Imperfect Cleaning Day- Thoughts from a Recovering Perfectionist

This has been a tough week.  You may have guessed that by my sudden drop in posts.

We’ve been hit by snow and ice, the flu, severe colds, and a death in the family.  Through it all we’ve still needed to homeschool, grocery shop, cook, launder clothes, discipline, pray, pray some more and keep up with a hundred other “daily” things.

Something had to give- something has had to give for a number of weeks- and that was the housecleaning.

I was having some issues with the state of my house this morning.  You see I am a recovering perfectionist.  It is assumed that perfectionists are always clean and neat.  I am not, but I am still a perfectionist.

The reason why I still fall under that category despite my-for example- disgusting car, is that perfectionism leads some people into procrastination.  “If I can’t hit every mark on the wall, if I can’t get my car detailed so the spilled milk smell and sticky carpet will go away, then I’m not taking care of it right now,” is the line of thinking in the head of a procrastinating perfectionist.

Well, over time due to the pure need to survive, I have had to swallow the pride behind that thinking and just learn to “clean imperfectly”.  Today was one of those days.  I had to decide to clean “imperfectly” and be okay with it.  (read here “not have a small panic attack”)

I decided I would start with the bathrooms( whatever is growing in my toilets might start growing up the walls), vacuum the rugs (nothing feels as immediately gratifying as lines on the rug for us “Type A’s”), attempt to get the kitchen floor washed, and attack my bedroom (so I have one place of peace and orderliness in which to take refuge).

I recruited some of the perpetrators of this mess and assigned one of the bathrooms to them.  I left them with rags and (thank the Lord) non-toxic cleaner.  And I didn’t look back.  That’s their bathroom.  They will live with the results.  There’s a reason why I do all my “rest stopping” in my own bathroom….it’s scary out there.

My son has a pretty strong right arm that manages a vacuum cleaner imperfectly but effectively enough.  My daughter rearranged my bed sheets for me (jumping on them of course).  The washer is doing its part.  And my husband is happily snoring the flu away doing his part in not being underfoot.  I’m pretty sure that were he actually awake, he would be happy with our little arrangement.

So far I would think about using other bathrooms in my house, there are beautiful lines on some of the carpets, my washer is happily chugging away, we burned out our vacuum (pretty sure that’s what smoke means) and I kept my cool about it, and I’m getting a little closer to the kitchen floor.  It won’t all get done today but I’m starting to feel a little better about anyone coming to the door…..

And meanwhile the cats are entertaining us from the garage….

We have a Darth Vader mask out there that makes those breathing sounds…you know the ones.  Well, when I went out there with one of my many bags of trash,  I was greeted by Darth Vader breathing sounds:

“huhhhhh, ha, huhhhhh, ha, huuhhhh, ha”

Not a cat in sight but I’m pretty sure I heard Blackie giggling somewhere behind the trash can.

There might still be pen marks on my walls and a Christmas tree  in my den, but at least we are keeping it real around here…and pleasantly far from perfect.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Nicci on January 16, 2011 at 1:33 am

    I’m sorry it’s been a tough week for you all. This was a fantastic post, and now I understand why I procrastinate when it comes to home projects. It really gave me something to think about. (and work on!)


  2. Posted by Jessica on January 17, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Not said enough, I love your post…Makes us all feel real. I have been slowly reading the “French Woman don’t get fat” and one of the first steps is writing EVERYTHING down. For some reason this has been hard for me. Kind of like you don’t want to start cleaning of fear of what you might find…I’m scared of what I’ll find when keeping track of it what I actually eat ;-0 …I’ll keep you posted on the book. Thanks!


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