Women are experts in adding too many plates to their lives. I do it, and I do it pretty frequently. I find that I’ve added “just one little thing” too many, and it’s time to take some of the plates out of my life. It’s never fun, it feels like you’ve failed.
The mythical Superwoman – working or not – makes us all feel like we should be able to do everything. Hold down a job while making all our own cheese and teaching our toddlers to code in Japanese. If some other woman somewhere has done it, then we should do it too.
I don’t think that our desire to try to add things to our lives is a bad, when it’s in its place. There are a *lot* of good things that need doing, and if we all sit in our corners and pout, those things won’t get done. But this is why we have to have our priorities straight, so we know, if something’s going to come crashing to the ground, which plate that’s going to be.
First – God. This is NOT the same as church work. (Sorry, church.) This is your relationship with God, your commitment to obey Him.
Second – husband.
Third – kids/immediate family members.
Fourth – self
Fifth – Every Other Thing – prioritize as you see fit. Usually paid work > volunteer work and school > hobbies, but common sense can sort this out pretty well.
Accept first that there are innumerable good things that need doing.
Accept second that it is not physically possible to do all of them.
Accept third that old, established plates are easier to keep spinning than new plates.
Accept fourth that the seasons of life change, bring their own plates, and make various plates easier and harder to spin – and that you cannot change what season of life you happen to be in. You can wait for another season and prepare yourself for a particular plate, but you can’t rush time. Being faithful in what you are charged, in the now, is training in and of itself.
A useful tool in managing your plate spinning is an honest assessment of how much time/energy/resources you have to spin plates. I find that sitting down and talking things out with my husband is the best way to get this done. He’s the one who gives me the okay to go forward on church work, and tells me what I can commit to. Will I overcommit on my own? Yep, day ending in Y. I want to make others happy – and I LIKE reading books to kindergarteners.
Being able to manage a lot of external, down the list plates is one of the ways that women display social status and capability. It’s our little “who’s the best mom” competition. (If you don’t believe me, then why are most society wives highly placed in volunteer organizations?) We compete for resources when we’re in charge, and we compete to do the most showy jobs when we’re not. We’re paid in social status, and in approval. Wealthy women can outsource quite a lot of their family responsibilities and home maintenance, and if they’re wealthy SAHM/W, they probably don’t see much of their husbands anyway, so that amount of time *is* a social marker in and of itself.
But I digress. Every woman here knows that the pressure to add plates is ongoing. You have to make your choices mindfully and wisely. You can’t do *that* without having your priorities in order, knowing how much time you have at the end of your priority list to spend, and reminding yourself *constantly* that you cannot short-shift your husband or kids, no matter how pretty the plea that’s been made.
You really, really, can’t do everything.