Last week, I had the great idea to make a simple Valentine’s lunch for my kids. I used a cookie cutter to cut out heart shaped bread, which I made into peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, wrote a valentine’s day joke on a scrap piece of paper and threw in some chocolate kisses for good measure. Sounds simple right?
You would think that, but amidst our other normal morning routines (cleaning the kitchen, eating breakfast, getting ready for school) and getting ready for valentines day parties, it was almost too much. On my way to school, I realized that although I had done this lovely little activity, I had completely forgotten to even purchase valentines cards for my son. Wah-wah-wah-ball drop.
I would like to say that this was an anomaly, but it wasn’t. Me, totally dropping the ball on something, I should, in theory, do is a normal occurrence in our house.
Taking care of kids, cleaning the house, managing the bills and play dates and trying to get in some normal human time, feels like a constant juggling performance. I can only do so much while still paying attention to proper former and technique, but there are a few things I’ve learned along the way, I’d like to share with you today.
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1- Before you can learn to juggle 6 balls you first have to master the art of juggling 2.
I dropped plenty of balls when I had one kid, but then, thankfully, I didn’t have as many priorities to juggle.
- Back then I did a load of dishes every other day, today I do 2 loads a day.
- Back then, I did 3 loads of laundry once a week, today, I do a load a day, sometimes 2.
- Back then, I made dinner for 2.5, today, I make dinner for 7.
- Back then, I would have freaked out reading this, today, it feels more doable.
Jugglers don’t start out with 6 balls either, they start out with 2, after they master the technique they move on to 3. We likewise, first have to master the basics before we can move on to increasing our priorities.
2-Jugglers have a finite number of balls they can juggle.
There are only so many priorities that moms can have as well. The truth is that although you can figure out how to better set goals, obtain better mothering skills and manage your time better, at some point, you will have to make some choices between what is important and what is really important and put down a ball for awhile. No one can juggle an infinite amount of balls.
In the business world, they often use the term core competencies. Core competencies are those unique traits or capabilities that can not be easily duplicated. In Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism he talks about this concept, suggesting that we think about 2-4 things we do really well, or are uniquely suited to do and focus on those. He argues that it is better to do 2-4 things really well than to do 10-12 things moderately well. Thinking about the 2-4 things I do really well and am uniquely suited to do has really helped me in not only understanding what’s important, but also what’s not and has allowed me to just let it go sometimes.
3-Even jugglers take breaks.
Once in a while you need to put all the balls down and walk away. Taking a rest is mandatory in any physical exertion including motherhood. We all need a rest, eventually.
Sometimes my break is simply switching to a different priority. For many years, I felt like I had to keep focusing on nurturing my children, when I had already concentrated on that for awhile. When I did this I would let other things like dishes, dinner or exercise slip through the cracks. This didn’t really help me or my children. Sometimes we have to take care of necessary household tasks, go on a walk or spend time with our spouse or friends.
Getting an actual break, you know where you aren’t taking care of your kids and someone else is, can also be magical. Talk to your spouse, or a good friend to arrange a trade. A short break can make all the difference sometimes.
4-There is such a thing as juggling in pairs.
Often when there is a priority that I can’t personally handle, my husband or older children pick it up. This happened last week when my daughter needed to write her name on her valentine cards, while I was busy making their fabulous and exciting lunch, her older brother helped her. They both enjoyed this, and I thought it was super sweet.
Sometimes we forget we don’t have to do it all. Moms, need to sometimes get out of the way and let their kids learn how to juggle their own balls and certainly if you are lucky enough to have a supportive spouse-let them help.
Juggling your tasks in motherhood can get easier, but you do have a finite number of priorities you can handle in general and on any given day. Let your spouse and kids help, only pick up the ones that are really important to you and please sometimes put the balls down and just relax.
Write it down in a journal, talk it over with a friend or comment below.