What You’ll Learn: Some of the best things I learnt from the book I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam – and how I applied it to maternity leave.
Reading time: 5 minutes
This is part of the Great Maternity Leave book club series, where I share some of the most influential books that have shaped 2 great maternity leaves so far. We all have 168 hours in a week and there is so much diversity in our daily schedules. It doesn’t matter what we do with our time, just that we are doing it with mindfulness. With this post I hope to contribute to a larger dialogue on maternity leave and living it with intention. Using our time on this earth to do something.
Laura Vanderkam’s book was a fantastic opportunity to address my time use and shift the way I look at things. Below I will outline some of the key points that I took away and how they translate to real life.
The Points That Shifted my Perspective:
I often mention that in coaching, that to take different actions you must experience a shift in perspective. That creates lasting change and lasting results.
I had several ah-hah moments with this book that shifted my perspective, for sure.
Did you know:
From Monday to lunchtime Thursday is only HALF of the week?!
How does that land with you? Think about that.
On maternity leave I lose a bit of my day / time awareness, but as a working Mum, this one point revolutionized my perspective. It is so easy to write off Friday-Saturday-Sunday as “weekend” and be less intentional with our time and how we use it. Knowing that an entire half of a week is left on Thursday has influenced me greatly. I am much more of an active participant in deciding what to do with the second half of my week rather than just writing it off as weekend and haphazardly finding something “fun” to do with the kids.
A Constant Reminder That Flows Through My Life After Reading This Book:
Through a comprehensive analysis of mothers’ schedules Vanderkam nails home the point that you can either haphazardly gather up the scraps of time left over in your day, or start the day with clear intention and mindfully assigning chunks of time. And in those chunks of time are tasks that get you closer to your goals.
She also draws a clear line between busy work and growth work. These are my own unique terms for them – which I’m trying to come up with at 5 in the morning, lol – so bear with me. I’ll explain.
On maternity leave my little guy sleeps about 2-3 hours in a day. Multiply by 7 days and that is 14-21 hours a week, where I can have some say in what I do.
For sure, there is housework that is routine and that will always be there. But I also need to decide what I am going to do with that time that will align with my goals for the future. I also resist the temptation to do housework which is not going to last (ie: cleaning the living room in the middle of the day when I know I’ll be doing it again at night when the toddler is in bed.)
Even if it’s just 1 hour of each day, am I taking that one hour and getting myself closer to where I want to be? Or am I filling the time with something else?
This perspective has helped me a TON. When I feel drawn to an activity in a spare moment of time, I ask: Do I straight up need some downtime, or shall I use it to get me closer to the vision / goals I have for this mat leave? I go through this quick decision making process each time I switch activities. The goals are below.
Some of those days are just coping / napping / sleeping, because on materity leave the wind changes direction and we must adjust the sails. Last week with teething and very little sleep for either of us, I had to reduce my blogging and just get through it and nap where I could. It was a temporary pullback from growth activities. That is okay too.
But the key is readjusting the sails after the windstorm to get back on track to the destination and travel toward the port of call you want to arrive at in 2016.
Here is my own Port-of-Call / Destination:
-Continue to dedicate 5 hrs / week to my online jewelery shop as a steady income source for trips. My goal is to pay for one trip this year.
-Build the “bricks and mortar” foundation of my coaching business (online presence, brochures, contracts, worksheets, materials, etc.)
-Add a voice of “growth, confidence and self-identity” to the dialogue around maternity leave.
-Being present with my children outside in nature
-“Date” my husband again
-Cultivate my close friendships & be a supportive listening ear
-Reduce my body fat percentage through gluten free, paleo-style eating
-Fall in love with running again
A key component of getting to my destination is the “fuck yeah or no” approach which I learnt from Derek Sivers. Open this in a new tab and save it for reading.
I Practice saying “fuck yeah” or “no” to every “ask” I get – if my reaction isn’t an excited “fuck yeah” I say no.
Laura mentions in her book that we all have 168 hours in a week. If you can practice saying no to things that aren’t important, you would free up a ton of time and “feel like the millionaire at Safeway.” I’m not actually sure what she meant by this, but I assume it means feeling pretty good.
The result of this practice is you wind up with more free time and less “busy time” filled with auxilliary projects. I like these “underbooked weeks” – I feel like I am not a slave to my calendar. As a P in the MBTI Types I naturally rebel against that anyways. It’s a pretty cool feeling being able to embrace life as it comes and take up things that align with my goals and are simply part of the grand experience of being alive.
I carry that list with me, both in Evernote on my iPhone and in a journal in my handbag (I use iCal as well as an old-school journal.) I have it memorized, and check in with it constantly – in each decision I make in my day.
Especially in the morning as I decide what I am going to do with this beautiful time on this earth.
Tell me, what are you going to do with your time on this earth? What is your maternity leave port-of-call in 2016?