I’ve been caring for my dad for about 3 years now, and I like to think of myself as an organized person. My career as a human resources director requires that I be on top of many tasks, and time management has always been my forte. A year ago, I started to work part-time to increase my time at home with Dad, and that only made proper time management even more crucial. I have to get as much done in less time, both at work and at home!
One day, my daughter set the table for dinner and I followed behind her, moving the forks from the right side to the left side. My daughter caught me doing it and asked, “Does it really matter?” I started to answer, and then I realized that I didn’t actually know if it mattered. Yes, Mom taught me that forks always go on the left and I have been doing it that way my whole life, but with everything I had on my plate (excuse the pun), was it really worth the extra time to make my table look perfect?
That dinner was a turning point. I gradually realized how much time and energy I was wasting on making things perfect. My house doesn’t need to be spotless at any given moment. I don’t need to make a fancy dinner when I am wrung out from exhaustion. If someone else volunteers to do something, it’s OK to let them even if they don’t do it exactly the way I would have.
Shortcuts I used to scoff at have now become lifesavers. I will admit that I now have both a junk drawer and a junk closet. Instead of spending precious time tidying up, I can shove things out of sight and enjoy the look of a clean room. I make simpler dinners (sometimes even out of a box) or delegate the job to my husband or children. Laundry gets folded, but a lot more haphazardly then I used to do it.
Letting go of perfection has been a godsend. I can spend my non-work hours doing important things, like talking to Dad and making sure he is comfortable. I can enjoy these times with him and store up memories for when he will no longer be with us. And I can even snatch some moments of relaxation, where I put my feet up and watch a good comedy on TV, while studiously ignoring what’s behind that closet door.
I can’t say that I’ve got tons of extra time these days, but I am definitely more relaxed and happier. And I can see that my entire family is happier this way too. Throwing perfection out the window was the best thing I could have done for all of us!