Don’t Beat Yourself Up thumbnail

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

3 Things by Bernadette Noll, Slow Family Living

3 Things by Bernadette Noll, Slow Family Living


My mom, who raised 9 children, is the queen of perfectly placed sayings.

Sometimes they are funny. Sometimes sentimental. And always, always helpful. Her words might help you surrender to it all, find comfort, or, though you might feel alone, make you feel part of a shared experience.

As a mother of four I quote her often, with my favorite being, “You do the best you can with the information you have available to you at the time.”

With hindsight having perfect vision, it’s easy to retroactively second guess our decisions about which path we chose or didn’t choose, whether we used formula or nursed, had one child or six, used child care or stayed at home. It’s easy to think we should have pushed when we pulled, remained quiet when we might have spoken up, or wished we had sat on the sidelines instead of stepping in.

But at the time we chose to do what we did, we did it based on the information we had.

As parents we must trust ourselves, and certainly forgive ourselves, knowing we are capable, thinking, feeling, intelligent people, doing the best we possibly can, every…single…day.

We can learn for the future, but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for the past. And if you do, remember what my mom said.

iphone december 2012 783

My mom, my sister and I at the beach last year


Find your people.

If you move away from family — or if family doesn’t give you what you’re seeking — know that things are easier when life is lived in the web of your people.

Find your mama friends and your single friends. Find the ones that make you feel good and encourage you to be your true self. The ones that make you laugh and make you cry with the beauty of it all. Find those who can take your kids at a moment’s notice, or whisk you away for an evening out, or who will squeeze themselves into a too small table in order to share a meal, no matter what food is being served.

Find the ones who are happy being themselves, the ones who make you think about all life’s possibilities. Find the ones who love and appreciate you, and have genuinely nice things to say about who you are and about life in general.

Whatever you call it, your tribe, your chosen family, find your people, make them a part of your life, and surround yourself with them as often as you can.


While there is a list of books a mile long that I’d recommend: CALMS: A Guide to Soothing Your Baby by Carrie Contey, Between Parent and Teenager by Haim Ginott, or Stop Arguing with Your Kids by Michael Nichols, the thing that makes my parenting way easier is a product.

Years ago, when my children were small, I found 4 white ceramic divided plates at the thrift store. These were old school, dining hall variety and have become the vessel for what we call, “white plate dinner.”

White plate dinner is called for when the cupboard is bare, when the fridge holds only little bits of many leftovers, or when the cook’s imagination is tapped.

On such nights, the plates are lined up on the counter. In each of their slots, random items of whatever can be scavenged are placed.

When the kids see the plates lined up on the counter, there is great excitement. They LOVE white plate dinner; even as the oldest nears 16.

This simple plate makes the dregs into something celebratory.

And, in fact, could be viewed as a metaphor for many aspects of family life – the mundane into fun, the utilitarian into a fête, the tasks and have-tos into something to look forward to.

And honestly, who couldn’t use a little more of that?


Contributor: Bernadette from Slow Family Living
Enjoy her blog.
Join her on Facebook.
Follow her on Twitter.
Check out her book: Slow Family Living: 75 Simple Ways to Slow Down, Connect, and Create More Joy.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lisa A. McCrohan June 25, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Oh this is so lovely, Bernadette! YES – find your people! Find your tribe. Sometimes we’ve got to create it and that takes vulnerability and courage. Yes – your mom was right — we do the best we can with what information (from our hearts, minds, friends, etc) that we have. Thank you, Bernadette! And thank you for posting this today!

  • Hands Free Mama June 25, 2013 at 9:51 am

    I always feel a little more encouraged, a little more at peace, and a little more wise after reading anything you write, dear Bernadette! Thank you for sharing today!

  • Bernadette Noll June 25, 2013 at 10:10 am

    That comment just made my morning! Thank you thank you!

  • Kerstin @ Auer Life June 25, 2013 at 11:03 am

    I did need to read this today – and I am sharing it, so hopefully someone else will be lifted up by it as well.

  • adriene zepka June 25, 2013 at 11:27 am

    One of the things i remember your mom saying was that couples needed to go on vacation. she would say if there was a medical emergency, you would find the money to go to the doctor – and a vacation was just as important as the doctor.

  • Reaksmey October 31, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks for this blog post. As a first time new momma, I look back and wish many times I had done things differently. I find a lot of resources that tell us what is “normal” and yet not enough emphasis on the experience as a “dance” between parent and child. Needed to read this today. I give grace towards my parents’ child rearing of me; I need to do the same for myself.