Monday, October 8, 2012

Self-Imposed High Standards-Part 1

These past couple weeks I have been brainstorming and planning my daughter's 5th birthday party which is happening next Sunday.  Everyday since I started, I have been feeling more and more stressed about its approaching date.  It's clear that I am not a natural party planner.  And the day of the party?  I'm at my peak of stress.  I do this to myself.  It's not so much that I plan too many details or that I go overboard with everything.  It's that I hold myself to extremely high standards of how I think the party should go and as a result, prevents me from getting things ready. Let me know if you can relate to this.

Food for instance.  I typically don't give my kids foods loaded with sugar, avoid highly processed food, try to avoid artificial dyes, and make many things from scratch.  When planning, I try to implement the same level of stringency at the party too.  What's the result?  It's more effort and strain, it's more expensive, and it feels overwhelming.  I also feel this extra pressure to make my daughter's cake.  Not just make a simple cake...but an impressive one. One that people will pin on their board and "oooo" and "ahhh" about.

Well, I had to let that go.  I ordered a cake from my favorite bakery and everyone will probably love it.  It's one thing I don't have to stress over the night before.  Plus, I am awful at baking and decorating cakes.  I felt such a great relief after I hung up the phone from placing my cake order. Instead, I will also be making cupcakes with my daughter the day before and having her cover them with rainbow sprinkles.  She'll be proud and they will look cute next to my cake from the bakery.  That's something she will remember when thinking back on her birthday party.  They have lots of sugar in them and lots of dyes.  I'm letting that internal battle go and refuse to feel guilty (should be my mantra these days!).

The rest of the food has me tripped up too.  Again, it is standards, budget, and trying to make it balanced with healthy and treat option.  Instead of doing a spread of only in season, organic foods and beverages, I am just going to do a few things and try to keep it simple.

Second is decorations.  There will not be cute Etsy placecards, vintage decor, and elaborate decorations throughout our house.  For weeks I have been pouring over Pinterest looking for super creative ideas and have certainly been impressed, even inspired.  In reality, I bought a few decorations based on her theme request and it will be just fine for her.  My kitchen will probably be a mess from getting everything together that day and all the leaves will not be raked from my backyard.  It's the reality and I can either stress about it and work EXTRA hard to make sure these get done, or I can accept it is not as important as feeling happy for my daughter during her birthday party.

I realized this weekend that my daughter could care less about these standards and that I was holding these standards based on internal pressures. I want certain things for my kids for their best health but also feel like I have an image I want to maintain (superficial one, that is!).

Throwing parties, making unique and memorable decorations and cute cut-out foods into cute designs, are just not life-giving for me. I wish they were. Sometimes putting pressure on myself to do better, putting forth more effort, and spending a little more money is completely worth it.  I think the key for me is whether it is life-giving or overwhelming.

When I put these pressures on myself and can't live up to them, I feel a sense of failure, as though this is something I should excel at, especially since I am a stay-at-home mom.  Domesticated activities just don't come naturally to me but I am learning and getting better.  I completely admit this!  Going on adventures, learning about the real world, making meals together, reading books and singing songs? Now we're talkin. :)

Do you hold yourself to high and sometimes unattainable standards?

From a humble undomesticated mom,

Jen Starks, Owner 

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