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Moms trade perfection for happiness

In the chase to balance career and kids, family and ambition, we sometimes lose sight of happiness. In Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood, authors Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple talk about how to loosen your grip on perfection and focus on what truly makes you happy.

Hollee Schwartz Temple

Good Enough Is the New Perfect is based on the research that authors Hollee Schwartz Temple and Becky Beaupre Gillespie conducted over a span of two years, surveying and interviewing more than 900 working moms from all over the U.S.

What you should know up front is that this book is not about settling or finding refuge in mediocrity. It captures the challenges and the opportunities of modern motherhood — where technology tempts Type A tendencies and working from home brings new work/life balance issues to the forefront. It challenges you to evaluate your life, the value of your time and how your choices impact your quality of life. It inspires you to work toward everything you want from life as a mom, a professional and as a woman. I was fortunate enough to ask co-author, Hollee Schwartz Temple, a few questions about her book.

Picking your priorities

SheKnows: Can you explain how being good enough is not the same as settling?

Hollee Schwartz Temple: Being good enough is all about choosing your own priorities. You decide that you are going to pour your heart and soul into some areas, but others you recognize are beyond you or don’t match your bigger life goals. Those are the ones you let go of. That’s very different than just saying, “Whatever. I’ll do a mediocre job at everything.”

For example, I am not crafty. It’s not a priority of mine, although I know lots of moms who show their love through adorable projects. Am I settling because I go for store-bought cards for Valentine’s Day? I don’t think so. I’m picking my own priorities.

New breed: Work-at-home moms

Good enough is the new perfectSK: What did your interviews uncover about the relatively-new breed of moms who work from home offices, basically inhabiting both the career mom and stay-at-home mom roles at the same time?

HST: Working at home can bring many benefits, but it can be very isolating. Moms who inhabit both worlds often feel like an outsider in both: They’re not really at-home moms but don’t feel like they qualify as full-fledged working moms because they don’t dress up in a suit and take public transportation to an office. These moms sometimes struggle as they change costumes and they often say that they feel left out — they don’t have a mom team to join.

Technology traps

SK: In your book, you talk about this generation of moms’ struggle with technology — compulsively checking messages on our iPhone or obsessing over Twitter. How does that tie into the goal of being good enough?

HST: Well, if you’re on the Never Enough side of the spectrum, you’re always afraid to turn off your technology for fear of missing something. So, you have to have your priorities straight. Is it OK to wait a few hours before responding to an email? I’ve found that almost always, it is. And then you don’t have to be juggling technology and trying to focus on your family simultaneously. That can be incredibly frustrating.

Loosen the reins on perfect

SK: You talk about “loosening the reins on perfect.” Can you touch on how that can contribute to more personal happiness and how that trickles down to happier parenting and better marriages?

HST: Our statistics really speak to this. The women in our 900-plus mom study who fell into the group we called the Never Enoughs — the perfectionists — suffered a lot for their unbending attitudes. They made a bit more money… but they gave up a lot for that. They were less happy in their marriages, they didn’t feel like their priorities were reflected in their daily living and they didn’t have or make time for things they loved. And the surprising thing was that the moms who adopted a more relaxed approach — the Good Enoughs — were just as likely to advance in their careers. So, our research showed a definite upside to shooting for less-than-perfect in every facet of life!

More about happiness and balance

Keep it simple, momma
Parenting Guru: Are you a happy mom?
Work-life balance trumps money

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