I may be the least qualified person to write to you about finding balance and letting go of perfection in motherhood.
I have internal conflict with the practice daily. I often struggle to really LET GO and to live each moment freely.
One minute I am blasting "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley on the car radio, sunroof down, without a care in the world (this mama can do ANYTHING!), and the next minute I am gripping onto a fear-based belief so tightly that I feel like I might break.
Motherhood is busier than I ever imagined and I often feel expected to do it all. To maintain a constantly upbeat attitude, manicured nails and a healthy, home-cooked dinner on our table seven nights a week. I tell myself that I will also make it to yoga weekly, be punctual to work, keep my toddler tantrum free, and that I will be the perfect wife.
I feel the relentless pressure to keep a sparkling clean house and to be fashionably dressed for candid photo shoots with my hipster-styled baby. I know not every mother feels this way, but I am confident I am not alone here. This fact has given me the strength to share my journey with you even though I am certainly not an expert. Honestly, I don't always know what true life balance feels like anyway.
These expectations are frankly unrealistic, exhausting and if I examine them close enough, are set by myself.
Do you believe it? We are usually the cause of our obsession with "busyness" and perfection!
When will mothers (or everyone for that matter) give themselves permission to strive for balance without expectation, to finally 'let go' and to fly? Why are we so afraid of falling? What beautiful moments are we missing out on in life and in the lives of our children because we are obsessed with ideals that we will never obtain?
To all my fellow mamas who feel this need for perfection.
Who struggle to surrender to the bliss of the present moment because of of a long to-do list reeling in their head.
To all the mamas who wish for more hours in the day and dream of a really long, uninterrupted coffee break and a Netflix binge to boot. To those who stalk Instagram accounts dreaming of what life might be like if you had this, looked like that, or lived somewhere else.
I hear you.
I am not perfect. No mama is.
In reality, I use dry shampoo way too many days in a row. I get laundry done, but it hardly gets put away. I am often distracted, and am not always a good listener, even to those who I love the most. I sometimes pretend that cold cereal is a suitable dinner option and I spend WAY too much time on social media. I don't have it "all together" all of the time.
Our life balance is what we make it and I believe we can celebrate more of our accomplishments, no matter how small, instead of focusing on everything there is to do. Perfection is NOT REAL. It's time to let go, even if its just a little and ask ourselves, what can we do to break free of the "never meeting expectations" trap?
I recently became so exasperated with the struggle for perfection, that I decided to finally do something about it. The suggestions below have helped me start feeling more balanced in my daily life:
Suggestions for 'Balancing Out' Motherhood:
* Date Yourself: I devote one morning per week to myself. I take a yoga class or a go on a long walk and savor a cup of coffee afterward. You deserve some mama time.
* Take Care of Yourself: Skimping on sleep or physical activity to tackle that to-do list? You are not alone. I remind myself that I cannot adequately take care of those I love unless I take care of myself. Get adequate sleep, be active everyday (even better, get the kiddos and/or your spouse involved too!) and eat nutritious foods. I'm sure you have heard it all before, but challenge yourself to finally set a small goal and take your first step.
* Get Inspired: I collect quotations and passages from books that remind me to be present to what truly matters each day. They are on my mirror, in my car and in my purse. You may find it helpful to read books that focus on being more present in life and finding personal freedom.
* Meditate: I sit down, focus on my breathe and choose and repeat a mantra to myself several times each morning as a reminder where to focus my energies. If I find myself starting to meditate on my grocery list, I shift focus back to my original mantra (something like "you are enough" or "share love today"). Audio books with guided meditation helped me get started and I try to break away to listen to them, even if its just 10 minutes per day. I have found meditation, or simply just focusing on my breathe, has helped me handle tough situations--like when my toddler has a meltdown over getting dressed in the morning.
* Give Yourself Permission: I give myself permission to take a day off of work each month for myself. To veg out in front of the television with my husband a few nights per week. To leave my bed unmade. To go on an adventure with my son instead of cleaning the house. To go out of the house without makeup on. To wear leggings--all week. To say no. To say yes. I dare you to do WHATEVER IT IS.
* Write about the Tough Stuff: I find it easier to express myself with writing, and through writing, I have uncovered many of my own self-limiting beliefs and fears. It is tough to face my inner demons head on, and for years I avoided it. I am starting to acknowledge these limitations without judgement in order to begin the process of moving forward. What are you afraid of? What prevents you from finding balance? What does life balance mean to you? If you used to keep a journal, consider dusting it off and starting again!
These suggestions may or may not speak to you, but my hope is that we all begin to give ourselves permission to live life without always expecting perfection. With that said, there will still be those days that we struggle, even when we do give ourselves permission, mediate and journal. This is a journey.
I write this to you while standing in my kitchen. My laptop is propped on the counter and I am standing in tree pose, with more dishes in the sink than I feel confident in tackling (without breaking something). I am going to give myself permission to let those dishes sit just a little longer. And you know what? I am balanced (literally) and I believe that "every little thing is going to be alright."
Photo Credit: Dave Rosenblum via Flickr.com.