Surviving vs. Thriving (and why both are okay)


IMG_4562I’ve been remembering my days being pregnant, feeling sick, tired, nauseous. I was barely able to move, let alone feed, clothe and bathe my babes without enormous effort. We watched way more TV than I liked and we ate way more prepared food than I’d like to admit. But we were just surviving.

I’m noticing that this parenting thing brings with it short and long seasons of surviving and also, seasons of thriving. When I’m in survival mode, it’s best that I know that’s where I’m parked and act accordingly to help me make it through without being too hard on myself and everyone else.

Here’s what survival mode looks like:

  • We eat take out several times a week.
  • I depend on T.V. as a babysitter.
  • The laundry piles up so high that no one has clothes to wear.
  • The dishes in the sink sit there for too long.
  • Kids’ hair doesn’t get brushed.
  • Baths occur as necessary and washing hands and feet count.
  • Emails go unanswered for weeks.
  • Text messages, if answered are in one word replies.
  • Facebook is more frequented to avoid everything that needs attention.
  • Friends? Who are my friends? I neglect to make time to meet up with friends for me and the kids.
  • The basic needs are met, but motivation and care are forgotten. “Get it done” rules my life.

Here’s what thriving looks like:

  • We eat full meals of fresh veggies and meat. No breads, pastas or sugars here!
  • I start thinking about activities and experiences that would be fun to enjoy with the kids… and I actually PLAN something!
  • The laundry is done the moment the basket gets too full and is put away within one day of drying.
  • The dishes are in the dishwasher and it is running.
  • Kids’ hair has bows and bedhead doesn’t exist outside our home.
  • Baths occur as a fun activity on a regular basis.
  • Email Inbox is empty!
  • Text messages are answered in a reasonable time. You may even get a phone call.
  • Facebook is almost forgotten because I have so many fun things vying for my time.
  • I set up time to meet up with friends. We have playdates and Mom’s Nights Out.
  • The basic needs are met and new projects and ideas flood my world. “Enjoy this moment” rules my life.

Some of us might be just surviving while others are thriving. It’s great to know where you are so that you can give yourself and others loads and loads of grace. When I see a friend who is growing her own food and cleaning her house using The Fly Lady, I know that she’s finding a way to thrive in ways that I just can’t. Likewise, when you can only make it out the door in your workout clothes and a pony tail and you have replaced your dishes with paper plates, this is surviving. And it’s okay.

What about you? How can you tell when you are thriving or surviving? What tips help you during survival mode moments and seasons?


  1. Well said!, Joy! This really resonated with me! Since becoming a mom, thinking in terms of seasons has really helped me do more “thriving.” I find it actually frees me up to be a little more positive, because no season lasts forever…so just enjoy what you can in each one. It also helps ease my guilt for not getting it right every time – which, in turn, makes my whole family happier, too. Thanks for the excellent post.


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