Working Mother

The day the plates retired

When I returned to work after being a stay at home mom, I had so many expectations for myself that were completely unrealistic.

  • My house would stay clean all the time
  • My meals would still be home cooked
  • I would always be on top of the laundry.
  • My children would lovingly clean a room that they were assigned to
  • My dishes would be done every night
  • My flowers and garden would always bloom with no weeds in sight
  • You know the rest of this list, right?

The first few weeks back to work, I was a hot mess trying to keep up with it all, but was still in my honeymoon phase so figured I would get used to it.

Well, I didn’t! Each day, I was more and more tired from staying up late to try to keep up.

I kept thinking about my own mother, who has five children and a full-time job. She was able to keep up with everything, wasn’t she?

Actually, she didn’t either, as I learned when I finally confessed my stress level to her. When she returned to full time work in an office, her oldest child (me) was in her teens and the others were already in school. This meant that it was actually her kids who stayed on top of the tasks. (Dad was working an hour away at the time, so he didn’t have much time home.)

After I accepted reality, I had to figure out how to reduce my stress and work load. (Of course, I was working out task management at work as well, but this post is about my home tasks.)

As I thought through all the things I had to do at home, I had to decide what to let go of.

Some of the tasks became family tasks (enter, the ‘pick up race’ and dance/cleaning parties).

Other tasks had to have a lower standard – I was no longer going to be able to have a house that looked fresh out of a magazine.

Nothing was growing and there was no hoarding but I no longer stressed over the pile of blankets on the end of the couch that we used for reading time each night.

My children were allowed to pick out their own clothing each morning and I no longer worried about adults thinking I had dressed them (don’t worry, I still packed away winter clothes in the summer and vise versa.)

The biggest change for me, in terms of time saved as well as the guilt that came with it, was that I switched to all disposal tableware.


When I first thought of the switch, I immediately discarded it for many reasons:

  • That’s a lot of waste in landfills
  • It’s expensive to buy all that just to throw it away
  • My children would feel ‘less than’ because they were not nice plates
  • The biggest one of all was that I thought other parents would be just horrified that I fed my children on paper plates and with plastic forks and spoons.

After going back and forth for quite some time, I finally decided to take the leap, and, in the end, it was an easier decision than I thought.

My oldest was asking me to come read a book with her and I kept putting her off so I could finish the dishes. (Note: I don’t have a dishwasher in my old house.) She was beyond tired, as was I, and she just wanted to cuddle. It was in that moment that I realized that SHE won’t care what she eats off, but she will care if I don’t take the time to cuddle and read to her.

BOOM! Decision made!

It’s been quite some years since I made this decision, and we still eat off disposable tableware. I’m certain my children are old enough to do the dishes themselves (and they do as we still have dishes from cooking), but this has become such time saver and maker for us, that I don’t see us giving this up anytime soon. Especially now that we have added after school sports and activities to the calendar.

Each moment I have with my children is precious. I will NEVER regret retiring my plates as the time with my children that I have gained is priceless.


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