Surviving Children: Don’t kill yourself with perfectionism

As if mothering three very dependent young children, volunteering in the community, and blogging full time was not enough, I tried to be perfect at everything. Let me tell you, that did not last long at all.

A lesson I learned early on, that might have saved my sanity, was: it is ok to let let a few things go.

In college, I worked 4 part-time jobs in addition to full time classes. In order to stay alive I had to realize that receiving a 4.0, while desirable, was not something I needed to kill myself to achieve.

In my family, I made priorities. The most important priority is my mental health. If I lose myself to anxiety, my kids will be the first to suffer. To keep my sanity, I have to let go of perfectionism and live with my best.

My laundry sits in baskets as opposed to being folded neatly in the drawers. The kids eat boxed dinners once or so a week, as opposed to organic whole foods for every single meal. There is clutter on table tops and toys on the floor. But I have to let these things go. I have to focus on enjoying my babies now.

It is almost impossible to be everything for everybody. I know I can’t do it! When I was pregnant with my 3rd child, Lizzie was 3 and David was not yet 2. I backed off from many of my volunteer activities and allowed friends and family to help me. Talk about humbling!

The sooner you let go of this perfect-mother image you have in your head that you will never live up to, the sooner you will be the most amazing mom and wife you ever have been.

Now instead of wearing myself out with chores and discipline issues, I am reading books on a couch littered with toys. I make cookies in a cluttered kitchen. I clean up one room so we have a quiet place to play dolls (and escape the madness of the other rooms in the house).

How have you let go of perfectionism? Has it made you a better parent?

Published on: August 31, 2011
About the Author
Photo of Annie Shultz

Annie fell in love with words at a young age, knowing early she wanted to be a writer. She lives in the Kansas woods where she documents her life through the lens of her camera and the clicks of her keyboard.

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