Welcome to Stuff I Learned Yesterday. My name is Barb Rankin, and while I thoroughly enjoy gardening and yard work, I really don’t like the chore of cleaning the inside of my home, and I believe that if you aren’t learning, you aren’t living. In today’s episode of Stuff I Learned Yesterday I talk about being kind to yourself, and not expecting yourself to be perfect.

Fun Fact:  

According to the 2014 American Time Use Survey on Household Activities, this is how we spend our time:

  1. Men spend an average of 1 hour and 22 minutes on household tasks per day, while women spend 2 hours and 9 minutes.
  2. The 8 different tasks included in this survey were:
    1. Interior and exterior maintenance, repair and decoration
    2. Lawn, garden, and houseplants
    3. Kitchen and food clean-up
    4. Household management
    5. Laundry
    6. Interior Cleaning
    7. Food and drink preparation
  3. The most time is spent in food and drink preparation by both men and women, with men spending 17 minutes and women spending 37 minutes daily.
  4. Not surprisingly, the 2nd highest amount of time spent by men is on lawn, garden and houseplants – 5 minutes.
  5. For women, the 2nd highest category was interior cleaning – averaging 28 minutes each day.
  6. The two lowest participation categories for men were laundry and kitchen and food cleanup, coming in at 4 minutes each per day.
  7. And finally, the lowest category for women was interior and exterior maintenance, repair, and decoration, which also averaged 4 minutes.

Link to the BLS.gov American Time Use Survey (United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics):

What I Learned Yesterday:

Mom hung up the phone and turned around with “that look” in her eye, and my brother and I knew the “2 minute drill” was on! Company was coming NOW and we dashed to pick up our stuff, put it in our rooms, toss magazines and papers in drawers, straighten pillows, quickly dust, and vacuum.

We had become experts on making the house look perfect while under pressure. Everyone else’s home looked always neat and clean, so we believed ours needed to be exactly the same – when company came to call. My brother and I never considered that perhaps our friends and their parents went through the same “2 minute drill” that we did. What we did believe, in our pre-teen and teenager minds, was that we needed to project a perfect home to the outside world, and that wasn’t easy. Mom never corrected our perception, and I suspect that was because she wanted to ensure we continued to help clean the house.

How many times have you compared yourself to a family member, a friend, a co-worker? Or walked into a friend’s perfectly clean home, seen their well-behaved children, and wondered how your friend could manage everything so beautifully? No hair out of place? No dust on the furniture? No stains on the clothes? Perfect.

What about work? Do you compare yourself to your co-workers, and wonder why their presentations are always better than yours, or how one of them always gets the boss’s ear or gets the promotion that you might not have even wanted?

Do you compare yourself and judge yourself against someone else, and feel that you don’t measure up? You’re not being kind to yourself, are you?

As we compare ourselves to others, we believe that they are judging us and what we do.

Why do we do this?

As children, we watch others to learn. We see what they do, and we emulate it. It helps us grow. But at some point, the comparisons can become unhealthy. We begin judging our imperfections against something we believe is perfect, and we will always fall short.

Perhaps it is driven by a need to control our circumstances, to give us order in our lives. Perhaps we are afraid that we are not good enough, or smart enough, or rich enough. And then we begin beating ourselves up and believe that others are doing likewise. We are not very kind to ourselves.

This robs us of the joy of living in the present.

When I was discussing the housekeeping blitzes of my youth with a very smart woman, she reminded me that my mom was raising two children as a widow, working full time, putting a roof over our heads, handling all the household chores, caring for us, ensuring we got a good education – she was trying to do it all, and no one can do it all. No one is perfect. She was doing the best she could with what she had.

Do the best you can with what you have.

So how do you stop judging yourself?

First recognize that you do it. Pay attention to when it occurs and what you are thinking. Then disassociate yourself from your thoughts – look at what you are doing as if you are a third party observer. Remove the emotion. Each time you find that you are comparing or judging yourself – tell yourself to stop it.

Make a conscious decision to stop putting yourself down. Remind yourself that you a unique person with special gifts – different from everyone else – and that you can’t be compared to anyone else because you are unique.

Finally, live with joy. Engage in positive activities where you can contribute and feel good about what you accomplish. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember that everyone else is just like you. Imperfect. 

Do the best you can with what you have. And – be kind and very forgiving of yourself.

Here’s what I learned.

Many years after the cleaning blitzes of my youth, I was visiting a friend, who was very successful in business, and I thought her house was always perfect. We were all going out, and I had followed her husband to their laundry room and as he opened a cabinet, I saw papers and all kinds of items, clearly stashed hurriedly inside. Out of sight. And I suddenly had hope. She wasn’t perfect, and neither was I. And I didn’t need to strive for perfection or compare myself to her – or judge myself for my housekeeping shortcomings. I could be kind to myself.

The holidays are upon us, and they are a special time. Actually, any time that we have to spend with family and friends is special. Many people, including some of those in our SILY community have lost loved ones this year, and the holidays may bring tears rather than joy. Rather than rushing around trying to make everything beautiful for your guests, spend time with those you love. That is a true gift, and it means so much more than a perfectly clean home, a lovely tree, a decorated house.

Be kind to yourself. This season and every season of your life.

Because when you are kind to yourself, and allow yourself to not be perfect, you will be more accepting of others. Don’t judge yourself and you become less likely to judge someone else.

And remember…..

We are all doing the best we can with what we have. A beautiful community of caring, imperfect, flawed people – simply supporting and loving each other.

I’m Barb Rankin and this has been stuff I learned yesterday.

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