May 29, 2014

house + home | putting aside perfect


When I was pregnant I, as many first time mothers, had specific visions about how my life would play out as a mom. It's been somewhat hilarious--and a lot humbling--how very differently life has gone in the past fourteen months. It's been a lesson in letting go and putting aside perfect.

I don't consider myself a Type A personality (okay... maybe a relaxed Type A), but I am a perfectionist. I want things to happen just so, my house to look a specific way, naptimes to be easier than they are, to have the energy to prepare wholesome meals every day, to have more time to take Audrey to the park every single day.

It gets overwhelming. I have a huge respect for mamas who have multiple children, because I struggle a lot with the chaos just one child brings. It's not something I really resent; I love and adore my daughter and can't imagine my days without her silly antics or piercing giggles. But it's been hard sometimes to let go of the past order and embrace the present (happy) disorder.

For some reason, it finally clicked in my head one day that I could just tidy up in the evening after Miss A. goes to bed and save myself an awful lot of time and frustration. Yes, logically I knew this was the solution long before, but I wasn't ready to let go of trying to have a tidy house 100% of the time. I wanted things to look just so because I craved the sense of order it brought to my surroundings. 

Ultimately, I was scared of seeming less than perfect. I wanted my house to look like a picture and not like we actually lived here. But in the process I was driving myself mad and making visitors uncomfortable in my home, and I'm sure eventually Miss A. would have caught on to the uptight view I took towards keeping things in order.

I want her to remember her childhood full of creative messes and imaginative freedom, not that Mama was constantly stressing over keeping a spit shined house. For my own sanity, I wanted to let go.

It's not easy; it's certainly a daily exercise in finding beauty in however things look. But I'm able to enjoy the now more because I put aside perfect.

You know what? It feels great.

17 comments :

  1. Like you Casey, I'm a perfectionist and like my house to look just so but you know what, sometimes you just have to let it go and have a little disorder in your life. Having a welcoming home with a little mess and cleaning up during nap times and in the evening makes for a happy and stress free family. It's something I too, learned a long time ago when my children were very young and it has worked well for me. Now they've grown and I have grandchildren I find it still works while they are visiting :) Relax and enjoy some creative mess and stimulate Audrey's imagination.

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  2. my daughter is now 6 (and yes, time does fly every bit as quickly as everyone says it does!) and my advice would be to learn to tolerate a bit of mess (maybe try and keep the worth of it in one room - if you have space ty and have a grown up space that doesn't get full of toys!) and take some time for yourself - don't spend every evening and naptime tidying up!

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  3. Ah. What an eye opener for sure! I would have made the exact same mistake as you Casey, in that I would have wanted the house to remain absolutely perfect even with a little body toddling about. But I have seen and heard over and over from all of the young mothers I know around here, how difficult it is to achieve this perfectly clean home. Nevertheless, I still thought in the back of my mind, "No, I am going to be different. I will keep a spotless house, even with children underfoot." But you have sealed the fate of all young mothers for me, because if I thought there was one young mom who could do it you could! But, where is the sense in keeping clean whenever some mess will be made five minutes after a clean-up? Cheers to you Casey for clearing up this "Tidy Housewife Myth" and showing us the beauty of living out of one's comfort zone!

    Smiles,

    Jessica
    The eldest sister & singer

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  4. This was so wonderful to read....thank you!

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  5. I'm not a perfectionist, but I do like a tidy home. Of course, living with three littles has disabused me of any notions of having a tidy home during this happy time in my life. Often, I'll find myself picking up around the house only to turn around and see my littlest following behind emptying drawers and littering the house with toys. I have to laugh at myself - what's the point, really? :) Mostly, though, I do a bit of tidying right before my husband comes home and right before bed. And now my older two are old enough to help too, which is awesome. Enjoy these messy days, they'll bring you many wonderful memories in the years to come! xoxo

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  6. Finding this insight so early in your Motherhood career is truly an important milestone. I have lived this perfection seeking lifestyle most of my life and it is exhausting. There are times when I felt like I was looking at my own life through other people eyes. I missed some of my own life! That said, when my children were older I changed the way I approached my household responsibilities. I worked at a high energy job, full time and taught nursing students part time as well. I developed a menu schedule that was fairly easy to follow and a cleaning/laundry system that kept me on track. Was my house spotless? No, was it good enough? Yes. To this day I follow this system because it has served me so well. It supports my need for organization and order while permitting me the opportunity to be flexible to do things that are more important now. And yes, little Audrey will grow up so fast you will think you are in a time warp. Live in the moment, your moment.

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  7. Great post! I went through this too. As a mom to a 9.5 month old, I one of the hardest things for me to learn was that I'm not in control of my time anymore. Sometimes it takes longer to get things done and sometimes they just don't get done at all. Once I accepted this new normal, it was amazing how quickly everything became less overwhelming!

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  8. My daughter just turned 3, and honestly, I have spent every day trying to find peace living in the chaos which is created by the mounting toys and clothes... but I cant. I am still uncomfortable with seeing toys strewn across my lounge and washing up piling high in the kitchen because I simply dont have the time or energy to tackle it. I find myself following her around tidying up. I get frustrated by people buying her large toys which she'll grow out of quickly, or toys with lots of parts which seem to find their way EVERYWHERE. And that's without "messy play". I think I had very unrealistic expectations about parenthood- I just thought she'd be a mini-me and therefore slot neatly into my little world!

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  9. Thanks so much for sharing this!! I'm a first-time expectant mother, and it's funny the way I play out in my mind now (at 14 weeks pregnant!) how I plan to tackle motherhood. I've spent the past few years working hard to simplify the "things" in our home, and it's been easy to maintain with just my husband and me to look after. I've started putting together a list for our baby registry, and it's making me cringe already to think about all the baby stuff that will soon clutter our tiny home. I know it will be an adjustment, but I like your method of cleaning up the clutter after bedtime - I'll have to remember this tip when our little one is big enough to play and run around all day!! :)

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  10. Is the above picture supposed to be disorder?? You should come see my house some time. I have 2 boys, ages 6 and 8, and they invariably sneak a pretzel into the living room moments after I vacuum. I'd say you are doing just fine!

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  11. It is harder and harder to find a spot in my house that isn't full of kid and husband mess...oh and my projects involving yarn. It was actually easier when my daughter was little like your little sweetie. Now? Hopeless! There are My Little Pony toys and legos everywhere. And it's all okay.

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  12. Between my son (he turns 1 on Tuesday!) and working full time, my lifesaver has been a house cleaner. It only took 10 months to figure this out, but now I am enjoying my time with my boys on the weekends instead of catching up on things around the house. Also, I used to pick up after the little man every hour or so; now I just do it before I go to bed. Easier on me to do it once than 100xs a day.

    I also second the opinion about gifts that Michelle has. When people asked what the little man wanted for his bday I told them a book and money in his college fund. What he got was toys, lots of toys. We are about to sell our house, the last thing we wanted was another carfull of toys.....

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  13. I read something long ago about dishes will wait but children can't wait. She will remember those little moments with you more than if the house were spotless :)

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  14. That's a wonderful thing to realize. Good for you, dear gal! My mom did a lot of her housework when us three kids were asleep, at school, or otherwise not home, and I very much appreciate that she did as much (I'm sure she sacrificed plenty of sleep for the sake of taking this approach) as it meant that she was there to make more memories with us during the day, just as you are with your darling girl now. (We were also all heavily involved with keeping the house clean once old enough, which helped her on that front, especially me as the oldest - I've always loved a clean and orderly house and to this day am by far the tidiest of my siblings.)

    ♥ Jessica

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  15. I knew I was going to comment on this before I even read it. You are so fortunate that you came to this realization now, when your daughter is so young. It took me YEARS! My oldest is going into the 7th grade, my next oldest is going into the 5th grade and my youngest is going into Kindergarten. I had to have an illness that took me out of work and left me barely able to parent before I realized what my parenting style and attitude of life was doing to my kiddos. It's like that John Lennon song (can't remember what it is called), "Life is what happens while you're making other plans". Great post!

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  16. The second child is easier, because they entertain each other and by the the need to be perfect has been pretty much beaten out of you.

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  17. I can fully relate to wanting to have the pristine house....and I've been struggling to do it for many years with a now 4yr old boy and a 9yr old boy. It is hard as I'm a neat freak, but I've just started to let it go now. I was just wearing myself out too much and ending up frustrated and miserable. The dishes and vacuuming can wait ;)

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