Are you someone who tends to be anxious, feel like you are never settled, or constantly experience fear and depression? Do you ever think you are not enough? If so, there is a chance that you could be a perfectionist. Being a parent of a child with special needs is a very challenging task. You might be fearful that you aren’t doing enough and as a result, worry that your child will not succeed because of you. Does this relate to you? If so, this episode is definitely for you! Today we are going to be talking all about perfectionism, how it affects us and our families in daily life, and discuss how we can manage and overcome this.
How Being a Perfectionist Has Negatively Affected My Life
Perfectionism is an epidemic in the society of motherhood, and especially for those of us that have special needs kids. An especially important concept that I have come to learn is that perfectionism is anything but a strength. In fact, it is a huge weakness that doesn’t have a lot of positives about it.
In this discussion, I talk all about my upbringing, how I was raised by my grandparents, and how my childhood experiences shape the perfectionist tendencies in myself. When I found my husband-to-be and became pregnant with my first son, I thought that I could be a stay-at-home mom. I felt confident that if I could be half of what my grandmother was then I could fulfill a purpose greater than myself. But because of my perfectionism, I would see what other moms were doing that I wasn’t and this made me feel like a failure.
Later on in my life, I was hired at a job with a corporation that felt out of my league. There was always a voice in my head that told me I wasn’t good enough and that everyone would eventually figure out that I was inadequate. I discuss an experience that I had at my job that still haunts me to this day. It is an example of what caused my perfectionism to become much worse and cost me my sanity because I wasn’t balanced.
What It’s Like Being a Perfectionist as a Special Needs Parent
To a perfectionist, having a child with special needs is almost a perfect recipe for disaster. Perfectionism relates to special needs parenting because you feel like this child needs a lot more than what you are capable of giving. I began to overthink and stress about everything that my daughter Remy required and felt like if I couldn’t do it, I would be a failure as a mom.
The reason we put pressure on ourselves is because we feel like if we don’t do enough for our kids, they will grow up and fail in life. These thoughts can spiral out of control. It’s easy to say that if you don’t have the time to make it perfect, you won’t try at all. As a result, there are so many areas you can neglect with your kids because you don’t feel like you can give enough. The more perfect we try to be, the more alone we are. And the more we try to do ourselves, the more we procrastinate. If you are a perfectionist, this is coming out in every way towards your family, which is the worst thing that you can do.
Why We Need To Stop Being Perfectionists
I have made huge steps in overcoming perfectionism when it comes to my family and specifically my kids. I have to constantly work at accepting that things aren’t going to be perfect. Instead of slowing down and thinking that everything doesn’t need to be perfect, I was exhausting myself by trying to keep up with my impossible standards. Maybe you are just like me and you have perfectionist tendencies or you don’t even realize that you have them.
An important fact that I learned through all of this is that you are never completely satisfied as a perfectionist. You will always think that you could improve something if you had more time. No matter what you really achieve, it is never going to be enough.
Perfectionism is killing you by making you anxious, stressed, and depressed. This energy is one of the most toxic things for you and your family. Are you someone who is calm, gives them attention, and is present with them, or are you snappy, stressed out, anxious, and all over the place? Remember that your kids and your family are not going to care how perfectly the plan is that you put into place. What they will care about is how you show up in the world.
- Perfectionism always stems from a fear of failing and not being enough. We have to teach ourselves to not be afraid to fail at times and to let others help us when we are incapable of doing something or simply don’t have the time or energy.
- Being perfect cannot take the place of you being present with your family. When I look at the areas that I tried to be perfect, whatever that task is, the amount of time and energy spent on that one thing is more than a normal amount of time and energy than it should be. This is time that could be given towards spending it with your family and enjoying them instead of feeling stressed and anxious.
- The biggest gift you can give your kids is your presence. They aren’t going to look back at their childhood and think about the things that you failed at. Children remember the time you spent with them and the energy and mindset that you project outwards in your behavior and actions, not the imperfections that you are dwelling on.
- You cannot be everything for your child. You cannot do all of the things that your child needs and be a happy person. You have to allow yourself to let others help you in order to create balance.
- Your sanity is so much more valuable than having everything perfect. Even if we could spend an excessive amount of hours on something, in our minds it still wouldn’t be perfect. So we should stop trying to achieve perfection because we are sacrificing not only our valuable time and energy that could be devoted elsewhere but most importantly our mental health and well-being.