How To Not Be A Perfectionist Mom: Identifying 9 Traits

I have frequently joked, saying things like:

“I’ve always been a bit OCD.”

“It’s the perfectionist in me.”

But I also know, as a recovering perfectionist, it is not so funny and it can even get ugly.

In this post, I will cover how perfectionism inhibits success and our children’s future success. I will also share 9 traits of a perfectionist mom and steps on how to not be a perfectionist mom so you can bring out your best self and be a better model for your children. If you are a perfectionist mom, share any of the traits below, or know someone who is a perfectionist, read on!

Perfectionism is a Roadblock to Success

It’s difficult being a perfectionist mom. Being under the constant pressure of your own unrealistic expectations can be mentally exhausting.

According to healthline.com, perfectionism appears to have some ugly downfalls, “It can lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and self-harm. Eventually, it can also lead you to stop trying to succeed. Even mild cases can interfere with your quality of life, affecting your personal relationships, education, or work.”

If you are a perfectionist mom, and decide not to change the bad habits that you struggle with, you can bet your child will inherit the same struggles. Those struggles hold us back from becoming our best self and achieving our goals.

I don’t know about you, but I am ready to let the worst of me burn off like deadwood. Not only for myself, but also for my children. I want them to embrace life fully, learn from their failures, and be confident. It will take work, but the benefits will be well worth it! It is one thing to experience the joy of seeing the beautiful change within yourself, but to see your children use those same techniques with themselves? Talk about rewarding.

Are you a Perfectionist?

The first step on how to not be a perfectionist mom is to be aware of your own behaviors. If you find that fear drives you, you are afraid of disappointing others, or not enjoying the process because of your own high expectations, you might be allowing perfectionism to get the best of you. And if it is getting the best of you, it might just be rubbing off on your children. 

If you want to learn about recognizing signs that you might expect your child to be perfect, check out this article.

How To Not Be A Perfectionist Mom: 9 Traits And What To Do

Perfectionist Mom Trait #1: Avoids Trying New Things

Can you recollect times in your life where you didn’t take risks because you were afraid of failure, being shamed by others, or even afraid of your own self-shaming?

Often, perfectionist moms can fall into procrastination in areas they don’t do well or find stressful or challenging. If they never begin, they feel like they will never fail. 

What To Do:

Instead of being afraid, think about what would happen if you didn’t do it. You don’t want to go through life missing out on awesome opportunities to grow because you were scared of what others think. Be bold!

“We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action.: Dr. Henry Link
Photo Credit: Kiri Sunde

Perfectionist Mom Trait #2: Sweats the Small Stuff

Do you take on time-wasting projects? Could that time be spent more productively elsewhere in your life?

Jim Rohn, one of the best motivational speakers of all time, coined the phrase, ‘Don’t major in minor things.’ 

“Don’t major in minor things.” – Jim Rohn

If you spend an unreasonable amount of time on a task because you want it ‘just right’, take a step back and ask yourself if the payout of the project is worth it. Often, it isn’t. You might even see that sometimes the payout you are looking for might just be someone else’s approval or a pat on the back or avoiding someone else’s criticism. Focus on what matters most.

What To Do:

Spend more time developing yourself and honing in on the skills that you really need to achieve your goals, even if it means you will make mistakes.

Perfectionist Mom Trait #3:  Negative Self-Talk

Most of the thoughts you have in a day are negative, but if you are a perfectionist mom, you might find you are harder on yourself than those around you. 

What To Do:

Work on overcoming negative self talk and achieving a positive mindset. If you aren’t doing this already, you might find it to be quite the challenge. Any exercise takes time to master. You will progress and the benefits of a positive mindset will be well worth it for both you and your family.

For more tips on overcoming negative self-talk check out my post ‘How to Identify Negative Self-Talk and Overcome it!’

Perfectionist Mom Trait #4: Indecisive

Perfectionist moms can often struggle with making decisions. They fear making the wrong choices. They second guess themselves with questions like, ‘What if this isn’t the best choice.” 

I remember when my husband and I first got married, I had to purchase a vacuum for our new place. I stood in front of a row of maybe 12 vacuums and it was an intense struggle for me to choose. I would go back and forth between each one, reading all the specs.

‘Do I go bagless?’ 

‘How much are the bags for each brand?’ 

‘Which one is going to last the longest?’

I am not kidding, I spent over an hour in front of those vacuums until I finally chose one.

What To Do:

Sometimes there isn’t a right answer. When you find yourself in a similar predicament, put a reasonable time limit to consider a few options and then just go with your gut. More often than not, it won’t be worth the time and energy. Then stick with your decision. And remember, no regrets!

Perfectionist Mom Trait #5: Critical of Others

Perfectionist moms can often be judgmental and critical of others just as they are with themselves. If it holds them to such a high standard, why shouldn’t everyone else be trying just as hard?

What To Do:

If you find that you are often critical to yourself and others, it’s best to stop. To quote Thumper, ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.

In our family, we have been challenging ourselves to take it a step further and to say two positive things when they say something critical. 

Perfectionist Mom Trait #6: Low Self-Esteem

Perfectionist moms can have low self -esteem, and it’s no wonder. Since it is impossible to be perfect at everything, they are often seeing themselves as a failure. They rely on approval from others, which is another expectation that can’t always be fulfilled. And they rarely reach success because they are caught up in perfecting the little things.

What To Do:

One way on how to not be a perfectionist mom is to work on your self-esteem. Try writing affirmations for yourself.

What are some things you are good at?

What are some wonderful things others have said about you?

Write these down so you can refer to often for a self-esteem boost.

Perfectionist Mom Trait #7:  Mom Guilt

Perfectionist moms carry the hefty burden of mom guilt to the extreme. Since perfectionist moms rarely have a growth mindset, they count mistakes in as failures. Sometimes they count their child’s mistakes and imperfections as their own.

What To Do:

One thing you can do to combat mom guilt is to practice self-compassion. One way to practice is to talk to yourself as you would a friend. Chances are, you would be kinder to someone else. For example, you can remind yourself that NO ONE is perfect. Failure is an opportunity to see what you can do next time.

Perfectionist Mom Trait #8:  Longs for the approval of others

Perfectionist moms seek others around them to tell them how good they did. And if someone doesn’t notice, they might count it as a failure.

What To Do:

Try not to look to others for approval. Instead:

  • enjoy the process
  • let go of the need for perfection
  • recognize your own growth

Perfectionist Mom Trait #9: Compares Self to Others

Perfectionist moms compare their accomplishments to those around them.

What To Do:

Instead of comparing your success to what others achieve, bring the focus back to yourself and where you are at today. By focusing on your growth, you can set realistic achievable goals. That will raise your self-esteem and give you more momentum for the future.

When to seek Professional Help

If perfectionism or any other obstacle in your life is taking a negative toll on your wellbeing, consider seeking a counselor or therapist for support. Don’t let problems overwhelm you before you seek help. A good counselor or therapist will equip you with tools and empower you to recognize and change behaviors that are holding you back to becoming your best self. 

Conclusion

Let me summarize the most important steps perfectionist moms can do to improve their lives and even the lives of their children:

  • Be bold! Don’t miss out on life for fear of failing
  • Focus on what matter most
  • Work on overcoming negative self-talk
  • Make a decision and go with it!
  • Don’t be critical of others or yourself
  • Use affirmations to build your self-esteem
  • Focus on your growth

Learning how to not be a perfectionist mom is an important step in your journey to becoming your best self. By practicing it, modeling it, and achieving it, your child will have an outstanding example of how to do the same if they find themselves with similar struggles.

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17 Responses

    1. I’m glad you were able to find it helpful! It can be painful for us perfectionists to recognize our flaws. Identifying the need to change, and actually take steps towards improving, leads us to our best self! A journey worth taking!

  1. What a beautiful post! I love the idea of overcoming negative self talk through the concept of a positive mindset. All too often we talk ourselves down and it is important that we try not to do that!

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