Self-help author, Anne Wilson Schaef states that “Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order”, and she isn’t too far from the truth. Perfectionism and motherhood, are two things that shouldn’t really go together, but unfortunately, they often do.

Whether it is living up to the memory of our own mothers or competing with other ‘yummy mummies’ in the school carpark, sometimes it seems everywhere we go, people are judging our every decision. Is the reality though that the person judging us the most ourselves?

From the moment your baby is placed in your arms, you solemnly swear that you are going to do everything possible to ensure they get the best version of you as a mother. And sometimes we get so caught up in trying to make sure that everything is going smoothly, we forget to enjoy the journey.

Perfectionism is defined as a person striving for flawlessness and is accompanied by critical selfevaluations and concerns regarding other’s evaluations.

While it can be hard not to analyse what others think of us as parents (especially when it seems every Tom, Dick and Harry have an opinion), it is important to try our best to block out those thoughts. When we focus so much on how we believe things ‘should’ be, we are also telling our children how we believe things ‘shouldn’t’ be, and that can lead to anxiety and questioning of their own self-worth.

“Mummy is always saying she is too fat. Maybe I am too fat as well.” As a parent, it is so important to promote self-worth to your children. It all starts with you. Children learn so much from what they see and hear from their parents, and if they see and hear a confident parent who isn’t ashamed of their body or their brains, then they feel more comfortable acknowledging the positives about themselves as well. Something I suggest parents try is to look at their children and find everything about them that they inherited from you, whether it be their laugh, their eyes, their hair or their behaviour. Find every bit of you inside them, and remember just how much you love them. Surely if you can love them for all their traits, you can love yourself for those same reasons. Learning self-love (or at the very least self-acceptance) can be one of the most challenging things to learn, but it is undoubtedly worth it when you see your own children develop and nourish that same confidence.

Aside from the perfectionism over ourselves, we also tend to try to reach that unobtainable level of perfection with everything else. Is our house spotless? Do we not only have our dinners ready every night on time, but are they also full of healthy choices? Are our children neat, well behaved and adored by all? Trying to be that pictureperfect parent can truly be exhausting, but it is also
unnecessary. Most children won’t be lining up to say their mother is perfect because she washes, dries and folds their clothes all in one day. More likely they think you are perfect simply because you hug them the best.

Here are a few things to remember when trying to overcome perfectionism:
•• Celebrate every small victory and give yourself credit where credit is due.
•• Remove the ‘all or nothing’ mindset. The sun will still come up tomorrow.
•• Recognise the bigger picture and try not to get so caught up by the little things.
•• Learn from the failures, but don’t dwell on them. Acknowledge that failures are part and parcel of success.
•• Learn to respect and love yourself.

Before having my firstborn, I thought there was a certain way to do everything. That there was a set of expectations that I needed to live up to, to be a good mother. Now I know that’s simply not true. From playing in the backyard on the trampoline well after dark, ordering takeaway at least once a week because we forgot to get something out of the freezer to defrost in time, to generally running around like a headless chook most mornings before the school run, our lives are happily imperfect!

My boys don’t need their mum to have perfect hair or to be incredibly fit or even to know the answers to everything. They just need me there.


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