If you’re a parent, you know that life is messy and perfectly imperfect. No matter how cute the photos are that you post on Facebook or Instagram, the reality of life with kids is far from the digital image or brand we sometimes like to present. It’s hard. All of this is. Parenting, working or staying-at-home, life in general. I like to call myself a recovering perfectionist. I like a clean house, organized drawers, and fresh flowers on the kitchen table. But trust me, that level of home organization takes a lot of effort and work! Sometimes too much. There are plenty of times that my house is a hot mess! Papers are scattered all over my desk. Laundry is piling up. The girls are fighting with each other. Dinner is not planned.
No life is perfect and perfectionism actually can be dangerous and isolating. When you’re a perfectionist at heart, you often feel not good enough or one step away from complete and utter failure. Perfectionists tend to spend a lot of time and energy on tasks that are not that important in the grand scheme of things. Perfect is the enemy of good enough! I had to learn this lesson a long time ago and when perfectionism starts to creep back into my mind, I have to repeat that mantra again and again so I don’t start feeling trapped by those feelings.
Psychology Today describes this well. “For perfectionists, life is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. It’s a fast and enduring track to unhappiness, and perfectionism is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders. What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. And love isn’t a refuge; in fact, it feels way too conditional on performance. Perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality, and often it leads to procrastination. There is a difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection. The need for perfection is usually transmitted in small ways from parents to children, some as silent as a raised eyebrow over a B rather than an A.”
Having recovered from perfectionism, I practice being kind to myself, to be loving and forgiving of my mistakes. It may sound strange but I try hard to be less hard on myself! To be mindful of good self-care which for me includes a regular routine of running, seeing friends, reading, going for hikes/walks, playing fetch with our puppy, Joy.
I try to let things go more easily than my Type A instincts tells me to. While I still strive for excellence at work and at home, I am no longer striving for perfection because I know that it doesn’t exist! If you think about the parties you go to, the best ones are those that feel relaxed and fun. The host is not overly worried about how the food turned out or whether or not the house looks perfect. There’s a feeling of calm, relaxed, fun and positive energy. That’s my goal these days for my personal, work and family life. I want to enjoy these moments because I know that the days are long but the years are short. Family life is awesome and a blessing I don’t take lightly. But, it’s also far from perfect and there are days I feel frustrated, annoyed, stressed, disappointed or simply tired. I’m learning to embrace all of those feelings and to realize that’s just a part of life!