Homemaking | The Proverbs 31 Woman At Home

Perfection is NOT Required | How to Let Go of Perfectionism

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If you’ve ever struggled with perfectionism… or maybe you’ve struggled with feeling like a failure when your home or life isn’t “perfect,” I want to let you in on a secret. Perfection is NOT required for you to be a wonderful homemaker, a wonderful wife, or a wonderful mom. Let’s talk about it how you can let go of perfectionism today.

Perfection is NOT Required | The Ministry of Homemaking

The Ministry of Homemaking

Originally published January 2016.

You can find the rest of the posts in this series here: The Ministry of Homemaking Series.

Somehow there’s this idea that you’re only good homemaker if your house is spotless. And I’ll admit, I use to feel this way. In fact, for years I felt like a failure because it seemed that within hours of really cleaning the house it was messy again.

Perfection is NOT Required

I had this ideal image in my mind of what my life was supposed to look like. And that image definitely included a house that was always neat – even when company popped over unannounced. And as a pastor’s wife, somehow I felt like I was supposed to be even more awesome than the average mom – it didn’t matter that I had five children at home or that over the years I had 11 or more family members living and or eating in our house at any given time.

I still had this desire for perfection. On the one hand you could say, I wanted to be the best wife and mother I could be. But after years of striving for perfection I was facing burn out.

I had never considered myself a perfectionist. I mean, yes, I like the towels folded a certain way – but if someone offers to help and they do it a different way, I really don’t care. I have piles of books and stuff in places where I wish they weren’t – but honestly, I can live with it to a certain degree.

But I had this perfect image in my mind of what my life was supposed to look like and while I loved my husband and adored my kids, my life didn’t measure up to my expectations.

My expectations were ruining my life. I longed for something different, more, better.

I learned the hard way that my life doesn’t have to be perfect to be amazing. My life is good. Great even. And that is enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Letting Go of Perfectionism

Maybe it’s because I’m older now – I turned 40 this past November – but I know I’m giving it my best shot and if my best shot falls short of my expectations, it’s okay. I still have a great life! And instead of wishing for something better, I want to make the life I’m living right now as joy-filled and stress free as possible.

If you have little ones running around, it can seem like keeping the house tidy will always be a battle, but the truth is, it does get easier the older the kids get. My youngest is 12 now and while, yes, the kitchen still gets messy faster than anything I’ve ever seen, the rest of the house stays neater.

The kids help me keep things neat. But, all it takes is one incredibly busy 24 hour period and the whole house needs an overhaul. Instead of feeling frustrated and defeated, I just rally the kids and we get it done.

So for instance, the last two days have been killer for me.  I have very special company coming today. My son’s girlfriend is flying up from Florida and staying with us for a few days. I haven’t had time to hardly breathe the last few days. I finally got to bed last night around 12:30 or 1 am {working on planners late} and I had to get up at 3 am to drive 2 1/2 hours to the ice rink. While Hannah has her early morning private lesson I’m writing this blog post. Thankfully my husband drove! I’m exhausted. And my house didn’t get clean the way I had hoped.

I’m not going to stress over it because I know what the last few days have been like and it’s been tough. I’ve done the best I could under the circumstances. Now granted, the house wasn’t trashed and I do have older kids at home who can finish cleaning things up this morning – Emily said she’d mop the floors and I’m sure Sarah will finish up the kitchen. But if something doesn’t get done… well, it’s not the end of the world. I’ve learned to laugh at myself.

I can admit I’m not perfect – something that was hard for me even five years ago.

If you’ve ever visited someone’s house and felt afraid to sit on the furniture because you might get it dirty, you know that that kind of sterile environment does not feel comfortable. It doesn’t feel like home.

On the other hand, I’ve been in some houses where I was afraid to sit on the furniture for entirely different reasons and that’s not good either!

What we want for our homes is to provide a space that is neat and clean enough that your family and friends feel comfortable and well loved.

I know some of you may cringe at even thought of things out of place, in piles, or out of order. I’ve never had this problem! But, I do live with my husband who can be really OCD about things and I’ll be honest and tell you it can drive the rest of us crazy. So, if that sounds like you – consider how your family feels. Do you value your house or material possessions more than your family?

There’s a fine line between teaching your children to be neat and insisting on perfection. No one can meet that kind of standard and it can be detrimental to the emotional health of your family. We’ll talk more about the importance of chores for kids and training them later in this series, but for now I’m going to leave you with this thought.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

There is freedom in accepting the fact that you’re not perfect. Not to make excuses for slovenliness, but to give yourself grace.

You see, it’s okay to admit we are weak. It’s okay to not be perfect.

It’s when we recognize our weakness that we find ourselves reaching out to Jesus to receive the power that comes only from him. As homemakers, when we can find grace for the moment when we accept His Gift.

“But now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us an escaped remnant and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage. Ezra 9:8

Let His Grace wash over you, cleanse your weary heart. Go ahead and breathe a little deeper;  bask in the sunshine.

Home Work + Free Printable

I am Called to the Ministry of Homemaker

Answers these questions below in a journal or notebook. 

  • Look up this verse and write it down in your journal. Isaiah 32:18
  • Have you struggled with perfectionism?
  • Have you put undue pressure on yourself because of expectations?
  • Ask God to grant you grace for this moment and open your eyes to His expectations for you.

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20 Comments

  1. Glad to hear you're also okay with a few piles while having an ocd-tendency hubby. I usually feel like I'm the odd one because so many of my girlfriends are the ocd one in their marriage. Loving this study! God knew it's exactly what I needed. Thank you so much. I look forward to it each morning.
  2. Thank you Melissa for detailing your schedule of 2 hours a sleep, entertaining, working, caring for family and trying to be still to remember God is God. It helps me know I'm not alone and that it is possible and needful to enjoy life and laugh in the midst of it all. I love the verse about grace in the context of your story. I am OCD like your husband and it dawned on me that perhaps that is why I have a hard time receiving God's grace, let alone giving it to my family. Bless you.
    1. Thank you for this! I've been struggling with this for awhile now. And the feeling of letting myself down and others weighs so much on my shoulders! Reading this allowed me to take a breath and say, "Its ok." 2 Corinthians 12:9 will be posted to a wall in every room as a reminder that his grace is enough and his power shines in my weak areas!
  3. Melissa, thank you so much for your series. Although my children are grown, your words of wisdom are still applicable for older moms like me! I'm finding myself having to prioritize and plan, to allow a comfortable, safe place for them to visit home. And while I had a sink load of dirty dishes last night after our family Valentines Dinner, I thought of your words. "Thank you God, for this sink load of dishes. Because that means we had a table-full of loved ones sharing a meal!" Looking forward to catching up and finishing your posts! Grace and Peace.
  4. What an encouraging post! My moms group is just finishing up the book "No More Perfect Moms" by Jill Savage and some of what you shared reminds me of the wisdom in her book. I resonate with your statement that what we really want is a "space that is neat and clean enough that your family and friends feel comfortable and well loved." Well put!
  5. I, too, have let go of even the idea of perfection as it relates to our home and keeping it neat and tidy with littles around. Instead, I do my best and apologize to anyone who comes over. Truthfully, the few that do, don't really care and fully understand the chaos that is our home with a 3yo and a 10mo (who just started walking!). In fact, we all hang out and play and talk amidst toys and books on the floor, a living room that could use another pass with the vacuum, or even a kitchen that's being swept as we visit! :)
  6. Thank you SOOOOOOO mcuh . I have been getting so depressed because I feel like there is no end, and no reward / satisfaction from being a homemaker unless my house is neat and tidy often. I have a 17 month old, 4, 6, and 10 year old. This is my second year being a homemaker ..... often times i found myself looking at help wanted ads wishing I could go to work. After praying and seeking the reason for this, I realized I was searching for a break, a granted time off request, a good evaluation with a pay raise /bonus attached, to go to the bathroom by myself, and to see a project completed. I made myself stressed and depressed. I am working on releasing from my expectations of myself and focusing on the joy of watching my little man grow up and being emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally available for my family. Although this job is the hardest job I have ever had it is the most subtly rewarding job ever. I am blessed!!!
  7. Wow! I didn't know why I was feeling so defeated until I read your article! Perfection somehow seems so achievable until the waves of exhaustion, self doubt and frustration set in. Thank you for writing this! I have been a homemaker for only a few months now ( Army wife living at Fort Benning for a short time of 6 months until we move again) and have been too focused on making my new house spotless and organized. I have been placing my joy in that rather than placing it in the blessings I have. Your way of breaking down chores to be weekly/ monthly etc really makes it all much easier to do a little everyday and still have time to breathe, relax and enjoy the day God has made. I can now have everything done so that my evenings and weekends with my husband are free instead of chore oriented. Thank you for the push to pray to God and ask Him to free me from perfection. Only He is perfect and that is a big weight off of my shoulders. I like how you say that being a Proverbs 31 woman isn't about being perfect but to live with purpose. That will be my meditation for today! I look forward to reading more from you on here. Have a blessed day!

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