Hi there, Perfectionist Mom. We know you well. We know how hard you try to hit the mark in every area of life: mothering, your career, homemaking, and serving your community. And we know how upset you are when one of the balls you’re constantly juggling tumbles to the ground in the form of a missed deadline, a drive-through dinner, or a ten-day backlog of laundry. The fact is—you’re hard on yourself. A little bit too hard.
As moms, we often cut others slack when we know they’ve tried, even if the outcome isn’t ideal. Why can’t we do the same for ourselves? Perfectionist moms live in a prison where tiny hiccups feel like disasters. It’s time we gave ourselves the same grace we extend to others. Do you need to cut yourself some slack in the following 7 areas?
1. Picture perfect homes
Repeat after me: the houses in the magazines (and the blogs) have been professionally styled for a photo shoot, and don’t look like that on a daily basis when real people are actually doing life in them. That home organization blogger? Her label maker may be her only friend. Moms can place a lot of pressure on ourselves to keep up a standard of domestic perfection that isn’t realistic. Chill out. It’s a place to live, not just a place to look at.
2. Nutrition guilt
We all want our children to be healthy and know that good nutrition is key. But what we need to shoot for is a good overall picture, where the majority of your child’s meals are healthy and well-balanced. Beating yourself up because once a week you shoot through a drive-through between a myriad of practices and lessons just to be able to feed them something isn’t necessary. And every meal you cook doesn’t have to be a culinary triumph. Some nights were just made for mac and cheese, and we like it that way (so do your kids).
3. The glamour gap
The media loves to laud celebrity moms and the way they make breezing around Manhattan and Beverly Hills with their adorable tots in tow look fashionable and effortless. We even drool over the super-fast pace at which famous moms get back into their skinny jeans after delivery. Hey, guess what? If you had a nanny, a personal trainer, a chef, and a stylist at your disposal, you could, too! Comparing yourself to those who have unlimited resources is a silly and defeating proposition. Out here in the real world, things take time. Strive to be healthy, and your best appearance will follow.
4. Craft deficit
True confession: I am not a crafty person. I hate hot glue guns, felt, colored paper, pipe cleaners…you get the picture. And having children didn’t miraculously change this about me. I’d rather be reading, frankly. So when you’re looking at Pinterest and thinking, Am I really supposed to make groundhog cupcakes using fondant icing and Chiclets for groundhog teeth for my kid’s class for Groundhog Day??…the answer is no. I promise you, there’s some crafty mom in the class who’ll be ecstatic to pick up your slack, and will probably make matching construction paper groundhog hats. And that’s okay.
5. “Mommy Wars” guilt
Whether you’ve chosen to pursue a full-time career, work part-time, work from home, or pour all of your energy into your parenting and homemaking, you really don’t owe the world an explanation. There are lots of factors that go into each family’s decision regarding work-life balance, and the only people you’re accountable to are your husband and children. So if your arrangement is one that all of you are happy with (even if it’s hard sometimes—because everything is hard sometimes), don’t waste your time fretting about the opinions of others.
6. Volunteer avalanche
You’re child is a Girl Scout? Great, we need another troop leader! They need a fall festival chairman at the school—why don’t you take it on? You’d be great! Time for VBS at church—calling all moms! It’s great to pitch in around the community, and everyone should find some way to help out. But some moms believe that every need is their personal calling, and wind up drastically overloaded with volunteer work. It’s okay to say no sometimes! Only you know what other commitments you already have on your plate, and whether you can handle anything more. If you find it impossible to say “no” altogether, try starting with, “I can’t commit to that right now—maybe next year/season/semester.” Baby steps, mom.
7. Parenting perfectionist
So you forgot to check your 3rd grader’s homework last night. Trust us, the world will not end. The kids watched a movie that had a scene in it you didn’t expect, even after reading the reviews. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Even the most committed and faithful parents drop the ball every now and then. If you never do, you may be wound a tad too tight. Parenting is about doing your best at a job in which the target is constantly moving and the variables are constantly changing—and that’s hard for anyone. Do your best, learn from the mistakes, and move on.
Parenting is about doing your best at a job in which the target is constantly moving and the variables are constantly changing—and that’s hard for anyone.
Tell us! Where do you need to cut yourself some slack?
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.