceivable duty well grates on me. Advance in your career! Have the perfect birth & nursing! Be on your kid’s preschool committee for healthy treats! Stay//become thin and sexy for your spouse! Don’t complain about being tired! Don’t gloat about having kids! Rinse, repeat.

Perhaps for me the turning point was sending our oldest to a few hours a week nature school. Not much time away from home, but it still felt like a big shift from our laissez-faire, surviving three kids in under four years kind of life. Suddenly I got the two little kids on the same nap schedule, and I started homeschooling a little more in earnest with our oldest. I tuned into how our son was playing with his little frenemies at school, how he was coping with adjusting to listening to other adults, how our middle child needed special girl time, how our monster tot was, indeed, exceptionally physical, and that he needed extra attention just unto himself to ensure he stayed alive.

I shut out parts of the world. The parts I could.

I said no.

I said it loudly. I said it to myself.

I stopped beating myself up about the fact that I had lost the baby weight and then gained weight back. I stopped apologizing for friends coming over to a not super clean house. I stopped apologizing for canceling with friends. Even friends who don’t have kids and didn’t get it; sorry/not sorry. My kid had a rough day. I can’t hang out with you.

My blog, my etsy shop, my sponsorships, all that, are so enjoyable for me, and hopefully for you. But I didn’t write or sewing during the day these past 6 months. I focused on my kids (and my iPhone in between my kids) and my house and what was really literally in front of me. Yes, an iPhone means I can pop around on social media while kids are happily playing without me, or I’m rocking someone down for a nap. But carving out hunks of the day for things that don’t relate specifically to my family’s needs simply couldn’t happen. I didn’t want it to happen.

Maybe simplifying and saying “no” to extraneous or above & beyond obligations meant more time for the little people in front of me, the ones who simultaneously drive me crazy and make me swoon. I’m suddenly bitten by the “they’re growing up” bug. I mean, it’s excruciating at times when sleep eludes us all and I simply want to go to the bathroom alone, but it’s true that having a five year old changes the dynamic of the household. (Is that a saying? If not, it should be.)

I hope simplifying means more time for things that feed me spiritually, like speaking for the kickoff of a Theology on Tap series for Saint Amrbose Blessed is She’s Lenten Retreat, like being the MC at a women’s conference “Finding Your Fiat,” like prayer time with my husband. I hope simplifying means a dirtier house but kids who get a mom to play with them during the doldrums of the afternoon. I hope it means connecting in a meaningful way with my loved ones.

All this to say, I hope you’ve got your word or phrase for 2016. And that it resonates with you!





  1. Ashley on January 7, 2016 at 6:13 am

    So good, Nell. My word this year is “learn” and while I definitely hope to read more and grow in creativity, I also want to learn to say no to unnecessary things and to say yes to more that matter. I’m excited to see where 2016 takes me. Wishing you a happy and love-filled new year too!

    • Natural Mama Nell on January 9, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      That’s a beautiful word for the year! May you have a wonderful start to it!

  2. Patty on January 7, 2016 at 9:37 am

    A really good book I read this past year on helping me choose to say yes and no better was The Best Yes by Lysa Terkerurst…hope 2016 greatly blesses you and your clan:)

    • Natural Mama Nell on January 9, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      Ooo! I’ll have to look at that!! XOXO

  3. Juliet on January 7, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    So well put, it’s so hard to say no sometimes but it really is worth it to do what’s best for your family. Love your blog!

  4. Juliet on January 7, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    So well put! Can be so hard to say no but so worth it to do what is best for your family! Love your perspective on things and so happy I recently found your blog!

    • Natural Mama Nell on January 9, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      So glad you’re here!

  5. Kristen on January 8, 2016 at 5:48 am

    Simply is such a good word for the year. Ours is settle as we’ve made a lot of changes in the short 4.5 years we’ve been married. Settle for us entails make memories with our girls, purging, and making our house our home. Happy New Year, friend!

    PS So I get to meet you in real life at the Finding Your Fiat conference??! I’m so excited for the conference! 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on January 9, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      It will be wonderful to really nestle into your home! CANNOT wait to meet you!!

  6. Rosie on January 8, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Oh I’m getting so much more excited for the conference knowing more and more awesome people are going to be there! I have to word for 2016 but I’ve never been able to figure out a word or do resolutions or any of that stuff… Maybe next year 😉

    • Natural Mama Nell on January 9, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      I am terrible about it too! That’s why I have 16 resolutions with the hopes that maybe 2 will stick.

      Can’t wait for the conference!