Most of us have been unwilling (and unconscious) participants in a popular dialogue. “I’m a mom! I don’t have time!” We just buy into it and assume its the truth, right? And then we get to the newborn stage and think my life will never be the same again. It’s like deer in headlights stuff. What just happened?
Tell someone you have two babies: “wow, you must be busy!” or you tell them you are working and have two young kids – they shake their heads in disbelief and mutter under their breath “have fun with that.” Then you wonder if you are making a massive mistake, if it’s truly possible.
Before I even had kids people would hush their voices, grab my hands and whisper, as if disclosing a deep dark secret. “your life is over.” (Okay maybe not that dramatic but their tone conveyed this hidden message.)
I came into motherhood literally bracing for a vortex. A giant black hole into which my time, my previous life, and my identity would get sucked into. Oh my, it was scary. I was bracing.
To be sure, the “fourth trimester” – the first three months of babykins’ life – are this endless loop of feedings, naps, diaper changes and cooing over a miracle, and googling like you’ve never googled before. And crying. Lots of crying But… BUT…once you get your groove, slowly, ever so slowly you begin to do little things again.
Stand in the kitchen and sip a coffee. Watch netflix. Read a book. Go out for a quick date with your husband. Paint your toenails (oh yes, believe it! Those 7 layers of crusty sparkly stuff from your pre-baby life will be removed – it happens!) Laundry. You get to this stage where you sit down at the end of the day, feet aching, bracing yourself for the night shift, yet you think “shit, I am more productive than I HAVE EVER BEEN BEFORE.” You, my lady, are a machine.
The argument I am going to make here, is that HAVING CHILDREN IS THE BEST THING THAT COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN TO YOUR TIME.
A pretty absurd statement isn’t it? I am sitting here on my laptop, struggling to stay awake at 9:54 pm, but I am telling you that how you use your time will be transformed, and you will use it ore effectively than you ever have before.
Is this shocking? When you are hurriedly showering hoping your little humans don’t destroy something (or themselves) in the living room upstairs? Or while they are howling downstairs in the bathroom from their car seat / swing / whatever restraint device? I hope it does feel a bit shocking.
But hear me out mama. I speak from two mat leaves, and the future.
I’ll tell you a quick story.
I work with olympic athletes. If you think you are busy, let’s talk about olympic athletes who are studying at University. Swimmers. Swimmers are some of the craziest of that lot. 5am swims. Quick breakfasts. a full day of university classes. Back in the pool early afternoon. Another session early evening, if not dryland training. Somewhere in between there, eating and recovery activities such as massage (don’t think this is relaxing massage, it’s terrible, I’ve use an olympic team masseuse and it redefines torture) – and rehabilitation if they are injured. I didn’t even mention part time jobs in here.
Yet, when I work with these people, they are the people who have the best attitude about time. This group, who have almost NO downtime, can tell me without hesitation how they enjoyed their downtime, and are quite dialled in on their time management! It comes down to the age old phrase of “quality over quantity.”
Olympic athletes are not that much different from us new mamas. Limited downtime. A physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting job that goes from the crack of dawn to well past sundown. They have maybe an hour of downtime in their days. I know this, because I literally map out their schedules with them as part of my coaching profession. I also map out schedules with new mamas as a professional coach, and the short bursts of free time are not all that different.
What we can learn is when we have just one precious hour, one delicious break where we sit down with a sigh, feet aching, we are that much more mindful of the beautiful but short break we have. More so than we have ever been before.
Remember the days spent on a couch, 10 hours passing by with only our hunger telling us to get up and go to the kitchen? There’s no time to waste time away anymore. I don’t ever hear a mom say “just killin time.” NOPE. If there is an hour of free time, the mums I know are strategically planning out the best use of that. Maybe it’s laundry. Maybe it’s making a meal. Maybe it’s some kind of critical budgeting or administrative activity. Maybe it’s (equally important) sitting down or having a nap. No drop of time is wasted. It is planned and used with intention. And that occasional glorious break? A glass of wine? A magazine? We remember those moments.
I challenge you to remember one moment drinking a glass of wine in your house ten years ago, versus one moment doing it now (probably chugged because you’re not sure when the baby will wake up, haha.) We savour that which is sacred. So much more.
And this, is why I think children are the best thing to happen to our free time.
We are so much more conscious and intentional with it.
I was chatting with a friend the other day about my instagram feed. I do enjoy social media and it is part of my wake up in the morning routine. I get my housecoat on, sneak into the lounge before anyone is awake, sip coffee and wake up.
I know I only have 30 minutes to do this. I want to make sure I use those 30 minutes well, and a few months ago I thought “wait, why am I wasting this amazing break on useless shit on instagram that doesn’t help me?” so I’ve pared down my social media to 25% of the accounts that I followed previously. Most of the accounts I follow now are connected to a greater meaning.
They either give me ideas or inspire me to work towards the vision I have for my life, the lifestyle I am working toward, the goals I aspire to, or remind me of the values I hold.
I’m sorry random online business hustler taking selfies with hot women – I’m not giving you a few minutes of my attention. My time is too precious.
That which is limited, we value even more.
Think about anything in your life that you love. If it becomes limited, you appreciate it even more. It’s true. Try drinking just one coffee a day and then come back and tell me how much you appreciate that one cup of coffee. 🙂
When the quantity decreases, the quality increases.
Your downtime may have literally decreased, but figuratively you have gained so much more.
Will you take advantage of that? Or continue to pine for that which was in the past?