Letting go of Perfectionism in Motherhood
Hello beautiful mama! This blog post is for you. This time of year can be tough and I know you may already feeling tired and worn out. Endless to-do lists and preparations, gatherings, work pressures and kids hyped up on sugar. It can be even tougher to be on social media and read the sharp attacks that some can make on the choices that we as mothers make. But even without feeling judgement from others, we can be incredibly critical of ourselves.
A few years ago I felt like such an inadequate mother that I started wondering if my kids were better off without me. I used to suffer from an overwhelming case of perfectionism about my parenting. I felt like I couldn’t be a very good mom if I didn’t have everything figured out or if I made mistakes. I felt like there was an ideal mom image that I could never live up to…and if I didn’t then I was automatically a “bad” mom.
Perfectionism can be dangerous because it causes us to live in a world of black and white. But the world, and especially parenting, is a very messy and ever-changing world of grey. There isn’t one right way to parent and there are no two families or kids that are the alike. And as our kids grow and our families evolve, the playing field changes right under our feet! We have to constantly learn new skills over time. Being a parent is literally on-the-job training. And guess what? We’re gonna make some mistakes.
Feeling guilt during motherhood is normal. We all feel guilt at some point, but guilt isn’t as harmful as shame. Guilt is the feeling that you did something bad, but shame is the feeling that you ARE bad. You can do something about guilt - like plan to not do it again or apologize, but if you feel that you are a bad person or bad mom then that is a helpless and paralyzing feeling. It is also isolating. It leads us to sit and suffer in silence. Sometimes we create our own shame and sometimes we are shamed by others.
What can you do today that will help you release guilt and shame in motherhood?
1. Let go of perfectionism. You don’t have to be and will never be a perfect parent. Take that weight off your shoulders and accept that life and parenting can be just as messy as it is awesome. You don’t have to live up to anybody’s standards, you just have to do your best.
2. Reach out to friends and family during times of need. We all struggle and that is normal. We aren’t going to be perfectly resourced at all times. And most of us aren’t born with the innate patience required to handle cranky toddlers. I believe that it is very important to normalize these tough times in motherhood instead of making it seem like it is all easy and happy all the time. When we reach out to other moms and discuss our feelings we will find that many of us feel the same way and it lessens those feelings of shame. Instead of comparing yourself to other moms, reach out and support one another.
3. Course correct as you go. We learn as we go and decide what adjustments we need to make to improve the health and well-being of our families. Little changes now can lead to big outcomes over time. Be patient and do your best.
4. Relax and have fun. This is the most important part. This is also the result of letting go of perfectionism. When we don’t take ourselves so seriously we can relax and enjoy the moment with our children and families.
I know that it can be hard to be a mom, but I urge you to just be yourself. Our kids really do think we are awesome. The best we can do is love them and support them and show them that this life is a journey of learning and growth. We don’t have to be perfect to be great moms. Just like our kids don’t have to be perfect to be the amazing little humans. We love them just the way they are and we should love ourselves too!
Keep giving and keep loving. Be kind to one another and have fun on this incredible journey.
For a short podcast on this same topic, click here.
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Have a plantastic day!