Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Rules

I have had this old binder next to my cookbooks since I was married. Actually, I had a wedding binder when we (I) was planning our wedding and that got me started on "binder keeping". (I still have that old wedding one...it's up in the attic and it's so materialistic and self-centered and naive (what dress...hmmm....here's 200 choices I just LOVE) all at the same time I can hardly look at it. 

Every year New Year's Eve, I revamp or refresh this binder. One section is for house stuff...clipping of ideas or dreams, that may or may not ever happen. One section is marked "Personal"...clippings of clothes, a purse, mostly haircuts...that may or probably won't ever happen. One section is marked "Holidays"...where I keep a list of great present ideas for birthdays or Christmas. The last section is called "Rules"....something kind of hilarious, a little private, but oh so helpful to my life.

Some are so dated (I usually have added to them every year) and don't even apply to my life now, but I keep them just for fun. Others are pure gems, and have become habits. I have them sloppily scribbled into categories all over loose-leaf notebook paper.

Here's an example of a few:
1. Clean and everything will look and feel better.
2. Wait on every decision (like paint and decorating stuff) but DON'T change your mind once you've made it. You will never get anywhere doing that.
3. A small change...flowers, a plant...makes a big difference, but cost very little.
4. Don't copy anyone else's style...work with what your gut says, or you won't like it down the road.
5. Order keeps your sanity.
6. Less toys, furniture, clothing, junk is always better...keep a SIMPLE house...get rid of stuff constantly.  Or better yet, don't buy it!

1. Exercise clears your mind, regulates your appetite and helps you sleep better and look better. Do it.
2. Sugar does the opposite.
3. Don't neglect your highlights and haircuts.
4. Don't compare yourself with others.
5. Always have a good book to read.
6. Always plan ahead for birthdays and Christmas so you can enjoy them.
7. Remember that you are a much better person when your calendar is empty.

1. The kids will grow up smart and literate...NO school is perfect and the little things probably don't really matter. Don't get caught up in them. Look at the big picture.
2. DO NOT sign up for more than ONE thing in a school year.

1. Keep a routine...especially in the morning and on weekends.
2. To change child's behavior...HUGS, KISSES, COMPLIMENTS: make them feel good about the RIGHT behavior. Give extra attention, slow down, play with them.
3. Take time one-on-one with the kids.

When I get caught in a rut, upset at myself, peddling nowhere, I get this binder out, and remind myself of the path I already traveled, the lessons I already learned, no matter how big or small. I should have a bunch more by the time I'm 100, right?


  1. I think I need a set of rules like this. My number one rule that has taken me way too long to learn is...Keep my mouth shut. Now if only I would remember to use it more often life would be a lot easier! Great post!

  2. How smart are you. Inspiring rules. Great post!

  3. Love all of the rules. I really like the people come first one. Great... thanks for the inspiration! :)

  4. Now this is common sense to live by! Good stuff. :)

  5. I don't tend to think about "rules" as such, but yours are similar to the way I try to live my life. Good stuff! And a great idea to keep that binder.

    It struck me how you said your wedding binder seems so self-centered and naive now. Isn't that the truth for so many of us!

    I love your new header, too.

  6. I keep a binder, too, but I love your rules. Especially the MYOB rule - wasting mental energy is such a good way to look at it. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Boy do I love my binders, but keeping just one is a great idea. I have several and in order to "Keep it Simple", I might need to just get one larger one!
    Your rules are great. Think how your children will feel when they read these rules when you are old and they are cleaning out yout stuff!

  8. How funny, I sat down to write a similar post about family schedules... It's not happening for us! :(

    I love your Personal #9. I think that's one of the hardest things I have to deal with. My entire family lives here; we get together a lot. And there's no shortage of drama. My mom believes we should continue to get together for every single holiday as a large family (again, where drama ensues). She doesn't quite get that I need to put my family (DH and the kids) first.

    The binder is a fantastic idea!!

    P.S. Thanks again for the picture tutorial! :)

  9. I try and try to set up rules for me. Maybe I am just rebellious, but I can't seem to listen, even to myself.

  10. Love them all! I especially need to work on not changing my mind once I've made it.

    By the way - I'm pregnant. For some reason I felt like I should tell you that since you are the expert on pregnancy and babies and juggling children ...and life in general. :) Thanks for your blog and for all of the good advice I've learned from it!

  11. I love your rules. :) I have a binder too, but I never thought of putting in ideas yearly and purging the old. That would be great, esp. with the hair cut ideas. :)

  12. I love the new banner and thanks for the Picasa tutorial. It made me go looking for a new version of Picasa because I couldn't find half the features you talked about. Boy was I happy to find an upgrade waiting for me to download!! :)

    I'm interested in your Personal #13. Do you keep your social calendar empty? I struggle with that one a lot because I want to have playdates (with my friends!) and girls nights out and all that fun stuff, but I definitely find that my family life and household management goes MUCH smoother when we don't have busy schedules. I end up having to force myself to take a week off from all the activity just to stay home and get caught up on housework and kid-time.

    Thanks for sharing with us!

  13. love this post! what a great idea... even for an old person like me.. to start! You never fail to inspire me. Thank You.

  14. GREAT rules to live by - I love this post! It sounds like I need to make some rule for myself and maybe adopt a couple of yours.

  15. Thank goodness you blog Miss Sarah, so we are privy to your wisdom, common sense, and reminders.



  16. Hi Sarah,
    Glad my post inspired ya...now get out that paintbrush and post that beautiful foyer. Seriously, thanks for stopping by.


  17. you are smart.
    and wise.
    and funny...like Dory. :)

  18. Oh, I like this. :) Thanks for sharing!

  19. I love reading your blog. My daughter, Erin, showed it to me. Erin was so excited when you left your first comment on her blog. Now I can see why she loves to read it.
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and humor. I am so proud of my daughter for so many things. One of them is choosing you for a role model.
    You are on my list of things to be grateful for.

  20. I like the part about phone talking is a waste of time. so true. You are a wise one.

  21. What a great idea, I'm snagging this one. Thanks for the inspiration.

  22. I giggled at your comparison of 2 year olds to teenagers.....my thoughts exactly.....they have the same mentality.....fearless, determined, invincible.

  23. What a beautiful set of rules!! Wonderful.

  24. Yes, I have a binder just like that. And yes, all of those rules apply to me and I've told them to myself many times. I needed reminders on some of them, so thank you! I feel like a horrible mom right now, this pregnancy makes me so CRABBY and impatient sometimes and I just feel like I do nothing but snap at the kids... how sad. So that's the #1 thing I'm working on right now!

  25. I love those rules! # 10 and #13 on the personal list...yep!!

  26. thank you for sharing your rules. you are a wise one, sarah. i enjoy every one of your blog posts, thank you. i always come away with a smile or a tear on my face.

  27. REALLY REALLY love your rule list. So on target and completely refreshing. You inspired me to draw up my own list and keep them READY and WAITING.

    THANKS for sharing yours!!!!!!

  28. I think this post was just for me, today, at this moment in my life! I am glad to have stumbled upon your blog and the inspiring thoughts and ideas you've shared. The wind blew me your way...it was just what I needed.

  29. i just stumbled upon your blog and LOVE it!!! love your rules...

  30. I have spent hours and hours and HOURS enjoying your blog! Thanks for sharing. Im looking forward to reading every word, your truly inspiring!


  31. Found your blog yesterday. So excited. I limit what blogs I take the time to read but yours was added to my google reader. I'm excited to read more.

  32. I've just found you blog recently and I love it!

    Sometimes just writing things down like your Rules gives us a compass and point of reference when everything at home seems overwhelming!

    Non Consumer Girl

  33. These are great! I'm working on my "Mother's Rule of Life".

  34. Love. I know this is an older post but whenever I'm having a bad day or feeling overwhelmed and stress I love to read through the archives. I can always find helpful advice. Thanks!

  35. 6. Your children need you to be happy, secure, calm and unstressed...not popular, skinny, well-dressed and rich. Don't be tempted by the status quo.

    I love this. I think my kids need me to be happy, secure, calm unstressed AND popular, skinny, well-dressed and rich. Well, not really. But sometimes I live like all those things are equally important.

    Pondering a lot from your site today.


  36. loved reading your blog.. especially on jealously and miscarriage you are so authentic! But I am from Kenya and I don't agree with this "Extended family...importance and closeness is sometimes overplayed".. I think we need to stick together as a family nuclear and extended... God given gift! Imagine your grand kids saying you are over played and they will stick to their families.

    well, keep writing & God bless.. enjoyed visiting your blog!

  37. oh, I LOVE this. It's so smart and kind and hopeful. I also, I admit, love rules. I don't feel so lost then. I'm going to chew on this for a while - might do it too!

  38. I know this is an old post but dear Sarah, what a blessing you are to so many women, including myself. I just know that God has somehow sent me to your blog. My eyes have fallen onto MANY a blog, but I am telling you that I look forward to yours and go back in the archives b/c I love your genuine personality and devotion to your family! I wish I had more people like you in my life! So wise. Thank you for taking your precious time to help out other moms, like myself :), to remind us of how special and precious this time with our little ones and this time while we are at home really is!! I have so enjoyed every post I have read thus far. I have a 16 mos old (plus a 9 and 11 yr old) and you can bet I am always looking for inspiration and ideas. God is so good how he leads and guides us to just the right people/ places for the inspiration/ encouragement we need. I know that you get lots of positive comments and I am not sure that you will even get this since it is such an old post....but my "thank you" is so heart felt!! God Bless you and your sweet family. =)