Being a mum of twins people often remark that I must have a lot on my plate, and I guess I do. When I think of plates having a lot on them I’m fondly reminded of my ex-mother-in-law who, determined to keep her family healthy, would try to manage portion sizes by serving dinner on small side plates, when my ex-husband would pile it high she’d remark “you’ve got a lot on that plate!”
We probably all know someone who seems to manage an unreal amount, one of those mums who also holds down a successful career, manages the PTA, runs the Girlguides, volunteers at the foodbank, still works out, gets up in time to do her hair and make-up and never seems to get behind with answering her emails. It’s tempting to compare our own achievements to those of others, or look at what we do and feel inadequate. We seem to have a culture where being seen to be busy all the time is a positive, almost to the point that we may even sometimes compete with others about who has the most on.
It’s not healthy.
Like my mother in law’s actual plates, some of our metaphorical plates will be smaller than others. Some people are blessed with amazing organisational skills and copious amounts of energy, others aren’t so lucky. Some of us have the capacity to do more than others, and that’s okay. Life is a co-operative, not a competition, the old Marxist notion of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” is just as relevant to time and energy as it is to social welfare. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
In order to stay healthy we need to make sure we don’t overload our plates, to do this we have to consider not only our “portion sizes” but the size of our plate.
How big is your plate?
If you don’t have a big plate, it’s okay to say no. People with chronic fatigue conditions learn to manage the amount of activities they take on by building rest days into their schedules around busier days. You don’t need a diagnosis of a chronic health condition to recognise when you need to stop, and it’s not just about physical capacity, some of us may have less emotional and mental capacity than others, or there may be times of our life when we are less able than others. All that is okay.
The size of your plate does not determine your value.
So, whether you’re a teeny tiny saucer or a massive serving platter, load your plate appropriately, don’t beat yourself up for what you can’t do, and remember, comparison is the thief of joy!