Monday, February 15, 2010

The Quest For Perfection

I have a confession to make. I am a perfectionist. Those of you who know me in real life know this already. I rarely do things perfectly but I constantly seek to. This is one of my personality traits, just as I am a planner, and very detail oriented. Being a perfectionist is not bad in and of itself but can be bad if you can't sometimes let things go.

As a mom of three, and a household manager of five, perfection is a unattainable goal. The members of my family are as diverse in personality as the colors of the rainbow. Some of my family members, while of course not perfect, handle this side of my personality well, other members of my family end up feeling like no matter what they do it is never good enough. This of course is not my goal.

Hubby is funny, in a smart aleck sarcastic way, but he is also loving, and caring, and an amazing best friend. I truly enjoy his company more than anyone else on this planet. He is not a planner, he is laid back, goes with the flow. He is not a perfectionist, he is a doer, he gets things done.

B is very similar in personality to me. Of course he is his own person, with his own traits, but he really is more like me than not, God help him! He does not seem to mind my perfectionism but probably since he is a lot like me.

Wyn is a different personality all together. She is not like me or hubby. Actually hubby says he sees a lot of his ex-wife's personality in Wyn. She is the middle child and often feels like she is stuck in the middle, not the oldest and in charge but not the baby and coddled. She is a bit of a pleaser and she gets most frustrated when she spends time cleaning her room and I find 10 more things that need done.

FiFi is very similar in personality to hubby. They both are more quiet and reserved in personality, until they are comfortable with you. FiFi is generally a very compliant child but more emotional than any of my other two children, as the slightest thing sends her to tears. She doesn't seem as bothered by my quest for perfection but sometimes simply asking her to clean her room can send her to tears so you never really know.

As a mother and wife, I have to balance my needs with the needs of my family. I struggle with my need for everything to be perfect. I want my kids to look nice, with matching clothes, and clean faces, and brushed hair. I want my kids to be well behaved but I think I have realistic expectations for how nine and seven year olds behave. My biggest struggle recently is in keeping the house clean. My kids think everything thrown about is a fine way to live. Hubby can step over the trash on the floor and wet towels on the floor. I cannot!

I know some people will say, "give up, just let your kids rooms be disasters and just focus on the rest of your your house." I have tried this. It simply does not work for me. I cannot handle the clutter! I am not a crazy clean freak myself but the clutter makes me crazy. I can handle clutter to a certain degree but when every room upstairs looks like a bomb went off I refuse to just leave it like that day after day. The thing I cannot understand is how is gets so messy so quickly. Within in an hour or two it looks like a bomb has went off again. It is not just toys, it is trash, it is dirty laundry, it is wet towels, and it is just too much.

I know it is their age but I do not understand why they cannot clean up an activity when they are done with it, before they move the next activity. It really is not that hard and would make picking up their rooms at the end of the day a snap.

So moms, weigh in. What are your house rules? Do you insist your kids pick up after themselves? Do you feel like a maid? Do your kids pitch in? Do you pay your kids allowance based upon their rooms being cleaned and helping around the house?

Generally my kids are very helpful and even help with household chores like taking out the trash or washing dishes when asked. I think they have gotten old enough that I need to institute some sort of chore chart and weekly allowance to manage it. In theory I think this would put the responsibility back on to them and leave everyone feeling less frustrated.


Brittany Ann said...

I'm not a mom, so this information is probably worthless, but this is the rule I use with my teens in my classroom.

When I plan classroom activities, I always allow time at the end for free or fun time. Before the students can start that, though, they must clean up from the prior activity...everything must be as it was before they started. Only then can we move on to the next thing.

It works 99 percent of the time.

It also takes a little while to instill.

But if the kids want to do something fun, watch TV, go to sports practice, they should clean up their prior mess first.

It may take a few times of missed soccer practice, or no TV, but perhaps it would eventually?

For my students, it's now old hat. I don't even have to ask them to do it.

Anonymous said...

I have twin three year old daughters and they attend a school.

At their school they are expected to clean up after an activity for obvious reasons (17 kids in the classroom) and they all clean up after themselves.

At home I will allow them more freedom and they do carry toys up and downstairs, but something my husband and I already instituted is for them to spend at least 5 - 10 minutes before bathtime helping us clean up the playroom and carrying toys back to the playroom.

I think it is absolutely necessary kids learn from an early age that they are part of a household and being a member of the household requires shouldering part of the responsibilities.

I'm not a proponant of having things so tidy and neat that there is no opportunity for the kids to relax and just play. They can play and have fun, even make a mess, but they need to participate in the clean up as well.

Gina said...

I'm with Brittany. I mean, I am a mom, but my students at school all know they clean up after the activity, which includes stacking their chairs.

Lo has just started to clean up. He puts his dishes in the sink, his dirty clothes in the hamper, his toys away, etc., etc.

But my house is still a HUGE mess. I should be cleaning it instead of typing right now. Sigh.

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

If you figure something out because I want to know your tricks as Maddy get older. I know growing up my room was always a mess, but now my house is always pretty clean so maybe they should be able to have a little freedom in their rooms only? I don't know.

Unknown said...

I've tried it all to get my kids to clean up. I do end up feeling like a maid but I always make sure that they help even if it's just a little which is sometimes all I get. I think it teaches them responsibily. Maybe something as simple a a sticker chart and each time they clean up for themselves without constant asking, they work toward a reward of their chosing. It could be a toy they really want or a day at the movies but I find letting them chose their own reward really motivates the behavior.

Anonymous said...

Ugh... I used to have a quest for perfection. Until I had a baby. Now I have a quest for mediocrity when it comes to anything outside of the baby!

I gave you a little blog love re: Bloggy Boot Camp in Baltimore. I hope you'll stop by to link up :)

Claremont First Ward said...

I sound exactly like you.

My 10, 8 and 6 year olds have chores. My 10 year old has to clean the bathroom mirrors and wipe out the sinks everyday before school. 8 year old has to unload the dishwasher. 6 year old has to help her. ALL three must make their beds every day and have their room straightened before school. STILL, I feel like I'm always picking up after them. I didn't get one organizer in the bunch. :)

Kat @ said...

I can relate to ALL of these! Truly! I have 4, but all of mine resemble your three in many capacities! Can't wait to meet you at Bloggy Boot Camp.

What's your Twitter ID?

Cheers! Kat

Helene said...

I wish there was some secret I could share with you but truth is, I'm dealing with the same thing over here. I spent several hours this past weekend cleaning and doing laundry and it's only Wednesday and there's not one part of the floor that doesn't have stuff on it.

My thing now is if it's not picked up at the end of the day and/or I trip over it as I'm walking through a room, it goes in the garbage. They don't seem to care at times though.

One of my friend's said it's all about finding out what their currency is. When you figure that out, they'll pretty much do anything you want.

Helene said...

Ooops, forgot to answer your question on my blog...we'll be selling our home once we find a new home. We haven't listed ours yet out of the fear that it will sell before we find something!!

Momlissa said...

I struggle with this every day. While I'm by no means a neat freak, I am a clutter freak. It's like nails on the chalkboard. I guess it didn't help that I married a slight packrat and I have some hoarding tendencies. lol. I have tried to relax about keeping the house together, but it just doesn't work for me. I can't think clearly until things are put back in their place. Once things are done, I can relax, think clearly, etc. My kids are a bit small for house rules, so I am trying to figure all of this out. I can deal with one room looking like a tornado hit, but when every room looks like this, I start to lose it. I'll be interested to hear what strategies work for other moms.

Unknown said...

My kids are older than yours, 16 and 12 and I still feel I am on them too much to pick up and help. There are a few set chores, but not too much. They do help, and they get no allowance, but we do give them $$ for things they want to do.
I feel I harp too much, but the clutter really bugs me too!