I Am Not a Perfectionist

I’ve always worn my lack of perfectionism like a badge of honor. I smugly assumed I had figured out a secret of adulthood by embracing imperfection.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard or strive for 100 percent in some areas; it just means that I know it’s not realistic to reach for some vague bar that has been set for “life” in the age of Pinterest — that pinnacle of living that encompasses everything from having your kids dressed in the right clothing to preparing homemade, healthy meals each day to maintaining an impeccable physical appearance to excelling at a high-powered career while somehow keeping your house clean.

Nope. That’s not me.

I’m cool with imperfect.

At least, I thought I was.

Then last week, I found myself in a particularly ugly spiral of negative self-talk. I was in the midst of grappling with why I simply could not do anything right ever when I realized, I may not be a self-professed perfectionist, but that’s only because I know I can’t reach that bar.

But perfection is still my bar.

progress not perfection

I expect 100 percent across the board knowing it’s simply not possible then I beat myself up for not being able to do it. And when I inevitably fail (which I knew I would), I get even more down on myself and throw the so-called baby out with the bathwater.

Sometimes, I don’t even try. (What’s the point? Failure is inevitable.)

It becomes an excuse to avoid taking chances and putting myself out there. (Why bother, really?)

And a byproduct of this perfection-seeking habit is ultimately, I don’t believe in myself.

The one thing I’ve been trying to live up to these years is impossible, and I knew that. And yet, I’ve let this attitude of “Life: You’re Doing it Wrong,” get to me.

It was, dare I say, an epiphany. Last week, I deliberately set the bar where that I knew (thought? hoped?) I could reach it and maybe hang for awhile. I cut my daily to-do list down from about 20 items to three or four. I focused on racking up small wins (I did all my training runs! I wrote an article every day! I ran an errand I’d been putting off for 3 weeks! I managed to put dinner on the table a few times!) so I could bank them later as a reminder that I am capable even though I will fall behind sometimes, even when the goal isn’t perfection.

And I reminded myself that this is about progress.

Progress, not perfection.

Five Things To Know About Ellie

BY GENA KITTNER

We have passed T-minus one month and counting till New Baby’s arrival. And instead of thinking deeply about a birthing plan, I’ve concentrated on making arrangements for my oldest while my husband and I are doing the whole delivery thing. Grandma is scheduled to fly in plenty early, but being the obsessive planner that I am, I need back ups for my back ups.

photo (1)

So for any of my kind friends who find themselves caring for Ellie while John and I are otherwise indisposed, I’ve developed a “Five Things To Know About Ellie” list. I should warn you, it’s a bit graphic.

  1. The password to her iPad is EML1.
  2. She still needs a grown-up to wipe after going No. 2, and while doing No. 2, she’ll likely want her iPad. (See No. 1).
  3. She has no food or medical allergies we know of.
  4. She has no concept of time. If she asks, mommy and daddy will be back in an hour.
  5. Popsicles or popcorn solve most problems.

While accurate — and I hope potentially useful — this list was actually fun to put together. I encourage any parent to spend 5 minutes and think of five things a caregiver should know about their child. It’s a fun snapshot of pre-schooler life.


Gena is a Midwest transplant living in TucsoGena Kittnern, Arizona with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, Ellie. When not killing scorpions, Gena writes about food and family. Follow her on Twitter @genakittner, and check out her previous posts on Mommy Sanest.

Hey Moms, It’s Time to Lose the Cape

Post contains affiliate links.

When I started Mommy Sanest, I did so with the premise that I was searching for sanity in this (sometimes?) crazy world of parenting. What does sanity mean to me? It means dropping the perfectionism, the extreme styles of parentings (too many rules, man), and embracing an attitude of “good enough.”

So when the opportunity to read and review a new book called “Lose the Cape: Realities from Busy Modern Moms and Strategies to Survive,” I, of course, said yes. “Lose the Cape” is written by bloggers Alexa Bigwarfe and Kerry River, two moms who realize that being “supermom” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I love hearing how other mothers manage home and work particularly when they’ve decided that perfection can’t be the goal.

While I received the e-book for free, all of my opinions are my own.

“Lose the Cape” was a super easy, quick, entertaining, and worthwhile read with lots of great tips for moms with kids at every age and stage. There’s so much pressure — mostly from the Internet — to be a perfect mom and many of us get caught up in this ideal. Often, we feel like we’re not measuring up.

Lose the Cape

Granted, I’m kind of automatically on board with anything that combats the idea of “supermom” or “perfect parenting,” but I loved the practical aspects of “Lose the Cape.” Every chapter featured specific scenarios that we all deal with: Being a new mom, the dreaded and never-ending pile of laundry, meal planning, maintaining a strong relationship with a partner, routines, being over-scheduled, not being able to unplug from social media, and more. The strategies and advice, coupled with the examples from real moms, are very helpful. Not all of the advice was brand new, but it’s stuff that bears repeating, and there were definitely a lot of ideas I hadn’t heard before.

But moreover, I loved the attitude of the writers. I had a real sense of, “We’ve got your back,” throughout the book. Clearly they aren’t about the mommy wars, and they believe we’re all in this together. The chapter about “forming your mom squad” really drove this home. None of us can do this without support from other moms — even if that support is just listening to each other air our grievances and strategizing together.

Overall, it’s definitely worth a read for any mom who is feeling overwhelmed or is sick of living up to ridiculous standards and expectations (regardless of whether they are real or imagined). Actually, I’d recommend moms-to-be pick up “Lose the Cape” — this would be a great gift for an expectant mother as this book gives you a clear idea about the reality of early motherhood. Moreover, the book’s solid advice on different stages and situation really makes it worth while to keep on hand throughout the years.

Why I Stopped Promoting My Blog (OK, Not Totally)

As I approach my one year blogiversary (or maybe I’ve passed it, who even knows), I’ve been reflecting on how I’ve swung in every different blogging direction over the past 12 months.

I’ve gone from, “It will be fun to blog again,” to “I AM DOING THIS MOMMY BLOGGER THING FOR REAL / WATCH OUT WORLD,” to “effe this nonsense,” to “Eh, I’m just going to do this blog thing for fun.”

Full circle, much?

I’ve learned a little about myself — about what I’m willing to do and what I’m not willing to do as a blogger (including that the term “PR-friendly” doesn’t apply to me) as well as where I need to focus my energy for my freelance career (Spoiler alert: It’s probably not on my blog). On one hand, I put a lot of energy and hours and a little money into attempting to promote and learn how to monetize this blog, but it’s a weight off my shoulders to admit this isn’t a world I want to compete in.

The best part is now that I’ve made my way back over to the “whatever” end of the blogging spectrum, my authentic writing voice seems to have returned and I’m actually kind of enjoying enjoying social media (gasp!) rather than feeling overwhelmed by it. To be more succinct: Acknowledging my blog is not going to be my business took the pressure off and has made me feel more creative.

That said, in the process of figuring this out, I read about ALL OF THE THINGS I should do to facilitate my meteoric rise to blogger fame. I tried many of these tactics, and a lot of them didn’t really seem to have the impact I was expecting.

Now this isn’t to say that my expectations weren’t the problem in these scenarios, but the return on time investment didn’t pay off for me. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other bloggers out there who have found these tactics to be super useful and valuable to their growth and goals. But, if you happen to be someone who has tried one or more of these only to see minimal, if any, results, I want you to know you’re not the only one.

Four Things I've Stopped Doing to Promote my Blog

No More Link-Ups

I loved the idea of link-ups. There are a few bloggers I like a lot who host link-ups, and I tried to get with the program on several occasions. And while I would see a trickle of referrals, it never amounted to much traffic or participation for me. Moreover, reading other blogs, commenting, pinning posts — whatever the deal was — was incredibly time-consuming. I always followed the link-up rules (because no one wants to be known as someone who link drops and runs, but I don’t actually know how anyone truly figures out who participates without a complicated manual calculation), but the ROI just wasn’t there for me. This isn’t to say link-ups aren’t a great tool for you to grow your blog, they just didn’t work for me. If I had all the time in the world, I’d probably participate in approximately 20, but I don’t, so I’ve crossed this one off the blog promotion list.

Embracing Tribe-less-ness

For real, there are bloggers who I like and follow. There are (a small number of) bloggers that I feel I’ve made a more personal connection with — though some of those are from my old time-y blogging days. There are bloggers whose stuff I promote via social media whether or not they reciprocate — I don’t care — and there are blogs I more regularly comment on. But the idea of a blogging tribe remains elusive for me. I suppose I should provide my definition of a tribe to you, so here it is: A group of maybe 5-10 bloggers who consistently promote, comment on, and participate in each other’s blogs.

Now maybe what I’ve described is a clique and not a tribe, but truly, that’s what I feel like I’m supposed to have. Again, maybe the problem here is my perception versus reality, but I tend to shut down when anything feels vaguely like high school, so this has not been an easy feat for me. Maybe I will change my mind about the importance of this eventually, but right now, I’m not putting any effort into finding my tribe.

No Guest Posting Original Content for Free

For a writer-slash-blogger, guest posting felt like the holy grail of blog success. So I did it a few times. For most, I guest-posted content that had been repurposed / reprinted from something that I had already published on Mommy Sanest. I’m generally OK with that approach, though the editing process can be a little bit time-intensive. But I did write a few free posts with original content in the process, which ultimately amounted to very little exposure for me. I’m not saying writing for free is always a bad thing — there are extremely high profile sites out there that can boost your writer cred and send your blog significant amounts of traffic (though, to be honest, I’d probably argue that these are exactly the sites that should be paying) — but I never saw much growth from any of my guest posting activities. Again, perhaps I haven’t done it enough or in the right places, but I struggle with the idea that this is how I should spend my time when I can be doing other things to further my writing goals that also happen to pay.

Ix-Nay on the Blogger Groups

It took me awhile to figure out that there are tons of Facebook groups dedicated to bloggers supporting other bloggers. You can share links, get more comments on your blog, ask for likes on your social posts, etc. So here’s the deal: These do work — though depending on the rules, some work better than others. If you’re a committed blogger with time on your hands or a virtual assistant, this is actually a pretty good way to increase your numbers. But (BUT!), being involved in these groups takes a lot of time. For some it may be time well spent, but it made me feel like my blogging duties were never ending. Visiting dozens of sites a day, stumbling posts, liking tweets, commenting — despite seeming super easy to do, takes a ton of time. So I stopped. And I’m pretty sure my blood pressure went down (medical fact). This isn’t to say I won’t participate in some blogger group activities (I participate in one very active group that from time to time will do a follow thread for different social media platforms, and I will do those if I happen to catch them), but I’m picky and have generally stopped promoting individual blog posts this way.

I haven’t totally stopped promoting my blog — despite my leaning-toward-click-bait title and graphic — but after 12 months of this mess, I’ve figured out where my time is well spent. And my time is well spent on Pinterest, other social platforms to some degree, and search, but really Pinterest. I invest time and a small amount of money into my graphics and pinning strategy, yes, but that’s way easier to handle when I’ve taken several other items off the list.

What about you? Do these promotional activities work for you? Are there other promotional activities you’ve stopped doing for your blog? Is it me, and not you? Or is it you, and not me?

A Stranger Reprimanded My 3-Year-Old in Front of Me

BY GENA KITTNER

A few days ago, a stranger reprimanded my daughter. In public. In front of me.

Ellie wasn’t causing physical harm to anyone, she was simply having a 3-year-old meltdown after a long, hot morning.

Moms: What do you do when a stranger reprimands your young child in front of you in public?

Here’s what happened:We were in the check-out line at Nordstrom’s Rack when the cashier realized the hairbands Ellie picked out didn’t have a UPC code, so she gave the bands to another cashier who walked back to the display to check the price.

Now, in the mind of a 3-year-old, someone just took away her “special treat,” and a meltdown ensued.

I tried to explain to Ellie that the cashier would be right back, and we couldn’t buy the hairbands unless we knew the price. But it’s largely pointless to reason with a semi-hysterical 3-year-old. I know this, so admittedly I didn’t try too hard, knowing she’d be OK in a couple minutes.

The woman behind us felt differently. As she passed us to get to an open cashier, she leaned into our cart where Ellie was sitting, got within six inches of her face, and shushed her.

I couldn’t believe it and was momentarily struck dumb.

When I snapped back to it, I reassured Ellie, and after 30 more seconds of processing what had just happened, encouraged her to cry louder.

Perhaps this was not the most mature reaction, but I’m a hormonal 8-plus month pregnant woman. I’m already slightly insane.

By this time, other women in line behind me were expressing shock and outrage at the shusher’s actions. The cashier also was apologizing profusely. I smiled and thanked people for their support, paid, and tried to leave as quickly as possible. But before I left, I stopped by the shusher, who still was paying, and said, “I’m sorry my child was being loud, but what you did was not OK.”

She didn’t even look at me.

Ellie had calmed down once we reached the parking lot, and as we loaded up the car, I told her how cool I thought her new hairbands were and how we should totally ignore the woman who shushed her — she was just having a bad day.

I’m pretty sure none of that sunk in with Ellie — she was just happy to have her hairbands back.

But here’s what I’m wondering, and why I’ve decided to write about the incident: What’s the best way to handle this type of situation? Has this ever happened to anyone else? And how much do we need to explain what happened to our children?

What I’ve told myself, and what I honestly believe, is the shusher was having an off day. Maybe she hasn’t been shown a lot of compassion or patience in her life and therefore doesn’t know how to show it to others. And, she’s obviously not a “kid” person.

I’m also trying to focus on the kindness the other strangers showed — especially the woman who stopped me in the parking lot and offered Ellie her own hair ribbon to make Ellie feel better — an incredibly sweet gesture.

But man, the more I think about it, the more I really want to slap the shusher — if not physically, then verbally. My child had a meltdown at Nordstrom’s Rack — not at a church, school, library, or during an event where such actions are especially disturbing.

What would you have done?


Gena is a Midwest transplant living in TucsoGena Kittnern, Arizona with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, Ellie. When not killing scorpions, Gena writes about food and family. Follow her on Twitter @genakittner, and check out her previous posts on Mommy Sanest.