Peaceful Organized Homes: Are Your Expectations too High?

Creating Peaceful Organized Homes in 2014 at
I’m back with another post in my Peaceful Organized Homes series for 2014.  This series came about from an old note I found, written by my daughter, over 8 years ago.  You can catch up on that and all the other posts in this series here.

So I’m a recovering perfectionist and control freak.  Many many years ago I was completely stressed out and it took a number of life changes for me to understand that many of my stresses were ones I was creating for myself.  I was trying to do too much and be too much and was expecting way too much of myself and everyone around me.  When you constantly want everything to be perfect it leads to many many frustrations and high cortisol levels.  Yep my stress hormone was through the roof.  Perfectionists rarely ask anyone for help because they want to do it themselves to ensure it’s done the “right” way.  So here I was with ridiculously high standards of how things should be but completely irritated by help because they didn’t do it right.  Don’t I sound like so much fun to be around.  Seriously!

Then when my middle son was only 18 months old (he’s 14 now) we went in to see his Pediatrician for a routine allergy appointment only to leave with a cancer diagnoses for him.  It happened that fast and my world stopped in that one moment and completely changed forever.  They felt a tumor on his liver and were 95% sure it was cancer but further tests were required to be sure.  We had to wait two months for a biopsy to be done and it was the longest two months of my life.  But I’m so happy to say that this story has a happy ending.  The Doctors were wrong and it wasn’t cancer after all, praise be to God!  It was in fact a benign tumor that has steadily been dissolving itself ever since.

Talk about putting life into perspective.  These are the things that matter.  Family, health, love.  It’s not about the size of your home or the stuff you are accumulating in closets and on shelves.  It’s not about whether or not the chores are done to perfection or your house sits organized 100% of the time.  Kids make messes and I’ve learned to be okay with that.  Schedules don’t have to be filled to the brim with activities.  We really don’t have to keep up with the neighbors.  Life is not a competition.

It became about finding my good enough.  It became about compromise and finding that comfortable place in the middle where we could all be happy.  For instance, rather than demand that the whole house stay organized all the time (impossible standards) I ask that my living room be a clutter free zone, my place of tranquility.  So we have a no toys rule in that room (this wasn’t the case when I had little little ones).  Similarly, I don’t make them pick up their rooms every day but we compromise on having a path to their bed at least.  It’s about give and take and everyone working together.

I have also learned to lower my expectations.  In fact if you could see the streaks on my bathroom mirror right now you might cringe.  My youngest (8) has the job every week of cleaning all the mirrors in the house and for some reason this last week he didn’t do a great job.  But he did this task with a cheerful heart and for that I’m grateful.  I’m proud of him and I’m proud of myself for leaving them there all week.  There was once a time I couldn’t have done that.  I would have to go clean it myself just to sleep at night.  But as I get ready each day those streaks have been a reminder to me about what is important.  I need that sometimes.  What’s a couple streaks in my life in the grand scheme of things anyway?  Next week I’ll probably give him a little more training but for today I’m not going to worry about it.

A couple of posts ago in this series I shared one of the greatest lessons I ever learned:

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.

It really doesn’t.  And letting go of high expectations of perfectionism is what has made a huge difference in creating a peaceful environment in my home.

Life Does Not Have to Be Perfect to be Wonderful

This is the sign that sits next to my chair in the living room.

Are you making yourself crazy expecting too much of yourself and those around you?   Maybe it’s time to determine your good enough? This is important to know because it impacts so many areas of your life including how you manage your time, how you spend your money, your marriage, to even how you decorate your home just to give you some examples.

I think we get lost sometimes thinking the goal is to get to perfect. This train of thought can be paralyzing because the sheer magnitude of that, well talk about overwhelming!

Are your expectations too high or too low?  Too high, and you may be setting yourself up for failure with standards that are impossible to maintain on a regular basis.  Too low, and your family may be struggling with chaos on a regular basis.  Neither is great which is why finding a middle ground is the best thing to do to reduce stress levels all around and create a lasting and peaceful home for your family.

Ahhhh! Home….it definitely is possible :)


Filed under: My Life, Simplicity


22 Responses to Peaceful Organized Homes: Are Your Expectations too High?

  1. 1
    Annie says

    You, my dear friend, are becoming so wise!!

    • 1.1
      Laura says

      Awe, thank you friend. That means a lot from you!

  2. 2
    Michelle says

    I could not agree with you more! I say I am “Joyfully adding order to a beautiful, chaotic existence” because I really do not want the order to be the point. I truly want the point to be our family and our happiness and the level of order only needs to be high enough to support that end point.

    Just like too much disorder can negatively affect your family, too much emphasis on (perfect) order can, too. It took me a while to get realize that, but hey – with age comes wisdom, right?

    Thanks for sharing your perspective!!

    • 2.1
      Laura says

      Yes yes yes. I definitely agree that it gets easier with time and experience for sure.

  3. 3
    Alana says

    I needed this post; thanks! I am a working mom with two busy kids, and we are trying to get our house ready to go on the market. I am always exhausted, but feel so guilty about ignoring the house and doing something fun instead. I want to spend my weekends making memories with my children, not nagging them to clean.

    • 3.1
      Laura says

      Yes that is so important. With less stuff comes more time to spend with family making memories.

  4. 4
    Lonna Fife says

    Wow…you really read my mail with this post. While I knew that I was a perfectionist…and did it all because I wanted it done right…yet, pouting because no one was helping; …there is something about seeing it in print that was a real eye opener! Thanks for this post!!! Hoping to do better!

    • 4.1
      Laura says

      It’s not easy learning to let go but it is possible one baby step at a time. All the best to you on your journey.

    • 6.1
      Laura says

      Thank you Jenny Lynn :)

  5. 7
    Melanie says

    Good post! Would it be rude to give this to a few people in my life? Just kidding (sort of). I always cringe when interviewing a job applicant and they characterize themselves as “a perfectionist”. I definitely do NOT consider that a positive trait. Good enough (or maybe just a little better than that) is good enough!

    • 7.1
      Laura says

      Oh I know what you mean Melanie, I cringe too. I do not see being a perfectionist as something to strive for. It caused me nothing but grief and I must say life is so much better now that I’m not trying to reach super mom status by having it all lined up and perfect.

  6. 8
    Christi says

    Beautifully said! This is a lesson that most women/moms have to learn. I’ve learned to love the handprints on my mirror and other imperfections that remind me I’m blessed with a child. It’s a hard thing to always remember (especially after cleaning up one sticky spill after another), but it’s well worth our sanity to learn it as quickly as possible. Stress is only hurting us and not allowing us to focus on the now and all our blessings. Great reminders and awesome blog!

    • 8.1
      Laura says

      Yes exactly Christi. Thank you for sharing your wise words.

  7. 9
    Sarah says

    This was such a beautiful post! Since having my first baby this past November my idea of “perfect” and “good enough” have have definitely changed tremendously! The most important things I’ve learned is to ask for help and to let go. There will always be more dishes and laundry to do, but precious moments with my baby and husband are far more important to cherish! When people come for a visit they are usually very understanding if the table isn’t set yet or the salad still needs tossing and much to my surprise are always willing to help!
    I also really loved what you said about having one tranquil room. I will definitely need to work on that one!
    I’m so thankful your son was and is alright! God is so good!! :-D

    • 9.1
      Laura says

      Thank you Sarah! And how special that you are learning to let go of perfect while your baby is still so young. That makes me so happy to hear :)

  8. 10
    Catherine says

    …..but how do I let go??
    I know that my expectations for myself are way too high, that I’m paralyzed by it, and that it causes me great stress. I know that for the sake of myself and my family I need to learn to let it go, but how?

    • 10.1
      Vanessa says

      I’m a recovering perfectionist as well. I find it easiest to let go one task/thing at at time. Ask for help with something – anything. And let the other person do it their way. Don’t re-do it. Don’t micromanage/hover while they do it. Say thank you when it is done and walk away. It gets easier and easier. And gives you free time to do something you want to do.

      Also be available to answer questions by the person doing the task. I still struggle with this – my husband will often ask me so many questions or ask for my help with thing I’ve asked him to do and i get frustrated that it takes two or three times as long than if I had just done it myself, but the next time he does it, it gets quicker and quicker.

      As for your own expectations – dig deep. Why do you feel this way? Upbringing? Company might pop over? Friends/Family expect this? You’re worried what others will think? It’s exhausting keeping up. Try finding one task you can do to an 8 instead of a 10. With the little extra time you have – do something fun/you enjoy. Next time do it to a 7 or a 6. Find your new good enough. It’s hard but gets easier with practice.

      Just my two cents. I’ve been there and am still struggling with it…

      God forbid something happened to you or someone you love – what would really matter? The time spent with them/memories made or that something was cleaned/perfect?

    • 10.2
      Laura says

      Hi Catherine, yes it isn’t easy that is for sure. Especially if you’ve been doing things a certain way for so long. I found that facing my fears was a huge step for me. Little things like realizing that when friends dropped by and my house wasn’t as picked up as I liked and no one even seemed to notice. Saying no to commitments, reducing activities, etc and the outcome was never as bad as I imagined it to be. Take it one day at a time and trust yourself to handle it. Vanessa offered such great tips below. You don’t have to go to the opposite extreme but determining where your middle ground is (where you can still sleep at night) is a huge part of the process. You’ve got this!

  9. 11
    Emma says

    I’m a recovering perfectionist with a massive clutter problem!
    I’m going to add this to my two existing perfect is not perfect quotes: “Don’t let the good be the enemy of the perfect” and “Done is better than perfect”

  10. 12
    Veronica Smith says

    OMG – I feel for you – 2 months to get your son a biopsy. I live in Australia. Even a private practitioner would have seen the child within days. But the public hospitals (and we have extremely good ones) would have taken him straight in – admitted him and done a barrage of tests. Having a child that has just spent the last 2 and a bit years in and out of hospital I truly empathize with you. I am so sorry you had to go through that. Glad he is well and being a teenager now.
    Staying on topic – EXCELLENT article – totally agree.


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