Let Some Balls Bounce: A Mama Mantra that Stuck

Now that I’m a parent, it feels like I am constantly receiving advice, and constantly seeking it out. Occasionally, I’m asked to give it. I’ve discovered that nothing–NOTHING–teaches you how to filter advice like parenthood.

The other day, a friend wanted to talk about a parenting dilemma she was facing. “I’m really trying to figure out what’s best, but I just don’t know!” she said. By the end of our conversation, we both realized something: There are few *definitely* wrong parenting decisions (which tend to be quite obvious) and even fewer decisions that are permanent. So, most of the time, you don’t have to KNOW for certain. You just need to figure out what feels like the best place to start for you and your family.

How freeing!

I’ve been hearing this theme of letting go a lot lately.

In “A Paper Plate Season” by fellow AAMB blogger Jessie. In the oft-repeated mantra, “Give yourself grace.” And, most recently, in an episode of Just Add Sprinkles (a City Moms Blog Network Podcast) called “Stretched Too Thin.” 

In the first few minutes of the episode, host Stephanie summarizes an idea she heard in response to a struggle most moms face: trying to get it all done.

When it comes to all of the balls we as moms are juggling, 

“We have to determine for ourselves which balls are balls we can drop, so balls that are bouncy, and others that are breakable balls, that if I drop them, it is going to be a bad situation. But there are things that I’m juggling in the air that it’s ok for me to let go of on occasion.”

Of all the advice I’ve heard and overheard lately, this is the mantra that has really stuck with me. 

Let some balls bounce.

I’m a perfectionist. To me, “dropping the ball” is a saying that leaves me feeling like I’ve failed somehow. But asking myself, “can this ball bounce today?” gives me instant permission to say, “Yes, it can,” with the image of catching that ball tomorrow (or next week, or next month). It gives me room to catch my breath and still see myself being successful. 

Yes, cooking dinner can bounce. There are plenty of leftovers in the fridge.

Yes, we can watch an extra Sesame Street episode. It’s been a busy week and we could all use some extra time to relax.

No, I’d rather not leave the dishwasher until tomorrow. Dirty dishes always seem to spiral quickly.

No, laundry can’t bounce today. We’re all out of clean clothes!

I’ve also found this mantra oddly keeps me productive. Yes, there are tasks that are perpetually undone (I’m talking about you, bedroom closet). But when I find myself asking “Can cooking dinner/laundry/cleaning out the fridge bounce today?” I’ll remember, “I’ve let that bounce for a few days. It’s time.”

And the “Let some balls bounce” mantra doesn’t just apply to chores! 

I’ve been wanting to finish that book/bake a cake/take the kids to the park for a while. I don’t want to let that bounce again today.

That’s where I invite you to try out this phrase during this busy holiday season. When your holiday to-do list starts to feel overwhelming, ask yourself, 

Which ball(s) can I let bounce? Which one(s) do I not want to let bounce?