Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Perfectionist Kitchen...Grace Under Fire

I wish this was my kitchen, but it's from
Do you struggle with perfectionism? I always believed perfectionists live in those House Beautiful centerfolds, have perfectly behaved families, and never have a hair out of place. Then I discovered that I was one. And believe me, House Beautiful couldn't be paid enough to photograph my home, my family is not perfectly behaved, and I often have hairs out of fact, it's almost noon as I type this on a cloudy Saturday morning, I'm still in my PJ's, and my hair is stylishly coiffed in a frightful Why-Yes-I-DID-Just-Roll-Out-Of-Bed 'do.

And yet, I'm busy working in my kitchen...the room that currently looks like a scale model of a nuclear testing ground. I've made sourdough pancakes, fed my starter, mixed up some healthy('s not soaked) granola that is currently infusing my home with the most delightful aroma of oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, honey, butter and coconut ( you can find the recipe here, at Kitchen Stewardship!), and I just started some dough in my breadmaker to make the bratwurst buns we need for tomorrow's outing to a local park to hunt for mushrooms and just enjoy spending the day together. I'm very happy that my 16 year old stepson will be joining will help make for a wonderful Mother's Day!

I'm taking a coffee break...enjoying some freshly ground Starbucks House Blend, sweetened slightly with sucanat and lavishly lightened with some raw cream from local, happy, organically grass-fed cows. Mmmmm...

So, back to the perfectionist kitchen oxymoron...I've learned that "perfectionist" doesn't always mean one does things perfectly and always "has it together". In fact, it can mean just the opposite, because the inability to do something perfectly paralyzes the perfectionist, and nothing gets done. 

I had a long day yesterday...not enough sleep, I've started babysitting for a three year old girl so I toted two three year olds around with me on grocery/errand day (wow...that's a challenge!), came home, made homemade pizza (thank God for 5-Minute pizza crust...), tried to make some sourdough English muffins (emphasis on TRIED. I don't want to talk about that one.), had a daughter who chose to lose out on allowance rather than do her dishes...and I just didn't have the energy to do them, even though starting the day off with a clean kitchen is so much more inviting and efficient. So, I went to bed. And got some rest, which I really, really needed. I wasn't too worried about the dishes running off in the middle of the night, or someone breaking in and stealing them....or washing them for me (now that would be wonderful, though...)

I did neaten the mess up before bed...sounds kind of odd but you know what I mean...stack the dishes, wipe up some crumbs, little things that only took a few seconds and not much energy. 

So, I find myself facing the day, and the mess, early this morning after taking my daughter to a Girl Scout function for the day ("I'll do the dishes tomorrow, mom..."). I know that I want to get these things accomplished today:
  • make granola
  • make granola bars
  • make buns for our picnic lunch Sunday
  • move Little Mister's toys up into his new room
  • catch up on laundry
  • clean up the kitchen, including mopping the floor
A To-Do list is always a little like shopping for clothes for me...I take a big pile of garments into the dressing room, spend forever in there trying them on, then come out with one or two that I like. I know I will not, realistically, be able to get all that done today. So, I have to I clean the kitchen first? It's tempting, since it is usually easier to work on clean, uncluttered surfaces...but then I'll have to clean the kitchen twice. I don't like to do it once, why make myself do it twice? Do I do laundry first? Well, I could start some, but my stepson beat me to the washer and honestly, I feel a bit ADD today, I'm not sure I could remember to stay on top of it! 

My choices then, are, get the kitchen in Perfect Order and then start cooking....or do nothing. Yep, that's how my mind works...all or nothing, most of the time. If I can't do it perfectly, then I just don't do it. It's something I've struggled to overcome for years. So, today, I decided to do something completely different and allow myself to consider a third option: start cooking anyway, in spite of the less-than-perfect conditions. And to remember to give myself some grace...I'm a very real person, I don't have it all together, I can't actually be perfect.

It was a stretch...I had to keep stopping myself from switching over to Clean Up The Kitchen Perfectly First mode, but I was able to get some things my kitchen looks really bad! See, you won't find this in an issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I'm sure...

...kind of looks like squirrels were cooking in there. Highly distractable squirrels who have had one too many cups of coffee...

But, I can take some comfort in knowing I will only be cleaning it once today. And if I can get myself away from this computer, I just might be able to get more than I thought accomplished. 

Beating perfectionism, one baby step at a time...and making some darned good granola in the process...that's my day today...what habits or tendencies do you have that hinder you in the kitchen? How are you overcoming them?


  1. As one battling perfectionism, I found a lot to relate to here :)

    P.S. Can you share your granola bar recipe?

  2. Hi Lisa! Perfectionism is far more widespread than I ever realized many moms are plagued with it ):

    I used the granola bar recipe at Kitchen Stewardship...

  3. I see that it wasn't clear in my post that you could link to the recipe...thanks for helping me see that (: I'll fix it right now.

  4. Boy, Blogger had some issues the other day! I commented on your 21 day menu and answered your question here but neither showed up! Anyway, I see that I did not make it clear that you could find the recipe by clicking the Kitchen Stewardship link in the post, so I have changed that...thanks for helping me see that!