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The Perfect Mom: a Utah woman's battle with perfectionism

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – More than 80 percent of Utah women are moms. With the highest birth rate in the country, being the perfect mom is no easy task.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – More than 80 percent of Utah women are moms. With the highest birth rate in the country, being the perfect mom is no easy task.

A Salt Lake mother of three shows ABC4 her load and how she's learning to bear it well.

Ita Tonga says she's a perfectionist, a trait that drove her to finish law school, but when Ita chose to stay home with her kids perfection was problematic.

“I'm like, well if I'm going to be at home I want to be the best and that was the problem, just that competitive nature of mine it just kind of transfers over to being a mom,” she said.

It drove her to depression. “I've felt like just a failure,” she said.

Valerie Baldwin, a Utah relationship coach says she's not alone. She says Utah moms everywhere are being pounded by perfectionism.

“Perfectionism causes low self esteem and guilt, because they never feel like what they do is good enough and if they're not doing absolutely everything perfectly, then they are going to feel guilt,” said Baldwin. That’s something Ita feels every day.

“I've been there, in fact I was there yesterday,” she said. “I was just crying and I’m like I can't do this, I don't know what I’m thinking going back to work, I don't know what I’m thinking, I can't even take care of my kids.”

Baldwin says Ita's aching heart is torture, typical among Utah moms. But thinking on the bright side could make all the difference.

“Every time you do something that's not good enough, that you feel is not good enough, list the positive things you like about yourself, the things that you did well that day,” said Baldwin.

Then one day at a time, Baldwin says moms must learn to leave perfectionism behind.

“Make a cost benefit analysis. Write down all the ways that you being a perfectionist is harming yourself and those around you. That is a huge deal,” she said.

It’s a huge move for Ita, but one she's hoping to make.

“Sometimes I think if I could just be like you know what everyone's fed, everyone's breathing, everyone's happy, we're alive yeah the house is a mess, but it's alright it's been a good day,” she said.

Baldwin says you can start by taking time out for yourself. For mothers, she recommends scheduling one to two hours of personal time each week and sticking to it as if it were any other appointment.

Click here to watch all of our Perfect Problem stories.
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