This is the fifth part to a six part series here on Simple Mom.
Photo by Carson Coots
Are your expectations for your home so high that you find yourself not bothering to clean, organize, or decorate at all because you feel it’s just not worth it? Even on a smaller scale, do you find yourself letting the dishes pile up in the sink because you just don’t have the time to wash them all exactly the way you’d want, and sweep and mop the kitchen floor, wipe down all the cabinets, and rearrange the utensil drawer?
Today’s key is a huge one for me, and is one I’ve struggled with in most areas of my life since childhood. I’m guessing I’m not the only one here, so that’s why the second key to a disorganized and unproductive home is aiming for perfection.
I was one of those kids who would come home crying with a B grade on my paper. I got my first speeding ticket at 16, and when I came home crying, my dad just shrugged his shoulders and laughed. It’s only a ticket, he said. He knew me well – I’d never drink and drive or sneak out of the house, so a measly speeding ticket (for going 30 in a 25, mind you) was small potatoes.
This has leaked out into my spiritual life, for sure – it’s why I talk about grace all the time. Showering yourself with it, and being generous to dish it out to others. I’ve learned this well first-hand, and I continue to daily.
Grace is just as important in our job. As we manage the home, as we juggle the many things on our ever-spinning plates, we need to extend ourselves a lot of grace. And for some of us, we just need to lower our expectations.
Now, I’m not talking about saying “Oh well” and praying that the laundry cleans itself. We still have to work hard, every day. But we need to regularly remind ourselves of certain truths, so that the lies that play in our head on repeat will start to die.
Here are some of these truths:
• Almost no one lives like the pictures in magazines, and if they do, it’s probably no fun to live there. Even those houses that were photographed for magazines were probably spit-shined from floor to ceiling twice over for that photo shoot. I know mine would.
• When you have small children at home all day, your home will be messier than you’d like. I have to tell myself this all the time. Sometimes I’ll take a step back and survey the living room – and yep, about 95 percent of the mess has to do with a certain preschooler and her imagination.
• Even though you can’t have your home exactly the way you’d like, just doing something is worthwhile and important. Imagine if you never cleaned or organized anything at all – your home would implode from the disaster. Your work has meaning. Your family needs you.
• A perfect home will never make you happy. Let’s say you are able to have the house beautifully decorated exactly the way you’d like, nary a dust bunny to be found, and all the toys in delightfully organized buckets that are hand-painted and not made in China. You’d probably sigh and say, “Okay. Now what?” This isn’t the goal of life – there’s so much more to pursue.
• God has called us to be good stewards of our time and treasures, not to never make mistakes. He can’t love you any more than He already does. It’s okay to have a cluttered desk sometimes.
Photo by Melody
• The definition of a perfect home manager is not getting gold stars in cleaning, productivity, and organizing. Our homes are a means to an end, not the end in themselves. They’re the haven for the people we love the most. They’re where relationships flourish and grow. Those matter. Not the walls.
Excellence, not Perfection
When you aim for perfection, you’re defeated before you even start, because I’ve got news for you – you’re never going to be perfect. And neither am I. And if you’re like me, when you have false expectations that are unreasonably too high, you get even less done because you’re a bit deflated. You throw in the towel because your home will never be as ideal as you want.
And guess who reaps the harvest of a poorly-sowed day inflicted with perfectionism? You and your family. No fun there.
Change your expectations. Give yourself and your family members large doses of grace. Pursue excellence in your work, but not perfection. It’s not a contest.
And if you aim for an excellent day with just a few important things on your agenda, I’m guessing you’ll have a better day. That’s why pursuing excellence instead of perfectionism is a beautiful cure for a disorganized and unproductive day.
What are the truths you need to remind yourself regularly? What has been your experience with perfectionism? Where do you think this comes from? This issue is so relevant to me, I’m looking forward to your thoughts and ideas.