As moms it’s easy to feel like there is never enough time, we don’t sleep enough, and we couldn’t possibly work part-time, much less find an hour a week for the hobby we wish we had.
After core personal value discovery and managing our expectations, I would consider time management to be the next most important key to finding the energy we need, because practical energy boosting activities take time. How do we free up time to eat better, exercise, practice a hobby, and take a nap?
Whenever I think about time management, I come back to a book I read in 2012 – Laura Vanderkam’s, 168 Hours: You Have More Time than You Think. At the time I had two young boys and was working part time, and this book forever changed how I look at time and how much time I have. In it Laura convinced me that I had space in my life to continue to work 30 hours a week if I wanted to. I learned from her that time management is about filling your time with what matters – and that everything that matters to you can typically be fit into a week if you are intentional.
She talks about the myth of the time crunch, and the importance of identifying your core competencies both personally and professionally and working to fill your time as much as possible with what you do best. As a starting place, she encourages readers to track their time for a week. While she does the math, and we can too, there’s something powerful about experiencing the awareness you get from tracking your time. So on our journey to find the energy we need as moms, I decided to track my time last week.
I slept for 53 hours, which is an average of 7 ½ hours a night. I worked for 30 hours. There are 168 hours in a week so that leaves 85 hours for ‘home life’.
I spent 29 hours cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the kids; these activities are so interwoven in my time log I gave up trying to total them separately. I did identify an additional 8 hours of intentional quality time with the older boys, much of which was spent reading books at bedtime, although Jimmy and I spent some time doing lessons in a new book we got to help him learn to read. Andrew is nursing 2+ hrs a day, and while I sometimes multi-tasked, I logged 10 hours of just nursing him. That brings the total for taking care of, and being with kids, to 47 hours.
Laura recommends allowing for about 14 hours a week of flex time which I found to be about right. (When she talks about planning your time, she cautions readers not to overschedule but to allow 2 hrs a day for transitioning activities, personal care, time log recording, etc.)
In the remaining 24 hours, I got in a playdate with a friend, and a trip to the library. I found 6 hours to spend on writing posts for this blog and working on some fun personal projects. I met a new neighbor and salvaged a swing-set slide from her big trash pick-up. I booked a site for our next camping trip, went to my annual IEP meeting with Jimmy’s speech therapist, and got a massage. I see in my log several entries where we were all together as a family, mainly for family dinners and dance parties in the living room. I spent several hours hanging out with the family or Charles, and watching basketball or reading.
What did I learn?
Life is rich. I’m not sleep-deprived. 168 Hours is a lot of time. I make time for the activities I care about. Sometimes I don’t make time for something I want to do because I don’t have the energy.
In upcoming posts I’ll be looking at more time management tips, and practical ways to manage and increase our energy, so that when we find the time for the activities that matter to us, we will also have the energy for them.
If you’re not sure you have enough time, try keeping a time log for a few days. Or if you have a block of time you don’t feel you are utilizing well, try tracking those hours for several days in a row.