Moms & Time: Good Enough is the New Perfect

I am re-posting the below piece that I first published in March 2012. Sure, the news survey is almost a year old but the idea is still the same and fits nicely into our 2013 commitment to finding more Moi-Time because it’s a reminder that we need to just relax and putter….

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Earlier this week, Real Simple magazine and the Families and Work InstituteĀ  (FWI) issued the results of a new survey they conducted on moms and time. Here’s the topline results:

  • At least 50% of women say they don’t have enough free time.
  • 60% feel guilty spending what little time they do have on themselves.
  • Interestingly 68% claim that work doesn’t interfere with their personal lives.

Ellen Galinsky, president of the FWI, this week during a panel discussing the survey results, said “Its like the new clean plate club. In addition to working and taking care of the kids, women feel they can’t relax until all the household chores are complete. While the average husband’s to-do list encompasses two main jobs: repairs and yard work, the average wife’s list contains at least eleven items from cooking, to cleaning, to managing household finances. “Your husband isn’t going to say, ‘You look really busy, you should have some free time,'” adds Galinsky.Wait – your husband didn’t do this?

Hmm…so of course, back in reality-land, as I read about this new survey, I started wondering what 11 items are on my to do list.

Might it be comprised of such things as, oh I don’t know, putting away summer clothes that barely fit my 6-year-old at the end of last summer?

How about those random stray Halloween and Christmas decorations and books I keep finding that never got put away properly in October and January?

My insanely terrorized closets?

Is my list just 11 items long? I doubt it.

But look, this is the year of Moi Loves Moi. We are awesome. Do we really need to subscribe to this ideal of perfection? Ultimately, that is the unspoken expectation in all of these surveys: that as mothers, we hold such a high standard that we expect perfection, and then are stressed out because we don’t have enough free time.

I say enough of it. It isn’t realistic and it’s a waste of precious emotional energy that is better spent elsewhere. I’m good with good enough, it’s a central tenet of Moi Loves Moi. Until I plan to host an open house to sell my current house, what difference does the inside of my closets make?

None. It makes no difference. And what delights a three-year-old more than finding a small stuffed pumpkin in the playroom in March? See, I do it for the children.

Have I organized my Kindergartener’s artwork dating back to when she was in the 2s room in preschool, into the new nifty organizers she got for Christmas?

Mais non!

Does this keep me up at night?

Of course not.

Do I think in a million years, if wild horses were dragging me by my toes, my husband would take the initiative to get these things done?

I am not on crack.

But does this bother me? No.

Look, coming home to this would be amazing but it’s not likely to happen, at least chez moi:

Don’t hold your breath, waiting for this day. Photo Credit: Porn for New Moms

So what can we do? I think we work a little harder at not worrying about “getting it all done” and instead accept that it’s never going to get done. Make your peace with it. The laundry is like bunnies in the spring time, the husbands are unlikely to ever take the initiative or keep running lists in their heads, and no one you are friends with actually cares what the inside of your closets look like. If they do, probably best to break up with them. I think we need to relish in the rare moments we have the house to ourselves, and like Lisa Miller writes in NY Magazine, just putter. Puttering in the sheer silence of your own home is a gift, a true gift. Isn’t it?

For more on how my husband insisted I take a year off to lounge around my house to recover from child birth, and other wild facts, be sure to “Like” the Wired Momma page on Facebook. I often post other great articles and links just there for when I don’t have time to blog.

Good enough is the new perfect. Moi loves Moi. Forget the lists.

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