It’s that elusive word that most moms don’t know how to find – or even where to look for it. We are constantly juggling duties and obligations, and instead of putting a ball down every now and then, we seem to constantly take on more. We are more stressed, more isolated, more exhausted, and more unhappy than ever before. Something has to give.

If we want to find balance, we have to start asking the question, “What REALLY matters to me?” We prioritize. We make choices. We learn to care more about our mental health and overall well being than we do about the image we are projecting.

Many of us have spent a lifetime polishing our facade. We care so deeply about what other people think. Perfectionism runs deep and skews our perception of not only ourselves, but of the way we think life is supposed to be.

Day by day, I am learning to let go of my need to be perfect. I’m working a little bit less, reading and playing a little bit more, and learning to let good enough, be good enough. One area I’m making strides in is my home.

I used to spend a lot of time cleaning my house….and worrying about how clean my house was. I vacuumed 2-3 times a DAY. I folded underwear. A speck of dust or an out of place toy on the floor was enough to trigger a mild panic attack. Maintaining a spotless home while LIVING in it with four kids was not only time-consuming, but incredibly stressful.

Comparison added fuel to the fire. I’d see  pictures others would post online of their homes and think mine had to measure up. I’d wonder how my friend was able to afford and re-create a page out of a Pottery Barn catalog. I’d question how her kitchen always sparkled and wonder how there never seemed to be any toys or dishes in any of her photos. How did other people live in a world without stains?

We see what we want to see and we see what people project. We never see the whole truth – only the highlights. What those pictures don’t show are what the play room looks like at that very moment, the pile of dirty dishes pushed out of the way to get the shot, or the Cheerio crumbs under the couch. Those photos don’t show the financial sacrifice of hiring a cleaning person. That shot doesn’t show the game of backyard baseball that mom gave up so she could stay inside cleaning. That picture-perfect living room came at a price.

Everything comes at a cost. Every outcome involves a choice. In our home, my need to keep an immaculate house was costing a calm and happy environment and time with my family. I was choosing perfection over peace and my kitchen over my kids. My kids weren’t being allowed to PLAY. I wasn’t able to relax. Instead of spending any free time I had with my kids or doing something I love, I was scrubbing toilets or meticulously re-stacking the pajamas inside dresser drawers. It was too high a price. And then I let go.

Letting go of perfection gave me more time to play, more time to read, more time to ENJOY our home. Good enough has become good enough. Letting go of my quest for perfection has given me back not only time, but a sense of peace and the ability to enjoy my life, rather than simply working to maintain it.

There can be joy in a messy living room. The world will not implode if the dishes aren’t immediately put away. I’m learning that trading a perfect home for more time with my family is more than worth it…..(taking the time to write this post, read a book, and go hang out with my chickens….all worth it too!)

Do some soul searching and ask yourself if maintaining perfection is worth it to you. What is fueling that quest? Are your best days spent in the laundry room or out in the back yard? We aren’t capable of maintaining perfection. We have to choose. I’m choosing to let go….and finding balance in the process.