10 Moms Reveal How They Became 'Reformed' Perfectionists

10 Moms Reveal How They Became 'Reformed' Perfectionists

Moms share what helped them stop worrying about being ‘perfect’ and embrace being real!


By: Maressa Brown

Every mom suffers at one time or another from the perception that she has to be “perfect” in some way. Unfortunately, research shows just how detrimental this can be. A recent study from the University of Michigan found that moms who feel that pressure the most are at the greatest risk for depression. Thankfully, it’s possible to become a “reformed” perfectionist. Here, 10 moms share how they made peace with imperfection.

1. “When I cooked or baked, I felt that it all had to be perfect because it's one of the things that I'm really good at. But when I turned 40, I got over a lot of things like that. For some reason, 40 was a magic button!”

2. “I used to think I had to get my toddler-age daughter into bed at the same time every night, even on weekends, since regular sleep routine is so important, blah blah blah. But it wasn't always easy if we were out socializing with our daughter in the evening to get home so early. So, on Fridays and Saturdays, I loosened that policy, and let our daughter stay up an hour or even two later than usual.”

3. “I used to get really anxious about taking my kids anywhere because I panicked about disturbing others. When my eldest was a newborn and sleeping away most of the day, I would be nervous if we had him at a restaurant. ‘What if he wakes up and starts crying?’ I'm still very conscientious of those around me and making sure my kids are behaving as well as possible, but I've finally accepted that they're kids. They're going to make noise, they're going to be silly, and if the worst that happens is I have to pull them out of a situation because they're loud, then so be it!”

4. “I always felt that I had to send my kids to a play date with a fun snack because my mom never let us go anywhere without rice cereal treats or brownies. But now, with food allergies and the gluten-free mafia that roams my town, I've just let it go!”

5. “I felt like I had to be perfect at being attentive to my son every single time he wants attention. It’s impossible! You have to get other things done, which means you have to prioritize. Sometimes, you really do have to put your baby down and let him cry so you can take 30 seconds to go to the bathroom. When my son got older, I learned that I could tell him, ‘Just a minute, Mommy’s listening to her friend’ whenever he interrupted a conversation. It’s a good lesson for him in polite behavior. (Obviously, if your child is having a real emergency, that’s an exception.) And I think kids should feel like they have your attention whenever they need it most of the time. But they also need to recognize that you are a human being with your own needs and other people in your life.”

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6. “When I was a young mom, I was very worried about disturbing the kids’ nap time. With my first, I used to keep quiet and even unplug the telephone. Then, when my second one came, it was even harder. But by the third baby, I said, ‘This is crazy!’ I started to put them in their car seats and go out and do my rounds. I got really savvy at takeout places, drive-up banks, drive-up dry cleaners, drive-up USPS boxes, and even the drive-up library chute at the municipal building!”

7. “When my daughter was a baby, I bought a fancy food-maker, which I did love, and would concoct fancy little three-ingredient meals. (This was before she was eating solid foods – it would pulverize everything!) I would get really uptight about getting organic vegetables and adding the right spices and mashing up the right amount of protein to get just the right consistency. Now she’s a toddler with far more finicky eating habits, and I’ve just had to learn to relax. I don’t worry as much if she’s not eating sweet potato/avocado/blueberries for every meal. Now, it’s an achievement if I can get a vegetable down at all. Her new favorite word is COOKIE!”

8. “I used to think my daughter should not watch over an hour of TV a day, but that quickly fell to the wayside! We now snuggle together and will watch a whole two-hour movie. I figured if we're both enjoying ourselves, there’s little harm.”

9. “I've given up on the ‘thank you’ cards from my kids. It’s just not worth the knock-down-drag-em-out battles, and doing it FOR them makes no sense to me. I do always make sure they thank people in person or by phone when they receive gifts, and only in cases where the giver lives far away do I (try to) force it. Of course, now that they're a little older, I might have to start in about this again ...”

10. “Keep a clean house, have cookies around all the time, keep their laundry done, be a stay-at-home mom! I gave myself two nervous breakdowns trying to be Super Mom! Then, I realized that my kids needed ME. They need me to play with them, to have fun, to listen, to share heartbreaks and joys. I don't have to be a SAHM to do that. My house doesn't have to be spotless (and it's NOT!). And we'll live if we have to dig clean clothes out of the dryer. We have more fun, more meaningful talks, more time together. My kids tell me I'm the coolest mom ever -- my job is done.”

What did you used to think you had to do perfectly, and how did you reform your ways?



Maressa Brown is a senior staff writer for The Stir. She loves writing about and reading up on health/fitness, relationships, and pop culture -- preferably on a beach somewhere.

Image ©iStock.com/shalamov

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