Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Like me, are you a slave to perfectionism? Do you cringe at the sight of cabinet doors left open, or drawers closed ‘almost’ all the way, or dining chairs either pushed in unevenly or not pushed in at all? How about throw pillows on each end of the sofa, does it drive you nuts if they aren’t placed in the right order and organized by color? I remember watching Sleeping with the Enemy with my husband, and watching as Julia Roberts opened the kitchen cabinet and began to frantically straighten the cans so that all the labels were facing out. I looked at my husband and said, “What’s wrong with that? That’s how our cabinets are.” His look of amusement was perplexing. I simply cannot STAND to not have canned and boxed items be organized by type and have all the labels facing out. How else do you find something when you need it?

I do realize that there’s probably a fine line between perfectionism and OCD, however I prefer to think of it as organization. I like my towels folded just so, my books and movies all facing the same direction, balance when it comes to decorating (meaning if there are two candlesticks at one end of the mantel, there must be two candlesticks on the other end to match), and everyone should simply do it MY way! My family however, tends to think I’m nuts and usually just smile and nod, responding with “Okay, mom, whatever you say.” Patronization isn’t an attractive trait by the way, then again neither is perfectionism.

Over the years I’ve had learned a few things the hard way. If I insist on perfectionism, my family resents me and won’t do things the way I wanted them done anyway, then I expend valuable energy being angry. This makes no sense. I get angry at them for doing things differently than the way I want them done instead of being reasonable and compromising. It’s difficult to admit, but I’ve behaved like a shrew. Then, a few years ago I ran across a notion on that’s amazingly apropos. Are you ready for this? Housework done imperfectly still blesses our family (paraphrased). Let that one roll around in your perfectionist brain a bit. Wow.

While I will never stop expecting my family to pick up after themselves, I’ve discovered that a day at the river with my kids is exponentially more rewarding than a day of driving them to drink while I bark orders at them like so many slaves, to complete tasks they have no hope of completing to my satisfaction. I’ve discovered that no one will stroke out if there’s a bit of dust on the TV and that I’m capable of closing a drawer and straightening cans to my liking without berating my family into submission. There’s this rumor circulating around my house that they might actually LIKE me now. Who knew?

Witty quip of the day: Sometimes... when you hold out for everything, you walk away with nothing. ~From the television show Ally McBeal


Linda said...

Hey Apryl, I SOOO totally agree! I'm just like you described. But, here's my thing... I want everything on the surface to be perfect, just in case the President drops in, or I die and people might judge me by the way my house looks. My problem is, I can't seem to get rid of all the hidden stuff... old pictures (piled up in a closet), clothes that are very sentimental to me (jammed in the dark recesses of my closet), and so on. Got any hints? Yes, I've hooked up with Flylady... got a good routine of making the beds and shining the sink, but what about all the rest? I can't bear it any longer! HELP! Your fan, Linda

Apryl Schneider said...

Hi Linda. As alwasy, thanks for your support! In answer to your question let me give you a suggestion that helped me out: take one room at a time, make one room the "goal room" for the week. Then break it down into sections, like the closet, the dressers, etc. Start with one area per day. Pull everything out and lay it on the floor. Make three piles.
1. Items to keep because they will be used, worn, etc.

2. Items to donate, after an honest assessment you know that you won't use it or wear it any time soon.

3. Items to toss, because they are broken, worn out, can't be donated.

Be fanatical. Only items that will be used or worn or are of extreme sentimental value are to be kept. Do this for each area that is cluttered. Don't get overwhelmed, baby steps remember! Took me a month to get through my house, but I did it and I feel so free!!!

As for your sentimental value items, unless they are out and on display for your enjoyment, consider this: take a good digital picture of each item, get yourself a really nice scrap book, and create a coffee table book of your sentimental things, along with a brief explaination of why they are sentimental. Then display on your coffee table. What a great conversation starter without the clutter of the "stuff" stuffed in closets, attics, under beds, etc.

Good luck to you!

Mom said...

Well, gee, I wonder where you go the perfectionistic genes!! However, one of the things that has really helped me is this, when we painted inside the house two years ago, and had new carpet put in, I had to remove everything off the walls and out of the living room. I never realized how even with white walls how dark the house looked with every conceivable wall space and table loaded with stuff. Now mind you, it was always organized, but when you could not find a place to set a cup of coffee or hang one more family picture, it suddenly hit me. Rather than do one room at a time, I went gangbusters and did them all in a two week period. Now I have wonderful things set aside for my kids and grandkids. And my house is comfortable for anyone, any time to drop in and visit!!
Love you much,

Apryl Schneider said...

Hi Mom. It's it fabulous to no longer be a slave to your "stuff"? It's a very freeing experience, and think of all the time saved as you don't have to dust 7000 different items!

Love you too!
Apryl :)