Knowing Your Plate

Ahh..the thrill of a new year. For most of us, no drastic change is on the horizon. But after making it through one of the most difficult years we have probably experienced, I think it is fair to say we have some ideas on how we want to navigate this new season of life.

Monday, I chatted with you all about my word of the year: boundaries. In 7 years of blogging, I’ve openly admitted to having poor boundaries. I’m sure it stems from fear in one way, shape, or form. But what does having better boundaries truly look like? I think in the immediate sense it may look like, “Saying no more.” And while we are all living in this unique social climate where some of us have a different set of circumstances than others, and naturally have to say, “no” a lot more than we usually would, is it without anxiety or fear? And does that fear mean we don’t have good boundaries?

Ultimately, when I think of boundaries I think of plate size. 

Yes, plate size. And before we can even establish our boundaries, we’ve got to KNOW our plate.

Last year our community group girls were talking {my community group is my small group from church}. 3 out of 4 of us were pregnant, and adding second and third babies to the mix meant we knew what we were getting into. We were signing up for a year of a brain fog. A year of navigating a new normal. A year of hormones balancing. A year of trying our best to give our bigs attention, while soaking up every second with our littles. Oh, and we are wives in the mix. And we have jobs. And we need to be good friends, daughters, sisters, etc. Let’s state the obvious: it can be tricky to navigate any other role when little human beings require you for every single need in their life. Add a pandemic in the mix and you’ve got a recipe for big emotions.

We all chatted about the same feelings in different scenarios. “There’s not enough of me to do everything.” “I set my phone down, take care of the kids, pick it up and I could cry seeing the sheer number of e-mails and texts. It’s too much.” “How does SHE get all that done? I can’t do as much as she can. I feel like a failure.

The self-help culture we live in where we listen to as many podcasts as we can and scroll as many Pinterest Hacks as our 5-minute coffee breaks will allow, tells us that if we do BETTER we can do more. If we would just commit to a running schedule or eat Whole 30 or be more rigid in our routine, we’d get it done and we’d feel more balanced.

But what if instead of doing more, we just understood our boundaries better? We say things like, “Oh it’s not my season of life for that.” But do we understand what we are saying? I’ll admit, half the time I don’t. I usually say the phrase when I realize there’s just no way I can take on that work project without giving too much of myself and my spouse or kids would get the leftovers.

After 30 minutes of grumbling, my dear friend Lo, said the best thing I’d heard all year.

You need to know your plate size for your season of having a newborn. It’s not that you CAN’T do all these things. It’s that you shouldn’t. You need to know in each season of life if you have a salad plate, a bread plate, dinner plate, or a service plate.

We waited for her to go on. Sure, we understood the concept of knowing our limits. But if felt, well- limiting.

Look at your tables. Your holiday tables. They are beautiful. And they are beautiful because they have different sized plates. It all works together to create the perfect meal. In a community, we all need different plates. If everyone had a dinner plate, the table would look crowded. If everyone had a bread plate, it would look sparse. We need layers of plates for dinner to work.

It clicked. She was right. If our lives were our tables, it would be absolutely bizarre if we had a service plate for each chapter. In the same vein, it wouldn’t be full enough if we had bread plates in every corner. God designed our lives with different limits and boundaries for each season so we can either lean into our roles or lean out to serve other areas. And WHY do we fight this? Why don’t we own it KNOWING it leads to beauty?

This sounds silly, but I’m going to use Instagram as the end-all-be-all example here, because well, we get Instagram. It’s relatable no matter your stage {or plate size} in life.

If everyone you followed on Instagram was a health and fitness guru, well, would anyone even motivate you to workout? If you followed only mommy bloggers, would life seem like it was all about diapers and meal deliveries? If you followed only young 20-something Youtubers, you’d probably think everyone owned enough eyeshadow palettes to open a Sephora.

Instead, our feeds typically feature a mix. We’ve got our high school friends, our neighbors, bloggers sprinkled throughout and it leads to this really inspiring {and sometimes draining 😉 } app that many of us cherish communities within.

I don’t have hacks for you to find your plate or even how long your season of plate size will last. But today, I want to tell you to OWN your plate size. It’s important you don’t envy someone with a different size than yours because that’s not your life. If you spend your pregnancy wishing you were training for a marathon, you’ll miss the baby kicks. If you feel inadequate the entire time you have little toddlers at home, you’ll miss the pajama days when they are in elementary. If you wish away the role you have at work dreaming of the next role, you’ll crave responsibilities from the last chapter. Because trust me, I do the same.

In fact, just yesterday, I was on the phone with my best friend. We always have weekly phone calls on Tuesday morning while we get ready. I told her how there were moments I felt like such a lame blogger. Half the time I’m in pajamas baking bread and playing Play-Doh with my kids. I don’t have fresh makeup tutorials weekly. I don’t have an exciting workout routine every single day. But darn it if I don’t have toy organization hacks for you. 😉 But my life is SO different than it was when I started blogging. And I’m sure one day when the kids are in elementary school and I can sneak in pilates classes at noon, my life will look so different to those of you that have a baby at home. And right there, I wasn’t owning my plate size. I was thinking about a time in life that I maybe had a service plate.

She asked me how I felt about this stage of life and I told her how much I adored it. How I believe this will be the best stage OF my life and I can’t imagine it getting better than this. How I wish my kids would stay this age forever because it is the greatest gift in life. How I’ll be so sad when I don’t have a 3-year-old that comes into our room at 4 am to say, “Mommy, I’m scared. Can I get in your bed?” How I don’t know how I’ll feel when Harry weans, because I treasure rocking him and nursing him so much.

She said, “Katey, that’s not lame. That’s the good stuff in life.

Right now, I probably have a salad plate. It’s a BIG salad plate with all the toppings of baby-led weaning, and tea parties, and working at 5 am before they wake, and parenting books, and high-fiving my husband when we get the kids to bed by 7 so we can have an at-home date night. And if I don’t own that plate size, and the beauty it infuses to my life, my children’s lives, and my community’s lives it would mean I don’t trust how God is designing the table.

Sister, you own your plate size. Maybe you are doing Whole 30 and you are growing in your career and you are killing it in your service plate. Or maybe you are going through an emotionally taxing season and you’ve got a bread plate and it is taking everything in you to focus on THAT space.

Whatever your plate, whatever your season, own it. Knowing those boundaries means you know the beauty in them. Don’t envy, beat yourself up, or question why you can’t fit a roasted chicken on a bread plate. You aren’t supposed to. You’re supposed to have exactly what is right in front of you!

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  1. Christy deClairmont wrote:

    Katey – I loved this post! It was so encouraging to read first thing this morning. I am envious of your small community group. It is hard to get plugged in at my church because I don’t have kids, but I love hearing about other small groups. Cheers to knowing and owning your plate in 2021!

    Published 06 Jan 21Reply
  2. Sayra Torres wrote:

    Omg this post is everything and made me even cry a little! Thank you so much for this wonderful post! I really needed it and it is my ultimate goal this year to slow down and enjoy my toddler and my life as a mom, wife, sister, daughter etc. without pushing it too much with all the extras!

    Published 06 Jan 21Reply
  3. Raven wrote:

    What a beautiful analogy! Loved this post! 🙂

    Published 06 Jan 21Reply
  4. Sarah wrote:

    Wow – this was great. Seems like such a common sense thing to know “to own what is happening” but one we ALWAYS ignore.

    Thank you for the encouragement. Thank you for reminding me that we don’t have to be and do everything to everyone and everything.

    Published 06 Jan 21Reply
  5. Amber Creswick wrote:

    I love this – perfectly stated – thank you!

    Published 06 Jan 21Reply
  6. Kristin E Gonzales wrote:

    Absolutely love this post, girlfriend! This may just be my new favorite analogy for boundaries. I’ll probably always picture it with a MacKenzie Childs table setting, too! ? It’s definitely comforting to know I am not alone in this, especially as an enneagram 1. These kind of posts are just always my favorite of yours.

    ps. Watching you grow from a recent college grad to a wife and Mama has truly been such a joy! It makes me more excited for my upcoming role as a wife and hopefully as a Mama, one day. ?

    Published 06 Jan 21Reply
  7. Ryann wrote:

    Katey, thank you for this post! It really hit home as a busy working mom of a toddler girl. I try to do it all, all day, every day, but I also have a salad plate and my husband and child don’t deserve leftovers! Thanks for your beautiful message today!

    Published 06 Jan 21Reply
  8. I love this analogy! And also – lovely photos! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Published 07 Jan 21Reply
  9. Kierston wrote:

    I loved this post! I hope to see more posts about your faith such a good example to show others that might not have strong of faith!

    Published 07 Jan 21Reply
  10. Drew wrote:

    This was just the perfect post! Thank you!!!

    Published 08 Jan 21Reply
  11. Kala wrote:

    I. Love. This.

    Published 21 Jan 21Reply