Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest, Mommy Blogs: these social media platforms have created a false sense of reality and perfection for moms. In my personal experience, it all started when I was pregnant. I began to follow mom influencers on Instagram that seemed like they had it all together. As a first-time mom, I assumed that I would have it all together also. The moms on social media made it look easy, so how hard could it be?
Perfection is Overrated
I see so many beautiful white couches and rugs and kitchens in people’s homes with children on social media. If they can keep their living room in pristine condition and have children, I also can. During pregnancy, it was important for me that all of the baby items on our registry met my aesthetic. I felt pressure to be perfect because of what I saw on social media. I quickly learned that it was not representative of real life, and it is okay not to have the perfect aesthetic. My favorite room in our house is now my toddler’s colorful and messy playroom. It’s perfect for us, although it may not look perfect on social media.
After my son was born, I vividly remember standing at the sink at 4 AM washing bottles after he had woken up to eat around 3:30 AM. I remember telling my husband, “Oh, yes, this schedule is working for me. Things are going great. I just slept 4 whole hours in a row!” Spoiler alert: it wasn’t working for me. I was trying so desperately to maintain perfection in my home that I was sacrificing sleep and happiness. Learning to prioritize what urgently needed to get done was imperative for me to honor my mental health and give myself some grace. I also learned to ask for help from my partner with everything else. I adjusted my priorities, and perfection was no longer my goal.
Letting Go of Perfectionism
Learning from those experiences helped me let go of my need for perfection so I could be a happy, healthy mom to our son. It’s so easy to let the need for perfection take control of your actions and forget to live in the present. Here are a few of the tactics that I used to help me let go and become a better mom:
Living in the now.
The most fun I have every day is when I relax and just play with my son—just playing and laughing together, with no rules or educational goals in mind. My son has a speech delay, and so much of our time playing together is more rigid and structured. While it is still fun for him, my mind quickly wanders to a stressful place of “Am I doing enough?” My son needs to know that we can simply have fun together.
Take advice with a grain of salt.
Everyone loves to advise a new mom. One of those famous pieces of advice is “The chores can wait. Babies don’t keep.” I completely agree with the sentiment, but some chores cannot wait. Dishes have to be washed because everyone needs to eat. Laundry has to be done, so there are clean clothes ready and waiting for the next mess. The dogs probably won’t let you forget to feed them. If you do not have help from your partner or support person, chores fall on you. Just remember to prioritize. It is okay if the floor isn’t vacuumed, or your stovetop is dirty, or you keep forgetting to dust the mantle. Your kids won’t notice those things. They don’t expect you to be perfect.
Use the Mute or Unfollow button on social media.
There are so many influencers on social media that portray a distorted sense of reality for many moms. It’s hard to remember that what is shared on social media is not always real life. Anyone who makes me feel inadequate as a mom, I mute or unfollow them on my social media. It’s hard enough being a mom. Seeing other moms that make you feel less-than is even harder. I tend to compare myself to others, especially when it comes to parenting. Those comparisons cause me to set unattainable goals for myself. Using the mute button helps me have a healthier perception of reality.
I remember telling myself, “I will not let my living room turn into a daycare center.” I was clinging to my old ways of being neat and tidy, and I was stressing myself out every night while putting the toys out of sight. Once I realized that my world would not fall apart if I left the toys out to go to bed a few minutes earlier, I started resetting my expectations in many areas. Everyone survived to the next day if the living room was a mess.
Letting go of perfection has allowed me to be a more present and engaged mom to my son. Life with children is messy, literally and figuratively. Embracing imperfection will help you enjoy your time together. You are enough for your kids, and your imperfections are what make you perfect to them!