Look, I try to be eco-conscious, green, limit my single-use plastics, reuse, reduce, recycle. I made my college roommates collect recycling and even printed out the recycling list to make it easier for everyone to know what could be recycled. I collected all the plastic water bottles at my summer job and took them to be recycled myself.

I’ll blame my parents. They were “going green” before that phrase existed because in the middle of Ohio in the 80s and 90s, we saved and sorted our recycling and drove it across town to the recycling plant.

RELATED: How I Found Healing in a Stack of Paper Plates

For years, I didn’t even buy paper plates, and definitely not Styrofoam ones. But somewhere in the haze of life changes that parenthood brought on, a stack of paper plates earned a permanent home on the top of my microwave. I don’t know exactly when it started, but I know that when my oldest was born immediately after my husband’s return from deployment, and immediately prior to a cross-country move, a friend delivered a meal and also dropped off paper plates and plasticware. And at that moment, I was so thankful to be eating off dishes that could be dropped into a trash bin.

Some days are just paper plate days.

And if we’re being totally honest, some seasons have more paper plate days than not. For me right now, those seasons are postpartum and the solo parenting that comes with a deployed spouse. For others, it might be Wednesday dinner because that’s when every kid has a practice or Monday breakfast because you have to be at an early work meeting. Maybe it’s during a busy season at the office or on Sundays so you can spend just a little extra time with the family or watching football instead of scrubbing dishes.

Sometimes we all need a paper plate day.

And maybe for you, the paper plate day isn’t paper plates at all, but it means giving yourself a pass on something–for that morning, that day, or even that season in life.

Something that can eliminate a task off the to-do list.

Something to give you a moment to pause.

Something that can allow you to go to bed just a little bit earlier.

RELATED: To the Overwhelmed Mom: Sometimes Surviving is Enough

Order the takeout dinner, let the kids wear their clothes to bed instead of pajamas, wash all the laundry in one load (on cold of course). 

Or do what I did tonight, and serve a hodge-podge charcuterie dinner of cold cuts, cheese sticks, crackers, and whatever fruit (or fruit snacks) we have on hand on a paper plate.

Because today is a paper plate day.

After all, I can always get compostable paper plates if I really want to.

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Michelle Wintering Griffin

Michelle is a mom of two, a military spouse, and a speech-language pathologist. She believes life, marriage, and parenthood are best with a lot of grace and a bit of humor. You’ll usually find her exploring a hiking trail, reading “just one more book” to her two young kids, and serving more meals than she wants to admit on paper plates. You can also hear her voice on The Speech Science Podcast (speechsciencepodcast.com).

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