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Monday Mom Challenge: Cut yourself some slack

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Embracing imperfection

Even the most laid-back moms I know hold themselves to a higher standard than is humanly possible to achieve. It's one of the traits of motherhood, I think. Always doing your best as a mother is a good thing; holding yourself to an unachievable standard is less than good.
Woman in her thirties

No matter what the issue, we always seem to say, "I should have known...." But really, should we have? If we were able to see all things coming, have the perfect response to everything, in short, be perfect, we wouldn't be moms, we wouldn't even be plain old superheroes, we'd be God. Being a mom is hard and rewarding and exciting and scary and joyful and sad and every other emotion, often all at once. It is absolutely impossible to do it perfectly. It's time to cut yourself some slack and let yourself be imperfect. No, really.

More than lip service

We talk a good game, don't we? If you were nodding along to the above, agreeing in principle, great. But how do you put it into practice?

For me, it's by regularly asking myself, "Is this the best way to spend my energy right now?"

One of my bugaboos is with food. Feeding my family well is important to me. Even though I know it's not really possible, especially with the craziness of the rest of our lives, I feel deeply guilty when I don't put a "perfect" meal on the table every night. I talk a good game and say out loud, "I'm doing the best I can, I'll make sure there's extra vegetable matter tomorrow night," or whatever. I don't feel it, though, and my inner voice keeps going on, "You should have..." The reality is that our family does really well with variety and nutrition. My kids are healthy and growing. A less than perfect meal, well... so what?

It's a luxury, really, to dwell on this as I do. There are bigger issues to which I could be and should be devoting that precious brain power. It's time to stop - and cut myself a big old heap of slack.

Is this the best way to spend my energy right now? No. Nope. Not at all.

While this example may seem a little extreme, we all have our own parenting hangups. Things we have a hard time letting go. What's yours? And is stressing over it the best way to spend your energy?

Repeat after me

If you answered "No" to that question for one of your issues, it's a key area in which to cut yourself some slack.

Practice repeating to yourself, "It's okay."

Seriously.

"It's okay."

Repeat.

It takes practice - sometimes a lot of practice. I'm still practicing myself! Cutting ourselves some slack for these less than critical issues frees us from the chains of unachievable perfection. You can't be a perfect mom. You can't. But you can be the perfect mom for your kids - just the totally imperfect, flawed, doing the best you can way you are. Just cut yourself some slack and let yourself be that mom.

It's okay.

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