“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing” ~Phyllis Diller, Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints, 1966
Keeping your house clean can be an overwhelming task. Some people get stress relief when they clean while others relax after the mop is put away. But what if your goal is a perfectly clean organized home? Chances are this is an impossible feat unless you have hired help. But deep down there is still a drive to have a perfectly kept, no dust bunny, eat-off-the-floor clean home.
The Perfect Home
Do you remember this Mr. Clean commercial? Or maybe this Spic and Span commercial brings back memories? I don’t know about you but the Donna Reed or Harriett Nelson image of mopping floor in high heels is what most of us were raised to think in terms of having a clean home. The message is clear that you are to have a well-kept home. You are bombarded with endless cleaning commercials that depict that ideal home and how you will have a happy family and more free time if you use their product. Essentially, it’s a wonderful way to sell a product but creates unrealistic expectations of a perfect home.
Realistically, life was different thirty or forty years ago. Technology was different. Life seemed a whole lot simpler than what it is today. But you may still be carrying that hidden expectation of what a clean home should look like.
Some cleaning perfectionist’s thoughts might be:
“No one can clean the (fill in the blank) like me so I might as well do it myself”
“But the bathroom is not how I would like it to be”
“I have to cross everything off of my list and then I can relax.”
“I have to vacuum underneath all of the furniture every time I clean or my house isn’t really clean.”
These beliefs lead to a number of feelings and disappointments, such as guilt, shame, and plain physical exhaustion.
Perfect Housekeeping Leads to Procrastination.
A client once told me how her belief of a perfect home lead to her feeling like a failure. “If I can’t keep a clean home I must be a failure.” Carolyn kept focusing on the beliefs she had learned about cleaning as a child. She talked about how her mother was a fanatical housecleaner and how those expectations were not realistic for a less stressed life now. “Finally, I just gave in’” said Carolyn.” I just had to decide what was most important to me.” Carolyn discovered that being a perfect housekeeper on top of a positive relationship with her husband and raising three children wasn’t a realistic expectation. And it wasn’t getting the piles of clutter cleaned up any quicker. Her perfectionism had turned into procrastination.
Carolyn learned that the need for a perfect home was more about her need to clear her internal clutter and how she felt about herself.
Do you believe in the myth that perfectionists get everything done perfectly? Examine your goals and expectations in having a perfect home. Shift your thinking and free yourself from self-induced stress and your old notion of good housekeeping.