We all have this vision of perfectionists as Type A, driven people who never stop nor allow anything less than their idea of perfection. I’m not a perfectionist. I stop to smell the roses.
Am I a Perfectionist?
Then one day I’m standing in my old kitchen looking at the floor. It needed to be mopped, but what it needed, in my mind, was for me to get on my hands and knees and scrub that grout with a toothbrush! I mean really, why bother mopping it when that just wasn’t going to be doing the job right?
That’s when I realized I’m a lazy perfectionist.
In my perfect, imaginary world, all the laundry would be clean and put away at the same time. I could clean my entire house in one day, and it would stay that way. And everyone would put away their things without being asked.
The reality is that I have a husband, six children, and homeschool.
That’s a lot of laundry, house, and things.
Lazy perfectionist seems to be an incredibly accurate description. The laundry is never going to all be done, so what’s another day. Cleaning the entire house would take all of us a full day. There’s always another load of laundry to wash, a bill to pay, or an appointment to make. As a mom, you sometimes feel as though you’re shoveling in a snowstorm.
The biggest disadvantage to being a low energy, lazy perfectionist is that you tend to beat yourself up over what you “should” be doing. If I were a high-energy, Type-A perfectionist, everything would be done, or I would always be working towards that perfection. I know people like this in real life, they never sit down. I envy their tirelessness and wish I could get by on five hours of sleep.
Getting it Done
Instead, I’m always thinking of what needs to be done or what I should do next. I beat myself up over the laundry that isn’t done and the floors that need to be vacuumed.
Once I realized perfectionist thinking was making me do less, I was able to view things in a different manner.
First, I came to terms with the fact that we are a homeschooling family, which means we are living, learning, and working in our home all day. This means there are three meals and a lot of messes being made every day. Apparently, sleep would need to be optional if I was going to keep my home up to Southern Living standards, and I like to sleep.
Second, done is better than perfect. Mopping the floor is better than not doing anything. One load of laundry done is moving us in the direction of clean clothes. Putting that one thing back where it belongs means there’s one less thing in that pile of clutter that needs to be dealt with.
Homeschooling and the Lazy Perfectionist
This idea holds true in homeschooling also. One book read is better than me trying to construct the perfect plan where every book aligns chronologically. One documentary that we watch is better that me endlessly searching for the perfect title. Letting them paint whatever they would like is better than me directing them and taking away their creativity.
Accepting a certain amount of mess is also beneficial to homeschooling since it means things are available, interests are being explored, and ideas are coming to fruition. The difficulty is finding a balance between the creative mess and my sanity.
Fortunately, being a lazy perfectionist also means I don’t have the energy to impose my ideas of perfection on my children. I just don’t have it in me to nag about things that in the end, don’t matter.
However, my perfectionist tendencies can cause me to endlessly research and compare ideas rather than carry an idea out. After many years of homeschooling, I realize the “perfect” plan is elusive, and even if it were obtainable, my imperfect execution would make all that planning pointless.
Work In Progress
It’s taken me years to recognize these aspects of my personality and how they affect my home and family. I would love to say that I’ve found the perfect system to ensure a clean home on a perpetual basis, but I haven’t.
I can accept the mess for a while and then I have a day like today.
Wiping down walls, vacuuming baseboards and dusting trim. Scrubbing toilets, gathering things for Goodwill and sorting through clutter. I’m sure this isn’t the most efficient method, but it’s the only method I have.
I think I should borrow a term from Melissa Wiley and patent my cleaning method.
Not expecting perfection is part of my homeschool mindset, you can read more about that here.