Podcast: Getting through challenging times

Best of Both World podcast with Laura Vanderkam

This week’s podcast was a bit of a catch-up. Sarah and I were originally going to talk about her planning make-overs (which might become the basis for a book or other big project on planning!).

However, Sarah has been feeling a bit…crunched lately.

She’s seeing patients all day at the office, and fitting pumping sessions around that. Her pumping sessions take the time she would normally be doing her administrative work. So this means that she’s using time outside work to get caught up on patient notes. That crunches everything else: blogging time, exercise time, etc. Her 5.5 month old baby is still waking up multiple times per night. Exhaustion is not known for improving anyone’s mood or productivity.

So we decided to switch to this topic. How do we get through those times when every minute — and more — seems spoken for?

We talked about a lot of different ideas. First, recognizing that it is temporary can help a lot. Sarah will not be pumping two years from now. Her older children demonstrate that kids do eventually sleep through the night.

It also helps to figure out one’s non-negotiables. Exercise is a known mood-booster, so Sarah is getting back into it. I am happy to report that the podcast has also made the cut of things she wants to keep! In tough times, it is smart to make sure the non-negotiables happen. Everything else can go on a “later” list (Sarah has a list of movies she wants to see in a few months).

Finally, martyrdom is over-rated. Some suffering in life cannot be changed. But if you can change it, change it! This is why Sarah is no longer waking up at 5 a.m. to pump.

It’s been a while since I’ve been in a particular crunch time, though I’ve gone through a few. Launching I Know How She Does It (a previous book) less than five months after I gave birth to baby #4 had some elements of this. Podcast listeners will be treated to a tale of me standing on the driveway and screaming because I was late to a haircut, which was scheduled for the only time it could happen before I had to go on national TV. I also experienced a pre-kid crunch time my senior year of high school when I decided to take multiple AP classes, serve in a leadership role for the school newspaper, apply to 7 highly selective colleges, and so forth. That experience taught me a lot about figuring out where things could go, and what I was capable of. But it’s also nice not to feel like every minute needs a task!

We started the episode with a discussion of what we’d do differently next school year. This year was calm as these things go because I have three kids in one school. Next year I will have four kids in three schools. So there’s that.

Finally, we ended with a Q&A about working from home. This — not incidentally — can be a major factor in feeling crunched or not. Having to fit a 45-minute commute into a life with little give feels miserable. You know exactly what you could do with those 90 minutes, and you’re not getting to do it.

Our listener said she would love to work from home occasionally, but her boss has been burned by allowing people flexibility in the past. How could she broach the topic, given this negative history?

Since she said this somewhat nebulous bad event happened more than five years ago, my personal thought is that this is getting blown out of proportion. It’s always easy to assign responsibility to the new, strange thing, and working from home seems like that. But a problem employee is a problem employee. If someone was stealing from the stock room, no one would say “oh, we can’t allow people to work in the office anymore!”

However, I fully recognize my attitude wouldn’t win our listener an accommodation, so we talked about different ideas. If you’ve faced this issue (or been the manager who’s wary of telecommuting!) please let us know.

And — a favor! Best of Both Worlds has become a very popular podcast! It also features no ads whatsoever. Sarah and I fund its production because we really enjoy doing it. If you enjoy listening to it, please consider pre-ordering a copy of Off the Clock as a way to show your support. Once Sarah exits crunch time, there will likely be a product of hers that you will be able to purchase to show your support too. Thank you!

If book buying isn’t happening in your life right now, you can also show support by asking your local library to purchase copies of Off the Clock. Librarians often have some discretion about which titles to stock, and how many copies of those titles. Suggestions from patrons do matter!

15 thoughts on “Podcast: Getting through challenging times

  1. Really looking forward to listening as I feel like I’m in a similar spot to Sarah – nursing, pumping, getting more but not amazing sleep. I did your time tracking exercise two weeks ago and found the reason that I felt like I had no time was because I had no time. While there is natural slack in the workday, I was basically working on something from the time I got out of bed to the time I laid down. My only ‘break’ was reading my book whilst pinned under a nursing baby. I watched an hour of tv over the course of the week whilst folding laundry.

    Remembering it is only temporary and boiling things down to must-dos and can-dos is helping me emotionally get through it.

    1. @CB – yep, new babies are tough. But if you can build any fun time into your life, it’s worth attempting here and there – maybe a few hours on the weekend? And yes, it will get better.

  2. Just preordered my kindle copy! Will log my local library request once the IT guy replaces my kaput hard drive (talk about an unexpected time suck!)

  3. Please do a tween episode! We have a 10 year old who is finishing 4th grade now–one year behind your oldest. I am thinking ahead to next year and I can tell this is a kid who may struggle in middle school. I feel like it is such a fraught time that no one wants to talk about it. I would love to hear your thoughts.

    1. @Gillian – yes, we shall see how middle school goes. I was so glad a few special programs came through, so that there are classes to look forward to next year.

  4. Great episode! That 3-6 month time is the hardest with babies I think! I just requested my library get off the clock. I assume they will since they have your other books. Is there a way for me to preorder the audio book? Didn’t see it as an option on Amazon and I don’t have audible.

    1. @Kelly- the book will be available in audio form (audible and other forms). There is no way to pre-order an audio version, but the link will go live on May 29 and it will be available then. I hope you enjoy listening to it!

  5. I looked to pre-order through Kobo, but can’t see it yet (although your other titles are available) – but maybe that is because I’m in Australia?

    On a podcast related topic, I heard your interview speaking to Trevor on the Marathon Training Academy podcast. I’d actually love to hear you and Sarah in conversation with Angie from MTA.

    1. @ZM – yes, books are still very territorial, and rights are sold separately. So I have a US/Canada launch on May 29. The UK is in August, through a different imprint. There’s a Mexican edition, too, but not sure when that one is out!

      1. @Tyra – good to know! Hopefully I can find some Australian bloggers and press types to write about it then!

  6. Another great episode. I wonder for Sarah if dictating her charts is at all an option (or perhaps they are hand written still?) I work in law where dictation remains somewhat popular (although I don’t use it). There’s some pretty good software available that might allow her to speak her notes thus keeping her hands free to assist with the pumping. Just a thought.

  7. I was interested to hear Sarah’s take on Mommastrong (I’m the one that recommended it in the first place). I totally get that feeling – it’s a bit oddball, and can be really hard to find your feet! I think that the movements (and biomechanics) that she recommends are great for postpartum women, but now that my daughter is 14 months old I’ve moved away from them too – partly because I would feel a bit lost every time I wanted to do a workout.

    And Laura, re your comment above I will try and come up with some recommendations for Aussie bloggers etc if you like?

    1. @Tyra- of course, that would be great! You can email me at lvanderkam at yahoo dot com – happy for any suggestions.

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