Practically Perfect in Every Way – The Pressure to Be Super Nanny
There is an iconic moment in Mary Poppins where she measures herself with a tape measure and declares “As I expected, ‘Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way.’” It’s a standard of perfection that is chased by many – especially in our world that revolves around “keeping up with the Joneses” by striving to make more money in a New York minute, own nicer things and secure a rising reputation. This standard, however, can create unrealistic expectations. It can discourage one from beginning many things because of the sheer impossibility. So how can one respond when feeling the pressure to be super nanny (or housekeeper!)?
- Strive for excellence, not perfection.
I used to pride myself on being a perfectionist. I spent hours agonizing over details until I was confident a single error could not be found. My work was complimented a lot, but it was exhausting and unsustainable. Underneath the surface I was caught in a vicious cycle of people-pleasing. Reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, however, was an eye opener in a season of my life when I needed it the most. She wisely states “Healthy striving is self-focused: ‘How can I improve?’ Perfectionism is other-focused: ‘What will they think?’ Striving for excellence, therefore, pushes us to grow and develop our skills. Perfectionism on the other hand is actually looking for our worthiness in our performance.
Learning to strive for excellence is a discipline that has to be intentionally developed. When I make a mistake, I have to pause and tell myself “It’s okay…everyone makes mistakes sometimes.” Occasionally if I keep beating myself up in my thoughts, I text or call a friend to explain what happened. Sometimes admitting a mistake to someone and watching them love you anyway can make a major difference. It reminds you that you are loved – not because of your performance – but because of who you are.
2. Learn and capitalize on your strengths
It’s so easy to focus on weaknesses and say “I am not…” Whether it’s inadequacies you feel when around another nanny on a playdate or the picture of a perfect nanny you have in your mind – almost everyone can tell you areas where they are lacking.
Any business management book, however, will stress the importance of finding ways to play to your strengths! This applies to the household staffing world just as it does in the business world! Some nannies excel at creating a schedule and keeping kids on a routine. Others are super creative and their kids rave at how much fun they have doing the newest Pinterest craft she has found. Some nannies are very organized and are capable of balancing personal assistant duties along with nannying! The key is figuring out what your strengths are!
If you never have before, take a few minutes to assess your strengths. Consider what compliments past employers and friends have given you. Write your own dream job description and see what stands out!
3. Remind yourself to relax and have a bit of fun!
I love this about Mary Poppins. It is so easy to go from task to task and just focus on the completion, but she excels at adding an element of fun! Whether it is a moment of taking medicine (just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down) or going for a walk (let’s go fly a kite), Mary Poppins looked for ways to add fun to normal events.
So if you find yourself getting discouraged and worn down on this Monday, try switching things up. Sing one of your favorite songs with your kids! Take a different route when headed car pool. Turn on the radio, sing loud and dance!
Never forget that you have an incredible job and are making a major impact on a family whether you are in Manhattan, Denver, Miami, Atlanta or somewhere else across the country! We are cheering for you!