One of the fun parts of writing a book is getting reader mail. Over the past few weeks I’ve heard from people who’ve told me that 168 Hours has changed their lives. This is incredibly gratifying. But one of my favorite emails was from a woman who found herself in the same position I was when I started pulling together the material for 168 Hours – that is, as a new mom frustrated by the assumptions other people make about that state.
As Alissa told me, “I was especially irritated with people who told me I would not have time to read (I am a librarian and avid reader…) or do my other hobbies.” She’d already found ways to get her yoga routine in, to do some scrapbooking while the baby napped and, as for reading, “I’m a nursing mom so 90% of the time that I’m nursing I’m reading.” She noted that she could still do things, it just took more effort. This is an important realization. Plenty of people aren’t that great at managing their lives before they have kids. Then they have kids, and that creates chaos. But why blame the kids?
Anyway, as Alissa wrote, “Two points in your book really resonated with me. The first was that we do have a choice on how we spend our time, and the whole ‘I don’t have enough time’ is a myth. I’ve always talked about things being a choice – such as being happy, leaving a job, etc. but never applied the concept to my time in quite the way you described it.
“The other point was the structuring of our leisure time and taking time to plan it so it happens. I wish I could have back the weekends I’ve lost due to lack of a plan!”
Alissa kept a time log, “and it was quite eye opening. I love how you say there is no typical week. That has also been a mindshift for me.” Newly back at work from maternity leave, she’d met with her boss to figure out what her highest impact activities were, so she could focus her time on those. “I had delegated many routine tasks while I was out and that was a great exercise for me as I tend to be a control freak and now I’ve consciously made the decision that many of those tasks are better done by my staff since they’re not really my core competencies,” she wrote.
In other words, she really “got” 168 Hours. When I was a new mom, I made the mistake of reading a lot of books like The Price of Motherhood (which basically argues that your career and earning potential are shot), and skimmed some motherhood tomes that make it sound like you’ll inevitably be fat, not want to have sex, etc. Three years later, I realize that none of that has to be true if you don’t want it to be. I’m glad other women are learning that earlier.