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Embracing imperfection: the liberating art of self-kindness in motherhood

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Do you feel like you are spinning a million plates at the moment?

This time of year can feel as crazy as Christmas! My kids are both school age and the end of summer term admin is unreal. It feels like they have a new thing to pack in their bag every other day, a million different events to remember, let alone turn up to on time, and let’s not talk about the mammoth summer childcare scheduling excel headache or the holiday packing!!!

Motherhood is a journey filled with joy, love, and immense fulfillment. But it's also a role that demands tremendous effort, time management, and juggling multiple responsibilities and the truth is we all drop those some plates sometimes.

I’ve been there so many times – I’ve been the mum who forgets to pack the swimming kit in their bags, the one who turns up to sports day on the wrong day, or 5 minutes after their race. The mum who forgot to fill in the form for the flu jab. The mum that is late with the money for the teacher presents… There always seems to be something!

I always thought I was a pretty organized person. In fact, I used to pride myself on my project management skills at work. So as you can imagine I can be pretty hard on myself when it all falls apart at home.

To make matters worse, society has painted an unrealistic picture of the "perfect mother", who effortlessly manages every aspect of her life flawlessly. It’s therefore easy to beat ourselves up and let our failure story take centre stage.

And of course, this is not just true for those of us working or those with kids at school. It’s pretty much true at every stage of motherhood.

But the truth is we can only hold a finite amount of information in our very human brains at once. So when we are juggling the multiple demands of work and parenting, there is actually no wonder those plates start to fall.

The key is embracing imperfection and being kind to ourselves when they do.

So how can we stop those feeling of failure in their tracks? Here are some suggestions that have helped me.

1. Remind yourself you’re only human and no one is a ‘Supermum’ all the time.

It's important to acknowledge that perfection in motherhood is an illusion – the ‘Supermum’ is a myth. We are all just humans, muddling along, doing our best. Despite what it might look like on the surface, most people’s lives are a bit messy behind the scenes!

Embrace the fact that you are only human, and it's okay to make mistakes, or let certain things slide occasionally. I’m pretty sure there are occasions when other mums look at you and think that you are the one that’s a ‘Supermum’.

I have no doubt that you are more than enough. I hope you can start to see that too.

When I am struggling with this, I love listening to Nikki Wilson’s Relieve Perfection 10ofZen on the Nourish app to help me reconnect with the sense of just being human and soothe those nagging thoughts of imperfection.

2. Ask for help!

Motherhood is not meant to be a solo journey. You don't have to do it all alone. We were never meant to.

How many of those spinning plates could you give to someone else? Do you really have to hold all of them, all by yourself?

Asking for help can feel hard, but it is a muscle that gets stronger with practice. I remember feeling so awkward the first time I asked a friend to pick up my son from school. Or the first time I asked my in-laws to babysit overnight. I even felt guilty when I bought my first shop bought birthday cake (my mum always used to make the most amazing birthday cakes). But you know what? People generally love to help and there is always a chance to reciprocate that care and support down the line. Plus, not making that cake reduced the birthday party stress a 100 fold!

3. Speak to yourself as you would to a dear friend

Instead of dwelling on your mistakes or berating yourself for not being able to do it all, practice self-compassion. That nagging inner critic can be so harsh. But would we ever talk to a good friend in the same way?

What if you treated yourself with the same understanding, kindness, and forgiveness you would offer to a dear friend. It can feel awkward at first, but once we start noticing that inner critic and choosing to change its tone it can transform our day to day.

4. Set realistic expectations and remember your boundaries

I think we are probably all guilty of putting ourselves under too much pressure and expecting too much of ourselves. Do you really have the time, energy and mental capacity to bake that birthday cake, host a triple playdate after school, whilst also parenting solo and meeting a major work deadline?

It's essential to reassess and establish realistic expectations that align with the stage of life you're in and what’s going on for you and your family right now.

Remember to re-set those expectations with yourself, but also to communicate them to those around you!

5. Check in with your values and prioritise what truly matters to you

What is most important to you? What is most important right now? Are you prioritizing those things or are other things getting in the way? What changes do you need to make to prioritise the right things?

We only have finite energetic and mental capacity. We cannot do everything, and that's alright. Determine what truly matters to you and your family and give yourself permission to let go of the less important tasks.

6. Celebrate the wins, Big and Small

Amidst the chaos and busyness of motherhood, it's easy to overlook your accomplishments. Take the time to celebrate even the smallest wins. Whether it's successfully managing a challenging day, completing a project, or simply finding a moment of peace and calm. Acknowledge and applaud yourself for all the amazing things you do.

7. Finally, don’t forget your self-care!

It’s so easy for us mothers to put ourselves last on the list of priorities. However, taking care of our wellbeing is vital not only for our ability to show up more often as the mums we want to be, but also for our ability to show up for ourselves. We deserve to feel loved and nourished. What small act of love can you give yourself each and every day?

Motherhood is a beautiful and yet demanding journey. It's very normal to drop a few of those spinning plates along the way. Remember that being kind to yourself is not a luxury but a necessity. Embrace imperfection, prioritise self-care, and ask for help. Celebrate your achievements and let go of the unnecessary burden of perfection. Embracing the art of dropping a few plates in motherhood allows you to be present, love deeply, and cherish the precious moments that truly matter.


About the author:

Sara Campin is mum of 2, life coach and founder of the Nourish app. Sara founded Nourish after the impact self-care had on her and her family’s wellbeing. Sara struggled with her mental wellbeing both as a new mum and in juggling the pressures of work and mothering and felt incredibly alone and unsupported in her struggles. Through the app she brings together a team of compassionate, empathetic, parental wellbeing experts to offer an accessible, multidisciplinary and relevant mental well-being toolkit and support team to parents in the UK and beyond.

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