Benign Neglect

posted in: Life 86 comments

Such has been my attitude to almost everything lately – benign neglect. (My definition) An attitude of “it can take care of itself, or if it cannot, it doesn’t really matter right now”. 

My boys, at 4 and nearly 2, have become fast friends. There is less pushing, shoving and snatching, and more sharing, caring, hand holding, conniving, ganging up together on me, and general getting along-ness happening on that front. Because they entertain each other, I don’t need to anymore. I am now merely the snack fetcher, the water bottle filler, the crumb cleaner upper. I sit on my comfy corner (be it on my chair in my writing nook or on the couch – these days, most likely lolling around on the latter) and watch, thinking briefly, maybe I should break out some crafts or sit down and play cars with them. I banish such thoughts quickly, because why disrupt something that’s working? They’re playing together. They’re concocting games together. They’re mischievous, up to no good, and getting creative. Who am I to get in the way? Benign neglect.

The house is still clean, because I cannot stand it otherwise. On the surface, it’s all shiny, but in the cracks and crevices, there is dust and possibly sticky substances left by children. I would not need to clean up if a friend visits, and I’ll leave my books askew as they are, the million toy cars we own scattered around, and gasp, the dish drying rack will probably be full (but at least there are no dirty dishes). Benign neglect.

The laundry gets done and put away. But there’s a week’s worth of ironing untouched. There are a couple of hundred of new photos I’ve taken of the boys and everything else, but they’re not organized in any way. There are toys to be sorted through for either throwing away (because cars are useless without wheels) or to be donated, but they’re still there, in the toy box. Benign neglect.

And this blog. This blog. I write when I can, but lately, inspiration has dried up. Instead of panicking that I don’t have a post ready, I say, meh, and click away. I pull out a good book instead. When I do write and publish, I barely remember to promote it. I don’t take my own advice as a social media consultant. I reply to comments a week late, and I have many, many unread blog posts in my Feedly reader. I think briefly about my blog friends and hope that they understand. Also, I won’t be inserting a picture into this post to break up the text. Benign neglect. 

I can say that life matters more than the blog blah blah blah. Truth be told, my blog is part of my life, but one that just needs to take a backseat for now, while I sit in my corner with my book, watching my boys make cars fly through the air. 

I’m totally okay with that. 

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

Latest posts by Alison (see all)

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • March 17, 2014 Kerstin

    Maybe you practised a little too much benign neglect on yourself lately – and now you need to make up for that πŸ™‚
    Go for it and do what feel good, everything else can wait! xox
    Kerstin recently wrote…On the RadioMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Maybe. The Universe’s way of telling me to chill out.

  • March 17, 2014 Laura

    Nothing here is anything that you should be ashamed about…

    Or at least I hope, because I don’t do crafts with my kids (they entertain themselves too, often!), I don’t even TAKE photos anymore, my house is not clean (apparently post-birthday party mess is still a thing, even when the party is not at your house), there are dirty dishes, despite the multiple times the dishwasher was run this weekend, and laundry is DEFINITELY unfolded and not put away. Don’t even talk to me about ironing.

    Ahem. I’m starting to think it might be a good thing that we’re online friends and not neighbours. πŸ˜‰
    Laura recently wrote…Halifax: Run the Sold Out Sole Sisters Race!My Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Oh hon, you need to look after your emotional and mental wellbeing. The other stuff can wait. xoxo

  • March 17, 2014 Natalie

    I am in the same spot my friend…I just now promoted a blog post I wrote last week. Life happens right?
    Natalie recently wrote…18 Months and Life LatelyMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Life is happening every second. πŸ™‚ x

  • March 17, 2014 Andrea

    You are in my head with this post. We are living parallel lives, I think. My life has taken this turn for the past few weeks, and I’m okay with that.

    You are a wise mom, taking moments to yourself when the kids are happily playing together.
    Andrea recently wrote…Old School Blogging – Random EditionMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      I feel comforted, knowing that someone else is living through the same thing.
      Wise may not be the word I’d use, but thank you. πŸ™‚

  • March 17, 2014 angela

    You work so hard, so often. I love that you’re taking a few minutes to read, breathe, and just enjoy your boys πŸ™‚
    angela recently wrote…To Live Forever – A reviewMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Angela. I am loving this time now.

  • March 17, 2014 alexandra

    Burn out is a very real thing, too many directions with the same work there the next day. I can tell you, we can do what we think we’re supposed to do, get the results predicted BUT the side effects… no one tells you about. All this to say, good job of listening to your soul.

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, my friend. My soul is wiser than my head. xo

  • March 17, 2014 Rivki Silver

    Boy, can I relate. I try to stay out of my kids’ hair (5,3 and 1) as much as possible when they’re playing together. My general philosophy is “if no one is bleeding or unconscious, they don’t need me.” Re: blogging, I also barely read any blogs anymore, and to leave a comment is kind of a miracle these days. I update my blog once and week, and that’s it. Lately even that has been a stretch, because, you know, real life sometimes takes over. πŸ˜‰ But yeah, I think all us mommy bloggers understand, and you are still doing amazing, IMO. πŸ™‚
    Rivki Silver recently wrote…Making Hashem Proud – A Great Book For KidsMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      I’m glad you’re taking the time to read and comment her, Rivki! And yes, ifhhtere;s no blood and nothing’s on fire, we’re all good.

  • March 17, 2014 Christine

    You are most definitely in my head. Everything has been about benign neglect lately. I often feel like that about my kids but they do love playing with each other and I want them to play their way versus how I think they should play (if that makes sense or maybe it’s just my justification for continue to work or do other work around the house or read my trashy magazine). You do work so hard as others have said and it’s good and necessarily to take time to take care of you.
    Christine recently wrote…NYC Half RecapMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      I think kids should be allowed free play as much as possible – that’s how they learn to solve problems, figure things out. They don’t need us to intervene. πŸ™‚

  • March 17, 2014 Lady Jennie

    I love this post. It’s got a free spirit feeling to it. And there is truth there – a lot of those things WILL take care of themselves. In any case, we’ll still be here.
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…So Let’s Talk About BaptismMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, my friend. I am so grateful for your continued presence and friendship. xo

  • March 17, 2014 Nicole

    Benign neglect is the PERFECT phrase. And it perfectly describes my attitude toward many things in my life right now. House cleaning, cooking, blogging. Pretty much everything except work, which is spiraling a bit out of control at the moment and sucking up every moment of my time. I’m trying to go with the flow, knowing that this is how life is. It helps that we’re going on a much-needed vacation in less than 2 weeks, so I just have to hold on a little longer.
    Nicole recently wrote…Luck of the IrishMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Your vacation will be so enjoyed when it comes! πŸ™‚

  • March 18, 2014 Tamara

    ha! The benign neglect of not using photos to break up text. Love it.
    I have always been inspired by you when you have writer’s block or a lack of inspiration, you know not to panic.
    It always comes back. all of it.
    Even the benign neglect!
    Tamara recently wrote…The Beauty In The Sick Day.My Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Just one of many things I’m ‘neglecting’ – photos in a post πŸ™‚
      And thank you. Inspiring one person makes me happy.

  • March 18, 2014 Allie

    As you should be! Take it as it comes my friend. Enjoy it, because it won’t last.
    Allie recently wrote…The Rest DayMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      I know, how I know. πŸ™‚

  • March 18, 2014 Elaine A.

    We go through phases with everything in life, even our blogs. I am sort of in this place right now too, at least to me since I used to post so much more. But I have a lot going on outside of this screen right now and as much as I wish there were more hours in the day, well there just are not… πŸ˜‰ xo

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      We have to fill those hours with what’s important, right? xo

  • March 18, 2014 Leigh Ann

    I love benign neglect. I’m with Andrea, you are in my head. I do what need to be done exactly WHEN it needs to be done. Otherwise..meh.
    Leigh Ann recently wrote…confidenceMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      I am liking this attitude. I can totally get used to it.

  • March 18, 2014 Sarah

    I once went over a year without posting anything on my blog! These days I am thinking of post ideas faster than I can write them. These things ebb and flow… just gotta enjoy the journey.
    Sarah recently wrote…A Happier, Healthier MeMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      I am, totally. Thank you.

  • March 18, 2014 Angela

    Life is all about ebb and flow right? I have definitely been in a place of benign neglect during parts of the last year.(I just never said it like that, I love it.) After taking a break, stepping away from certain things, I have also had these amazing bursts of creative fire and inspiration. It’s all about just knowing when to step away and let some things sort of take care of themselves. I hope you are taking care of you right now.
    Angela recently wrote…The Day My Phone Died (Again) & A Weekend UpdateMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      I am! Especially evidenced by my going to bed by 10 every night!

  • March 18, 2014 Katie

    I totally get this. Sometimes I’m just “meh” to doing whatever. Sometimes it’s blogging, sometimes it’s reading, sometimes it’s facebook, frequently it’s cleaning the “fill in the blank”…I just feel “meh, I’ll get to it. maybe”.

    I think that is just a natural cycle of things.

    If it isn’t bleeding or on fire, it’s Ok to just ignore if you want.
    Katie recently wrote…Because He is TwoMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Yes, totally! That’s definitely the philosophy around here.

  • March 18, 2014 Chai a Cup of Life

    I love how honest you are. Sometimes we just need to simplify and go back to basics.
    Chai a Cup of Life recently wrote…Top Five Things To Do In Bahrain With Anita MenonMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, and you’re absolutely right.

  • March 18, 2014 Julia

    Awesome Alison, enjoy this time. It sounds wonderful that everyone is playing together and having fun. It’s so rare as moms that we get a time when we can just sit back and watch and take it all in.
    Julia recently wrote…Old School Blogging – March 2014My Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      It is! I’m totally loving it.

  • March 18, 2014 Poppy

    What is this ironing you speak of? I sure miss the days when you could post everything without a picture – though I do love your photography. I can’t pin it, but I’ll tweet it πŸ™‚
    Poppy recently wrote…I Would Love PowerICE Bars (In the Summer)My Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Heh. Thank you. πŸ™‚

  • March 18, 2014 Shannon

    The best thing about benign neglect is that it is benign/harmless/hurting no one.
    I love this post, Alison, because I know it very, very well.
    I hope you will be gentle with yourself. I hope that for me, too.
    Shannon recently wrote…Old School BloggingMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      I definitely hope that for you too, Shannon.

  • March 18, 2014 Lisa

    I completely understand and, among several bloggers I know, it seems to be going around – The Blogging Blues we’ll call it. Take some time and enjoy yourself. The blogosphere will be here when you feel inspired to return.
    Lisa recently wrote…Sunday Supper – “Bourbon” ChickenMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Happily, I know that. Thank you. πŸ™‚

  • March 18, 2014 Keely

    You need to be nicer to yourself, lady. If anyone talked about my BFF Alison the way YOU’RE talking about my BFF Alison…well, there would be words.
    Keely recently wrote…Clearing Out The Clutter, Crate By Crate.My Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Hah! I’m sure you will. πŸ™‚

  • March 18, 2014 Kim

    Our boys have similar age differences and it really is awesome when they play together. I hope your boys stay like mine – now at 13 and 15 they are still friends!!!
    I totally get the need to just relax and enjoy life – I have been struggling with that a lot lately!!
    Kim recently wrote…Day With KT Is EvolvingMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      I hope they do stay friendly! πŸ™‚

  • March 18, 2014 Greta

    My favorite thing is my kids playing together nicely so I don’t have to, and I have to say, I’m so happy for you that your boys are, too!

    We’ll all still be here when you’re feeling the inspiration (or not).

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      That’s why we have so many of them, right? Heh.

  • March 18, 2014 Roshni

    I know how you feel because nowadays I put all my energy into my new house and my growing boys. I too hope my readers will understand but I have too much going on to think any more about it!
    Roshni recently wrote…Fate of girls in rural IndiaMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      You need to put time and energy into what matters.

  • March 18, 2014 Rebeccafaith

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post, and I’ll tell you why. I also banish that voice in my head and I haven’t given it much thought…until now, when your blog brought me full circle to: benign neglect. Though my dismissive attitude toward the bonus points isn’t harmful, I don’t know if I necessarily want to be that way; this post has heightened my awareness. I’m going to pay better attention to that little voice before I sink myself into a state of auto pilot.
    Rebeccafaith recently wrote…Sun, Fun, and Dylan Says HiMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      I’m glad you can relate, Rebecca.

  • March 19, 2014 Adrienne

    The entire last paragraph. Yes! Yes! Yes!
    Adrienne recently wrote…This is why I blog.My Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Glad you understand! πŸ™‚

  • March 19, 2014 Alexa

    Seems like a lot of us are going through this right now. Not necessarily neglect as much as it is burnout… or just the realization that other things are more important than writing a crafty blog post. Hang in there. It’s really tough having small children. They take a lot out of us!
    Alexa recently wrote…Happy St. Patrick’s Day!My Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      Oh, it’s not the kids so much, because they mostly wear each other out πŸ™‚
      It’s just general life blahness, and letting what matters most take priority.

  • March 19, 2014 Tricia

    I had a boss once who talked about how cows are always making milk even when it looks like they are doing nothing. Have I told you this story before? Probably. Anyway, you are making milk as you watch love bloom between your children and read and enjoy the beautiful quiet of life when children begin to grow up (a phase, btw, I’m looking very much forward to!). It’s not neglect, it’s attention in a different direction and completely productive. Enjoy it πŸ™‚
    Tricia recently wrote…Wearing cute shoesMy Profile

    • March 19, 2014 Alison

      I love that analogy, thank you for sharing, Tricia!

  • March 19, 2014 Rorybore

    and you are completely entitled to be okay with that!
    This is the space in between the seasons. before the budding blooms take their first breath of sunshine (well, at least in my corner of the world – ha). the siding on the railway of life. that chance to pull over, take a breath…a rest (well deserved) and just observe and luxuriate as rest of the world still speeds by.
    absolutely essentially for a mom.
    It’s all in the pacing of life. πŸ™‚
    Rorybore recently wrote…Tuesday Coffee Chat: I Gotta Be MeMy Profile

    • March 21, 2014 Alison

      Oh yes, definitely essential for moms. It’s nice to just be able to sit back and luxuriate.

  • March 19, 2014 sarah reinhart

    benign neglect sounds kind of lovely honestly. I’m also right there with you. xx

    • March 21, 2014 Alison

      It IS absolutely lovely.

  • March 19, 2014 Kim

    I know what you mean, Alison. I have been swept up in some non-bloggy things lately between March break and home projects and not-quite-finding-the-right words for the many, many drafts I have in my folder.
    Also, I totally think that dishes do not count if they are drying on the counter. They practically have an invisibility cloak. πŸ™‚
    Kim recently wrote…LayersMy Profile

    • March 21, 2014 Alison

      You’ve been missed! I hope you find your way back to your words and drafts.

  • There must be something in the boggy air because I’m writing a post about pretty much the same topic.
    My eldest has recently figured out how to get her own snacks so even that role has been scratched of my resume.

    • March 21, 2014 Alison

      I think it’s a sign that you should sit back and luxuriate!

  • March 19, 2014 Michelle

    We all have periods of time like this. There are definitely days I forget to post something, many more where I don’t feel like writing anything, and today…well I’d love to just stay in bed. This week is definitely turning out to be an unproductive one. The post I did post, I actually wrote a couple weeks ago. I’d love to get in the habit of having things that are written ahead of time, but I can’t seem to get it done. And don’t even get me going on the house…I cannot keep up with three teenagers…it’s like a whirlwind goes through every day.
    Michelle recently wrote…Mexican Appetizer: Roasted Tomato, Corn and Shrimp QuesadillasMy Profile

    • March 21, 2014 Alison

      Sounds to me that you’re just living life, Michelle!

  • March 20, 2014 AwesomelyOZ

    A little benign neglect never hurt nobody, including your blog. All will be well. Enjoy your time of contentment. πŸ™‚ Happy Hump Day Alison! -Iva
    AwesomelyOZ recently wrote…GTFO: A Word on the Hot-TemperedMy Profile

    • March 21, 2014 Alison

      I am enjoying this time, thank you, Iva!

  • March 20, 2014 Bellaisa

    I’m reading a book right now that is surrounded around forgiveness. The topic today was life in general, and I found that there are many things that I haven’t forgiven, such as neglecting certain things in my day that don’t really need my attention.

    Often I feel the need to fill up every single second of my day with something I deem productive, and when I don’t do it, I feel negative in some way. Nothing bad happens. It doesn’t really matter in the long run. But I still feel bad.

    So, I think your definition of benign neglect is perfect for me to let go of the ‘need’ to do something that doesn’t really need to be done and forgive myself when I don’t get it done!

    I truly believe that focusing on the now, and what really needs to get done right now, is the best way to ensure that you are on the path you are supposed to be on.
    Bellaisa recently wrote…Teaching Your Kids To Be Themselves: Is It Really That Important?My Profile

    • March 21, 2014 Alison

      You’re absolutely right, Bellaisa. Just right now, that’s what matters.

  • March 20, 2014 MomWithaDot

    True That! Being a Mother, Wife, Daughter, Writer, volunteer, etc. are all parts of our self. But just a part. It is wonderful that you are not letting yourself get driven by any one or all of them equally. There is no such thing as equal to these roles. Sometimes we are more a Mom than a wife, other times, we are just ourselves, the person we want to be as in – read what you like, listen to your kind of music and often it includes doing just nothing and enjoying that solitude.
    MomWithaDot recently wrote…Brother Bears writes PoetryMy Profile

    • March 21, 2014 Alison

      Wise words, thank you!

  • March 20, 2014 melissa

    I totally get this. In fact sounds A LOT like me! I despise a cluttered house but please divert your eyes from my baseboards. And we have finally welcomed our 3rd baby so to say our house is chaotic at the moment would be putting it lightly.

    All things blogging has also taken the back burner. And as bloggers we all need that.
    melissa recently wrote…Hello JacobMy Profile

    • March 21, 2014 Alison

      Children and life come first! And congratulations!

  • March 20, 2014 Nina

    I feel this deeply–the ebb and flow of not only inspiration, but simply of desire. I think your solution is sound. Do something else. Do something that feeds another part of you for a while. I’m sorry you’re feeling this general malaise though. πŸ™
    Nina recently wrote…To My Husband on His BirthdayMy Profile

    • March 21, 2014 Alison

      Thank you, Nina. But as you know by now, the general malaise is thanks to the twin pregnancy πŸ™‚

  • You sure can turn a phrase: benign neglect. I like it.
    Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms recently wrote…7 Ways March Punks UsMy Profile

    • March 22, 2014 Alison

      Why, thank you, Ellen.

  • March 22, 2014 Kimberly

    Self care is more important than anything else. Do what makes you happy in the moment xxo
    Kimberly recently wrote…Sometimes You Have To Play JesusMy Profile

    • March 23, 2014 Alison

      Absolutely! Lying on the couch with ice cream is my favorite thing to do now.

  • March 24, 2014 Stasha

    You and I both. Every time I read your post I nod and I nod. And then I think: I love how she writes my thoughts πŸ˜‰
    Stasha recently wrote…Monday ListiclesMy Profile

    • March 24, 2014 Alison

      Aw, thank you Stasha.

I Write This Blog

Alison Profile PictureI'm Alison. Writer, a mother of four (two boys and boy/ girl twins), social media enthusiast and book lover. A believer in the power of chocolate and hugs. Chugging coffee as I type. Want to know more?

The Books I’m In (Buy Now!)

I Am On Google+

Oldies But Goodies