“Always live up to your standards – by lowering them, if necessary.” – Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966
I’ve often realized that I have a bit of perfectionist in me and I know many of you do too. But I’m also a bit lazy and completely uninterested in the daily chores of homemaking. So this is for the lazy perfectionist in all of us. You can stop beating yourself up for not perfecting the art of cooking, cleaning, and all the other countless, tedious chores and demands of motherhood and homemaking.
When it comes to managing all of that I say embrace your laziness and disinterest and shoot for good enough, not perfection. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that being a mediocre care taker and household manager is an acceptable goal. But I am saying that no one is expecting you to be Martha Stewart or Super Mom in the homemaking realm especially if it’s not your thing. It’s best to conserve your energy and super powers for those things that you are truly passionate about.
I’m laughing at myself right now because I ordered the Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook – The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home over a year ago thinking I would follow Martha’s plan for keeping one’s house in order. The book is heavy as shit and is over 700 pages. I love and care about my home of course but it’s ridiculous to think I will ever read a 700 page book about caring for it.
Even though I now realize that I have no intention of reading this book cover to cover I know its there for me to use as a reference guide when I need it and that’s good enough for me. You other perfectionists out there can knock yourself out reading the bible of homekeeping and be more proactive. But my advice is to take what you need when you need it and forget the rest unless of course homekeeping is your absolute passion like Ms. Stewart’s.
And that’s the point here – unless something is an absolute passion of yours don’t knock yourself out trying to do it perfectly – good enough will suffice. For instance, when it comes to cooking dinner, unless you aspire to be America’s Top Chef or you just really love to cook please know your family will not starve or be malnourished if you don’t put together four course gourmet meals every night. Good enough meal preparation includes the basics like spaghetti and a veggie on the side, stir-fry, pizza or some other take out once or twice a week, even serving cereal for dinner on occasion is allowed.
I suggest you have five to ten simple go to meals you can prepare in under 30 minutes and rotate them until you can’t stand them anymore and then find five to ten new recipes you can rotate. I have to admit we eat out two to three nights a week, especially when my husband is out of town. I also find grilling to be easier than cooking. So when I’m at a lost for what to cook you can be sure I will just throw some fish or chicken and veggies on the grill and everything is ready in twenty minutes.
Another easy trick to make sure your children get their daily allowance of fruits and vegetables is to give them a green smoothie in the morning or as a snack. Look my meal serving will rarely ever be on the level of Martha and Rachael Ray’s simple meals may even be a stretch at times but my children get fed and well nourished and that’s perfectly good enough.
When it comes to housecleaning just do the basics of keeping your home in some manner of order. Your home doesn’t have to be spotless and in perfect order. You have kids and possibly pets. There are going to be stains, fingerprints, and toys on the floor that you trip over from time to time. No one cares when they come to visit you that you have a pile of dishes in the sink from last night or an unmade bed.
Now if you love to clean then go ahead and wear your Mrs. Clean badge of honor while making sure there is never a speck of dust in sight and that your floors are spotless. Otherwise, tidy up as much as you can when you can and leave the rest for when you have the energy and bandwidth to tackle it. I personally enjoy a clean house for 24 hours when the housecleaners come twice a month. I savor the freshness of the house for a day or two at most and then I let it go, letting good enough tidy up sessions suffice until perfection comes knocking again in a couple weeks.
Another area that stresses many of us is when it comes to celebrating holidays, birthdays, and other milestones. We want everything to be special and of course perfect. But again unless event and party planning is a passion of yours it’s not necessary to stress yourself out trying to plan elaborate celebrations or holiday traditions. Your memories won’t be any less special if you keep things simple. The important thing is to plan with love and good intentions and to have the special people in your life present. Whatever else you add to the celebration will be gravy and good enough for picture perfect memories.
So the next time you ‘re feeling exhausted, underappreciated, and overwhelmed by your high standards consider lowing your expectations of yourself a bit and strive for the good enough award because good enough is the new perfect and at the end of the day you’ll be more relaxed, happier, and motivated to put your energy into your true passions where excellence really counts.
There’s a great article written in the July 2013 issue of M Magazine (North), It’s a Bird, it’s a plane, No it’s Super Mom, Is she real or a myth?, by Erin Rosenblum which gives some helpful insight into the misguided goal of trying to be a Super Mom based on comparing ourselves to other moms who appear to have it all together. I wish I had written the article because it lays out exactly the message I want to convey to you that it’s time to stop putting so much pressure on yourself to do it all perfectly and keep it all together without missing a beat. If it appears that other moms have perfected the role of mother and seem to have it all together it’s time to get some new perspective.
It’s time to lower your standards, stop stressing over the things that don’t truly matter and start putting your time, energy and focus on doing the things you love that nurture you and your passions and allow you to create a fulfilling life. Trust me the rest will fall into place. The dishes will get done. The laundry will get folded. Your kids will be fed and grow up to be big and strong.
But none of these things have to happen according to some ideal of perfection or notion of being a Super Mom. She doesn’t really exist anyway so no need trying to be like her. Besides your super powers lie in the areas of your life that you are passionate about and drawn to, not in those everyday tasks of life and motherhood that you find boring, stressful and burdensome. Yes they have to get done but not superbly.
So turn in your Super Mom cape, relax and give yourself permission to let go of perfection and embrace good enough. Your children will thank you when they have a happier more relaxed mommy.
Now it’s time to give some thought to what you need to lower your standards around when it comes to being super mommy? What would you rather put your time and energy into so that you can find more fulfillment? Please leave your comments below and then tweet this message to your friends especially those suffering from the super mom syndrome.
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