I would have given anything to keep her little. They outgrow us so much faster than we outgrow them.
As moms, we can be so very hard on ourselves, especially in the pursuit of perfection. Perfectionism is often based in anxiety and fear, and creates a burnout cycle because our lives will never be perfect enough. It also models for our kids that perfection is the goal for them too. So, how do we break the perfectionism cycle for ourselves and for our children?
Breaking this cycle often starts with taking a step back and focusing on what truly matters in your life. It’s also taking a step back and focusing on how you truly want to support your children as they grow and mature. It’s taking a step back to see what would be helpful to both you and your children at this point in time. This often includes more empathy, more compassion, more grace, more kindness, etc.
What’s great about adding more gentleness into your life is that you don’t have to just start with the here and now. Yes, it’s helpful in the present moment to send compassion outward towards your kids and inward towards yourself. But, it can also be helpful to change the narrative of how you saw yourself in the past, a narrative that’s often very harsh. Imagine yourself sending love and compassion to the younger you. The younger you who had struggles and pain and hurt while she grew into the beautiful woman you are today. What would it be like to see her through a kinder, more loving lens?
Also, think about what attitudes and behaviors you want to model for your own children. Things you want to come true in life such as: strong, independent women raise strong, independent women. And, when we live in our own truth as parents, we allow our kids to live in their own truth as well.
One thing that can be very hard when you’re learning to undo perfectionism and be kinder and gentler to yourself and others is accepting help and support. Why is this the case?
- Others do it wrong
- We feel like we’re supposed to be in the giving (not a receiving) role as moms
- We don’t trust that it will really get done
- We want things done a certain way
- We like being in control
- Controlling our environment can help keep our anxiety in check
- We want things to appear a certain way to others (if things look perfect, then they must be perfect, right?)
- We feel a sense of identity and purpose in doing it all ourselves
- Asking for help feels like a weakness
- We feel like we have to reciprocate any nice things done for us with a nice thing we do for that person
What else would you add to this list?
So, what would it be like to model for your kids that asking for help and receiving from others is a normal, healthy part of life? And, that allowing other people to be in a giving role can be a huge gift for them. Receiving in motherhood may look like:
- Accepting the offer from a loved one to watch your kids
- Graciously accepting a gift without feeling like you need to reciprocate
- Letting a friend buy the morning coffee for you
- Saying thank you for the dinner your family member brought over
- Making space for the free clothes, toys, etc. from a mom with older kids
- Accepting help and support from a neighbor
- The backrub from your partner (without having to reciprocate)
- Your partner’s help with the housework, the kids, etc.
- Accepting the compliment from a stranger with a sincere thank you
- Allowing the positive review to fill you with joy
What else would you add to this list?
Giving and receiving in life can be complicated, especially if you’re keeping score. Instead, what would it be like to try to create some balance around how much you’re giving and how much you’re receiving so it’s not one sided? It’s a different way to look at things, which can start to change your perfectionistic mindset, and help you to feel more content and happy in this very moment.