Perfectionism is not a healthy habit. Even less so when it comes to motherhood, unless you’re keen to rub shoulders with overwhelm, resentment, rage and the feeling of never being satisfied, which can eventually lead to maternal burnout.
Here is the new mantra you can adopt to preserve your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing when faced with the demands of mothering, working and everything in between: “Good enough is the new perfect”.
Beware of the Good Mother
The good mother is the one who does it all, preferably all at once, never raises her voice, always indulges in self-sacrifice…and does not exist! Most of us carry a lot of unhelpful and unrealistic beliefs about what a good mother is and does.
So, next time you catch yourself thinking that you “should” be on top of it all, that you “should” do something productive while your baby is sleeping, that you “should” do every single pick up and drop off, think twice. Said who? Whose voice do you hear when the “should” shows up? Is it serving you or is it overwhelming you?
Learn to say no
Sometimes we forget that we are in control and can decide what we say yes to and what we say no to. If we want to stay sane and raise children who have healthy boundaries, we need to role model that behaviour ourselves. Here, it helps to think about what really matters, the values that are important in this season of your life. Once you have identified them, use them as a compass to navigate the decisions you make, no matter how mundane or challenging.
Connect with other mothers
Isolation is one of the major causes of stress for mothers. Find women to connect with and have genuine conversations about what it is really like to juggle the competing devotions that we need to wrestle with as women and mothers. This can help you normalise your feelings and bring a sense of community back into your life.
Our culture defines strength as the ability to push through, be constantly “on”, do more, deliver: the perfect cocktail for burnout. What if you embraced a more balanced definition of strength, one that invites you to recognise your needs and respect them? One that gives you permission to delegate, rest, ask for help, get support through coaching, therapy or other holistic practices, prioritise your wellbeing and nourishment?
Mothering is not a walk in the park. It’s normal to not like every single day of your life as a mother, even though you may feel like you’re expected to. Ambivalence is part and parcel of being human, of being a parent, especially in a society that doesn’t value motherhood and is not set up for parents to thrive and feel supported along the way. Learn to own your new gifts and skills as a parent and be kind to yourself: you’re going through a process of transformation, learning and growth like no other.
I offer supportive and gentle spaces for women to share their experience, their joys and their challenges as they navigate their mothering journeys. You can find out more here. If you’d like to have one-on-one support, you can book an introductory coaching session with me here.
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz for Unsplash