I heard an analogy recently that essentially equated a mother’s (or primary caregiver’s) work/life balance as juggling 55 balls at any given time. Between house stuff and kid stuff and life stuff and woman stuff and work stuff – sometimes it feels like you have WAY too much stuff on your plate (and you probably do).
The analogy suggested that some of those 55 balls are glass and you shouldn’t drop those balls – they will smash into a million pieces and cut you and cause a huge mess for you to clean up.
But, some of those 55 balls are plastic and can be dropped without repercussions. They simply bounce and roll across the room, not harming anything and ready to be picked up when you’re ready.
The trick is finding out for yourself which balls are plastic, and which ones are glass.
This REALLY resonated with me. As I began to assess which of my balls (priorities and obligations) were glass versus plastic, I realized that I was treating all my balls as glass and harboring a huge amount of guilt about dropping ANY – which isn’t reasonable. No one can do it all. I began to see that I was expending way too much energy on plastic balls that mattered very little in the grand scheme of things.
So – I wanted to share this and urge you to assess your balls (don’t go there, don’t make this awkward). Are they plastic or glass? Nothing bad happens if you drop a plastic ball. Focus your limited energies on your glass balls. Oh you dropped 10 plastic balls? No big deal. Now you have a ball pit. Lay down and make a snow angel.
Something to note: The composition of your balls can change. What presents as glass today (maybe a deadline at work, or an important school project, or an event that can’t be missed), might become a plastic ball next week. It’s a fluid situation.
Also, consider who has the power to decide if your balls are glass or plastic. If you typically work 9am to 5pm, and your boss calls at 7pm and requests you complete a task immediately – this sounds like a glass ball. But does your boss have the power to make that call in your life? Will you grant your boss the power to make that call, or should you instead put a boundary in place here?
Alternatively – everyone always says, “Family First, Family First” – and believe me, family is SO important to me. But sometimes family balls are plastic and you need or want to put more energy into the glass balls at work to pay bills or gain a promotion or whatever. If your spouse comes to you and states their need for more quality time, that relationship ball becomes glass and should be treated as such.
If you don’t make dinner today or have a shower today or or work out today or get your shit done today whatever – you are still kicking butt at life. What ACTUALLY matters? Look at your life and your obligations and really decide what needs your attention this week. Everything else doesn’t matter.