Review: I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam

“When you arrange tiles to create a compelling mosaic, one with work, family, and your own sweet time too, life can be pretty good.” ~ Laura Vanderkam

I Know How She Does It

One of the biggest struggles that I have as a working mom is the juggling act: even if a lot is thrown our way–work, home, and self needs–we make sure that all areas are covered, without breaking anything fragile.

Yet, how do we find the time to accomplish all these?

Time usually runs on a different course for working moms. There always seems to be a shortage of minutes or hours to do everything! How do we squeeze all our to-do’s in just 24 hours a day?

In this book, Laura offers some best case practices on time management from actual working moms. In her study, she recommends looking at each week, as a whole mosaic of 168 hours, instead of just a day of 24 hour tiles. Admittedly, there are days that we may focus on one area more than the other, and that’s fine. We find time to put effort in other areas, other days of the week.

Based on her study, an average working mom works 46 hours a week, or 6.5 hours a day. That still leaves time for rest and time for family. In fact, even if working moms claim that we don’t have enough sleep because of our never ending task lists, Laura finds that the average (American) working mom still has about 6-7 hours sleep.

So how exactly can we manage 168 hours and still do meaningful work and spend meaningful time with our families and with ourselves?

Laura offers the following time management tips which she learned from her mosaic participants, and which I find personally useful:

On Work

Split Shifts

Working on shifts, and not straight 8-hour work time, allows us to be present for our kids when needed. Most moms either resume work after the kids are put to bed, or early morning before the rush to school. In these cases, they are able to leave work on time to pick kids from day care or be there during school presentations, and still churn out deliverables needed for work.

On Families

Be There When It Matters

Our children, and even our husband, demands our time and attention the most. So working moms need to build in the habit of using free time to give these much needed attention to the family. It can be as easy as a stroll or a talk in the evening with your husband to catch up, or a morning snuggle-and-cuddle with your kid before the morning rush. Most importantly, be there physically and mentally when it’s family time. No work, no social media, no distractions.

On Self

Use Travel Time

My work usually requires me to go on field visits or attend conferences abroad. Usually, I look forward to this time to attend to my self-needs, either to catch up on blog writing or a book or even a few more hours of sleep. Even during drive time, I found useful audiobooks to keep me company so my mind can still learn through traffic. Nurturing your learning and developing your passions is also important, and must be given their own time.

 

Time Management is composed of planning and priorities. Knowing what is important helps you schedule and move tiles around those activities or those goals. Yet learning how much time you actually have, and what you can do meaningfully with that time, helps for better planning. What matters most, to working moms, is being able to maximize what we have, so we can maximize also what we can give to our work, to our families, and also to ourselves.

 

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Review: The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer

“You stayed around your children as long as you could, inhaling the ambient gold shavings of their childhood, and at the last minute you tried to see them off into life and hoped that the little piece of time you’d given them was enough to prevent them from one day feeling lonely and afraid and hopeless. You wouldn’t know the outcome for a long time.”

Meg Wolitzer, The Ten-Year Nap


While looking for a vacation reading list, I came across this novel from Meg Wolitzer. The synopsis was quite intriguing: it tells of an interwoven story of the lives of four American women, once high-powered career professionals, who took a decade long hiatus to be full-time wives and stay at home moms. Very relatable, so I grabbed myself a copy.

At first I thought that the book was too long. A lot of words were spent trying to describe every minute, every apparently boring thought of a has-been working mom. So I put it down after ten pages and thought I’d read it again someday, when I could muster enough patience to find it interesting again.

Someday came this month, when I remembered having bought the book and not being able to finish it. This time though, I found new perspective– what was once too observant was now an accurate depiction into the harsh realities of mothers-who-used-to-work. The storytailing flew by quickly… Of anecdotes and adventures that sometimes became too relatable for comfort.

In America, most career women who get married and have children rarely climb up the corporate ladder. Most are resigned to make the sacrifice of choosing to be with the kids instead of being in the office. No day care or extended relatives can see to the children, so the burden lies heavily on these women. But they only realize this up to that crossroad of their lives, and I wonder if knowing this beforehand  might affect their choice. 

In Asia, family ties are kept even after the children are married, so child rearing can be shared among grandparents, aunts and uncles. I myself am lucky to have these family members, on both sides, to willingly share their time with us. Both my husband and I can keep our day jobs while the Lolas take care of our daughter. In return we help to support the whole household financially. 

The novel chronicled different facets of the women’s lives. Some were changed after the “ten-year” nap while some lives  stayed on the same course. Some went back to their desk jobs, while others found full-time volunteer work that, albeit different from what their careers were initially like, the fact is… something was different. And isn’t that what we’re all battling against? The stagnation of the human spirit from a decade long routine? The absence of passion and lost meaning?

So whether it be ten-, twenty-, or fifty-year naps… whether we decide to go back to the corporate hub or back to the kitchen… Lest we become bored or bitter with our choices, we must never forget that in the end, we are all mothers. And though motherhood sacrifices change us for good, we must remember that we are individuals too, filled with passions and dreams that shouldn’t be forgotten just because we were called into this vocation. Sometimes, that makes all the difference. 

Blinkist: Never Stop Learning

“A Smarter You in 15 minutes.” 

This was the promise from Blinkist, a new app I discovered online. The app features over 1000+ books, presented in 15-min snippets of the most important highlights, which you can enjoy through audio or text. From business/ marketing, to success / time management, even to relationships and parenting, the selections are really relevant and your library can be personalized to feature books that are interesting to the user.

Blinkist

From someone who collects books in the bookshelves and in my bedside table, never being able to finish them because of mommy duties and work responsibilities, this is a welcome breather. Now during my drive home, I can just choose a category and listen to new nuggets of wisdom, instead of feeling tired and frustrated with the rush hour traffic.

The app comes with a free trial only for 3-days. I’m thinking of extending my subscription for a year… a year of stress-free traffic and more learning time for this working mommy 🙂

 

 

Review: The Power of a Positive Mom by Karol Ladd

The Power of a Positive Mom

Picked up a new book for this month’s #MommyReads: The Power of a Positive Mom by Karol Ladd. The book is a roadmap of principles to be a Positive Mom. Each of those principles are divided further over 2-3 chapters each. The Seven Principles of a Positive Mom are:

(1) The Power of Encouragement

(2)The Power of Prayer

(3)The Power of a Good Attitude

(4)The Power of Strong Relationships

(5)The Power of Your Example

(6)The Power of Strong Moral Standards

(7)The Power of Love and Forgiveness

I love that this book is such an easy read (I finished mine in four days, during my me-times). The principles are easy to understand and empowering for all working or stay-at-home moms. The book fills the reader with empowering messages to uplift the mom’s spirit and help her engage with her family and community. There are prayers and scriptural passages to anchor on each principle, and the reader can use these to reflect on her own personal journey as a mother.

So, what did I learn from this book?

Be sincere with praise and encouragement.
Know your children. Find out what they are good at.
Be thankful for what you have.
Love your husband, respect him, enjoy him.
Treasure your friendships
Create traditions and memories.
Read great books to your kids.
Be patient. Complain less, but count your blessings more.
Discipline your child on the 3 d’s: disobedience, disrespect, dishonesty.

I hope that I can remember all the principles in this book, to keep the faith and pray for God’s strength and guidance. When doubts come, I need to trust my instincts and pray that I may be able to have a positive impact on my family. When times get tough, I know that I only have to remain positive, because I am a Mom and I can shape my family’s future if everything is done with Faith and Love.