For many years I subscribed to the false idea that I was the only one who could clean my house properly. Can you imagine? I thought that if I wanted something done correctly, I had to do it myself, and so I did. I had such high standards for how I believed things SHOULD be done, that no one could meet them, which just reinforced this crazy idea.
I came into this false idea of perfectionism as a child. My mother used cleaning as a coping mechanism for life’s stressors, and she also had high standards for how things should be done, which I believe she inherited from her own mother. I carried the same behaviors into my life, right down to using cleaning as a coping mechanism. These kinds of behaviors can be a vicious cycle, and I am working hard to break that cycle in my life, and to not pass it along.
When you set these impossible standards, and believe that no one else can do what you do, you set yourself up to be the only one who does “all the things” as my children say.
For years, I was the only one who cleaned my house. I did the laundry, the dishes, the dusting, the vacuuming, the tidying, etc., etc. At the same time, I was raising two small children and trying to be a good wife. It was exhausting.
It also meant that sometimes I put housework in front of doing things that were far more important: snuggling on the couch and watching cartoons, creating vast cities of play people on the floor, coloring on the porch, or just hanging out and being silly. The kind of things that my children would remember far longer than “we had a clean house.” This is a lesson that I learned too late, and something that saddens my mama’s heart.
Sometime along the way, I realized that I couldn’t do it all by myself, and I had to ask for help. I had to ask, not because it wasn’t expected that my husband or children weren’t supposed to help, but because for so many years I had not allowed them to. That was a grim realization as well.
In asking for the help of others, I had to lower my own unrealistic standards of perfectionism.
Everyone has their own way of doing a task, and I learned that just because my husband’s way looked different than mine, it didn’t mean it was wrong. I did not learn this lesson right away, and I did not learn it easily. Overcoming perfectionism is not for the weak of heart, but in the end, it is so worth it.
We settled into a cleaning routine that split the chores between the two of us (our children participated when they were home as well). Notice that I did not say they were split evenly. I am home more often then my husband, and therefore I do more of the chores. However, he gladly does the chores that I hate, such as mopping the floors, without complaint.
Now that I am juggling college classes and a job outside of the home, I have changed my expectations of myself and my cleaning routine even more. While I do have a very scheduled cleaning routine, I no longer stress out if I don’t get to my daily chores on the day that I have them planned for. I might switch days due to a busy schedule, or I might skip my daily chores altogether, and do them the next day. I’m learning how to be flexible, which is a huge step in letting go of perfectionism.
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