One thing people say to me ALL the time is “I don’t know how you make the time”.
The next thing is usually something like “You’re one of those people who likes to stay busy”.
This got me thinking recently, after yet another friend made a comment on a Facebook post about my mysterious ability to sew/garden/cook/do non-kid stuff while keeping my 3 month old and toddler alive. Friends and colleagues warned me before I had each of my daughters that I would no longer have time to do all the things I loved to do. The reality (for me, at least) is that I’m probably more productive than I was before I had children. I know that I don’t have any special super-powers that I use to conjure up magical free time. (I currently make milk from my boobs and I think that’s a super-power – but I digress).
So instead, I’m going to share with you some of the strategies that I use every day to get the most out of the very very small amounts of free time that I have.
This is not going to be an unrealistic time management blog series that promises you can “do it all” (sorry, that’s just not possible). It will be real, authentic, actual stuff that I do every day that hopefully might work for you too.
* * *
Why do you want more time?
Before even thinking about how to make spare time, you need to know why you want to make spare time.
In my experience, making your free time effectively only works well if you’re seriously motivated to do so. The reason being, this free time most often comes in tiny little chunks throughout the day: 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there. So you need that burning desire inside to get back to the ‘thing’ (whatever it is), even if it’s only for 5 minutes.
To be honest, I find it bloody infuriating to be constantly interrupted from what I’m doing. But guess what – I HAVE A BABY AND A TODDLER. Therefore, at this stage of my life, there is no option but to work around the demands for pink seaweed sandwiches like Elmo had (WTF?), and the millionth nappy change for the day.
My desire for maximising the use of my time comes from several different sources:
- I simply suck at being a full-time, stay-at-home mum. I need other interests to keep me happy and healthy. Some people might thing this sounds selfish but having interests and activities that are mine alone ensure that reason number 2 stays under control.
- I suffer from clinical anxiety and severe depression. I won’t go into it here, but suffice to say I am currently healthy, I haven’t had a serious relapse in several years, and I know what my triggers are. Doing my own thing, whether its sewing, reading, exercising or gardening, and having some private head space is critical to my maintaining good mental health.
- I am an over-achiever, A-type personality. Enuff said.
- I am passionate. I don’t just like sewing. I love sewing SO MUCH that one of my greatest fears is suffering some kind of injury that would leave me blind or unable to use my hands. I can say the same thing about gardening, and to a lesser degree, walking and running (for health – I am no athlete).
If you’re into homework, then your task for today is to work out why you want more spare time, and be really honest about whether it will be the motivation you need to start using some of the strategies in my follow up posts. I’d love to hear from you, so please share with me your thoughts and struggles!