Monday, January 6, 2014

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode – Book Review

I was ecstatic when I was asked to participate on the launch team for Crystal Paine’s new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.  I have been a long time reader of Crystal’s blog, Money Saving Mom, and have implemented a lot of money saving practices she talks about on her blog including setting a budget, using coupons, and paying off debt.  I still check Money Saving Mom multiple times per day to see the deals that are posted, coupon match-ups, budgeting tips as well as a glimpse into her daily life with her family. 

As a full-time working Mom with 3 kids ages 7, 5 and 18 months, I often (very often) feel like we are living in survival mode.  I just said to my husband last night, “why does it seem like when you think you are caught up, there is more laundry to do, more dishes to wash, more food to prepare, and more toys to pick-up?”  Life with 3 kids is hectic enough and I know that I put a lot of extra stresses on myself as a Mom (and a woman) on what I believe “ideal” should be in my life.  I often feel frazzled and cannot even think what I have to do next without literally taking a “Mom time-out” to collect my thoughts.  If you often feel like me, then I highly recommend reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode which officially launches on January 21st.

The first chapter of this book is titled “Stop Trying to Do It All”.  This is the chapter that really spoke the loudest to me.  The quote I took to heart was when Crystal’s husband spoke to her and said “Crystal, you know that you are the one who is bringing most of this on yourself.”  Yes, we bring most of this onto ourselves.  We over commitment ourselves, we try to be “Supermom”; yes we do it to ourselves!  Crystal stresses how we need to learn to say “no” and not over commitment ourselves to the point that we are living in “Survival Mode”.  I wrote an entire blog post on this realization, check it out here.

The second chapter, “Say Yes to the Best” plays off the concepts in chapter one.  We need to pick and choose what is best for ourselves and our family.  Saying “yes” to one thing, will force us to say “no” to another commitment.  We have to determine our priorities in life and build our schedules around them.  From this chapter, I was able to write out my priorities for 2014, and I now reference them when I am making decisions on my daily schedule.  Crystal also challenges her readers to create a daily routine which includes margin room.  “You need breathing space for when life happens”.  Isn’t this the truth?  You may have your day perfectly planned down to the minute, and then the baby gets sick and everything is thrown off schedule.  This is where it is so important to have margin room as well as give yourself some grace if your day does not go as planned!

The third chapter, “If You Aim at Nothing, You’ll Hit it Every Time”, talks about the importance of goal setting in our daily lives.  I am a manager of nine people at my workplace and every year we sit down and create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound) goals.  We then take the time to review our progress mid-year and at year end.  “If you don’t know where you’re aiming, you’re going to lack direction and purpose.”  The funny part is, I never set real goals at home.  My husband and I always had ideas in our head on what we wanted to accomplish, but we never really sat down and wrote down goals with action items!  This has changed and now I have a list of 10 goals in 2014, check them out here!  The important part for me is accountability, I have them listed on my blog and I am committed to do a monthly check-in.  For our debt reduction goals, I have them visibly posted for my husband and I with monthly check-in’s so we can see our progress. 

In chapters four and five, discipline and knowing where you are going is discussed and how this will help you achieve your goals.  If you are trying to reach a lofty goal, you need to make small changes on a daily basis.  Crystal gives the example of committing to run a 5K race.  Every day she had to make strides to complete this goal.  If your goal is to reduce spending, you perhaps will have to take baby steps such as first cutting your grocery budget.  From there you can gain momentum to move forward and strive towards your goal.

Chapter six, “Manage the Homefront” was the other chapter that really spoke to me personally.  Crystal discusses home management topics such as meal planning, freezer cooking, and cleaning techniques.  But my personal take-away from this chapter is controlling the clutter.  “I truly believe that the less you have, the less time you spend on upkeep, maintenance, and cleaning. Either you can control the clutter or the clutter will control you.”  I wrote an entire blog post on this concept here.   I am currently on a mission to control the clutter in my house.  I know I often feel overwhelmed when I look at all the stuff in our house and how I have to constantly clean it up!  I have come to the realization that with 3 kids you have a lot of stuff, but I often feel like we are at the point where we have too much stuff.  This is another one of my goals, to get rid of clutter on a continuous basis!

The final chapters of this book are more about encouraging the reader who is feeling like they are failing in life and how you can make a difference.  Crystal gives a lot of creative ideas on how to make more time if you feel like you simply do not have enough in the day as well as making a difference in the world.  She talks about how she and her husband are truly good stewards of their money and give a lot of their time and resources to others in need.  If you are a reader of Money Saving Mom, a lot of this information may be stories you have already read on the blog. 

Finally the book concludes with a chapter about taking time for you.  I believe as Moms we get so wrapped up in our “Mom roles” that we forget about ourselves!  I have personally created a goal for myself this year.  As I was reviewing my goals, there was really nothing for myself.  We need to treat ourselves once in a while, make time for ourselves, do things we love by ourselves or with our friends, otherwise we will burn out all too quick.  Crystal also talks about making real in life friendships with other women and Moms.  In this digital age, we have a lot of Facebook friends, but how many do we have that we can go enjoy a cup of coffee with?  I believe this is really important to get offline and go back to real, true friendships (hence one of my goals)!

As a personal note, if you are at the point where you are feeling deeply depressed, I encourage you (as well as Crystal) to seek professional help.  This book is a great starting point to getting your life back in order, but some of us may be at the point, where we cannot even start to implement these principles in this book because we are so deeply depressed.  I personally suffered from a bad case of post-partum depression after the birth of my 3rd child.  I was in an awful place and my Mom encouraged me to go see my doctor.  This did wonders for me to get back on track.  If you are at that point, I’m encouraging you to make that appointment with your doctor first!

Overall, this book is a really good read.  Several chapters spoke directly to me as a person and now I am implementing a lot of the suggestions in this book.  It is a great starting point if you are looking for more order in your life or are looking to make substantial changes in the year to come.  I highly encourage all Moms to at least read it once.  Even if you think you have it all under control, you may still learn a thing or two or find a practice you want to implement!
You can preorder the book here or the kindle version here.  If you preorder the book now, you will receive $125 in freebies, check out the link here.


I was provided a review copy of the book and was not compensated in any way for this honest review.  All thoughts are my own.

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