Be flexible: you will be blessed!

I’m glad I could be flexible with our dinnertime last Sunday night. We really wanted to see our friends. And their commitments on this particular Sunday were going from one thing to another. They weren’t commitments of wasted time. They were commitments of reaching out. Touching lives.

So when we asked our friends to come over for a steak dinner, we were willing to push our dinner out and wait for them, as eight-thirty was the soonest they could get to our house. Not only did we want to see these friends, we knew that coming to our home would be a relaxing way to end a very busy day for them. I had also purchased some steaks at the “10 lb. Meat Sale” that we wanted to barbeque, along with veggies and salad from our yard (and of course yummy bread). My friend brought the dessert (delegation!).

We pulled fresh potatoes from our garden and after baking them first, we sliced and seasoned them. Using crookneck squash and lemon thyme from the garden, we added sweet onions and peppers, olive oil and fresh lime juice and spices. And preparing my steak the simple way, I rubbed olive oil on each steak, sprinkled with Stevia (or Splenda, or regular sugar), and Costco’s steak seasoning – all on both sides. The bread was sliced, wrapped in foil, and placed in the oven.

All food was prepared in 30 minutes and ready for the grill.

One thing I noticed early in the evening was that we usually have music playing as we’re preparing for our company. But as I was setting the table outside on our patio, in the quietness of the evening, I heard the popping sounds of the barbeque. It smelled and sounded just like a campfire. I loved the silence that surrounded this magical sound.

I stood there and shut my eyes and took it all in. I thought of our guests who were coming to dinner. I knew that our time would be good. It would not be taken up with wasted chatter or filled with dreary gossip. While eating our dinner, we’d be talking about things we are passionate about. Mostly relating to people and goals in life.

We all long for connection. We all long for purpose. And what this couple doesn’t know is that they actually help my husband and me to become better people. By cheering, supporting and encouraging us in many ways.

Yes, I’m thankful that I could be flexible last week. I wasn’t always that way! And part of what I am continuing to learn about flexibility is that it starts with a willingness to do something different. To be able to go with the flow, and make a schedule change.

With that willingness a blessing is usually right there ready to follow.

Sandy’s book, The Reluctant Entertainer

If you’re a recovering perfectionist, like me, then you need this book. It was such a breath of fresh air when I first flipped the pages, perused the photos and recipes, and read Sandy’s encouraging words.

Personally, I love entertaining, but in my life stage of three little ones wreaking havoc on anything that moves in my house, I tend to be a bit reticent to open my doors willingly to friends and family.  That shouldn’t be.

The Reluctant Entertainer gives us women of all ages a much-needed boost of encouragement to take a step of faith and use our home in service to others.  Filled with practical ideas, this book is a great tool for helping you flex those atrophied entertaining muscles.

Sandy shares both nuggets of wisdom from her personal experience and practical tips for setting the dinner table, so that you can courageously roll up your sleeves and prepare for guests in your home.

Win a copy!

This giveaway is now closed.

Five of you will win one copy of Sandy’s book, The Reluctant Entertainer.  Here’s how:

1.  Leave a comment on this post, answering Sandy’s question: “When was the last time you were flexible and able to go with a later dinner time? Or that you were willing to try something different?”

2.  For an additional entry, tweet about this giveaway on Twitter, including @SimpleMom, @SandyCoughlinRE, and the URL of this post ( in your mention.  THEN – and this is important – come back here and leave another comment, telling me you tweeted.  Don’t mention it in the same comment for your first entry, or else it won’t be counted.

This giveaway will close this Saturday, September 25 at 11:59 p.m., and I’ll announce the winners soon after.  I hope you win!


Sandy Coughlin is an author, blogger, wife, and mom to three children. She lives in Oregon and loves to develop recipes, cook, and host dinner parties. Read more at Reluctant Entertainer.

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  1. The last time I was flexible with meal time was my daughters birthday lunch, we brought if forward a bit earlier to suit the hungry 3 yearolds.

  2. I tend to not do so well with spontaneous hospitality…so it hasn’t happened all that recently 🙁

  3. Melanie Schrock says:

    ACK! No doubt, this is me!! I once was the sporadic, live by the seat of my pants type of gal. Now, well yeah. With our home quasi painted, laundry quasi washed and folded-much less put away, homeschooling. Oh dear! But I know this is what life is made of, the truest parts of who we are, how we live. Why must I pretend to put on a fancy schmancy show??!!?!? Thanks for the post!!


  4. I was only a *tiny* bit flexible…. we had friends over and ate about 1/2 hour later than we normally do (but in toddler terms that’s a long time!) and then let the kiddos stay up later to enjoy the company. And the next day wasn’t horrible, so maybe next time we’ll be braver to stretch a little farther. 🙂

  5. Oh! This can be a struggle. You’ve spent the work working like a dog to keep the laundry up, the clutter under wraps, and the floors clean and the thought of having company over to upset all the hard work is daunting. We had some friends over a couple Sundays ago and I didn’t stress. I let the dishes sit so we could chat and I let the kids play and play and stay up a tad later than normal. Relationships are more important than the mess. It’s just easy to forget sometimes. I am learning.

  6. What an awesome book. I think having two toddlers and a husband in a post-grad program has forced me to give up some of my perfectionism. But because his hours have been long, we’ve recently traded entertaining for some quiet nights at home alone. They’re rare. 🙂

  7. The last time I was flexible was my daughters birthday dinner we had to move it up so that others could make other commitments later that evening.

  8. So I am new to your blog, and I appreciate your post about being flexible and being blessed. I actually just posted about that last night. I am a meeting planner, I plan out most of my life with an emphasis on work. So I very much count on my husband to be flexible in our personal life. Tonight my poor husband came home from work and I handed him our very crabby, did not get a long enough nap 10 month old baby. At 8pm after we played with him and put him to bed early I finally got to some much needed grocery shopping and grabbed some tacos on the way home for the hubby. I am not perfect and give thanks everyday for my husband for accepting me for who I am.

  9. The last time was when my dad was coming over. We usually eat fairly early, but pushed it back later. It worked. 😉

  10. My family has recently moved to a new country, so we’ve had to be flexible in almost everything lately, from mealtimes to meetings to church service times and everything in between. But through it all I am learning that life does not have to be perfect, and that people are the most important thing out there – not our schedules or plans!

  11. It’s not always easy to find the time and energy for entertainment. I’ve got kids and a husband to entertain and we all know how energy consuming that can be. Nevertheless, it’s important to have friends over and enjoy each other’s company. People share a lot of their best ideas over dinner. It’s not a coincidence that a lot of business deals are still made at the dinner table. Sharing a meal creates a relaxed, peaceful, stimulating atmosphere, and who doesn’t like that?

  12. I am so not flexible these days… I live by the clock. I know I should not worry so much about the time. But diner time is not such a big issue to me, last Tuesday we had a late diner followed by a late bed time story just because the weather was so nice we could not leave the day care without playing in the park first. I am glad I did, my 2 year old enjoyed this time and was still fresh the following morning. My main issue is morning routine. There I am so not flexible. I would love to win the book because I am trying to open up to other a bit more. I have an history of moving every other year (my dad was in the army), and it is hard for me to create deep long-lasting and meaningful connections.

  13. Ours wasn’t dinner but I hope it counts. We were preparing to go out for dinner and a movie (grandparents taking care of kids, doesn’t happen often as they live in another state) and my DH (who is on the quiet side, or at least used to be)ran into our new neighbors and right there on the spot invited them over for a few beers and we ended up having a wonderful time and meeting new friends…………..
    There was no worries about prepping, or cleaning we just waned to make them feel welcome in the new neighborhood and I think we did.

  14. I am dying to read this book, I think it was written for me!!! Have a fun weekend!!!

  15. All the time….I just kind of fly by the seat of my pants.

  16. Completely understand the comments about it being hard to open up your house when your kids are causing mayhem…something I definately need to work on. This book sounds terrific and like it would be a great addition to my library!

  17. Last night!
    After dinner, we went outside and played in the moonlight. It was totally out of the box for us and absolutely wonderful. Your article was like a stamp of approval. Thanks!
    Will check out the book because, I too, am a mother of three young children and although I’m tired, my soul needs community.

    • Okay, this is so very cool. I love, love, love twilight and moonlight. What a great memory for your kiddos!

  18. I’m super scared to push back dinner for fear of kids melting down and getting over-tired. But we recently had another couple, a workmate of my husband and his wife, come for dinner and it really was all ok. They thought the children were angels, and the kids coped better than I had expected. I know I need to try more often.

  19. Jessica Brewer says:

    I moved into a new apartment in August and I should want have had people over for a late dinner…but I haven’t yet. But the last time I did have a late dinner was two weeks ago when a friend I hadn’t seen in a while came into town.

  20. Last time we had friend over, dinner didn’t go exactly as planned… and it never really does I suppose! I do try to let things go and “go with the flow”… not so easy sometimes!

  21. Last time i was flexible: My son and I went to our friends place (they have two boys) for a sleepover so that the adults could enjoy a ‘proper’ meal together.
    They only live two blocks away!
    But knowing that i didnt need to worry about the time or get organized to go home, and the excitment of the sleepover for the boys, made the evening wonderfully special for everyone.

  22. Tracy Safran says:

    At the lake this summer. We were spending time with great friends instead of eating our dinner that was in the kitchen ready to prepare. It was well worth it to connect with others and the meal tasted fine the next night.

  23. Last time I was a flexible entertainer was for a staff pot luck this week – I “let go” of my need to come up with a dish that was a show stopper and put some little smokies in a crock pot with bbq sauce instead. As it turns out – I ended up spending the time I would have spent cooking after work reading and playing with my children & the pot luck dish was just fine – & we did spend time connecting and relaxing as a staff 🙂

  24. Just this week! My friend and her husband were on a waiting list to become foster parents and they got a call to come to the hospital to pick up a newborn baby! We took care of their other children and made dinner for them. Not knowing what time they would get done at the hospital, dinner had to be “ready to be ready” at a moments notice!

  25. My kids are no longer “little”, so now flexible means finding out when my teen’s work schedule is and trying to fit dinner around that so we can eat together. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m not sure flexible means this, but we just held a Labor Day Cookout on Sunday night instead of Monday so more people could come. Thanks for the post, this is good to think about.

  26. The last time I was flexible with dinner was last Sunday. My mom was here baking with the kids and it went long. The kids had a great time baking with Grandma and she stayed for dinner 🙂

  27. I had visitors (a family of 5) drive 10 hours last week to visit and I learnt to be flexiable. My clutter “to be sorted” was covered over with a sheet and explained as a work in progress. Food wise I did a weekly plan and made sure I had the food before they arrived. I pulled the kids from school and as a group we went to the zoo for the day (being a sports day, not much was missed). I was very happy as we had the most wonderful time. Our kids fitted together and it will be another 18 months until we see each other again. You see these friends are very special to me, they were the best friends of my late husband and love my hubby whom I have been with for 9 years. They only gave me 2 days notice that they were coming and my stove was out of action (has been for the last 3 weeks). A friendship like we have is well worth the effort and time and we will be friends for life.

  28. P.S. Just “tweeted”. 🙂

  29. we have unusual living circumstances at the moment and entertaining is a challenge! The ability to be flexible is an enormous step for me, what a timely post.

  30. We were called to be flexible recently when some friends of ours could only come over for dinner at 4:30 pm. Rather early for all of us, but they needed to pick someone up at the airport later in the evening and this was the only night for a while that we could get together. So we enjoyed an early dinner with them, and then all decided that they would return later with their friend for dessert! I would love to own Sandy’s book as I could use her great ideas and recipes.

  31. Oh, I would love to have this book! I recently borrowed a friend’s copy of “Introverts in the Church,” and have been scouring it for help in this area. I am definitely a recovering perfectionist, and an introvert to boot, in the sense that (while I love low-key time with friends, in small groups) I really need solitude to recharge. Solitude is something I don’t get a lot of these days, with three small children. So I’ve just kind of thrown in the towel when it comes to hospitality, but am nagged by a sense of that not being quite right.

    The last time I was flexible when it came to entertaining was hosting our dear, dear friends for a week, right after we’d ourselves moved. I think the only reason I was capable of doing this is that we are so close with those friends. Normally I am just paralyzed with fears of not “doing it right” or “doing it well.”

  32. Um…well…It’s been a while. Honestly, I can’t remember. We had some friends over a long, long time ago and I think that was the last time I had to push dinner back an hour or two to accomodate them. (This is why I need this book!!)

  33. I really need this book! I was most recently flexible when my brother came over for dinner. He tends to show up whenever it’s most convenient for *him* as he is single and has no kids and doesn’t understand! Also, he is a vegetarian and we are not. So I have learned to be relaxed and flexible when he wants to come over and visit his nephews. But he’s only ONE visitor! I think I would have a panic attack if we were hosting more people 🙂

  34. I can’t remember a specific time, but I know when my husband says, “hey, let’s have so-and-so over for dinner tomorrow”, I don’t seize up and think, “no way, jose!”. It still gives me pause, but I can say yes now! I would love a copy of this book. Thanks!

  35. Beth Hemmer says:

    I’m another one who just flys by the seat of her pants. Haven’t entertained since my kids were very young – maybe 10 yrs ago. Would love to again!

  36. Debra Schramm says:

    The last time was flexible with dinner time was when I was eating at someone else’s house so that probably really doesn’t even count. I’m so bad about spontaneous hospitality and I want to change. The Reluctant Entertainer is actually on my Amazon Wish List. I’d love to win a copy of it.

  37. Laura Glover says:

    Oh, do I need to read this book. When it comes to inviting people into my home, I am a perfectionist and if it isn’t “perfect” in my eyes, it doesn’t happen. Needless to say, we don’t invite friends over. It’s sad for me, my husband and my children. I need to let go and learn a way to just enjoy.

  38. The last time I was flexible about dinner time was before I got married. Somehow I married a morning person who goes to bed early.

  39. I am learning to feed the kids at the same time every night and wait to eat with my husband. Tired, cranky, hungry kids do not make for “family dinner”!

  40. Last week I stepped out of my comfort zone and hosted a clothing party (where a rep comes in and shows clothes for the group). I’m definitely an introvert and so this was pretty overwhelming for me as I sent out the invite to about 50 people! Since it was on a Friday in the late morning, only a handful showed up and we had a wonderful time! It was nice to see old friends, and get to know others a bit better. And, with all of my worrying about the amount of food (just bagels and fruit, mind you), nobody ate a thing! 🙂

  41. Changing meal times is difficult while my children are young, but sometimes it is nice to give them a pb&j sandwich, then have a nice dinner with guests after the kids are fed and happy. Sometimes I even put them to bed a bit earlier to allow for more adult conversations. I dont necessarily have a difficult time changing the times of the meal, but rather trying to make everything in the house perfect when having guests over. It makes it so stressful to have guests over.

  42. We’re at the kid stage of life…so pretty much anytime we have someone over for dinner, the timing of the meal has to be fairly flexible depending on naps, how kids are playing together, etc. I guess the last time was a couple of weeks ago.

  43. that was a long time ago, probably before our now 10 month old son was born… i guess the thing we ARE flexible about now is not insisting on a bedtime for him when we have guests and just let him be part of the evening….

  44. and i tweeted about it!

  45. My husband was injured last Thanksgiving and we spent from early in the morning until 5 pm at the hospital. Although I had prepared a lot of our dinner for 15 the day before, there was still plenty to do that day. My kids were very helpful, and with many, many cell phone calls they were able to prepare some of the dishes. When we got back home, everyone helped set the table, cook the things the kids didn’t do, and we go dinner on the table about 3 hours later than planned. Our guests went with the flow, and we had one of the best Thanksgivings ever because we realized that it was being together and not the perfect meal/table setting/decorations etc that mattered.

  46. I have to be flexible with dinner all the time. My husband frequently doesn’t make it home in time and I feed Little Man and put them to bed before I cook our dinner.

  47. Had to be flexible yesterday as thought we would have deer meat ready, so I could make a roast but dh forgot to get it in time and it was frozen. So I had to adjust our meal plan. 🙂

  48. I think my answer has to be… I can’t remember when:-(, especially not with entertaining. The other night we did keep to our “make pizza at home” plan rather than grab supper through a drive-through (it was tempting) even though it was going to be later than normal when we got home. Does this count?

  49. We’re so used to eating at a regular time, when the little people get hungry. But at my parents’ summer house about a month ago, we opted to feed the little people at their regular time, and then barbeque supper with my parents later – it was fabulous!

  50. suzie in mo says:

    I have had years of training in delaying dinner! My husband is a small town doctor and has very unpredictable hours. Early in our marriage, it drove me crazy! Eventually I learned that the people are more important that the food; even perfectly cooked veggies went down hard if my frustration had spilled over into angry words!

  51. Last night we squeezed in a 5 minute supper so that we could accommodate our three friends who have come to stay with us!

  52. A few weeks ago, my husband was smoking a pork shoulder on our big green egg (ceramic grill), & our pulled pork sammies were not ready until 9:30 at night. After the kids were asleep. He was so happy, I waited to eat the super yummy dinner with him, & it was indeed yummy. 🙂

  53. I delivered baby #4 in March, and as I was still in the delivery room, my husband called his brother with the baby stats and agreed to host Mothers Day!
    It turned out lovely and everyone pitched in to help with the dishes, but as I am also a recovering perfectionist, it very easily could have overwhelmed me! Instead it was a day to share our blessings.

  54. Danielle Krouch says:

    Living in Cambodia we have ample opportunities to be stretched. We had three birthdays to celebrate this week, and with my oven out of commission, we had to improvise. As much as I love baking things for friends and family, God knew I needed a break from baking in this heat (I’m also pregnant!) and I let myself enjoy ordering cakes from a nearby bakery. Not the “home-made” touch I like, but still special to our friends.

  55. For me it was just a few nights ago for my daughters 7th birthday. It was on a school night and some of our family couldn’t make it until later in the evening so we waited for everyone to start the celebration…..we celebrated past bedtime, the kids didn’t mind (:

  56. Just yesterday!!! 3 moms and all of their children descended upon my house making a total of 8 CHILDREN & 4 MOMS!!!! Thought it would be stressful but instead it was pure joy and a great way to unwind – surprising, uh??

  57. With 6 kids, every day is “flexible.” Sometimes to my chagrin. 🙂 Thanks for the giveaway!

  58. A few weeks ago, my husband’s family came over for a last minute meal. It overwhelmed me quite a bit, but I tried my best to work through it!

  59. My husband and I have crazy schedule and no kids (yet) so dinner time isn’t a set thing. Dinner has to be flexable a lot, especially if we want to eat together. Also, in my family flexability is key to not going crazy. We are all very laid back people who get some where when we get there.

  60. Kelly Wiggains says:

    My husband and I wanted to invite our neighbors over to the house for dinner, but we had a busy week and never really got to it. Monday of Labor Day, I, on a whim, told my husband to call them. We were making burritos with all kinds of fixings, and I figured we could stretch the meal for two more people. He called them, and they were making tortilla soup, so they brought over their soup to go with the burritos. It turned out to be tons of fun, which is the point of having people at your house, not to show off. A lesson I need to remember!

  61. Ironically, sites like Simple Mom have allowed me to gain enough control of my life to be exceptionally flexible. The common theme is family dinner together, and certain things about that are inflexible (we sit down at the same time, we use cloth napkins, we do not get up from the table and wander around, we use manners) and lots of things about it are completely random and flexible (sometimes we wear a boa, sometimes we’re in PJs, sometimes we just came in from a soccer game, sometimes we take our plates out to the front porch and eat barefoot by candlelight).

    We’ve always been pretty flexible at our house about entertaining and understanding that you can’t wait for your house to be impeccable, the remodeling complete and the kids poster children for Emily Post. Life passes you by if you wait. So, we hold holiday cookie exchanges, summer parties and the like, and simply mention the issue (sorry that bathroom’s a little sloppy!) and move on. No one wants to visit the home of an obsessor.

    Would love to nab a copy of the book! Have a baby due TOMORROW (!) and suspect life will get chaotic again, and it would be a good reminder of the keep it simple philosophy. Great post.

  62. Just tweeted via @bethanystephens:

    Enjoyed reading Be Flexible: You’ll be Blessed! by @SandyCoughlinRE via @SimpleMom, one of my new favorite blogs/sites.

  63. I was flexible last weekend when we had my son’s second b’day. He had a ten minute nap and my floors didn’t get mopped before company arrived. AND i didn’t get to clean up properly until four days later as i had Uni classes to go to….ewww!

  64. I have no trouble delaying dinner, it is getting my house company ready that prevents me from inviting people over – so when I do we often order take out – not enough time to clean and cook.

  65. Deb Freeman says:

    I have to be flexible as my kiddos are 17, 15 and 13 and to have dinner together, we have to be willing to eat at different times. We have grilled in the dark and eaten many “overdone” meals, but that is ok……..

  66. I wish I could say that I am flexible all of the time so that I can socialize at dinner more…but I can’t. When my daughter was first born I didn’t want to be a parent that had a schedule with meals and naps at regular times but necessity won out! If I don’t feed my daughter at 5pm then I can’t really get her into the bath at 6pm for bedtime at 7pm. We are expecting our second child in December so I don’t think that this will change anytime soon. But I hope to be able to be more flexible in the future when they are a little bit older and don’t need such a strict schedule everyday.

  67. Had a family dinner planned for last Sunday at 5 pm and each family had some assignments. Well, my assignments weren’t quite done at 5 pm; luckily, the other 2 parts of the family were also running a bit late. We were all flexible together and ended up having a lovely dinner with no one upset (possibly a miracle).

  68. A few months ago we had our church “small group” over for dinner for the first time. The lasagna was a new recipe and I doubled it to boot. It took 30+ minutes more to cook than I expected and we all had to sit around and wait. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be as we enjoyed talking and catching up instead of rushing into dinner. :o)

  69. Well, this is something I seriously need to work on. Last time I was flexible about dinner would probably be a picnic this summer that was at 6:00 (we normally eat at 4:30 -I know- because my husband has low blood sugar and our 3-year old is usually cranky after 5:00). We just have to go with the flow sometimes. I would love a copy of this book!

  70. Linda Meziere says:

    I have a friend who invites us over and we have a good time. She kept hinting that they’d like to come to our place so I broke down and invited them. I stressed so much over everything that I was miserable the whole day before. I actually felt sick when they were just 5 minutes late but I hung in there! But we all survived my attempt at hosting. And we even had a lot of fun. I’m still trying to get the courage to do it again.

  71. With my husband working long hours most days, and with only one car, both of us have to be flexible with dinner times. Some days it’s at 6pm and others, like last night, it’s 8:30 pm. before we even get home from running errands. I’m very thankful that my husband is so understanding and flexible.
    I would love to win this book, I definitely have a phobia of entertaining! I worry that people will criticize me or my food won’t be good…and so many other ridiculous things 🙂

  72. We are pretty flexible, as it seems everyone around us has a busier schedule than we do, but I would love to learn the art of hospitality…having people over is a major source of stress for me!

  73. I tweeted about this giveaway!

  74. Years ago, while traveling, we stopped in to say hello to a cousin and family. The husband invited us to stay for dinner. The wife was very upset and it made for a very awkward situation. I couldn’t wait to leave. Remembering this, I have tried to be much more flexible when guests “show up” or are invited. I want everyone to feel welcomed when they visit my home.

  75. That book looks awesome! I am pretty flexible because I am single, so there are less people to coordinate on my end. However, I often feel like I am expected to be the flexible one for that same reason. I think this book would be good for me. I still sometimes hesitate to invite others over if things aren’t “perfect.”

  76. Christine S says:

    We are very flexible with our dinnertime… maybe too much! But it does make it easy to entertain, especially when you are having people over who don’t have kids. Its all about the friendships.

  77. I would say that I’m pretty flexible on a daily bases and it seems to work for us!
    Thank you for the giveaway!
    God Bless!

  78. Dana Schultz says:

    Wow, I can’t EVER remember being flexible enough to entertain early, late or spontaneously! I am the woman who waits until the house is clean and perfect and my hair looks good and there is money in the bank and, and, and…. You get the idea! How nice to just flow with life. Yes, I need this book!

  79. The last time I was willing to be flexible was last weekend, letting my daughter stay up late so we could go for a moonlight walk. (but then I felt like I was rushing the walk along) I am not too flexible!! And reading this post made me YEARN to be. I feel like any bending of the time constraints or schedule just makes everything off track! But I DO want to enjoy company, We moved into our new home 1yr and 3 months ago, and are in a new city and have made new friends. We have been invited to others homes for dinner, grilling, fun, etc. And we GO…But when I want to reciprocate, I have a part of me that wants to “entertain”, but then the little voice starts talking- oh, the work, we’ll eat too late, what will I make, it’ll be too much to clean up…! The voice won’t be quiet! SOO, I have to figure out a way to balance, and open my home to others, and enjoy being flexible, without trying to rush through my flexible time.

  80. This was a very interesting post and certainly thought provoking. You know what I really struggle with, though? What to be flexible about. This is not a fully baked philosophy and the spirit of the post isn’t lost on me but there are some things I’ve decided I am going to stick to except in really unique situations. Ironically given the post , one of those is nighttime routine. I find that my kids sleep better and wake more contentedly if we stick to their bedtime routine and lights out time. I’ve also found that my blood sugar and in general “how I feel” is significantly better if I don’t eat meals late at night and stick to a modest bedtime snack. For this reason, I do not accept social commitments with dinners beyond a certain time. No doubt that will change as they age (7 months and 3 years currently) but for right now, these boundaries enable us to have a much smoother and contented evening/night/morning.

    As to other areas I try to be more flexible…what I serve for dinner – I’ve started serving a simple soup and salad with a good bread for company dinners occasionally. No one seems to mind and several people have commented how enjoyable it is to have a lighter/less formal dinner. Trying to be more flexible with our daughter (the 3 year old) to change plans (e.g.., I have a great craft I’ve been prepping and she wants to play outside/finger paint/etc.). Trying not to be upset when my husband decides to go to the gym at night when I had hoped we could spend the evening together after the kids went to bed.

    I’m certainly not great at any of these but I am trying. 🙂

  81. hmmmm…..I would have to say I’m a little bit flexible. My housekeeping always needs work so I find myself only inviting those over that I don’t think would critique my place too much ( I really need to have my place in order to invite more people over, so then I can learn to be flexible!)

  82. I am a very reluctant entertainer due to the state of my house–I need to make it more of a priority. I am flexible with family coming over (whenever), but start to sweat when a friend mentions dropping by!

  83. I’m a recovering perfectionist, too! Just last night I had dinner ready and the table set, but my three little ones were enjoying time outside. I determined that playing in the grass, sidewalk chalk and carefree races were more important in the waning warmth of evening that keeping to my schedule. When we did eat (45 minutes ‘late’), they were very hungry and ate extremely well. So totally worth it!

  84. I look to your website to give me structure, flexibility I’m good at, but so much so that I’m on the wishy-washy, disorganized side of flexibility. My husband works very irregular hours, so he can be home any where from 3pm to 8pm, so I have to be flexible in the dinner hour. I also work part-time straight night shifts as a nurse on the weekends, so when I have to have normal hours with the kids, things are a little out of whack then too.
    Anyway another comment, I don’t mind trying different things with my family, we can handle that. What I can’t handle is introducing any of my other mom friends to our “flexible”, somewhat disorganized lifestyle. I look forward to reading this book to help me open that door to others. I am a social person, but I have had such a hard time after kids having guests in my home. When they are here, they are only allowed upstairs because downstairs is my staging area for processing stuff to trash, goodwill and craigslist. I am trying to cleanse my house, but it is a long process when you are working on a masters, working part time, and being a SAHM.

  85. Flexibility for dinner meals is just not an option at our home…unless they are earlier of course. We have 2 gals with bedtimes that simply cannot be compromised…unless you want bears to rise out of the beds where you put 2 angels down to sleep!

  86. Marilyn Holeman says:

    I think “flexibility” is my husband’s middle name! We tend to be spontaneous here. And my son, who is now in college, is constantly reminding me to invite someone over from “our list” (people who are acquaintances from our church meetings, etc. but whom we don’t know very well yet.) I tend to be more reluctant, but my family reminds me it’s the PEOPLE who are important, not the house. I’d love to read Sandy’s book. Thanks for the encouragement!

  87. A few months ago we decided to make a little more for dinner a few nights a month and invite some neighbors to join us. The invitation was always spontaneous and sometimes worked out, sometimes didn’t. But the times it did we had wonderful conversation and got to know the people on our street a little better.

  88. We go to a family vacation home a few times every year and I used to be very vocal and regimented in eating at a particular time for my kids. But, the past couple of years I’ve pushed back that rigidity so that everyone else’s plans can be accomodated. This might mean I give my kids a smaller lighter dinner mid afternoon so we can do a later restaraunt dinner (where the kids get maybe an appetizer and dessert) if that is the plan. The thing I try to focus on is that its the spending time with family, the little moments, that are important and if I need to be flexible (while still meeting my kids needs so they aren’t up at all hours or starving and cranky) then we all can enjoy our time together.

  89. I had to become more flexible about late dinners very recently when I started working until 9:30 at night! Thanks for the giveaway!

  90. Last Sunday we had a spur of the moment dinner date with neighbors. I had to take some deep breaths because the house wasn’t clean and presentable. In the end, it was so worth it and our time together was worth shedding the baggage of perfection that I tend to carry.

    I’d really love to read this book!

  91. It is REALLY hard for me to be flexible in this area. I grew up with a stricter family where it was expected that you were on time for meals and any commitments. That said, I’ve been working on my flexibility. A lot of times I’m not really sure when my fiance will be done with work and be able to come over for dinner, so that has stretched me in my flexibility. That’s just one recent example. I would LOVE this book! 🙂

  92. Just the other day when we went out to dinner with our friends later than normal with our 1 year old! Lessons learned. Dinner and bedtime need to be on schedule! Things aren’t like they used to be and it’s ok!

  93. I can’t remember the last time I was flexible! I guess that’s good to know. But your post has inspired me to introduce some flexibility into my life. Thanks.

  94. I tried something different last night. I made a tomato based sauce out of some yellow tomatoes I had left in my garden. I don’t often make fresh tomato sauce and these aren’t even sauce tomatoes. I tried a new to me technique and cooked the garlic, basil and onions in olive oil while the tomatoes cooked down. When the tomatoes were ready, I added some of the olive oil to the sauce. My family had to be flexible too. Eating yellow spaghetti sauce was not something they expected!

  95. This summer we had a family from Spain stay with us for a little over 2 weeks. The night before they left, we said our goodbyes, shed some tears and promised to stay in touch. Honestly, the next day I was surprisingly sad to have a relatively quiet house. During my kids nap time, I was thinking about our newfound friends when I heard someone knocking on our door. I went to the door to find the mother of this family peering through the window with tears in her eyes. Their flight had been overbooked, their bags had left on the plane without them and they couldn’t fly out for another 2 days!
    I struggle with being spontaneous, especially when entertaining, but of course I welcomed them back into our home for 2 more days. Those 2 days were full of more quality time than the previous 2 weeks. We had many talks and long walks discussing God and their questions about faith. Sometimes flexible entertaining holds unexpected blessings for all involved, and it surely did in this case!

  96. yesterday, my husband was really late coming home from work, but dinner was ready and my girls needed to eat. we would usually wait until his return, so we can eat as a family. i set the table and served up dinner for just my girls and i and they were shocked and complained about eating without daddy – which was actually nice to hear. now, i know how special family meal time is to them!

  97. The last time I was flexible with mealtime was a week ago. I am caring for a little boy, his mom was running late, we had to get to the store, so I squeezed in a quick dinner for the kids-eggs, applesauce, broccoli. Not the most amazing combination, but they ate every bite! I have a hard time deviating from my schedule, with 3 little ones in the house it always feels like a house of cards toppling down if something goes awry!

  98. Laura Tawney says:

    I wasn’t always flexible when my kids were younger. As I’ve grown I’ve let up on the need to be so structured and scheduled and have grown to be flexible and adaptable. I think that is one of my greatest attributes now. My kids and grandkids came over for breakfast and instead of eating earlier we ate later in the morning around their schedules and incorporated pampakes (as my granddaughter calls them) at the last moment.
    Laura T

  99. As a very recent empty-nester (just finishing Week 3!), I am becoming a bit too flexible about mealtime. Last night, for example, MY meal was a bowl of raisin bran after my husband and I got back from taking the dog for a walk, while my husband’s meal was a bowl of tunafish around 9 and then a chimichanga around 12:30. Oh, dear. Reading this makes me feel even worse.
    When it comes to entertaining, though, I feel like things need to be next-to-ideal before I’ll even consider it. I bet you can guess that we don’t do a lot of entertaining.
    I reckon I’d have a lot to learn from this book.

  100. Elizabeth B says:

    “When was the last time you were flexible and able to go with a later dinner time? Or that you were willing to try something different?”

    Last week we had a dear friend over for dinner and just took our time visiting and preparing and drinking wine and just enjoying each other. It was nice to just let go of the perfection for once and have everything on a schedule. It’s not easy for me to do that though..this I struggle with! My husband is a chef and we would LOOOVE to entertain all the time but our house is small and we feel like we don’t have the room for it. We need to let that go….