Letting go of perfection

As I sit and write this column, the kids have been back and forth from the kitchen to May’s room about 10 times each. For what? I am unsure at this point.

They are being quiet. They are not fighting. Nothing is exploding or burning down. So, I am just going to enjoy the peace.

I am letting go of perfection. The first few weeks of “Safer at Home,” I was on my game. We had school from 9 to 11 a.m. Lunch and recess. Rest time. Sight words and gym class. I was nailing this teacher thing, no doubt. I even bragged about it to my mom. Now, weeks later, it sinks in. It is not new anymore. The news is saying that this could go on for months.

Why does this seem so hard for me? I have been a stay-at-home mom for the past six years. Before that, I worked from home. I never really left my house anyway. This should not seem that much different, right?

I have been putting so much pressure on myself these past few weeks to make sure that we are doing everything perfectly and by the book.

When I was just “momming it” before the kids were in school, I put no expectations on my days. Now, they are older and need to learn: No TV. No lounging around. Nothing but learning?

I have been getting into a rut seeing no light at the end of the tunnel, and it has been making the days long and difficult, to say the least.

Today, I woke up and decided to take a major pivot in the way I was looking at all of this. Maybe that is the problem in the first place: Why do we all feel like we need to be doing something productive all of the time? When was it bad to just sit and relax? So what if the TV is on? So what if they are now taking blocks of cheese back to their bedroom? (They are, right now.) So what if I am wearing the same clothes from Monday? Is it a competition to see who can get the most done while in quarantine?

I have been looking at my house thinking, “How I can paint this and clean out that. I can finish writing that third book. I can get organized for once, all while I keep my kids learning and sitting still.”

Yeah, right.

I can’t do it all. I never could. I never felt like I had to when they were babies.

I was on the “struggle bus” this past semester with the thoughts of the kids all being in school — all day, every day — come fall. What am going to do with my life when they are gone from home for eight hours per day? I had been laying awake at night, dreading September. Then, one day, I woke up, and all of them are home all of the time — likely for the next five months.

I am no longer going to try to do it all. I am just going to be a mom who occasionally does productive things throughout the day. I am going to lay off the perfection and just start letting some things go — let the kids be kids a little longer.

They have the rest of their lives to be structured. I am not going to stress out and become short with two 5-year-olds and two 3-year-olds if they don’t want to sit at the kitchen table and learn all day long. That is too much pressure for them, for me and for you.

Tips on how to survive being at home, all day, every day:

• Stop trying to catch up on laundry and cleaning every day. You will feel as though you don’t even know where to start, and you will never stop. Pick one day you do laundry, one day you do the bathrooms, one day to clean a couple bedrooms and so on. And make the kids help. They can, and they like to help. Give them jobs, and they can check them off the list.

• Meal prep, if you are able. Otherwise, you constantly will be thinking about food. Have healthy options available and a plan on what you will have for the week. Keep it simple. My kids have cereal for breakfast and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch every single day. I don’t need to be fancy or make it difficult just because we are home. Otherwise, you will be in the kitchen cooking and cleaning all day.

• Don’t feel guilty if it is nice out and you are not outside. Designate at least an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon to get out there. It’s OK to not feel like just because the sun is shining, you have to spend the entire day out there. (But if the kids want to, they sure can.)

• Try to have a schedule for yourself and the kids. Wake up at least a half an hour before them so you have some alone time. I wake up an hour-and-a-half early every single day to meditate, get some work done and exercise. This makes me a much nicer person and mom.

• If you decide to do nothing all day long one day, don’t feel bad about it. Don’t ruin your lounging day sitting on the couch by thinking how awful it is that all you’re doing is sitting on the couch. If that is what you choose to do, then fully enjoy it. (But not every day.)

• Pick one project per week that you want to do around the house. This will keep you inspired and motivated. I painted my bathroom. It took me all week. I just did a little bit every day, but it felt so good to get something accomplished.

• Play games, and have movie night during the week. When are the kids going to ever have this time again to not have to wake up early during the school year. Have some fun, too.

• FaceTime your friends for coffee. I had a face-to-face with my bestie, and it felt so uplifting to see her.

• See if the kids can do some FaceTime with their friends, too.

• The time will pass faster than you might think. Don’t look so far ahead. Just take it one day at a time. We will get through this.

Addie Graffin is a freelance columnist and blogger based in Platteville, Wis. Read more at www.HealthyHairdresserAddie.com.

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