I feel like motherhood is a whole lot of squeezing stuff into small windows and tight spaces. Mothers are gurus at this! But just because we can, it doesn’t mean we always should. Read till the end to get the full picture.
I’ve often felt like I’m running my life at a military-like level. Operation ‘Use The Gaps’ that requires extreme precision to take full advantage of small slices of time now that long leisurely free spaces are not as readily available. I am always thinking about the best way to use the gaps. What can I achieve in that 2, 5, 10, 30 minute window? It’s a constant reassessment of priorities.
- Checking your phone for 1 minute when the kids aren’t looking so you’re not modelling screen time.
- Working on your favourite craft creation while overseeing swimming lessons.
- Designing your next business offering in Notes on your phone while waiting for the Doctor to take you in to your appointment.
- Listening to podcasts when you’re driving.
- Running to the toilet while your toddler is amused with Playschool for 3 minutes!
- Hanging a load of washing on the line at lightning pace while your newborn is briefly settled (you’ve been planning this all day).
- Scheduling everything for the school holidays when your big kids are home from boarding school.
- Writing part of this blog post in 10 minutes before collecting our children off the bus.
- Returning a phone call with military precision around snacks and sleeps and meals and the evening routine.
- Squeezing in a zoom meeting between appointments.
- Preparing dinner at 5am before the children wake because you know you won’t get another opportunity during the day.
- Working in and on your biz at 10 o’clock at night after the children are in bed and the other jobs are done.
- Recording a podcast episode in the only 30 minute window available in the day.
- Purposely making a deal of telling the kids you’re going to the toilet so they’ll know where you are and not try to find you in the 2 minutes that you’re gone (which in our house they often still feel the need to do ?).
- Getting a walk or ride in, expertly and strategically, around dinner or breakfast or packing lunch boxes or sport or homework.
- And sooo many more!
Mothers become experts at taking advantage of the smallest windows of time.
I remember not long after our first son arrived, I was chatting to a friend/colleague about my hourly rate in business and how I didn’t feel justified to charge as much as I did before becoming a Mum. I didn’t feel like I was as focused or ‘sharp’ as I used to be.
She said to me: you should value yourself even more now that you’re a Mum because you are so much more effective and efficient with your time… because you have to be. I remember thinking: Wow, she has a point! It was something I hadn’t considered before then.
You can achieve so much in a 5 minute window of time when you’re focused and intentional. Even in 90 seconds! There is a lot you can get done in that time: plan your meals, visualise how you will move the needle on your business, send a strategic message, write an email, brainstorm something, do some breathwork, check in on how you feel. The keyword here is ‘intentional’ and knowing what it is you want to achieve in advance of having the 90 second window.
Before children I would dismiss that amount of time as not being enough to achieve anything significant. I wouldn’t even start something if I didn’t feel like I had enough of a window to sink my teeth into it! It feels laughable now to think that I used to say ‘I don’t have time’ and it’s proof that we will always fill the time that we have (The Law of Vacuum).
The purpose of this post is to remind you of how incredible you are at doing what you do in small windows of time. And to value yourself with this skill set that naturally becomes highly developed in motherhood. You may feel as though you achieve far less but you are doing more in smaller spaces of time!
However, what we all need to be aware of is how we are feeling, where we’re at and not filling every space in our lives with productivity. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is rest or not be ‘productive’ in the sense of ticking things off the list. It’s vital to your health and wellbeing that you have adequate rest and sleep.
Spaciousness is also important. Time for you. Time to think. Time to play. White space that you’re not planning to fill. Think about how much spaciousness you have and how you can create more of it. We don’t always need to fill the gaps! Switching off IS the best use of your time at times.
“One of the dysfunctional patterns of the mind is the assumption that the Now needs to be filled with something all the time.
Of course you have to do things, but see if you can also experience the spaciousness of this moment, the inherent goodness of this moment, regardless of what it contains.”
Yes, as mothers we are masters of squeezing into gaps but be sure you don’t squeeze yourself so much all the time you start to lose your shape, form and recognition of yourself.
I see you mumma and you’re doing a terrific job! Keep going.
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