The irony is not lost on me that as I type this article, it is over a month late. An article about making life easier, about tackling small, manageable tasks in order to achieve your goals, has been put on the back burner, nuked a few times in the microwave, and has nearly been pitched as a long-gone leftover. Yet here I am, reviving it one final time as I limp out of the season of frantic chaos and overcommitment. The truth of it is motherhood isn’t hard during certain times of the year. Motherhood is always hard.
Appointments, school work, and sports. Our mom brains are pulled in every direction. It’s a lot to handle, and it’s easy to feel like we’re failing or inadequate. Momming well doesn’t always play out the way we imagine. As we recover from the bake-your-own cookies, do-all-the-things, bring-on-the-cheer time of year, it’s time to reflect on not just what we do but how we do it.
We so easily get so caught up in the mayhem of life that we miss the good stuff. To add to the mental chaos, many of us are blessed by the motherhood toxic trait of perfectionism. It might be one of the hardest of all parenting habits to break. Add a birthday or holiday in the mix, and it’s the ideal stage for setting unrealistic expectations and melting like Frosty on the Fourth of July. I’ve tried dialing it down, but I cannot help it. Unlike so many other unhealthy or destructive behaviors, it’s embedded in my DNA, like I’m fighting a cellular-level battle. And, lucky us: motherhood is the absolute least compatible with perfectionism… timeliness, cleanliness, or organization, … you get the picture.
But this past holiday season, instead of unsuccessfully changing who I am, I tried changing how I am. Clearly, my perfectionism issue wasn’t going anywhere; I may as well have willed myself to grow a third arm. But, I realized I can easily change how I show up. And that, my friends, is how I became a paper plate mom. Perfectionism may be a soul-sucker, but I can make living with it easier. I can take what I do and outsource, downsize, minimize, strategize, or compartmentalize.
Rather than throwing myself into a tizzy looking at the huge scope of the season, I dissected it into tiny, manageable tasks. The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. And this year, that’s my mantra. Because I’m serving that elephant on paper plates. It may sound overly unsophisticated or naive, but simplifying is the secret to maintaining sanity. One minuscule shift creates a ripple of subsequent improvements. No dishes means more time to do the things I love to do. More time doing what I love means a happier me. A happier me yields a happier family. Oh, the power of a simple paper plate!
My revolutionary new habit is taking up permanent residence in my arsenal of survival tactics. Not only that, the paper plate is my newest go-to gift for baby showers, fellow struggling mamas, and my adulting kids. It’s hard to underestimate the freedom this little paper product can give. So, if you’re finding yourself on a slowly sinking ship, put a disposable lifeline in your next online shopping cart and breathe easier. You’ll feel better instantly. Up next? Paper towels. Somebody hold me back!