How To Be The Perfect Mum: Good Enough Is Perfect Enough
The Perfect Mum – it’s something so many of us try to be, including myself. It’s no secret to those of you who have read my postpartum depression story that throughout all of my pregnancy (and for a long time after the birth) I was trying to be the perfect mum and achieve it all.
I don’t know about you, but for me I feel like there is a lot of pressure to be the perfect mum. I found it from many places: social media, magazines, television, and even friends and family.
When I’d look at some of these places online, the mum always looks well groomed, with a happy, bouncy baby on her lap. If the baby was asleep, it’s in the latest most expensive cot looking lovely in a clean white baby-grow. You can bet you’d also find there’s a healthy/organic meal recipe that you can quickly whip up whilst your baby has their nap.
Seeing all of this can have a massive influence on mums. We worry that if we’re anything less than The Perfect Mum – it means we have failed as a mother.
Many mums are unnecessarily pressuring themselves, trying to achieve this, which can be a starting point for illnesses such as postpartum depression.
It took me a while to realise that I’ll be damned if I’ll ever be perfect at mothering.
We all wish we could be the perfect mum, however let’s be realistic here perfection is impossible to achieve – especially when you can’t remember the last time you’ve slept or brushed your teeth!
What I will do/have done though is learn from my mistakes. I’ll get better at being a mum with each fail – so I say ‘Good Enough’ is Perfect Enough.
It doesn’t matter how many times I fail, my child with still love me unconditionally. No matter how many times I fail, I will always be there back better and stronger because that is what mums do.
The phrase ‘ good enough mum’ or good enough parent’ is not a new concept. It has first developed by D. W. Winnicott. He was an English paediatrician and psychoanalyst (smart man) during the 1950s.
He was an advocate for the thought that ‘ordinary good mother…the devoted mother’. Basically, he means that no-one can be the perfect mum/parent and by you not being perfect, you are actually helping your children. Or as he puts it :
A mother is neither good nor bad nor the product of illusion but is a separate and independent entity: The good-enough mother … starts off with an almost complete adaptation to her infant’s needs, and as time proceeds, she adapts less and less completely, gradually, according to the infant’s growing ability to deal with her failure. Her failure to adapt to every need of the child helps them adapt to external realities.
So you see, the good enough mum is better that the perfect mum! Science says so!
We all dream about how we’ll spend our days once our little bundle of joy arrives. You’re breastfeeding on demand and making home-made meals. The house is spotless. You’ve lost all the baby weight, have a full face of makeup and a new hairdo.
There is that hobby that always interested you, so now seems the perfect time to take it up. Daily, you’re attending mummy and baby groups and offering to arrange new and exciting classes for the little ones.
Of course you’re having endless fun making puree. Plus, you can’t wait to try out all those great food ideas you found for babies on Pinterest – who wouldn’t want to cut fruit up to look like a caterpillar?!
Your little angel is wonderful and he/she is a baby that sleeps all night. You get that magical 8 hrs sleep a night. So you’re always bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready for the day ahead! Your little one never cries. They are looking clean in all of those beautiful outfits you brought.
They are as good as gold with everyone you meet. Plus, getting them into a routine has been so easy that they fit perfectly into your pre-baby routine.
The Reality – Be The Good Enough Mum
You’ve bottle-fed the baby formula and you’ve been weaning them on baby jarred baby food. The house – let’s not go there, make-up, hair, baby weight … you don’t have time to look after yourself!?
You have no time for new hobbies. In fact, you don’t have time for anything but taking care of your newborn.
On those rare occasions you actually make it to a baby group, you look like a zombie. Your little sausage has left you looking like you belong in a scene of the Walking Dead.
They’ve taken to a sleep pattern of 20 minutes asleep – 3 hours awake – 20 minutes asleep -3 hours awake!
A ‘Perfect Mum’ has turned up to baby group, you’re really annoyed and angry with her and wishing that was you! She’s looking immaculate and boasting about how well her little one sleeps (COW).
You are standing there with baby spit up and sick on your shoulder and slightly in your hair. The worst part is you didn’t even realise it had happened.
The days and night have turned into one and you’re not sure what month it is, let alone what day it is – Mum Brain is real folks.
SLEEP? SLEEP!! A mythical concept for a new parent! You’ve tried everything from a dummy, lullabies, soothing music, that blinking dream sheep but nothing works.
I actually do not know how I have not lost my sanity through sleep deprivation. I’m pretty sure I was hallucinating at one point. Now I know why it is a form of torture!
We’ve all been there it’s mid afternoon you’re still in your pj’s, your little one has been crying all day and your house is a bomb-site, your cup of tea is stone cold & you need the loo.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you had time for a shower? You most definitely need to wash that sick from your hair. The house needs to have a good clean. You worry it looks like you can’t cope and that people will judge you.
But your little one is finally asleep – on you – so you dare not move… so there you stay looking at the mess, still in your pj’s, and you know what….
Mummy, It’s OK – You’re Doing Great!