A mother in a messy room with her kids. Understanding motherhood and toxic perfectionism will help you avoid the pitfalls of trying to live you to unrealistic expectations.

Do you ever feel like you just aren’t enough? Does doom scrolling through the highly edited photos of Instagram leave you feeling like you just can’t and will never measure up? I have felt this way before, and I’m pretty sure you have too. The good news is, we don’t have to stay in that mindset. Today I’m going to address motherhood and toxic perfectionism, and how we can set ourselves free.

What is toxic perfectionism in motherhood?

Toxic perfectionism is an unrealistic and unattainable standard that many mothers strive for. It’s a mindset that involves creating impossibly high standards.

Attributes of toxic perfectionism in motherhood include:

  • Feeling guilty for any perceived failure
  • Constantly comparing oneself to others.
  • Feeling like you are never doing enough
  • Becoming overly self critical

Why mothers feel such pressure to be perfect

As mother’s, we face a lot of pressures that contribute to the toxic perfectionism mindset. Society and cultural norms reinforce the idea that motherhood should be a woman’s primary focus. Because of this, we might fall into the trap that places strict boundaries on what a “good mother” aught to be.

Societal expectations

Societal expectations play a significant role in perpetuating toxic perfectionism. Society is guilty of glorifying the concept of the “supermom.” This of course is someone who seems to effortlessly juggle a successful career, happy children, and a thriving social life.


These unrealistic expectations can create a sense of pressure and competition among mothers. The fear of being judged or criticized by others can further exacerbate the need to be perfect. Viewing motherhood through a competitive lense damages our relationships and prevents us from receiving crucial support as we navigate raising our children.

Cultural norms

Religious and cultural factors play a big role in fueling the desire for perfection. Some religions and cultures place a heavy emphasis on the role of motherhood, portraying it as a woman’s ultimate duty and purpose in life. These beliefs can create a sense of pressure and obligation.

Additionally, cultural norms can create expectations around the prefered attributes of a mother. Mother’s are told to be selfless, nurturing, and always being available to their children. An inability to meet these set standards can lead to feelings of guilt and shame.

AA mother filming herself for social media.

Social Media:

Social media can also exacerbate these expectations. As we are constantly bombarded with images of “perfect” moms who seem to have it all together. The pressure to conform to unrealistic standards can leave us feeling like no matter what we do, it is never enough.

Additionally, society’s obsession with productivity and success can create unrealistic expectations for mothers. Depending upon our own unique situations, we struggle to give 100% in every area of our lives. This pressure to constantly “lean in” can lead to feeling overwhelmed and completely stressed out!

Motherhood and toxic perfectionism: The toll it takes

Toxic perfectionism in motherhood can take a significant toll on our physical and mental health. Feeling the need to be perfect can lead us to neglect self-care. When we do this, we are more likely to deal with:

  • Exhaustion
  • Burnout
  • Physical health issues such as headaches, insomnia, and digestive problems.
  • Symptoms of depression and anxiety, including feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and guilt.
  • Cynicism
  • A reduced sense of accomplishment

Relationship Challenges

Toxic perfectionism in motherhood can also negatively affect our relationships with our children and partners. When we are hyper focused on being perfect, we may become overly critical of our children’s behavior, or partners ability to fulfill their role. Children might feel like they can never live up to our expectations. Partners may feel resentment and frustration.

A mother and her children making a baking mess together.

Overcoming toxic perfectionism

There are several things we can do to overcome toxic perfectionism. Here are a few ideas:

1. Practice setting realistic expectations

This is perhaps the most difficult thing to do, but it’s essential. Believing we should do everything perfectly will set us up for failure. This mindset leads to constant disappointment and feelings of never measuring up. We have to adjust our thinking from “I should be doing more” to “I am enough.”

2. Identify and challenge our own negative self-talk

Recognize when you are bullying yourself. That’s right, just as you wouldn’t tolerate someone saying something mean to your child, you need to filter out negative talk you are sending to yourself.

3. Practice self care

Don’t just say you are going to practice self care, do it! Commit to doing things what fill your cup and bring you joy. Remember to do the basics:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Seek out social support

4. Embrace imperfection and prioritize self-compassion

Aknowledge and internalize that everyone makes mistakes. It’s okay to not be perfect! This means treating yourself with kindness and understanding, rather than harsh self-criticism. Focus on self-acceptance and self-love. As you surround yourself with supportive friends you’ll experience encouragement and validation.

5. Normalize the negative

It’s important to remember that it’s okay to not love motherhood all the time. As rewarding as it can be, motherhood is also incredibly challenging and can be frustrating at times. Remember to normalize these feelings and recognize that they are a natural part of the motherhood journey. You don’t need to feel guilt or shame that being a mother isn’t always your cup of tea.

6. Seek professional help when necessary

If you are having a hard time overcoming toxic perfectionism in motherhood, talk to a therapist or counselor who can provide guidance and support. A therapist can help you identify negative thought patterns and develop healthy coping strategies. Additionally, therapists can provide a safe and non-judgmental space for you to explore your feelings.

Mother dancing with her young daughter.

Finding Peace with Your Type of Motherhood

We do not all need to parent the same way! In fact, our children need us to be creative to meet their individual challenges. Where one child might thrive with an out going parent, another may do better with one who is more introverted.

Take the time to identify your values and priorities as a mother, not what social media or society tells you to do. Align your actions and decisions with your values. Remember, there is no one “right” way to be a parent.

All of our journey’s are unique. By identifying your own values and priorities, you can create a personalized roadmap for motherhood that feels authentic and fulfilling to you.

Postitive Affirmations

One tool I have found to be particulary helpful are positive affirmations. Here are a few for you to practice as you seek to set yourself free from perfectionism.

  1. My best is enough.
  2. Imperfection is natural and beautiful.
  3. I trust the journey.
  4. My love and care define my worth as a mother.
  5. Self-care is a priority.
  6. Comparison doesn’t serve me.
  7. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow.
  8. I am grateful for the privilege of motherhood.
  9. I am trusting my instincts and intuition.
  10. I am embracing imperfection.

Final thoughts:

Toxic perfectionism is a common struggle for many mothers. Society’s expectations, social media, and cultural norms, all contribute to unrealistic expectations. The physical and mental tolls of toxic perfectionism can have serious consequences for us and our relationships.

We can set ourselves free from toxic perfectionism by embracing imperfection, practicing self-compassion, and seeking support when necessary. Remember motherhood is a journey, and it’s okay to not love every moment of it. I challenge you to love your own versions of motherhood and give yourself the credit you deserve. We are all doing our best, and that is good enough!

Looking for more ways to boost your confidence? Check out my articles: Love your children, trust yourself and how to make listening your superpower.

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