Let it be known: my 4-year-old daughter has finally decided on a Halloween costume. That seemed like good news until I remembered I was responsible for making that costume happen.
I put it off until Sunday but then, with 6 days until Halloween, I started feeling the pressure. My daughter wanted to be a fairy with fancy wings. She wanted to carry a wand that was a little bit pink, a little bit red and a little bit purple. (Good luck finding that.) And though we’d decided her sister would be a train conductor because we already had a conductor hat, I still needed to get a few things for her costume as well.
The more I thought about their costumes, the more items I added to my to-do list. I decided we needed to go to Target for overalls for the conductor costume and planned on popping by a costume shop or dollar store to pick up fairy wings. If we stopped at a craft supply store, I thought we might find something that would look like fairy dust. And maybe they carried a wand kit? I wasn’t sure such a thing existed but I knew I needed it to help me tailor-make a wand to my daughter’s specifications.
As you might imagine, I quickly started feeling like I was drowning in overwhelm.
Fortunately, I had to shower before we left the house to shop for costume props. And those ten minutes of solitude were just what I needed to get my head on straight.
Rationally, I knew I was being ridiculous. I knew I could simplify their costumes by using things we already had on hand or by skipping some of the props entirely. So why was I resisting that option? Why wasn’t I willing to make my day easier by cutting myself a little slack?
When I answered those questions honestly, I discovered what was causing my resistance. I was judging myself because I wasn’t getting very creative with their costumes. I didn’t spend hours coming up with clever ideas and I certainly wasn’t talented enough with a needle and thread to make their costumes from scratch.
My kids’ costumes weren’t Pinterest-worthy and I was beating myself up over that.
And I was doing more than beat myself up. Those judgments about myself and my costume-making abilities were driving me to overcompensate by adding more props to the mix and more stops on our outing. Once I understood that, I was able to let go. I decided to free myself from the expectations that were making me act like a crazy person. Instead, I promised myself I'd be ok if my daughters wore two pretty average Halloween costumes.
That decision got me out of the overwhelm. It gave me permission to be kind to myself. And it made it possible to do more enjoyable things with my Sunday than wander the aisles at the dollar store.
And though my daughter doesn’t have a pink, red and purple wand, she still got a wand. And I got my time and sanity back because I released myself from the pressure to be perfect this Halloween.
I'd say the tradeoff was well worth it.
P.S. In our social media-obsessed world, it’s easy to feel pressure to be a perfect mom. (You know, the kind of mom that makes everything from costumes to holiday parties look like a scene from a magazine.) If you're struggling with this kind of pressure in your life, I hope you’ll join me on a free coaching call. I can’t wait to share the secrets to letting go of perfectionism so you can embrace you for who you are, not who you think you should be.