Why is it that moms feel they have to be perfectionists?
What are some tips on how to stop?
Perfectionism is a trap because we simply can’t measure up to our own expectations of doing it all. And when we don’t, we feel guilt. On some level, this guilt is a connecting point for all women because we all feel it. In small doses guilt makes us human. But when we feel an overdose of it, it wears us down, catches us in a cycle of negative thinking and damages our health.
If we’re working moms, it’s even worse. We struggle with the constant balancing act of taking care of kids and still doing well in our careers. We’re constantly juggling work and family – wanting to be supermoms at home while being at the top of our careers at the office.
Why do we lie awake at night trying to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, the perfect friend and also perfect at work (when dads seem to be immune to this perfection need)?
1. These messages have been programmed into us since we were young and we – women collectively – haven’t been able to squeeze out from under the pressure of believing we should be perfect. We internalize that message and – even though we know rationally that we lay far too many expectations upon ourselves and we know it’s unrealistic that we can do it all, we still feel torn and distraught that we can’t be perfect.
2. We also feel the pressure from other women – women who don’t seem to be struggling as much as we are; women who are stay-at-home moms and don’t have the extra time restraints; and even our own moms who lived in a different era with different perspectives of life and different obligations.
So how can we get over this need to be perfect?
1. Don’t allow someone else to define what you should and should not be doing. Make your own choices and let go of other people’s expectations of you.
2. Set your own priorities for what you want to do in your day and let the rest go. Realize that there are only three choices – you either lower your expectations of what gets done, or you get someone else to do some of the jobs, or you try to do it all – and we already know that simply doesn’t work. So set aside time for yourself – to work out, to relax and confirm for yourself that your kids will be fine if they’re not with you 24/7. Let the rest go.
3. Make a calendar with the important events in your family life and keep it at your desk at work. Refer to it before you make a work commitment. Make the choice right away and then stick to your choice.
4. If you’ve done something you regret – like missing your daughter’s soccer game because of work – apologize to her and move on. There will always be another soccer game – you have another chance. Your kids will forgive you. Your job is to forgive yourself.
5. Get support. There are so many other working moms out there who are struggling with the same issues. Just having someone to talk with can relieve your guilt and get you back on an anti-perfectionism track.