Domestic Me, Parenting

Good Enough

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Cagey shared out this fascinating entry the other day: Perfect: the thief of “good enough”. This is an excerpt:

When you let perfectionism get the best of you, you end up settling for less.

  • If you can’t get a full work out at the gym, you won’t exercise at all.
  • Because you don’t have the time or energy to scrub the kitchen counters to a spit shine, you’ll just let the day’s dishes pile up.
  • Saving for a fully-funded emergency fund feels like it’ll take forever, so why even save your extra 50 bucks a month?

I thought about this entry all weekend. I thought about how proud I am in many areas for not letting perfection screw me up. My house really needed floors cleaned and vacuumed this weekend. I usually try to get that stuff done before family dinner on Sunday so my in-laws come over to a clean home. However, I really wanted to cook a big meal and take the kids to the beach bash so I decided I decided to ditch the floors and just pick up every room: Put toys and clothes where they belong, make beds, take clutter off shelves and counters. I didn’t even come close to perfection in my home this weekend, but it allowed me to also take my kids to the beach bash and also cook some amazing stuff for family dinner.

I weigh my options often for domestic chores and rarely, if ever, perfect anything. Dinner every night — something usually comes out of a can. Sometimes is also usually made fresh from scratch too, but something usually comes out of a can. My floorboards rarely get cleaned by my kitchen counters are almost always clear. Never perfection…but always “good enough.” My domestic life is at a good balance. I don’t always have the time to go to a pool and get swim stuff together and dedicated a huge chunk of my day to swimming – but I take the kids for a quick dip in the fountains which suffices. I may not have the supplies to do a big fancy craft project with the kids, but we sit down and color together for awhile in the afternoons. My motherhood and domestic balance is great…I don’t let the need for perfection rob me. I settle for “good enough” and satisfy more throughout the day than if I struggled for perfection in all my activities.

But exercise and diet? I feel like if I can’t go all out? I won’t do it at all. If I can’t get a full workout/run in – I don’t bother even putting on my shoes. If I can’t eat right the entire week? If I start cheating on Tuesday? I throw the rest of the week out the window and eat cake every night before bed. Struggling for perfection is the main reason why I never ever seem to be able to lose that weight I’m trying to lose. If I can’t do it right? I don’t even try.

There are other small areas in my life, maybe a little bit with savings, maybe a little bit with personal care, that I seem to think if I can only do a little, why bother at all? Mainly it’s the culprit in my exercise/diet life, but it’s something I’ve started thinking about in all areas. If my mind thinks about a task that I want to/need to do – but I think I can’t do that, I don’t have enough time or money – then is there a “good enough” alternative? Maybe I can’t find time for an hour workout, but maybe I could add an extra mile when I walk the dogs? So I ate cake on a Monday night, that doesn’t mean I should throw Tuesday out and eat McDonald’s for breakfast. The week may not end with a perfect food diary, but it will end with a good enough one. And I have never been a perfectionist. A control-freak? Yes. A perfectionist? No. Good Enough has always been Good Enough in many areas of my life. After reading that entry I realized it is the key to a lot of my domestic/maternal successes. So why not adopt it in the other areas?

Or are you okay with good enough? Have you found that sweet spot of contentment, where you’re happy with the day trips to the zoo and museum even though a cruise to a tropical island is really your cup of tea?

I encourage you ‘to make time this weekend to tackle those projects or enjoy little blessings that come your way, even if your life is messy. Spend 10 minutes curled up with a novel when the kids are miraculously quiet. Clear those breakfast dishes and empty the dishwasher, even if you have to leave the kitchen floor unswept. Paint your toenails – your fingernails can wait another day.

I’m going to add an extra mile on a walk today. I’m going to eat well even though it’s a Tuesday and Monday’s food diary is covered with sugar and fat. The playroom, photographed above, will stay trashed. But I might make the kid’s beds. I’m going to try to read 10 pages of a book while the kids nap and I’m going to paint my toenails.

14 thoughts on “Good Enough”

  1. This is a great post. Perfectionism robs me a lot – domestically, food, exercise, and many other places. I constantly struggle with this, so thank you for the reminder that good enough is often good enough.

  2. I am so happy you shared that article!!! You have far more readers than I do and I felt that article had some important life lessons in there. Let’s get the word out on this, right? I often use the phrase “remember to be kind to yourself first” and that article plays into that sentiment.

    Good enough? I probably do this TOO often (my house is a perpetual pit of junk. Sigh.) However, Good Enough was raging success at the gym. Last summer, I decided that 3 times a week for 20-30 minutes was “good enough” – past attempts at working out always failed because I put too high of expectations on myself. Anyway – I quickly found that 4 times a week at the gym was better, but that 20-30 minutes was still Good Enough. A year later and 20 lbs lighter, I am 100% more happier because as it turns out, my BRAIN really needed those workouts the most.

    It’s all about finding one’s bare minimum. However, I really need to raise the bar with the clutter around here. “Good Enough” has resulted in stray piles of crud all over the place.

  3. This is a great reminder. Thanks, Kim and Cagey. I need to apply this to more areas of my life, like eating, exercising, and organizing my home. I do have my toenails painted, though!

  4. By the way, I love that playroom! I need one of those so badly. My son loves airplanes so our living room looks like an airfield. He has different landing zones set up, including an aircraft carrier and a converted train table/landing zone.

  5. I loved this post. I’m just like you, in some ways I’m not a perfectionist, but with diet and exercise I am.

    I’m taking your advice today! I tried to start changing my eating habits yesterday, but failed. That doesn’t have to mean that I can’t start today.

  6. I have a big print out on my bulletin board at work where I work on quality assurance. Quality takes time. Change is slow. The quote wraps it up, “You should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

    Emily is right – one day is not an epic fail. Get back on there.

  7. wow..you didn’t come close to perfection this weekend, but u took the kids to the beach bash and also cooked some amazing stuff for family dinner!!

  8. When it comes to exercise, my viewpoint is that some is always better than none (except when you’ve overtrained or are super-tired — then you need REST!). Fortunately I’ve found T-Tapp, an exercise program that preaches “less is more,” and has very effective, short workouts tha can produce visible results in only 15-20 minutes a day. I’m not a fan of running, but I like walking; a 15 minute walk at noon, if that’s all the time I have, is still better than none.

    As far as eating goes, I don’t worry much about “perfection.” If perfection means deprivation, that strategy is doomed to backfire at some point. Better imo to allow “treats” on a limited basis. And when there are special occasions like birthday parties or vacations I allow myself to enjoy something “off plan” without guilt.

    I’m a perfectionist in some areas, sure — but it’s impossible to “do it all,” and I don’t worry if I don’t. Sometimes that’s a bone of contention because my husband is a perfectionist about a lot of things that I’m not. So he’s always nagging me that I “didn’t do something” (I did it, just not good enough for him). At least I don’t nag or yell.

  9. I never really thought about it like that, but I definitely do this! Note to self: stop it. 😛

  10. A good post, but I just keep getting stuck wondering what store ships the adorable toddler-in-a box?

    I’ve started thinking about this sort of from the other end – I will do A, B, and C, but @$%@$# D. The rebellion of not doing D somehow makes me more sane about getting the rest done AND not be annoyed with my (work 4 days away from home) husband- it’s not that I’m letting something slip, it’s that I’m concentrating my passive aggression in forcing him to deal with the one thing, if that makes any sense…. Yes, he knows this is my logic and generally quietly does D when he gets back.

  11. I’m completely guilty of this and sadly completely aware of it but still a slave. If I can’t get it perfect, then why bother? So silly but there it is.

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