On releasing perfection

On releasing perfection ~SimpleHomeschool
Written by contributor Rachel Wolf of Lusa Organics and Clean

Love146 Round Home Library

Our lives are a mix.

Like anyone, we each have our gifts and our shortcomings.

Yet somehow it always seems easier to focus on the shortcomings.

When I wrote this spunky post about cropping out what isn’t working in our lives I didn’t anticipate the positive response that it would receive.

But it turns out it’s a message we’re starving for.


That message is this:

Stop looking for perfection in others and seeing only flaws in yourself. We are all imperfect. Crop out what isn’t working in your life and celebrate what is.

Because the very nature of life involves getting some things right and some things wrong. Let’s get over ourselves and stop trying to be perfect.


When it comes to homeschooling it’s especially hard to look beyond our imperfections.

Because homeschooling is something we’re so motivated to get right. And many of us worry that we might get it wrong.

My homeschooling will fall apart if I don’t hold myself to a more rigid schedule. But I can’t do it! I am a failure.

Everyone else seems to have an easier time teaching their kids than I do. What do they have that I don’t?

At times it can also be hard to look past our child’s shortcomings.

Because it’s our job to stay on top of their learning. And what if something doesn’t come easily?

His tests are terrible again. What is wrong with him? Why can’t he get this?

If they would just sit down and listen for once we could get through it. They never cooperate!

And while I do not suggest that you ignore your homeschool struggles, I do ask that you keep perspective.


Crop out the self-doubt and criticism and celebrate what comes easily.

If you can’t stick to a schedule, embrace the learning that happens regardless of the clock.

If your kids won’t sit still for school, then take them outside and study while you explore.

If you get stressed out when you take field trips, stay home and make a glorious mess with science projects on the deck.

Because one path doesn’t work for everyone.

And we don’t all have the same skills.

We do, however, all have some.


Why do we fixate on what isn’t working?

Our focus on our own struggles often comes down to self image.

I’m not good enough.

Smart enough.

Disciplined enough.

Organized enough.

And our focus on our child’s struggles often comes down to our fears about the future.

She’s hitting again! She’ll never learn to get along with others.

He’s still struggling. What if he never gets it?

If they act like this now, I can’t imagine what they’ll be like as adults!

Finding confidence in ourselves and our children can cut us loose from the cycle of negativity.


Focus on what you do well.

Changing your focus from where you fail to where you shine can make all the difference.

(Yes, even in the areas you struggle.)

Try these tips to find your strengths and use them in your schooling.

  • Make a list of what you do well or enjoy. Go wild and list everything. Do you love to bake? Know a lot about nature? Enjoy games with your kids? Write it down.
  • Create time in your day for the things on the list above. Be creative and fit it in wherever you can.
    After a week check in with yourself. What learning has come from your gifts? How have your days improved? What about your view of yourself?
  • Keep doing what you enjoy and do well. Every. Darn. Day.
  • Remember to have fun. Learning is fun, life is fun. And everything come easier with a bit of joy in the mix.


This is where you say:

“Okay, Miss Smartypants, how do I shift my focus without losing sight of what needs work? I won’t pretend my child isn’t struggling.”


I am not proposing you ignore a learning disability or major behavioral issue.

I am simply asking you to focus on the good that you and your child possess while you work on what needs work.

Instead of thinking of your child as a poor speller, see him as a budding entomologist.

Because both may be true, but seeing his gifts will serve you both more than fixating on his weakness.

Then find a way to meld his passion for insects with a bit of writing and watch how much easier the spelling comes.

And as you work, remember this:

  • It doesn’t need to all happen today. Use history for perspective. Reach back to other skills that came later than you expected that now come effortlessly for your child.
  • Find creative ways to nurture your child’s learning. Play games. Go outside. Make things. Match your strengths to your child’s needs and create learning in unconventional places.
  • Breathe through the fear. Most of what we worry about only ever happens in our head.


And remember: we all have strengths.

It’s time to see – and celebrate – the gifts that we have.

It’s time to release the self-doubt and the fear.

It’s time to crop out self-criticism once and for all.

Let’s start now. What are some of your parenting and homeschooling strengths?

About Rachel Wolf

Rachel Wolf woke up recently and realized that she's living the life she has always wanted. Her days are spent with and two spunky unschoolers, running LuSa Organics (her small business), and hanging the laundry out on the line. Rachel writes about her homeschooling, homemaking, and non-violent parenting path on her blog Clean.


  1. Rachel….Thank-You!!!! I’ve struggle with negative self-talk almost my entire life. Parenting and homeschooling has at times intensified that tendency to doubt, fear, compare, worry, etc…. I’m in the process of letting that go and your piece was like a message tailor-made for me. Thanks so much for inspiring and reminding me!

  2. Oh what you write resonates with what I think! I love your blog by the way.
    Funny but my last two posts are connected with what you write:
    Keep writing, it is very inspiring and wise.
    val’s latest post: What competition?

  3. I don’t homeschool but still wanted to say thank you. Words to live by.
    caroline starr rose’s latest post: Follow Me To Write On Con — An Online Writing Conference “Exclusively For Everyone”

  4. Rachel~maybe you have already addressed this and I just missed the post but what about having people in your home……when you have children…..animals…..cobwebs that you can never keep ahead of because you live in the home of your dreams but it is also ancient and spiders love it…..dust you can never keep ahead of…..mounds of garden produce on the floor….that need your attention…..and people want to come and visit……and it is a nightmare for yourself and your family…..because you are fanatically desirous of having everything look perfect…..so…..you don’t have people over very often…..you want to…..because being a homeschool mom….you tend to get a bit lonely…..but…..the messy house…..which I know really isn’t that messy….but…..I….am….a….perfectionist…..and I want it to look perfect…..Any thoughts? Forgive the stream of conscious writing but wanted to get it all out before I lost my nerve. Thank you, Amy

    • Hi Amy! Sorry to chime in, but I say INVITE THEM OVER ANYWAY!!!
      Your friends and family with either:
      A. be in the exact same boat as you and not only make you feel better but feel better about their own homes too OR
      B. completely understand because they’ve been there and not thing twice about it.
      Seriously, any person who came to your house and turned up their nose at your surroundings is a person you need not hang out with anyway 🙂
      So go for it Mama! Invite the gang over! Heck, maybe you can convince them to help you process all that produce 🙂

    • I want to chime in too…because I struggle with the same thing. Two thoughts that I have to remember: 1) it is actually refreshing for others to see my NON perfect house, because if it is perfect, they will think that it is always like that, and they will be so discouraged that their house isn’t….not realizing that I stressed myself out before they came. So in one way, it is better to have it just be normal because then they don’t also measure themselves to such a high standard. 2) it is better for my kids to have people over, as it is crippling them if I don’t. I grew up that way (not having people over because it wasn’t perfect), and I don’t want my kids to have that struggle with hospitality.

    • Hi Nola,
      Thank you for your honest, revealing comment. I think many of us struggle with this idea. And it’s self-perpetuating because if I clean before you come over then you think I live differently than I do, so you clean when I come over, so I clean when you come over. This I think comes down to shame. We don’t want to be judged, we don’t want to look bad. I would practice having friends over whom you know will not judge you. A dear friend or two who understand. Then expand out from there. One question – when you visit a friend at their imperfect house, how do you feel about them or their home? Peace, Rachel
      Rachel Wolf’s latest post: Releasing perfection.

      • That was meant to say Amy! Sorry about that.
        Rachel Wolf’s latest post: Releasing perfection.

        • Thank you so much knitting mole & atomic vault, Nola and Rachel…for your wonderful advice……These answers have given me much to think about….I have had that same realization about not appearing perfect because that really is not my day to day reality and I don’t want to give a false impression…and by cleaning like a fiend…..what I am showing someone is not….me….Having said that I STILL struggle….I determine I am not going to get so jiggy with it and before I know it I am in serious cleaning mode…I grew up in that kind of household as well~Nola…..and hate to see this same trait raise it’s ugly head…. and indeed my family are the ones who “suffer” because I am so edgy/irritable trying to “get ready” for company……which of course makes them not want to have anyone over…..This is mortifyingly embarrassing but I guess by being this vulnerable to folks who don’t know me…..and could not identify me on the street;) ……I feel safe….in saying these things…..and it sort of holds me accountable…. I am having company over next week(so of course I have been gearing up)…..This post could not have been more timely! Thanks again, Ladies.

          • Hi Amy,
            For what its worth, you are perfect just the way you are. You just need to remember that! Love and approve of yourself and everything else will just fall by the wayside.

            Many Blessings to you 🙂

  5. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So well written too. Just the thing I needed to read this morning. You are an angel 🙂

  6. I love the idea of homeschooling when the time comes but already can focus on the my shortcomings and how that could be a hinderance to my children’s education. I love the idea of creatively using your own strengths to make learning fun. I already feel I have so much more to offer – thank you!
    Jessica’s latest post: Weekend Reads #1

  7. Thank you! Coming from a long line of perfectionists, my mum always says to me ‘Do what you can, not what you can’t!’ It helps to focus me 🙂

  8. Years ago, I stumbled on a website that makes you feel okay the way you are. http://Www.flylady.net. She had you start with cleaning your sink . Go to her website and check it out. She has a saying (well couple). “You can’t organize clutter, you just have to get rid of it”. “You are not behind, just jump in where you are”. These 2 sayings helped me not worry and do what I could do, 15 minutes at a time.

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