From the moment they lay eyes on their child for the first time onwards, many new mums find their lives change in subtle ways they could not foresee. It is the subtle changes that often creep up and can make motherhood a challenging journey. One of these is the expectation of perfection.
Prior to having children, you might have been like many other women who aspire for perfection in what they do. As women, we often take pride in our ability to add value to the lives of other people and to be the best we can be.
This aspiration is what keeps us moving forward in life and growing, becoming better people as a result.
The moment motherhood becomes your reality, perfectionistic thinking can very quickly become a cause of unnecessary stress and tension in your life. Children, by their very natures, take charge and live life to the fullest, giving little or no regard to how things ‘should’ be.
No matter how hard you try to be the best mother you can be, there will be moments where you may feel as though you’re not cut out for it. Pesky thoughts creep in telling you that maybe you’re just not good enough.
And this is the trap of perfectionistic thinking.
Expecting perfection from yourself
Motherhood is as rewarding as it is challenging. Adding expectations of how you ‘should’ be or how you’re not the perfect mother only makes the journey harder.
Comparing yourself to some fictitious version of the ‘perfect mum’ serves nobody.
Many work at home mums have trouble letting go of the perfection they expect from themselves. Often, they compare themselves now, as a mother, to how they lived life prior to motherhood.
It’s incredibly easy to compare these versions of yourself, especially if you enjoyed working, achieving goals and being productive. Trying to juggle work, children and your sanity is a tough gig! Do yourself a favour and take it easy!
There will be days when you may feel on top of it all and on par with how you were prior to having children. There will also be days where just getting out of bed feels equivalent to climbing Mt Everest.
Each day will bring something new. Trust yourself and know that you’ve totally got this. You will be the best mother you can be given the circumstances of the day and it is totally fine if this idea of ’best mother’ looks different from one day to the next.
Letting go of perfectionism’s reins is the first step towards trusting yourself and seeing yourself as a strong, capable woman who is doing the best she can to raise a tiny human or two (or more).
Work, productivity and perfectionism
There’s a vicious pattern that can play out when perfectionistic thinking runs the show. It starts with setting a mile-long list of tasks to complete in the moments you have to yourself. When these precious moments arrive, you find that you couldn’t get through even 2 of the tasks on your list. And then you start beating yourself up for being unproductive.
As a work at home mum, you’ll very quickly find that how you manage work will be very different. No matter what your prior work arrangements were, the way you manage your mental, emotional and physical energy is likely to have significantly changed since giving birth.
It doesn’t matter what you were once able to do. The reality is that children require a lot of time and energy, day in day out. They also demand a substantially high amount of spontaneity. Just because you could work on a project late into the night before having children, it doesn’t mean you should expect that of yourself now.
Your priority in paying the bills and giving your children access to the best opportunities is noble. However, the sooner you become ok with the fact that being the best you can be will look different each day, the more productive you’ll end up being.
You may even find that completing the tasks on your list to 70-80% capacity will help you get more done. Worrying over the last 20-30% is what will chew through most of your already limited time and energy.
The SuperWAHM community invites you to let go of your perfectionistic tendencies by realising that even 80% capacity is a heck of a lot better than not getting started at all.
Celebrate the things you’ve managed to achieve, no matter how big or how small. Whether they are work related or not. Turning up each day is an achievement in itself and deserves just as much recognition, so recognise it.