It was Saturday evening and I was lying on my bed taking a breather. The day had been ridiculously busy, as it always seems to be with three children. Having cleared up from dinner, I was just mustering up the energy to join my family in watching X-Factor (don’t judge me, it’s one of very few programmes suitable for the whole family) when my phone pinged. I glanced over to see the familiar sight of a text message flashing up on my screen…
“Sorry S couldn’t make the party, I hope everything is okay.”
My heart sunk to the floor. I had completely forgotten about said birthday party, the one my son should have been at that afternoon, the one for which we had bought a present that very morning.
I immediately went into panic mode, feeling terrible for both my son and the little girl who had kindly invited him to celebrate her birthday. In short, I felt like a total failure and in true ‘mum guilt’ style, I spent the entire evening berating myself, working out how I could make amends.
This event took place about three years ago now but I have never forgotten it. With my rational head on, I realise that it was a small, fairly insignificant human error but the horrendous ‘mum guilt’ I felt as a result, was the real deal.
Not wanting to experience that again anytime soon, I began trying to figure out how going forward, I could ensure all the plates remained in place. Over the last few years, I’ve picked up many successful tips…
- Incorporating an element of self care into my every day from coffee with a friend, to 20 minutes of yoga in the morning
- Starting my day off with a bible verse or two
- Going to bed earlier and not taking my phone with me
- Writing physical (and not relying on mental) lists and ticking things off
- Setting alarm reminders on my phone
- Planning my diary in advance so that the ‘busyness’ is spaced out
- Recognising when I’m at maximum capacity
- Learning when to say my ‘best yes’ (I cannot recommend this book highly enough) and when I need to say ‘no’.
The start of a new school year can trigger overwhelm for many of us and I know for me personally, this last quarter of the year is hectic with four birthdays in the house and a wedding anniversary (cue lots of opportunities for smashed plates!).
When I started mentally constructing this post, my intention was to provide some helpful tips on how to keep the plates spinning. Then I started thinking back to the faux pas from three years ago and realised that the biggest lesson I learnt, was that hating on myself achieves nothing. There is no human being on this planet who does not drop a plate from time to time (Mary Poppins was a fictional character, remember) and no amount of planning and preparation will turn us into some perfect superhero who never makes a mistake.
Of course acquiring some tips to help me drop less plates is no bad thing but it’s my change in reaction afterwards that has made the biggest difference. If ever I feel tempted to fall back into this habit of negative self-talk, I quickly remind myself that I’m doing my best and that’s okay.
And that goes for you too, by the way.