The Perfectionist’s Guide to Surviving Motherhood

Motherhood is tough.

It is even tougher if you are a perfectionist.

I never thought I was suffering from perfectionism because I don’t think I am perfect, nor is anything in my life.

However, one important thing I found out about perfectionism is: ‘isn’t all about thing being perfect…it is the thinking that things need to be perfect and vigilantly pursuing it.’

A perfectionist in motherhood…

..gets burnout.

Why?

Because she sacrifice every second of her so called ‘free time’ (i.e. time without baby) to do ‘stuffs’ which range from laundry, tidying the forever messy bedroom, washing the endless piles of dishes, re-stocking the piles of vanishing nappies, etc. to make sure everything is clean and tidy.

If this sounds like you..

Please read on as I’d like to impart some wisdom that I learnt since entering the hood 9 months ago..

Being a perfectionist is really not a bad thing though,

Only if  it’s not too neurotic; click here to find out the hidden downside aspects and is part of us which makes us who we are.

So my intention is not to persuade you to get rid of your personality trait because as mentioned above, it’s what makes you unique and lastly, it’s an innate preposition and therefore I truly believe we cannot get rid of it.

Rather, I want to…

Help you manage this part of you in a skilful way so you have the head space to enjoy motherhood because the ugly truth about motherhood is, if you don’t actively try to make the most of it, you will get suck into the dark side of it.

I have been a mother suffering from unhealthy perfectionism and I know how tiresome it is, both emotionally and physically.

The constant belittled self-talk and highly negative self-criticism contributed to my low self-confidence and satisfaction as a mother. More importantly, it eats away the mental energy I have to play with my baby and enjoy the precious time being with this tiny little person.

Here’s 8 ways to manage the perfectionist in you…

Celes from Personal Excellence has written 8 ways on the how to overcome perfectionism which I really like. Hence, I’ll borrow her steps to walk you through how to manage your perfectionism self.

  1. Know the difference between healthy and neurotic perfectionism

The easiest way to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy perfectionism is: whether it is propelling/motivating you to achieve your goal or it is weighing you down emotionally and physically? To find out more, please click here.

  1. Remove the all-or-nothing mindset

You are not alone in Struggle Street of Motherhood. So stop feeling like a failure because your baby doesn’t sleep through like what the nurse says; your baby haven’t met a milestone, etc. Life is not black nor white, especially life as a mother.

If you can’t help feeling like a failure, you can count on the fact that no success is without failures. If you tried sleep training your baby (like I do) and failed miserably, don’t feel bad. View it as a learning process (I’ve learnt about my baby’s temperament while sleep training her.)

  1. Avoid the perfectionist’s mind trap

Being a perfectionist mother, we tend to get lost in the unimportant stuffs and forgot about what’s really matter in life.

It’s okay if the carpet is not cleaned every day, our baby will not suddenly become asthmatic because of it. It’s okay to let our baby play by herself, she will not get lonely (in fact she is too busy to care that you are not next to her teaching her ‘stuffs’.

  1. Learn to respect and love yourself

I totally agree with Celes that negative self-talk stems from us not putting ourselves as a high enough regard. Following birth, I always sacrifice my sleep to fold clothes and tidy things around the house because I don’t regard my health as a high priority.

I now have great regrets for taking those times to sleep as it is getting harder each day for my baby to stay asleep (oh how much I miss newborns sleep!).

Celes suggested three ways to achieve self-respect and self-love:

  • Switch negative self-talk: instead of saying ‘I’m not a good enough mum’, use ‘I’m have unique quality and I am learning to improve on it every second’. Instead of ‘I’m such a lousy mum’; say ‘I am a mother who always tries her best’.
  • Stop self-blame
  • Think of three things that you do right
  • Make health a priority
  1. Use your ideals as guides, not absolutes

Focus on the journey, not the end goal is what my yoga instructor always emphasised. When your goals are rigid (i.e. you have to achieve/attain a certain thing), it becomes absolute. On the other hand, if your goals become your guide and your focus shift from achieving the end outcome to journey.

  1. Value your relationships

I used to prioritise work over my relationships with myself, loved ones, friends and colleagues. However, since becoming a mum, I realised that there is more to life than work and I sometimes regretted the hours I spent working/studying so hard.

Motherhood is such a precious time so make the most of it. Housework can wait so go ahead and play with your baby!

  1. Celebrate every progress, victory, and failure

If you found yourself focusing on the lack and have high expectation of yourself, you are not alone. It is common for a perfectionist to have this mentality however, what I found is such mentality makes the struggles in motherhood unbearable.

A better way, as suggested by Celes, is to celebrate every step: both good and bad. Yes, you heard me, your failures deserves to be celebrated as well. As previously mentioned, I failed at sleep training numerous times but I don’t drown myself in despair as I learnt about my baby’s personality.

  1. Delegate and Let Go

Delegation was always my weakest point. When my in-laws are in town, I found it hard to let my baby stays with them for a long period of time as I’m scared they cannot handle her and cannot settle her to sleep. However, to my surprise my father in-law is such a baby whisper and can put a baby to sleep anywhere and any time.

Being a perfectionist means we have high standards for ourselves and others. It’s an innate proposition that makes us uniquely us so it deserves to be treated with care. I hope the eight ways by Personal Excellence are helpful in managing and shaping the perfectionism in you so you can enjoy the beauty that motherhood has to offer.

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