I would definitely consider myself a perfectionist.
I recently jumped on the Enneagram bandwagon, and my self-assessment was yet again confirmed placing me in the Type One-Perfectionist category. I like things orderly and organized, clean and tidy, and don’t love surprises. I’m a stickler when it comes to attention to detail and have more of an analytically focused brain. I can be known to nag my husband on the smallest things, like leaving a glass out on the table or putting his dirty laundry in the wrong basket. I just know I function better in an organized environment.
As the oldest of four children and 11 grandchildren, I have always set high standards and expectations for myself. In many cases, this mindset has gotten me to where I am today and has been the driver behind my personal success. And while everyone defines success differently, I am proud of what I’ve accomplished thus far in my 32 years.
So while pregnant with my daughter, I imagined maintaining a house where everything would have its place and clutter would surely be avoided.
Toys would always be organized and put away, laundry would be sorted and folded, and our kitchen wouldn’t become a mess hall. I envisioned every one of her outfits would match, and she would only be dressed in shades of blush and neutrals. Of course, the first few months would be crazy, I thought, but after the newborn phase we’d get back to a good, organized place.
While pregnant with my daughter, I imagined maintaining a house where everything would have its place and clutter would surely be avoided…
Well, once again I am here to admit that I was living in a naive fantasy world. We are by no means living in a pigsty, but let’s just say that I was quite delusional in thinking my life and our home would be the same pre and post-baby when it comes to organization. I guess you never really understand how much your life will change until you are in it.
My daughter being born is the best thing that has ever happened to me and my greatest life accomplishment. But soon after she was born, I felt overwhelmed and frustrated with the constant disorganization and chaos that surrounded me. Clean, unfolded laundry sat in baskets for weeks, bottles and dishes lined the sink, and there was general clutter everywhere. As she got a little older and I started to jump back into my entrepreneurial career, I couldn’t even check small items off my to-do list because I felt there were always chores and cleaning up to be done.
Then, the toys started being unpackaged, and I really started to lose it. I felt like every day the Tasmanian devil cartoon had twirled through our living room leaving a path of destruction in its wake.
Around when my daughter turned 6 months is when something in me clicked, and I just let go. What’s crazy is, at that moment, I let out a sigh of relief and felt a literal weight taken off my shoulders. It’s OK if I leave dirty bottles out overnight to be cleaned in the morning. Not every toy has to be organized back in its proper home at the end of the day. If her outfit doesn’t match perfectly and she’s wearing green leggings, who cares?! The world is not going to end, and I certainly am not going to lose any sleep.
No one was pressuring me to be perfect, so why did I feel the need to be? Our life has changed in the welcoming of our daughter, so of course our lifestyle and home would reflect that.
I think the biggest change with having a child is my priorities shifted and knowing that I must conserve my energy for things that actually matter. Instead of wasting time worrying about toys being scattered everywhere and laundry sitting in the dryer, I should just enjoy this invaluable time with my daughter because I will never get it back. As I lie in bed at night reflecting on each day, life is always put into perspective when I remind myself that the past 12 hours are gone forever, never to be repeated again.
Knowing this, I try to encourage myself to not sweat the small stuff.
Even though I still like to throw all her toys in a bin at the end of the day, I feel a lot less stressed and anxious than I did before. And while it still drives me nuts when she throws food off her high chair, I have learned to laugh and just roll with it. (Plus, our dog loves it, so at least someone is happy.) I know there will once again come a day when our house will be neatly organized and clean every day, and I will be wishing I could travel back in time to our daughter being young.
So for now, I am learning to just embrace the chaos and disorganization that life has thrown at us because it represents a happy and loving home.
If you’re like me but are having some trouble relinquishing control and letting go, here are some tips to help you get on the path of freeing your mind and letting go of perfection.
Take a moment to breathe
Whenever I feel my inner control freak wanting to break out, I take a moment to breathe and analyze the situation. Doing this clears my mind and allows me to take the next step below.
Prioritize what’s really important
Once my head is clear, I prioritize what really is important. We all have to-do lists that run pages long, but I bet you much of it can be pushed back to give you some freedom to enjoy your little one in the moment.
Organize and clean last
Yup, I said it. I used to be the mom who wiped down the entire high chair after every meal my daughter ate. Then, I realized that doing this was making me resent her mealtimes and was really a waste of time. Instead, I now give it a good wipe down at the end of the day, right along with putting away all her toys.
Imagine the future
There will come a day when your house will be quiet, clean, and organized. Your kids will be grown, and you’ll walk around the house wishing you could go back to when they were little—a time when life was crazy but so hilarious and fun.
Practice self-care and self-gratitude
This step is so important. It will help fuel you with the strength you need in order to get through those tough days. Practicing self-gratitude will also help relieve the pressure we all put on ourselves and remind us that we are great moms doing the best job we can.