Why Perfection is Overrated and Good Enough is Good Enough!

Better Homes and Gardens (magazine)

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I have come a long ways from where I used to be. But, I still have a long ways to go. Twelve years ago, I was a young wife and stay-at-home mother of one and my house was pathetic. It wasn’t quite ready for the Hoarders show to do an intervention, but it was close. I had no clue what I was doing. You could not walk through my house in the dark without killing yourself.

Today, I have four kids and a full-time job and my house is better. It’s still bad, but better. What made it better was stress. Stress? Yes, stress.

One kid and all the time and the world made me think things had to be perfect. I didn’t know where to start on perfect. I would say to myself, “I’m going to clean this house today!” I would pick an area, say the kitchen counter, and would spend all afternoon organizing and cleaning that area to perfection. In the meantime, while I was focused on the kitchen, my toddler daughter was unrolling four rolls of toilet paper all over the living room. The next day, while I’m focused on the living room, the kitchen returns to its disastrous state. I could have one area clean for a little while, but never the whole house clean at the same time.  But my small area of perfection was absolutely beautiful…while it lasted.

The problem was this idea in my head of what it should look like. But, I could never really achieve that.  I guess I had spent too many years in my childhood flipping through my Mom’s Better Homes and Gardens.  A couple of years into our marriage, I just plain gave up.

But, as the kids and the demands on my time added up, somehow things got better.

Now, with four kids and a full-time job, I’ve decided “To hell with perfection!” Today, I’m focused on “Good Enough”. Are there clean dishes and does everyone have something to wear to school tomorrow? OK, we’re good.

And with a “good enough” attitude, my house is better than it ever was when I wanted “perfection”. I just don’t have time for perfection.

I have found a few tricks to keep it good enough. First, I make sure the dishes get done. There are four people in the house big enough to load and run the dishwasher. So, each person has a day or two assigned to them. They have to unload, load, and start the dishwasher. Fairly painless, but the kids still hate it and do their best to get out of it. My husband is even worse.

When the chaos really sets in, we do “15 minute clean-ups”. We assign each person, baby excepted, to an area and set the timer for 15 minutes. Anything out of place in that area gets put back where it goes. Dirty socks get taken to the laundry room, etc. Even the six-year-old can do this if you assign them the right area.

Since four of us are big enough to do our own laundry, we each just have assigned days that the washer and dryer are “ours”. I take care of mine and the two little kids.

These steps help but chaos eventually does set in. We generally start out the week with a relatively cleaned up house but, as the week progresses, the chaos takes over. We’re all busy and skip a night or two of the 15 minute clean-ups. Someone has something to do and doesn’t manage to do their night of dishes. By the end of the week, it’s a disaster again. Not as bad as it used to be, but still not “good enough”.

And when, come Saturday, the house is in this state, I end up spending all day putting it back together. Surely there’s a better way. I just have to find it.  I’m not looking for perfection, just better

I’m pretty sure the dumpster outside will help.  If there’s less stuff, there’s less stuff to get left around the house for someone to pick up!

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