I bought a new Swiffer last week and this may seem insignificant, but to me, it was a big deal. It was a small but important step in a series of moves I’ve been making to try to simplify my life.
See, I’ve had this weird tendency to hold myself to ridiculous standards. I guess I’m a perfectionist, but not in a high-achieving way. I’m a perfectionist in the self-sabotaging way. In the way that I go overboard on things that don’t really matter and am completely paralyzed to accomplish what truly needs to be done.
Case in point, the Swiffer.
Years ago in a noble effort to save the world, I switched to all-natural just about everything. Natural cleaning products, shampoo bars, beeswax food wrap, reusable fabric sandwich and snack bags. You name it, I’ve tried it, and in an effort to protect the environment and us from the nasty chemicals, I tossed all of my chemical products (including the Swiffer) in the trash.
I prided myself on being all-natural, and for a while, it was great. I’m all for the environment—I want to save the turtles, but eventually the stress began piling on. I was creating more work for myself and overcomplicating already challenging tasks.
I’m not a domestic goddess, well at least not in the full sense of the word. I’m a pretty good cook, but throughout my whole life, housework has been a struggle, and over the years, I’ve added to that with unnecessary pressure. In an effort to redeem myself from my cleaning insecurities, I’ve overcompensated by cooking everything from scratch and in turn creating more dishes to pile up on the counter.
In a weird way, I think I was measuring my worth as a wife and mother in these silly things. Being green and a whiz in the kitchen. I couldn’t stay on top of the laundry, but hey, I’m a woman with values and my kids had homemade pizza pockets for dinner. It took me four hours to make them, so that’s gotta count for brownie points or something, right?
But it didn’t.
Sure dinner was delicious, and we were doing our part for the environment, and my kids would have fewer evil chemicals destroying their bodies or whatever, but I was sweating the small stuff, and it was making my life way too hard. I was focusing on all of the wrong things and suffering from impossible, self-inflicted expectations.
So, I slowly began to take steps to simplify my life.
It started small with buying Ziplocs for school lunches (sorry landfill). Then buying jars of tomato sauce instead of making it from scratch and always having something quick and easy on hand to throw in for dinner.
And finally, it was like I could breathe.
The pressure of my silly expectations was lifting, and you know what?
My worth didn’t change.
I didn’t become a bad mom or wife. Nobody noticed the store-bought sauce on their pasta at dinner and the kids didn’t ask why I wasn’t using those fancy reusable bags anymore. Nobody cared. And over time I started to reprioritize my values and expectations.
Now, I use my all-natural products when it works, and I don’t beat myself up for using Lysol wipes in a pinch. And for dinner, sometimes we’ll still have homemade pizza for a treat, but other days we’ll have whatever ready-made food is in the freezer. And though I may sometimes bust out the good ole mop and bucket, most of the time I’ll use that beautiful new Swiffer because it’s quick, easy, and gets the job done.
I’ve learned the hard way, but I’m finally accepting that simple is just what I need, and that’s OK.