Author Nora Roberts on Juggling Kids and Work: Know Which Balls Are Plastic and Which Are Glass

When it comes to doing it all, sometimes working moms have to drop the ball. And even though it doesn’t feel like it, that’s OK. This advice from renowned romance author Nora Roberts is making us feel a whole lot better.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes, a mom, professor and young adult novelist best known for Raised by Wolves and The Naturals series, attended a Q&A with Nora, where the author shared some sage advice that changed Jennifer’s view on juggling it all. Jennifer posted Nora’s nugget of wisdom on Twitter, and we love it.

When someone asked Nora how she balanced writing and kids, she simply said “that the key to juggling is to know that some of the balls you have in the air are made of plastic and some are made of glass.”

The main takeaway is that some balls will drop, and that’s fine. It’s too damn hard to keep everything in the air, and that’s a pressure we don’t need to put on ourselves.

Now, to clarify, Nora wasn’t just talking about a few balls. In a follow-up tweet, Jennifer wrote, “Nora was not talking about juggling five balls. She was talking about juggling FIFTY-FIVE balls. The balls don’t represent ‘family’ or ‘work.’ There are separate balls for everything that goes into each of those categories.”

By prioritizing the balls that are glass—picking the kids up from daycare, making sure dinner’s on the table, or meeting a deadline on a project—and not the ones that are plastic—crazy hair day at school, staying caught up on your email inbox—parents can assure there are no glass shards where their little ones are crawling around.

Everyone drops a ball or two in a day, and that’s pretty much unavoidable. Nora’s point is that the balls that bounce are fine to bounce. Catching the glass before it hits the floor means letting the plastic ones go.

Even so, prioritizing can be the hardest part. How do you know which balls are glass and which are plastic? For every mom, it’s different. On certain days, some balls are glass when maybe the next day they’re plastic.

And just like that, Nora dropped the mic after shedding the wisdom we didn’t know we needed.