I am about to give you some free, yet infinitely valuable advice.  I am going to share my secret on living a happy, successful, and fulfilled life:

Low expectations.

That’s right. Low expectations.  Setting the bar too high is just a recipe for disappointment and failure.  Set that bar LOW!  If you aren’t meeting your goals, don’t worry, don’t fuss; lower that bar!

This is especially helpful in parenting small children.  It is probably even more helpful with teenagers, but I am not there yet, and I don’t advise you to wait nine years to find out how I will do it when you can lower the bar and enjoy your life today!

Here are some examples from my life where a low bar has led to contentment and happiness:

I took my two small children, aged one and four, to Waffle House by myself.  That’s right, by myself.  Now some would have looked at my daughter, with grits in her hair and scrambled egg smeared across her face, onesie, and feet, and not been happy.  Some would have observed my son, “drinking” from the syrup-sticky sugar dispenser, and I thought I didn’t have it all under control.  Some might have thought that my daughter’s screams (her word for “feed me immediately please Mommy”) were cries for a deeper sort of help.  Some might have seen the overturned glass dripping water and ice cubes on the floor and felt I was somehow in over my head.  But, I know my children and I set the bar low.  We all got something to eat and Waffle House was still standing when we were finished means a complete success!

Cleaning my house is another area lowered expectations have served me well.  Now some would see my house and shudder at the post-Apocalyptic state; it might depress them or even make them franticly call Merry Maids. Toys are covering every conceivable surface, and the floor underneath piled high with half a pound of sand from the backyard sandbox with a plastic shovel standing upright like a Veteran’s Memorial.  The number of plastic, child-friendly plates and lidless sippy cups on the floor could fill a dishwasher—or my empty cupboards. But am I unhappy? Heck, no!  I can step over things like an Olympic pro.  I can look the other way and PRETEND we are that house from HGTV.

And lastly, I will briefly mention head counts: another invaluable parenting tool.  Having the same number of kids alive at the end of the day as you started with is awesome!  If they are the same kids as you started out with; even better!  If not, well, you tried. Bonus points go to the Mom whose morning to evening pet stats stay the same. High five!

Go on!  Lower those expectations and live a happy life!