If you have (or have had) a school-age child recently, chances are you’ve heard about their “bucket.” This comes from the children’s book How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer, which is a favorite of elementary schools. The concept is simple. Everyone has an invisible bucket. Things you do and things done to you can be considered bucket “dippers” – meaning your bucket is emptied a little – or bucket “fillers” – meaning your bucket is filled a little.
If your bucket gets too low, you feel pretty bad. If your bucket is full, you feel pretty great. You can help fill others’ buckets with your kind words and actions, but you can also take away from their buckets with your unkind words and actions. As a bonus, when you help fill someone’s bucket, you automatically add a drop to yours.
Simple, right? Moderately life changing, if you think of it from a mama’s perspective.
We have a lot of power over our children’s’ buckets. When we are running late and have already given fifteen “gentle reminders” to get going, we can choose to make that sixteenth reminder an all out scream and dip from our children’s buckets, or we can pause, take a deep breath, offer some grace, and fill their buckets. We can yell, watch that face fall, and then dip from both of our buckets as the immediate regret sinks in, or we can make the choice to understand “these things happen” (because they do!) and fill their buckets as a drop falls into ours.
We can honor the mistakes made by our children (because they WILL make them!) and let them know we are there with support and love, instead of yelling or chastising. We can offer smiles and time, instead of being distracted. We can build them up, instead of tearing them down. And all of our buckets will be filled.
We have a lot of power over our friends’ buckets. We know, as women, that most days everyone is just trying to the do the next right thing. When we run across a mama run ragged, we can say “you look tired”and take a sizable dip from her bucket … or we can say ANYTHING but that and know we’re both coming out ahead.
We can judge less and love more. We can offer a reminder text about an event the next day, an offer to carpool, a nice note, or a funny gif. We can fill our friends’ buckets and strengthen connections in a world where we all just want to feel a little love and we’re all just doing the best we can.
We have a lot of power over our colleagues’ buckets. And I mean coworkers and fellow SAHMs. Momming is hard. It’s hard. We can do hard things, but we can do them even more when we have our people cheering us on.
We can stop a moment, fill some buckets, and recognize the hard work that our colleagues are doing. Sometimes simply asking, “how’s it going?” or offering an encouraging remark about a job well done can be very effective for all involved. Listening and understanding fills buckets. Breathing together fills buckets. Sharing kind words fills buckets.
We have a lot of control over our own buckets. We are easily our own worst enemies. We can effectively empty our buckets before anyone else gets a shot at them. We can start our days telling ourselves how poorly we are doing, how awful we look, how messy our houses are, how much better everyone else is doing, and how bad we really have it.
Or we can put our buckets in the right place. We can finely tune our inner monologues to be steady bucket fillers. We are good enough. We are smart enough. And, gosh darn, people like us. We can go out and be bucket filling machines, and watch our own buckets overfill in the meantime. We can know that negative self-talk only serves to dip from our own buckets and ain’t nobody got time for that.
So, how’s your bucket? Have you filled a bucket today? Can you fill a few? Go for it! And enjoy that full bucket of your own as well.