Why giving up on perfection can make life easier

When Julie Piazza was a new mom, she worked hard to keep up with the Joneses. She enrolled her kids in the “right” activities, dressed them in the “right” clothing, and kept her home immaculate.

“I wanted people to think we were the perfect family,” says the 43-year-old mother

of two in Clarkston, Mich. (pop. 882). That changed in 2000, when the family moved. “We moved out of a subdivision where everything looked the same and into a 140-year-old house. I noticed how the cobwebs looked at home in our ‘new’ house. And I paid attention to how much happier I was.”

That’s when Piazza decided to give up the notion of perfection. “The ‘perfect’ family wasn’t what I was striving for,” she says. “It was the relationships that were important.”

Giving up the notion of perfection is one way to make life easier for busy moms. Here are some other practical ideas for streamlining your household:

• Create routines. A routine is a habitual, established procedure. The more routines you have—for mornings, homework, chores and bedtime, for example—the more your family will complete tasks without being reminded.

• Schedule weekly planning sessions. Take 10 minutes to review your calendar each week and post it where everyone can see. Piazza uses a free smartphone application that keeps track of schedules and sends reminders to each family member’s phone.

• Delegate. You might think it will be easier just to do household tasks yourself, but it isn’t in the long run. Ask for help or assign chores.

• Make housekeeping fun. Set a timer and play “beat the clock.” Pump up the music. Write individual chores on slips of paper, then have everyone pull one or more assignments out of a jar or a hat.

• Use kid-friendly storage solutions. Set up your children for success by making it easy for them to organize their things. Use bins on wheels, canvas totes with handles, or low-hanging closet organizers.

• Don’t sweat over bathroom towels. If towels are hung to dry after each use, they can be used for three to five days instead of requiring a daily wash, says Steve Boorstein, of Boulder, Colo., an expert in clothing and fabric care.

• Give each family member a mesh bag for their dirty socks and never sort again.

• Develop a weekly meal plan. If planning and preparing dinner is too time-consuming or stressful, have your family offer suggestions or enroll in a fee-based online service such as The Six O’Clock Scramble, which prepares meal plans and grocery lists for you.

• Choose your shopping time wisely. The least busy days to grocery shop are Monday and Tuesday, according to the Time Use Institute. If you must shop on weekends, do so before 11 a.m.
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