Urban Earth Mom
Eliminating chaos since 1989

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Learn to let go of “it’s my way or the highway” on your journey to become CEO of your life

Motherhood brings out the perfectionist in all of us!  We come into this phase of our lives with preconceived ideas of what an ‘ideal mother’ is.  Often these ideals are shaped by the rose-colored glasses we viewed our own childhood through. Or the intention to NEVER be anything like our own caregivers!! 

In our quest to be the perfect mother we can easily lose sight of what truly matters: that our children grow up to be happy, well-adjusted, fulfilled adults who don’t need to be bailed out all the time! Who can do their own laundry, balance a check book, keep a clean home and put a healthy meal on the table for our grandchildren. No pressure or anything kids.

We end up feeling guilty because, in our own eyes (and often ONLY in our own eyes) we are failing as mothers, wives, workers and bosses. How can we not be failing?  Everything isn’t perfect.  Everything doesn’t look Insta-worthy or Pinterest-perfect. 

Society has such high expectations of mothers that we cannot hope to live up to so we need to work on changing those and that change begins with us.

Hands up (or post in the comments) if you know you are your own worst critic?  Yup me too.  And little comments from kids, spouses, co-workers or fellow mothers don’t help make us feel any better about ourselves.  At work, you treat yourself like the professional you are and you work hard on moving up the ladder whether you work for yourself or someone else.  But at home, how often do you treat yourself like the intern that does every little, boring, menial task in the home?

You deserve promotions at work and you deserve them at home.  But the biggest blockage to moving up is often our perfectionism.  It’s my way or the highway!  There’s only ONE perfect way to load the dishwasher… one way to fold the laundry… one way to bath or play with the baby!  Except there isn’t, there are lots of equally effective ways.

Feeling that our way is the only way keeps us trapped in having to do the job because no one else will do it as well as us.  And breaking out of that way of thinking can be one of the hardest things we do as mothers.  But if you don’t change the way you think about what gets done in the house then you are forever trapped as the intern while everyone else in the house moves upwards under your over-burdened care.

How do you break out of this perfectionism?  The easiest way is to pick one thing in the home that needs to get done but you hate to do or would like to free up that time.  For me it was cleaning the bathrooms, for you it may be loading the dishwasher, folding laundry…  Focusing on one task at a time will help you not become overwhelmed to the point you step back in. 

Focus on the end result.  For me it was having a clean bathroom, nothing getting broken or damaged.  I supplied my daughter with the safe but effective cleaning supplies and showed her how I would do the job and told her the important stuff: Don’t clean the sink with anything you used to clean the toilet PLEASE because the thought of that just grosses me out.  But then I stepped out of her way and let her to the job her way.  For the first few times she cleaned I made sure NOT to be anywhere I could see her cleaning in case it bothered me that she wasn’t doing it the “right” way.  Once I got used to seeing a clean bathroom it was easier to see her doing things differently.  She’s a visual learner, I’m a verbal learner so it makes sense she would do things differently.  But the end result was the same: a clean bathroom. 

Same with the dishwasher.  The end result is clean dishes, nothing gets broken, as much as possible gets washed at once to maximize use of power, water, detergent… or whatever your criteria are.  It really doesn’t matter (really it doesn’t) how the dishes are loaded as long as the above criteria get met! Because I’ll bet if you brought together the two women you admire the most for their fabulous homes, you all would load the thing differently and yet you all have sparkly dishes!

Warning: letting go of your need for perfection can be addictive!  You may soon find yourself able to stop cleaning up before the cleaning person gets there, letting your husband load the dishwasher without criticizing him and reloading it yourself!! It can happen, I’ve seen it with my own eyes! And you’ll suddenly have time to read and start thinking about setting bigger goals.

Let me know in the comments where you struggle most with the perfectionism of motherhood. 

Sarah MooreComment