As mothers we are pushed to do everything right, have it all together and look good doing so. The strive for perfectionism in motherhood is an epidemic. Mothers everywhere experience an immense amount of guilt because we feel we’re not doing it right. Comparing ourselves with others only feeds our insecurities. It’s time to break through that cycle and start believing in ourselves with these 5 steps to let go of perfectionism!
My road into motherhood has been a rollercoaster. After my first was born I had all the time in the world to tend to her needs, while still taking care of myself. Yes it was hard but she was such an easy baby that it felt so natural and in flow.
It all flipped when my second was born. In hindsight, it already started during the pregnancy, but I landed in a deep postpartum depression for over a year. I was in deep denial about what was happening and it felt safer to hide instead of facing my true feelings. I was constantly looking for the right balance. A way to keep everybody (but myself) happy. I was trying to create this perfect picture for myself and the world around me. I had a baby before so I should have it all under control right?
Just because you’ve had a baby before doesn’t mean that you should know everything. Every baby is different, every child is different and you have changed too! It wasn’t until I faced my unrealistic expectations that I started to see how detrimental those thoughts were.
I needed to get real about my perfectionism in motherhood and this is how I did it;
Step 1. Acceptance
Motherhood is always evolving. No day looks the same, they all start differently and end differently. The biggest change you can make is acceptance. As a woman you go through one of the biggest transformations of your life. Understanding the magnitude of this is crucial in moving forward with grace.
When you constantly fight the changes you’re going through but also the changes your children are going through, it will be very challenging. Accepting the status quo is not giving up! It’s seeing the situation with clarity and honesty.
One of the most important things I did was accepting that I can’t please everyone all the time. Sometimes my baby would cry a bit longer than I was comfortable with, but my 3 year old deserved attention too. Other times my toddler would have a meltdown while I was looking after the baby. When I started accepting their emotions without trying to change them, I felt free.
Step 2. Harmony over Perfection
What is perfection anyway? It’s different for everybody and yet we seem to measure ourselves down the same ‘perfection standard’. There is no such thing as perfectionism in motherhood. The sooner this realization comes the better!
Every time I hear the word balance I feel tension coming up. The strive for balance is such a unrealistic one. Balance is something that exist in the future, something that is almost within reach but never really is. When I started replacing “finding balance’ with “creating harmony”, a big shift occurred.
When I think of harmony I feel less judgment, my body softens and I know that there’s no right or wrong. Simply replacing the word in your head does wonders. Instead of looking outwards for that perfection, see that there’s already harmony within your family.
Step 3. Presence
When you stay present, alert and connected you know that there’s no room for this false sense of perfection. In the present moment there’s only you and your children. All expectations fall away when you realize that it’s already exactly the way it’s supposed to be.
By allowing to be fully present, the past and the future don’t exist. That doesn’t mean that you can never look back or look forward, it means that it doesn’t take the joys out of the current moment. You can be in deep debt and still really enjoy seeing your children play and have fun. Worrying about the future isn’t going to change the situation.
Easier said than done, absolutely. I know from experience that it takes practice but it’s so rewarding! Even sitting down for five minutes with your child and consciously taking a few deep breaths can make a world of difference!
Step 4. Realistic View
Let’s be real, everybody would like a clean house, clean hair and loads of free time, but we’re got to keep it real. When we add a baby into a relationship or another baby into the family, things change. Even during the pregnancy it’s important to give yourself the space you need to adjust into welcoming a (extra) baby into the family.
One of my biggest pitfalls in my postpartum depression was that I wanted everything to be clean all the time. I would get so frustrated looking at the dishes, the messy rooms and my unwashed hair. My priority was my children. My son wanted to be held all the time and I was constantly fighting it. I loved that he needed me so much and wanted to stay close. On the other hand I want things to be organized.
Why? Because that how I did it before. I could keep up when my toddler was sleeping. Those days were over, but I desperately held onto the imagine I had in my head of what it was supposed look like. Unrealistic perfectionism in motherhood was real for me!
It took me a year to realize I was on a self destructive path. I needed to implement realistic views. That floor doesn’t need to be mopped every day, those dishes can be nicely piled up in the corner so I can still see the counter. I learned to change my expectations and more importantly; how to ask for help when I couldn’t do it by myself. It’s not perfect if you’re trying to do everything by yourself. It’s realistic and needed to ask for support!
Step 5. Self-Care
Yep, there it is again, the big S-word; Self-care! Everybody knows you can’t pour from an empty cup and yet that’s what a lot of mothers do. They keep running around, caring for others while neglecting their own needs.
I did a podcast interview with Naomi and she divided self-care in three categories; the daily, the regularly and the luxury. Are you afraid you don’t have time or money for self-care. Think again! It can be as simple as massaging your feet before going to bed and taking a moment of gratitude. Or a short 5 minute meditation before the kids wake up in the morning.
Self-care doesn’t have to be fancy and expensive. It’s about carving out that time to connect with yourself. Prioritizing yourself is important. Once you feel better, your children will notice it too. Again, it doesn’t have to be complicated or picture worthy for Instagram. It’s valuing yourself to say, stop, I need some time for myself.
The more you’ll set out the time to care for yourself, the more this ‘perfect family picture’ will be replaced with a real, honest and true version of your family. A version where everybody can be themselves, express their authentic voices and love even harder!
Are you struggling with perfectionism in motherhood? What’s your secret to create harmony in your family? Let me know in the comments!