And on The 5th of June, She Created Quiet Because She Didn’t Want to be Like That Kardashian Mom

Have I told you that I automatically wake up at 5am almost every morning?  No alarm?  Actually, that was before Tanzania.  Since Tanzania it’s been 4:30.  It started January 1st. NO LIE.  Is that odd? Do you think Someone is trying to tell me something?  I do my best writing while the sun is rising and I’ve been trying to work on a project.

I was watching that Kardashian show last night and the mom was all whiny about how much work she has to do and had to leave dinner with her girls early because she didn’t have cell phone service. The girls (three of which were grown, two in high school ~it’s a total rerun because what? Kourtney is all pregnant?) anyway, the girls were all “mom, relax, let’s just enjoy dinner together.” And the mom was all “you all don’t understand I have WORK and people are trying to get in touch with me, and I need to be available, things are happening, Gah!”

All I could think of was “Oh my GOSH Kardashian Mom, do you NOT see how much your girls want to just hang out with you while you are not preoccupied with your work? And people you don’t even know” it is SO obvious. Duh!  Then I thought about myself and y’all, all DAY yesterday I was so preoccupied with my work and my schedule. Did I even make eye contact with my boys?  I am the Kardashian mom.  We’ve all done it.

I have more control over quiet than I like to think.

I know how to quiet the house, but am I willing to quiet my life?

I like to think I’m being noble by having so much on my plate but it’s not noble, it’s foolish.

I also struggle with feeling like something is wrong with me, why do I require so much more margin and white space than my friends? (read in your Nellie Olsen voice, insert dirty look and dramatic hair flip complete with ribbons).

So I put up my summer automatic email response.  It kills me to do it every year. And every year I think this year will be different and I won’t need to put it up because now I am a grown up and I can handle my boys out of school and returning email in a timely manner.  And every year it’s one of the best things I do::


Then I sign it like this;

–The Nester

18 Summers

Apparently I wrote that post so I could link to it as an excuse all summer.

The truth is my work is writing. (OH MY WORD, I JUST ADMITTED IT!)  I can do my job if I can just write good stuff.  None of you really care if I’m on twitter or facebook or email you right back within 24 hours.  The part of Nesting Place I need to protect the most is the words and the creativity.  And those can’t flow if I let my schedule build up and if I let my time fill up.

A big part of doing your work is defending your time and your attention so you can do your work.

–Seth Godin

Am I the only one who struggles to defend the time I need to actually do my work?  What are your secrets because I desperately need them.  And, if you are feeling chatty–how do you run your blog or business or life differently in the summer?  I read all the comments (even in the summer) and I’d love to hear from you.


  1. your summer auto responder is one of my very favorite things about you. i am currently writing mine. something like…if you just need paint colors or a new sofa, fine. but if you want your whole house redesigned, email me in september. ’cause i’m tired fancy shoes and i feel like floating on a tube down a river with the people i love…barefoot…or something.

  2. I have so much respect for your choice to prioritize family over work. The precious time we have with our children is so short in the course of our lives, cherish it, work can wait. Enjoy your summer.

  3. I still have very young babies (yay!), so I don’t have any firsthand advice.

    However, from working with the youth at my church, I always hear parents talk about wanting to go on trips with their kids. From beach trips to skipping Sunday morning church to go for a hike. They just want memories. They all want to PLAY with their kids.

    No one runs a blog, so I don’t know that side of it.

    • I magic happens on trips, I’m glad you reminded me of that–we have some bigger trips planned but day trips are fun too and I can even do those without my husband—thinking about a few mom/day trips this summer now, thank you!

      • i think you need a mom trip to bean station with the boys in tow. they can play on the lake and jump off the dock while we sip sweet tea, eat cherry-chocolate chip cookies, and gab for hours about all things nesting. and you should bring emily too. the guest rooms are calling your names! i love your summer mantra. it’s perfect in every way.
        mwahhhhhh :)

  4. Great post. I needed to hear it. Thanks for you sharing your heart and your life.

  5. I love your food for thought. I have not blogged much this past school year because I was so busy homeschooling. I was looking forward to summer break to try to catch up on my blog. But now that summer is here, I want to look in my kids faces for the shear joy of it rather than to see if they understand a concept. I continually debate whether or not this is my season for blogging or fussing at myself that if I were just more organized, I could blog. At that point, I realize that I need to show myself grace about blogging.

  6. I love your priorities. Make time for your work that matters, like writing brilliant stuff like this. Then go play with your boys. Perfect! Enjoy your summer, Nester!

  7. I didn’t post on my blog all last week. I felt a smidge guilty but you know what, I was busy living my life, and enjoying time with my family. And I felt more creative because I wasn’t stressed with the thought of ‘what am I going to blog about’. I’m even thinking about blogging a week, skipping a week this summer. But even that is too structured.

  8. PS> enjoy your summer!

  9. Your penchant to be “other” and “do other” than the rest of the world is exactly what I like best about you. Beautiful post!

  10. I love the message – and it is spelt all correctly and I am still mortified about yesterday!

    I think it is great, I work all day and then the evenings seem to pass by so quickly and I find that trying to find the time to blog and do everything else seems too much to cope with sometimes, I don’t have any of the 18 Summers to think about (no kids) but I think it must be great to have a sort of countdown to make sure that you stick to doing things.

    Have a wonderful summer!

  11. You are NOT a Kardashian mom!

    • So true – Nester, you’re much MUCH better as a mom than Mrs. Kardashian (from my limited experience thereof). But we all have moments when we’re not quite as present as we should be… Have a great summer, and enjoy living and writing! :)

  12. Great post! We’re nearing in on summer(NY schools end late,) and I only have 3 summers left with my teen. Thanks for sharing how you handle it.

  13. This post echoes my heart lately and I love it. Thanks for sharing and thanks for being bold enough to put on that auto response! Thanks for always being real and honest on your blog. :) It’s inspiring!

  14. Great post. The title of the post is awesome. :)

  15. I just took a 2 month break from writing I still read other blogs but life got too busy to continue to write. So far it’s been the best decision but it was a hard one. I hope when I come back I am more relaxed and able to find the time to write without it being a burden on real life stuff.

  16. Love it. Love how intentional you are about creating margin. I require more margin than most as well. And sometimes you have to work hard to preserve it in your life.

  17. For me, the key to our summer(s) is camp. I struggle with overscheduling, but the fact is they love the different camps, and it allows me the time I need to do work, or errands, go to the gym, whatever. That way the days and weeks without camp we can just be and I’m not thinking “oh, I should be doing this, and this… etc.”

  18. It’s summer! Enough said.


  19. This is my first summer without a summer babysitter and I’m feeling it already! I always struggle with what I need to get done (or think I need to get done) and spending time with my girls. Love the idea of your auto email responder. You are right, if there is one person I don’t want to be like, it is the Kardashians! :) The past week or so, I’ve tried to give myself 2 hours (at some point during the day) to get as much as I can done. And what doesn’t get done work wise in those 2 hours has to wait fo the next day. Like you said, you quickly realize that everything is not quite as urgent as we make it seem. Love this post!!

  20. Summers are sacred when there are children in the home!

  21. I completely understand your feeling because I was watching that episode and all I thought was “Turn off your phone woman!” I never want to be so busy that I have to run out on time with my family!

    And it was actually a new episode you were watching. Courtney is pregnant for a second time with a girl. I know too much about the Kardashians.

  22. I thoroughly enjoy you :)

  23. The margin thing? I NEED it too. And I didn’t know that was the issue slash what it was called until I read that one other post that you wrote about the margin. And I totally GOT it, major ah-ha moment. Before that post, seriously, I thought that the so-called “margin” was just laziness and wasted time where I could be doing “important stuff” on my to do list, all the while letting my canvas sit there all blank and waiting for something good, and my girls preoccupied by something other than me so I could finish all that “important stuff”. When my right brain self is forced to function in left brain mode all the time it is destined to implode. That margin, the quiet time where I let myself get lost in my art and creativity makes me better at life, better at mothering and wife-ing. It’s so good. Really.

  24. I’m still trying to figure it out as well. I embrace lazy summers and for some reason, work has doubled this month. How did that happen?
    All I do know for sure is that we planned on missing my hubby’s side of the family reunion because it was in Colorado, and was falling the same week as my niece’s wedding. He just told me yesterday, that their whole side of the family just changed the date (without asking me, of course) and it now falls on a week where work and commitments are SUPER busy, but EVERYONE is coming from all over the US.
    I did a subtle scream like, ” I can’t do it that week. I just can’t (since we know it’s all about my work schedule).”
    He raised his eyebrows and said, “Oh, So sorry, honey, I guess we can leave you here, and I’ll go with the kids.” ;)
    He knew he had me. PRIORITIES!! What am I thinking? Who knows when this will ever happen again.
    It’s our oldest’s LAST summer!! We are now DRIVING with SEVEN OF US in a tight squeeze mini van from NC TO COLORADO the day after my niece’s wedding (which I am helping plan.)

    I mean, it’s a tight squeeze with my three teen boys (all over 6 feet) just driving to church together on Sundays. So, as much as I am dreading (and that is putting it mildly) literally 60 hours driving in a vehicle, I almost cry when I think of all the wonderfully forced family bonding we will have.
    I mean, ALL OF US, together in a TIGHT, SMELLY van for four days of driving. Honestly, it will be divine and this mom, who has been too busy at work and other commitments, knows that this will be a week that we will never forget. So now, I need to think of a great auto responder, not for the whole summer, but for sure in July. ;)

  25. This will be my first summer as a blogger so I’m still in the “figuring it out” phase. I have three little ones at home so slowing down the blog from 5 posts a week to whatever works for my family is on my agenda. Don’t worry, you are no Kardashian mom. I can’t exactly see her in Tanzania! I saw that episode as well and I couldn’t sit through the whole thing. Do they want some cheese with that whine?

  26. Yes! How wise you moms are to see this at the beginning of the summer instead of 1/2 way through when you feel like you’re hanging on a hook somewhere! I well remember that feeling way back in the day!

    I encourage my counseling and coaching clients to set up regular work hours if at all possible, and do whatever you can to get out of the house to do what you need to do. I’m also encouraging them to pick ONE online social media outlet – blogging/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest, whatever, and put their energies into doing that thing well, rather than a million things with heaps of frustration.

    No matter if we have kids at home or not, we can all do alot better at being present in the moment with the people we love instead of focusing on everything else that grabs at us. And for many of us, that will mean that we need to set limits on our use of screens and literally turn them off and put them away when the time we’ve allotted is done. Sounds harsh, but that’s what it seems to be coming to because many of us have become obsessed with the technology that pulls at us relentlessly.

    Maybe this will help?

  27. I love your auto-response message. It’s perfect. Your 18 summers post really puts into perspective the brief time we have to enjoy our little ones. It goes by so fast; savor every minute. And I definitely struggle to carve out my work-at-home time. I feel guilty if I’m working and the kids are begging me to play, and I feel guilty if I’m playing and my inbox is overflowing. But, the summer is too sweet to miss out on; so I usually give in to the siren song of the outdoors and my laughing children. It’s a decision I’ve never regretted {although I do sometimes end up working into the wee hours to make up time}. Have a wonderful summer!

  28. Dear Nester Smith, you are NOT alone.

    I’ll come back, but right now I have to make breakfast for my kids. Hopefully I don’t lose my train of thought in the meantime.


    • okay – I’m back. That was a quick one.

      I’m just trying to go with the flow more. Besides my blog, I have a couple other creative ventures (writing for our local newspaper, helping a few friends decorate their homes, volunteering for a farm advocacy group, and working on renovating my own house) not to mention staying home full time with my rambunctious 3 and 1 year olds.

      I’m not an expert at “doing it all” but I’ve been continually meditating on and praying about the idea that “You can do anything, but not everything.” I’m trying to carefully, carefully choose my anythings. #1 most important is being a good mom, but having some of those creative endeavors helps me be a better mom, honestly.

      So, I follow my creative voice when I get a chance. If I’m in the mood to write, I write. If I’m in the mood to edit photos, I edit photos. I’m trying not to “force” anything creative, but instead, let my muse come. Then, I feel like I’m really productive and satisfied when I DO get some time to “work.”
      But if my boys are particularly demanding one day, I try to follow their lead instead. Sometimes, that means we have to get out of the house – at the park, with the cell phone locked in the car – so that they get some good mommy time. Or, we invite friends over. the boys are little enough that they require supervision, but they have fun, and I get to just enjoy watching them play, while enjoying a bit of adult conversation, too.

      It’s hard. REALLY hard, isn’t it? I just turned down a free ticket and free hotel room to a blogging conference I wanted to go to because now is just not the season in my life where I can be traveling away from my family.

      Okay, thinking back on what I wrote, I don’t think it was probably helpful at all…sorry! But, you are an inspiration to so many of us, and it’s nice to know that you struggle with the same things we do, too!


  29. You watch the Kardashian’s? If that isn’t a time waster and life sucker right there, I don’t know what is. ;) Enjoy your summer with your family!! You have made the right decision. :)

  30. I’ve only been blogging since January, so I really have no idea how to balance the blog with the rest of my life. It can really take over if I let it! I’m just lucky my boys are still small enough to take naps and go to bed early at night. I try to resist things like reading or responding to comments and poking around at other blogs while they’re awake. Which reminds me, I need to log off—Curious George is almost over!!

    Have a truly beautiful summer! I love your writing and am so glad that’s what you choose to prioritize, work-wise. Take care!

  31. I’m a mom to 5 boys (10, 7, 5, 3 and 1). We made a summer fun list together of all the FUN stuff we want to do this summer. I don’t blog but I work part-time from home and have a hard time saying NO I can’t take anything else on right now. I often hear myself saying…just a minute…when they are trying to talk to me so I am trying to catch myself before the words come out of my mouth and focus on THEM while they still want to talk to me.

  32. Hi,

    I am new to your blog, and I LOVE this post. Thank you for emphasizing the importance of de-cluttering your schedule. Personallly, I am just learning this lesson now that I am a mom of an adorable 10-month old. These days are precious and must be savored. Always before I was interested in finding ways to fit more into my life, now I am trying to narrow the activities down to just the crucial ones.

    Thanks for the reminder that summertime is a perfect time to practice this.


  33. OK Nester this makes me laugh ~ because the LoveFeast Girls literally just wrote you an email and are now wondering if you are going to read it in a timely manner!! LOL!! ~ jk!! We are doing the same thing here at LoveFeast ~ because even though there are even 2 of us ~ we realize we are equally interested in nurturing our families this summer. When they are back in school ~ we’ll than put our focus again on ~ Pumpkin Season ! Wishing you the very best!!! from CA

  34. Love it! Our families need us more than our readers do. Thanks for the reminder. I was wondering though: the bowl full of Popsicles? Por que? It looks beautiful but I was not sure how you kept your kids from stealing them before you snapped a pic. lol. xoxo

  35. I so appreciate what you have to say about needing lots of margin in your life. I am the same way, and have struggled with feeling guilty for needing so much margin. And I’m married to a man who is the energizer bunny and seems to relish having very little margin! I’m starting to accept that this is who I am. It has been a particularly margin-less season of life and it has taken a toll. The hubs and I had a conversation just last week about how we sense that life needs a change, that living like this is not good for me. We aren’t sure what that change will look like, but we are seeking God and praying for direction. In the meantime, I sincerely wish I could have an auto-reply just like yours- but I’m not sure my boss would be very understanding :)

  36. I’m fascinated by the idea of doing an auto-responder email like this. So do you eventually read and respond to them? Do you wait until fall and then tackle them all at once? I took one full week away from email last year during Spring Break and it took me 3 months to get caught up again. Ugh.

    I am trying to cut back on my posting schedule from 5 days a week to 4 this summer. It’ll be nice to have an extra day off each week!

  37. Nester – props and hugs to you on this post. On the white space – I need more white space, too, than other people do. I have a son who can process anything in a nano-second and for me it’s a nano-millenium. It’s alright. It just takes more time. Accepting that is important. And, as you pointed out, letting go of some things, too. I can’t remember the guy’s name – he wrote Getting Things Done – but he writes about we’re not just managing our TIME we’re managing our energy level. And in the case of moms, we are managing our circumstances + energy level.

  38. I get it. I just made a similar decision.

    Apart from occasionally blogging(it is just for fun. I don’t make any income) I try try take care of my home, hubby, and I have a part time job. All that was fine, but I am going back to school and I was suddenly getting more hours at work. I realized that I couldn’t do it all, so I had to stick to my guns at work until my hours lessened to what I am capable of handling. I know that not everyone can cut back on an income source, but mine is a second income that we have so we can do fun things and not be total penny pinchers through collage (not that pinching pennies when you have to is bad, but it is nice to not be stressed because you have to pinch all of them). Not working so much has been great because I have the time and energy to focus on more important and long term things like my education and family. I’m so blessed that this is my life.

    Now I must go clean. I am sure that your boys appreciate that you think of them so much. You set a good example of setting aside other things so you can focus on your family and helping others. Thanks so much.


  39. Love this post! And oh my gosh….I don’t want to be like that Kardashian mom either! I never saw it that way until you wrote that! I need all the tips & suggestions I can get! I feel like that all year round, not just in the summer time because my kids aren’t in school yet!

  40. Nester,
    A memory can be as easy as my daughter (23) hearing the Ice cream truck music playing and jumping up to get her purse and flag him down. She bought treats for herself and mom and dad. It was a major treat and momory jog of when we did that a dozen years ago as a “kid”. such a simple treat and we didn’t even leave the house. Sat on our porch wickerand enjoyed.
    Somethings don’t need to be so hard. We all need down/off time when we just relax.


  41. Oh my stars, you have NO idea how timely this is!!! I just said something on our Facebook page about wanting to pursue a passion/dream but being afraid to do it. Part of that fear is knowing that it means I have to step away from some things to allow myself the time to do it. AND, I have spent the last few months trying to figure out why I keep waking up super early and have been in total denial that maybe I was being nudged to use that time, that quiet, to pursue said dream. Hmmm….no denying it now! LOL! Thank you so much for being so honest and also for being an encouragement to all of us. And I think your auto reply email is genius! Well, I’m off to take my kiddos to the science museum today…I definitely don’t want to be a Kardashian mom. LOL!

  42. You have this talent where you crack me up and touch me deeply all in the same post :) I can’t wait to meet you!!!

  43. How many of us dream of being our own bosses so we can be home more with our families? Yet, oftentimes when the dream comes true we find ourselves being consumed by our business and neglecting our families. We don’t mean to, it just sort of sneaks up on us, the busyness of running your own business is hard to just lay it aside and relax. I own a children’s boutique where we make 90% of all of our clothing and accessories, as you can imagine, it is time consuming. This summer I am setting ‘summer’ business hours. When I am closed I will not check e-mails or return messages, my office door will be closed and the computer off. I will be truly present with my four kids, not worrying about the next thing on my ‘to-do’ list.

  44. I am going to take a hiatus from my blog after I write a post commemorating my dad tomorrow. Tomorrow will mark 13 years since he went to his Heavenly home. Though life goes on, it doesn’t get any easier. I miss him as much today as the day he left us – maybe even more. The rest of the summer I will be working on my business website and will open an online store, when I am not spending quality time doing something fun with my daughter.

  45. You are sooo speaking my language, girl. SO speaking it. Can’t wait to meet you in a couple of weeks. Maybe we can squeeze in time for a cup of coffee? Doubtful, but fun to think about.

  46. Robin Love says

    I know that you will have heard this a million times but I will say it again…kids grow up way too fast and before you know it, they’re out of the house, etc. As a mom of 4 grown kids and 12 grandkids, I look back and wish now that I had spent so much more time enjoying my children and worrying about other things so much less. You never hear a person complain that their parents spent “too much” time with them…just saying. I think you are making a wise choice!

  47. I think I’m just going to start posting links to yours and Maggie’s posts every day because you guys just keep writing exactly what’s on my heart. And I am stinking up this how to use my time wisely thing so far. I thought that since I home schooled all year, moving into summer would be an easy shift. It’s not. I have no idea how to do this summer business and still keep up regular business.

    And then there’s that book I have to finish…

  48. I saw that same Kardasian show (my 22 year old was watching it and I glanced over). I think that particular segment made us all think! I hope for a lot of quiet peaceful moments this summer and some margin space ;)

  49. dude! i like a little bad TV at night too.. see, this post is proof there’s actually very valuable lessons you can learn from it. God bless the Kardashian mom and ALL US MOMS just wading our way through, trying to figure out what’s best for our own little brood!

  50. I definitely feel like I need more of what you call a margin than most people I know. It makes me feel really selfish or that something is wrong that I need so much down time. I’ll sacrifice sleep to get it, because that alone time is what REALLY gives me rest, whether I’m reading the Bible, writing, or just having a meal without having to talk or get up 100 times. Thankfully I have a husband who is very understanding and helps me find this time as much as possible, though it still rarely seems like enough. Often I just have to scrap my writing work for the kids, but I can usually get a night or so to myself here or there and it makes a world of difference. You are not alone!

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