In a perfect world my house would be neat and clean, no one would leave shoes in the middle of the hall or wet towels on the couch. My children’s rooms would be tidy at all times and if House and Garden magazine knocked on my door asking to feature our home in an article about funky, eclectic family style I’d say ‘sure, come on in!’
In a perfect world I would set firm yet fair limits and my children would instantly respect them and respond in a kind and thoughtful manner. There would be no rolling of eyes, no whining and I would never, ever yell.
In a perfect world all meals would be made from scratch with wholesome, organic, ingredients and each of my children would sit down to eat with a smile of joy because they are looking forward to every mouthful.
In a perfect world I would sleep 8 hours every night, exercise 30 minutes every day, balance work, family time, and me time like a pro, schedule one on one time for each kid every week, and be in a good mood at all times.
In a perfect world our routine would run like a well oiled machine. There would be no lost school notes, no last minute cleaning of clothes with wet wipes, and we would be on time to everything.
In a perfect world…
Sometimes I get caught up in that ‘perfect world’. Sometimes it becomes an excuse for giving up, or a reason for feeling down, and sometimes it totally overwhelms me.
But would living in this perfect world really make my life better?
Would I be happier?
Would I be a better parent?
I don’t think so.
Being not quite perfect is not only ok,
it actually makes me a good parent.
Not worrying about whether my kids socks match every day, the occasional take out dinner, a house that is cleanish but never completely tidy – these little imperfections take the pressure off me and my kids and make me a better parent.
Letting go of the need for a perfectly tidy house all the time means less stress for all of us and gives me more time to connect with my kids. It lets my kids explore and learn without worrying about making a mess or breaking something precious and in turn lets them learn how to clean up and look after our belongings.
Our slightly insane routine lets us celebrate abundance and how lucky we are without teaching our children that they should expect to get everything they want served up to them. Having to juggle everyone’s needs and trying to make it all work out ok, teaches them about sharing, and compromise, and patience, and empathy, and supporting one another.
Even my less than perfect parenting moments make me a good parent. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but stay with me people…
Losing my cool and yelling sometimes, admitting when I am tired and run down, not handling every situation perfectly – these things teach my kids that no one is perfect, that you can get angry or upset, make it right and then move on. It teaches them that there are ways they can manage their big emotions, that negotiating is an important skill, and that getting along with others isn’t always easy but it’s important.
My kids won’t magically learn these skills, they need to test limits and feel big emotions and figure out how to manage those things. They need to see me make mistakes and be overwhelmed and watch how I cope so they can learn. They need to experience set backs, and deal with disappointment and learn that life goes on, and that happiness does not revolve around having everything and being perfect.
Sure, life might be easier if I somehow managed to stay on top of the laundry and found a better system for managing school notes and had a personal chef, but would it be perfect?
That perfect world doesn’t exist, and it’s overrated anyway…
Be not quite perfect and know you are doing a good job.
What not quite perfect things make you a better parent?