I have been speaking and writing to mothers for over twenty years now. One of my early goals in creating workshops such as “Prioritizing, Organizing, and Scheduling” and “Helps for Homeschooling Moms” was to encourage mothers to drop perfectionism.
Perfectionism is extremely detrimental to a family, especially when it is in the form of a perfectionistic mother. First of all, a perfectionist is super hard on herself. She never feels that she gets things done because oftentimes she really doesn’t due to the fact that everything has to be perfect—and, of course, that never happens. Secondly, it is hard on the family. Her expectations are often unrealistic, and this alienates her from her husband and her children. They know they can never please her, so they just give up trying—and often try to avoid her disapproval altogether.
It is for these reasons and many more I bring you Three Reasons You Should Say “It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect” Aloud Every Day—three things that could happen if you begin speaking these powerful words aloud each day:
1) You will hear truth. These words are the truth—and a truth that you need to hear – often. By saying this phrase aloud every day, you are ensuring that you will hear it. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. So it would seem that the opposite would also be true. By saying it over and over again, you will come to believe this truth. It will become part of your lingo, part of your world. And gradually you will come to believe it. Once you determine within yourself that everything “doesn’t have to be perfect,” you will see your work, your home, your children, your husband in a different light.
2) It will help you start to differentiate between the super important and the less important. Perfectionists often have a difficult time separating what really does need to be done well, nearly flawlessly, and what can be done, well, just done. By saying that it doesn’t have to be perfect various times, you will find yourself saying it during times that really do not require perfectionism or excellence. The dishwasher doesn’t have to be loaded just so. The floor doesn’t have to be spotless. The flower arrangement does not have to be centered perfectly. You say these words every day, and you will start to see the things that really should require more of your attention and and the things that do not. Eventually, this will become very freeing to you. And you can concentrate your efforts (and your perfectionistic energies!) on things that need more time and attention—and que sera sera—whatever will be, will be—for other things.
3) You will give your children an amazing gift–the gift of not having to be perfect. They will hear you say these words, and they will breathe a sigh of relief. They will know that you are changing your demands, that your expectations will not be so high for every.single.aspect.of their lives. They will hear/remember less of you swatting their hands with a wooden spoon because they washed the dishes out of order and more gratefulness for their having done the dishes. They will hear/remember less of you following them as they use a toothbrush in the corners of the kitchen floor and more joy for the work that the family completed together that day. (True stories, unfortunately!) They will come to you more—because the fear of doing everything perfectly for you will be gone. Your relationship will be enriched beyond what you can imagine. (And the same is true of your relationship with your husband!)
So..just do it! When you and your son are loading the dishwasher, say, “Let’s just get ‘em in there. Doesn’t have to be perfect.” When you and your daughter are working on her poster for 4-H, and she doesn’t color in the letter lines flawlessly and she says that it isn’t great, say, “Remember, sweetie. It is just a poster. It is good. It doesn’t have to be perfect.” When your husband says he trimmed the bushes but couldn’t get to the back of the one against the shed, say, “Bushes are bushes. I appreciate your doing them. They don’t have to be perfect.”
And when you are hanging the laundry, and a blouse is on a hanger in a lop-sided manner, look at it and say, “That is fine. I need to get these put away. They don’t have to be perfect—they are just clothes!”
And then smile—knowing that you are doing far more for yourself and those you love than just saying six little words.