How often do you plan to work in the evening only to be seduced by sleep as you put a kid to bed?
I had my first 2 kids in my 20s and it seemed easy to negotiate those witching hours, then return to my desk and punch out a uni. assignment, business plan, delegate a whole pile of tasks to unsuspecting staff or contractors or whatever it was at the time.
I’ll be the first to admit there were many nights where the sleep routine has made me pull my hair out. I tried inching my chair out of the room, I tried singing, negotiating, being bossy, crying, calling one of numerous sleep helplines – all depending on how pressing the deadline appeared around the work I was returning to after sleep time (and of course the levels of patience I was left with after the day that was).
But then something happened within my mind and I suddenly didn’t like to work at night any more. Was it turning 40? Was it a healthier vision of work and life? Was it I wanted more time to connect with the kids?
I guess I didn’t really think about why it shifted, I just noticed that at some point the thought of snuggling with my youngest as she drifted off to sleep sounded SO much more appealing to returning to the sharp glare of the computer screen.
But clearly this isn’t working for me as well as I’d like it to because come 2am many mornings I often wake to complete a list (who am I kidding, 6 lists), solve the problems of the world, prepare a speech (monologue) for some thing that’s on my mind, toss, turn and maybe go back to sleep before dawn.
So – I’ve decided to take action to turn this around and it just might be action that you can use too. Here’s my plan:
1. Make sure I stay true to my Sunday evening meeting with myself. It only takes an hour and it shapes out everything I need to do in the week ahead
2. Choose 2 nights per week to work (within limited time-frames) and understand what TYPE of work I can do in those hours (hint, for me it’s not detailed work)
3. Let my family know that I need to do this on THESE days
4. Put a notebook and pen next to my bed so that on the nights I’m NOT working I can dump down ideas if I wake up, then go back to sleep before I start to unpack them
5. Take note of what I’m working on and when in the week – so I know where my time is going
6. Take some time to reflect on the week each Friday noticing how my time was managed and if it was effective
7. Keep up the daily exercise to make sure sleep happens.
So many mums in business tell me that they struggle with work and life balance
But the reality is that there is no real one size fits all (or all of the time) solution to work and life juggling. Sometimes there’s a lot on and it’s just busy, sometimes it’s OK to be a bit more relaxed about it.
Whatever stage you are in right now – take it easy and be kind to yourself. And if it’s not working for you, change something.