I know for sure that I’m not the only Mama that started reading parenting books and downloaded countless apps as soon as I found out I was pregnant. Why? Because I was hoping to crack the code of motherhood so I can give my child the best. And while preparing for parenting is a noble act, the pressure that turns into perfectionism can also hurt our children.
We are fixated on the idea of being the perfect mom. Perfectionism in the workplace or any other aspect of life is admirable. But if you couple it with motherhood, you’re setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. Perfectionism and motherhood simply cannot coexist peacefully. I realised that my quest for perfection was ruining the way that I parent. I’m not quite there yet, but here are a few well-kept secrets on how to stop letting perfectionism ruin motherhood.
Accept that our children are not supposed to be perfect
Is my child getting good grades? Am I engaging them in the right activities? Are they going to choose the right career? As perfectionists, we tend to focus on our children’s status and achievements, which may put unnecessary pressure on them. In addition to that, it may not emphasise other values such as kindness and creativity, which are equally important. Pressure on children to achieve is rampant. As parents, we seek much of our status from the performance of our kids. Our job is to love, guide and lead. Not to raise perfect children.
Do not compare your children to others
We compare our kids on everything from infancy and onwards—their birth weight, sleeping patterns, and who reached which milestone first.
My mom would consistently compare us to our cousins, neighbours, and even our own friends. I guess that was her way to try to get us to change our behaviour and attitude, but it didn’t work. It made me feel inadequate, and it slowly ate away at my confidence. While you may have good intentions, the constant comparison may cause your child to feel unworthy. This includes comparing your child to their siblings.
The truth is that there will always be another child who’s smarter, faster, more well-behaved than yours. Our children are perfectly unique, and we need to celebrate and encourage their differences. For example, if one child is gifted academically and the other in sport, it’s essential that when each child does well in their area of expertise, the whole family celebrates. That way, each child will get a chance to be celebrated.
Do not compare yourself to other moms.
Competition among moms can also be a trigger for perfectionists. We all know that one devoted mom who bakes everything from scratch for baker baker day at school. She’s the honorary chair of the Parent-Teacher Association. She’s always well put together and her children look like they’ve just stepped out of a Country Road editorial. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being that mom, but you genuinely need to trust that you are giving this motherhood thing your best shot. You are enough.
Accept that you are going to make mistakes
Yes, you’re going to lose your cool and yell at your kids or merely forget to pick them up from school at the right time. You will drop the ball over and over again simply because you are human. Remember, you’re allowed to feel guilty and lock yourself in your bathroom to cry a little. But you need to forgive yourself and move on.
Kids learn from observation, and perfectionist parenting can convey that mistakes are not okay. So be mindful of negative self-talk, especially around your kids. Instead of referring to yourself as “bad mommy” explain to your kids that everyone makes mistakes.
You can always apologise and start afresh
I’ve learned there’s nothing more significant than apologising to our kids. We make bad choices and use unkind words at times. Just apologise. Not only is apologising a great way to model good behaviuor, but it also promotes mutual respect.
We are undoubtedly making ourselves sick with the unreasonable expectation to be perfect and ruining the motherhood experience in the process. It’s never too late to start implementing small changes to let go of perfection. Share this article with other moms so we can launch a movement towards embracing imperfection in motherhood.