by Susan Hitts
I sat down wondering why my house was trashed again. Today was ending like all of the days before. My husband told me to just relax. But I felt overwhelmed by all that needed to get done. He just didn’t get it.
I wanted everything done perfectly. My husband tried to help, but he just didn’t do it right. I would spend as much time cleaning after he cleaned as I did without his help. I couldn’t relax if the house wasn’t clean, and the house would not be clean unless I had help. But my help was not up to my standards. How was I going to finally slay the mess monster?
I began by asking myself what I really wanted. Do I want to do all of this housework all by myself every day? That was a big “No.” So, how was I going to get the help that I needed? Maybe this was as much about me as it was about my husband.
I started to think about how I reacted to his cleaning. I usually told him what needed to be done better and how to do it. That seemed to bother him. I was just trying to educate him in the correct way to clean. Then again, if he had said that to me whenever I put time in cleaning, I wouldn’t like it either. Maybe my attitude was working against me.
So I decided to really show a little more appreciation. My husband needed to know how great it was to have his help. After all, I can do 100 percent of the work and be exhausted, but the work is “done right.” My husband is willing to help clean, but it occurred to me, if he does 80 percent, or any percent for that matter, that leaves me less to do than my usual workload. No matter what he did, it was a good deal for me. Furthermore, if I got over my own fantasy of perfection, I could sit down and enjoy that someone else had helped clean the house.
That simple math changed my attitude about the help I was getting. My perfectionism was forcing me to do 100 percent of the housework. That left me no time to relax.
So, I let him clean his way, and I genuinely appreciate his help. I don’t instruct him in the “right way” anymore. As a result, I do relax more. I learned to follow his example. When he cleans, I clean; when he sits down, I sit down. With all of these changes, my house isn’t as spotless, but I am so much more relaxed.
Susan Hitts is a mother of six living with her husband in Northern Michigan. She has has been published in a variety of publications including Mommy Diaries and Mom, You Make it all Better.