Giving Up On Perfect: The Secret To Joyful Motherhood

I have a secret…

I am a perfectionist. That may sound like a good thing, but trust me it’s not – it’s torture. I didn’t even suspect I had this life long control issue until I became a mother. Motherhood threw me into a world that was much harder to control than I’d originally anticipated.

You see, I was one of those obnoxious people that assumed that when I had children they would be perfect. “I’ll make sure that when I have kids they’ll be perfectly well behaved,” I’d foolishly think to myself. I figured my control issues would keep my home tidy and our white picket fence in tip top shape. Stop laughing. Obviously now I’ve been quite humbled by the world of parenting. The tantrums, the messes and a chaotic world of tiny people with super loud voices has brought me down to a realistic level. I still struggle to live up to that impossible standard in my head, but deep down I know it’s just not possible.

The definition of perfectionism is a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less. How exhausting does that sound?  When we as mother’s put such high standards on ourselves, it ends up leaving us feeling like constant failures. Should we try our best to raise respectful kids and create wonderful memories along the way?  Absolutely, but if we don’t leave room for error then we ignore basic reality.

Only after coming to this conclusion, did I truly discover the secret to joyful motherhood – to surrender. I’ve found that the only thing that helps me with this impossible standard is one very important phrase – that I coincidentally mumble to myself throughout the day, “I give up.” I simply gave up on trying to be the perfect mother and now I just try my best to be a good one. Thankfully, I’ve learned to follow some practical tips to help me break my controlling and perfection chasing cycle. Here they are…

Clean up once a day, not all day long

This seems like an obvious routine to follow, but it’s actually really hard for me. I like to tidy up in the morning and then have the kids put their toys away at night, that way I’m only cleaning up as part of my morning not all day long. Otherwise, I seem to find myself picking up the same mess all day long. It’s so much easier on my nerves, when I stick to this tip.

Yelling doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom, it means you’re an overwhelmed mom

Where did we get this idea that good mom’s don’t ever raise their voices? Am I the only one that calmly asks my child to do a simple task only to be ignored fourteen times, causing me to yell like a crazy person about a dirty sock on the floor? Yelling is something that every mother does, but doesn’t like to admit. Obviously, we should all strive to be calm and patient with our kids, but when we slip we should rest in the fact that our mistakes don’t define us. Apologize when you lose your temper and strive to be calmer next time, but don’t punish yourself for being overwhelmed sometimes. Trust me, every motherhas her moments.

Adjust your expectations beforehand

When my husband and I take our three young kids to a restaurant, we prepare them to behave by explaining what we expect. More importantly though, we also have to prepare ourselves for reality. If we expect there to be a meltdown or two, then we won’t be so shocked when they happen. Trust me it’s much easier to handle things as they come if you are prepared to deal with them beforehand. You can ask them to behave and hope for the best, but if you expect perfection – you will be disappointed every time. I’m not saying to excuse bad behavior, I’m saying that they won’t learn if you just give up and never go. Even worse if your standards for them are ridiculously high, they’ll end up feeling like they can never please you.

Appearances don’t matter

It may seem like having a tidy home or well dressed children will make people think you have it all together, but it can be tiring when your focus becomes keeping up a certain appearance. Forget about what other families look like, a perfect looking family is still a normal family behind closed doors. We all make mistakes, we all have struggles and we should all be honest with each other about those struggles, if only to help encourage each other.

Let go and let God

It’s no secret that my faith is what get’s me through the day. Without God, I would be a sobbing mess on the floor. When I’m trying to do everything on my own, I’m often reminded of my creator. I’m not meant to do it alone, I’m meant to rely on God’s strength in my weakness. So, the next time you yell over a mess, behave like a toddler having a tantrum in front  of your kids or just feel overwhelmed by your role, take a deep breath and rest in the gift God has given us all freely – grace.

4 thoughts on “Giving Up On Perfect: The Secret To Joyful Motherhood

  1. Cheryl says:

    This is another wonderful article. I’m so proud of you, and I am so happy you give your stress to God. I learned that way too late to help me with motherhood! I spend a lot of years crying! Ha! Keep up the good work!

  2. susan. says:

    Great read. I’m still picking up after Kevan and Allan after all these years. I don’t think it ever ends. lol

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