Q: Is having a “perfect home” possible?
A: I’m afraid that if I answer this you will judge me. I’m serious. Let’s just be honest. I need you to know, I’m not afraid of disagreeing because I want to stay friends, stay connected, stay talking, thinking, engaging regardless of agreement. Agreement isn’t the goal, connection is. I care deeply about what I’m saying here and so do you.
Can we have this conversation for real? I mean, are you really ready to hear how I feel about this? It might be hard. It might be hard to say or hear, so let’s go cautiously.
But know this, nobody is judging you. I’m certainly not judging you. Judgements aren’t helpful and don’t produce growth. At least, that’s what it’s been true for me. This isn’t a conversation of imposing standards or judgements.
Yes, having a perfect home is possible. It is very possible.
But, here are the better questions: Should this be your goal? If it is, why?
If you don’t believe something is attainable (can be anything!) you won’t do it. You can’t. Your mind and heart have to be ALL IN. Anything worth achieving is a fight. You fight for it. You show up willingly and unwillingly, offering an incredible amount of sacrifice, energy and focus.
A “perfect home” is momentary and fleeting. It certainly is.
Let’s talk about this in real terms, shall we?
Say my husband has taken the kids to the park and I am working on the act of perfecting my home. I tidy, I scrub, I put back, I re-set, I undo, re-do, and all of the things get done. They come home and it’s been perfected.
Now, how do I begin to view their role in the home? I’ve seen moms who desire perfect homes regularly slip into some blame-shifting, negativity and anxiety based behaviors. Say the children walk in, throw coats and shoes about, dump diaper bag contents. Normal day. Before we know it, our littlest 2 year old has scattered legos and begins to spread them over every inch of the living room. AHH. The perfect home feeling is over. Am I right?
What was the point of achieving this success in this scenario, just to be defeated and love my family less? “Perfect home” has been ruined. This is a horrible feeling. But, what I’m talking about is not this.
It’s a slippery slope to create a perfect home for the purpose of looking at it and wishing away all the moments that chip away at its perfection.
I ask myself, have I slipped into this mindset in which I see our children as burdensome? Bearing gifts as if they are burdens? Am I blaming them for making messes all the time. Blaming them for ruining our perfect home goals? Blaming them for the way they play, so messily, with energy and enthusiastically or curiously? Oh goodness, I sure hope not. That is the opposite of my intention. I want my kids to play. Play is the work of their life and I want to be present for that. More so, I want to prepare my space to facilitate that.
I hear many families lament “They (the kids) mess up everything. All. The. Time. They are the reason we can’t have a perfect house.” And it goes on… “That’s why I give up. It will never happen. I have kids. I can’t have a clean house anymore. I haven’t cleaned a lick in ages. We don’t do that anymore.” Where underlying, sadness, disappointment, anger, frustrations and every negative emotion is attached to this scenario because the motivation was skewed. However, would this hypothetical couple feel that they are truly thriving in their messy home? They admit no. Sound familiar? I’ve heard this so many times.
Ok, what I’ve described for you here is a prime example of families who have kept a perfect home to be looked at, enjoyed perhaps out of preference- personality or upbringing, or worse unfortunately, out of false senses of control.
How do we take this family from having given up completely to a place of thriving? To a place of healthy striving that is balanced and resembles closer to a place of actually reaching their goals. I think we look at motivations and behaviors.
This loving, well meaning couple in frustrations over home has sought advice. They have been mentored into the subsequent lowering of their expectations, to let go of the “home stuff”. Home doesn’t matter speech follows. A full embrace of the letting go of home and home doesn’t matter ideologies isn’t exactly what I’m talking about either, because they may give this a try and in full embrace of a “let go” they aren’t happy or healthy either.
Can you stick with me? Don’t check out. Let’s make a new way of thinking about this.
What if I use home to facilitate the care-taking and nurturing goals I have set for myself?
Can we replay this scenario from a different angle?
My husband has willingly taken the children out to play at the park. I’m at home, cleaning, tidying, and making it perfect. Literally, very near perfect. I may not have completed all of the tasks I wanted to by the time they return, but my plan or to do list is just a mere guess of how today might go so I’m not holding my plan tightly even though it is the goal I work towards. I do make a quick plan for what we might eat for our late lunch when they get back. I prep that and set the table as I quickly wipe underneath and sweep below. The table is perfect for lunch.
Is my kitchen perfect? Yes. Did I work at it? Yes. Is my table perfect? Yes. Is lunch perfectly ready? Yes. This is “perfect”.
The minute they walk in, they have a sense of order or maybe just of my joy and gratitude. The table is set and lunch is ready so I direct them that way and we sit and enjoy our perfect lunch. Yes, inevitably there will be a few (or more than a few let’s be real) crumbs and spills and such. Those crumbs, spills and such don’t mean anything to me because my children are just children after all. They’re eating and learning, mostly learning. I perfected the space to prepare for the nurturing or activity coming next. I’ll just zip about after our eating and wipe and sweep (remember I’m a ninja!) and we’re back to our day.
Was a perfect kitchen possible? Sure, it was possible for that moment.
What was the purpose? I planned to use it.
Was I happier that I had a small plan for lunch and together time around the table because I set a place and quickly tidied the table and area beforehand? Yes, I was. Did the kitchen stay perfect? Mostly, yes because of the quick tidy afterwards before moving on to the next thing.
Here’s the deal.
I think we are really selling ourselves short when we assume that a perfect home isn’t possibly a healthy goal and we assume that every perfecting task at home comes with control. Instead of letting go, I grabbed on. Instead of embracing lower expectations, I fought for a better expectation and pushed myself to achieve it with a better outcome. I like my kids. I love them in fact. I want to be present in their moments but also prepare a space for holding our moments with purpose.
I think there’s a difference in how we plan to use home. I plan to use my home to nourish and care for the whole person of each family member. I won’t have endless bounds of energy to draw from. Sometimes, I will take a nap or read a book and order take-out on paper plates. But, I won’t do that all the time either because what I’m doing at home is a tangible outpouring of the love and care I wish to impart and that will have tangible and sacrificial efforts on my part.
Is a perfect home possible? If you want it to be, yes it is. And when it is, what will you use it for? I think you’re going to be happier when you decide what you’re doing this home stuff for. Should it be your goal? Maybe sometimes when the motivation of your heart is in the right place and maybe not at other times when it’s not accomplishing more love and nurture. I think you’re going to find that home is full of moving parts and your nurturing looks different in different seasons.
To give up completely? To let go completely? To live in a home that has never been prepared? I think that’s extremely far under what will bring you joy, health and thriving.
To grab on completely and have a near perfect home that you actually use? Yes. That’s what I think you should do. And, yes, it’s possible. How is it possible? Many women are actually doing it. Even if one can learn it, it can be learned.
Phew. Big topic over. Still friends? Hearing my heart? Ok. Good. Moving on…