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”. Concretely, this is how it is applied:
Beware of the Good Mother: she 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 within this image of what a good mother is and does, an image that is not helpful or realistic. 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. Do you need to add more stuff on your to-do-list, attend each and every single birthday party, sign up to another extra-curricular activity? If we want to stay sane and raise children who have healthy boundaries, we need to role model that behaviour ourselves.
Connect with other mothers: isolation is one of the major causes of stress for mothers. Find women to connect and have genuine conversations with about what this phase of your life really feels like: the harsh reality, the joys, everything! This will help you to normalise your feelings and bring a sense of community back into your life.
Redefine strength: 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. How different would you feel if you could redefine strength in this way?
Mothering is not a walk in the park and 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. So, give yourself a break and aim for good enough, not perfect. You’ll feel so much better for it!
Author: Elise Clement. Elise is a certified life coach, matrescence specialist and psychotherapist-in-training dedicated to supporting women's mental and emotional wellbeing through motherhood. She works with women one-on-one and also facilitates workshops and circles to provide a gentle and supportive space for women to share their experiences, joys and challenges as they navigate conception, pregnancy and motherhood. Find out more about Elise HERE.