Yes, you have time.
As a soon-to-be mom of six, I hear you when you say that you wish you could start a new project or pursue a new goal but you’re just too busy to add one more thing to your plate. None of us have the time. I just finished writing a book, and the first thing most of my friends asked was, “How the f*ck did you do that?”
It’s a reasonable question. As well as being pregnant and taking care of five kids, I run a wedding business. My partner also works full-time as a financial advisor, and, like a pair of masochists, we have our children enrolled in a mind-boggling array of sports and activities.
So how would someone as busy as I am add something as time-consuming as writing a book onto my plate? I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I didn’t. It was impossible, so I did something that probably feels unthinkable to many moms out there. I started sliding other things off my plate to make room. My unbelievably understanding partner caught some of those things while others, like my personal appearance, fell to the wayside.
At home, I took a couple of months off from inviting people over in lieu of cleaning. I worked out less frequently, wore increasingly eccentric outfits as the laundry piled up and dinner mutated from Cordon Bleu to Cordon Bleurgh as I resorted to tossing a random selection of frozen goods into the oven at 6pm. Instead of making sensory boxes and practicing reading with my five year olds, I took them to indoor play centers with ball pits to catch E. coli while I ignored them and stared at my laptop.
It felt… awful. I was a bad mom, a bad partner, an absent friend, and my house was a health hazard. But after two months, I was suddenly an author. My book was being edited and I was able to start picking up where I had left off. My kids got their mom back, my hair got highlighted, and the house got decontaminated. The best part was that no one seemed to notice that it hadn’t always been that way.
The “How the f*ck did you do that?” questions seemed nothing short of bizarre at first, as it seemed so obvious to me. Had no one noticed me looking like a bag lady? My kids looking pale and plump from a lack of home-cooked meals? Apparently not, and you know why? Because no one else is judging you as hard as you’re judging yourself. The first time my kids noticed my sabbatical from parenting was when it ended and they were suddenly asked to eat vegetable stir fries and homemade shepherd’s pies again instead of chicken nuggets and carrot sticks. And let me tell you, they weren’t actually pleased.
In summary, moms of the world, I am here to tell you that you have time to do absolutely anything — you just don’t have time to do everything. More importantly, it isn’t selfish to take some time away from one area to apply it to your career or a goal that is important to you. Your kids will benefit from seeing you do this, even if you fail. Perhaps especially if you fail. They will also celebrate with you when you win.
Remind yourself that your children may well choose to model themselves on the choices that you make today. Do you want them to feel free to pursue their dreams when they grow up? Or do you want them to think they should squash themselves down inside in exchange for a Pinterest-perfect house?
So, let them see you soar, let them see you roar, and let them see you prioritize passion over a clean floor.
If you have a dream — and I hope you do — then here are my top 7 tips for finding time to chase it.
Look at your calendar and block off portions of time that you will spend working on your project. Commit to making those non-negotiable.
2. Use all the scraps.
Keep your laptop close and make use of all of the snippets of time that crop up during the day: waiting at the doctor’s office, the auto shop, or ballet class.
3. Read while driving.
Audiobooks, silly! Or podcasts. I studied the content of my book in the car as well as listening to motivational podcasts on book writing and marketing.
4. Make deadlines.
Have an accountability buddy and commit to sending them evidence of completed tasks within certain timeframes. I splurged on a coach, but this can be your bestie or your mom.
5. Let it go!
Keep Elsa in your head. Drop perfectionism, guilt, and self -doubt. You truly have no time for those. Also drop cleaning, cooking, and laundry for a while if needed. Everyone will survive.
6. Reward yourself.
We all need recognition for our hard work, but that isn’t easy to find in the early stages of a new project. Choose some milestones in advance, and pick a treat to enjoy when you reach each one. A pedicure, a box of chocolates, or some wine perhaps. You did a great job and you shouldn’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back.
7. Remember, it’s temporary.
When you’ve reached your goal, you will have more time again, whether that’s because you have freed yourself up or freed up cash to pay someone else to wash the floors. You won’t have a messy house forever, and you can go back to being super mom again when the time is right.