This one question will totally make you rethink your free time
We are moms, moms of young children. We have less free time right now than we will ever have in our entire lives. Yes parenthood will be full of increasingly challenging questions and dilemmas as our children age, but we will also regain some independence, some personal time.
Do you ever get in bed and think - I had so little time today to do what I wanted and I didn’t even use it well? I ended up watching another episode on Netflix that wasn’t even great. I looked at my phone and read stupid things. I sat on a really unpleasant phone call for 30 minutes. Bedtime with my kids took way longer than it needed to and would have been more fun if it had been fast and focused.
I think these things often. Normally as I lay in bed feeling like I’m missing a little something in my day and not really sure what it is. When that happens, it’s normally “me time”, in other words I didn’t get enough self-care. Instead I folded laundry while watching something I don’t even care about on TV, got into some bizarre side task like reorganizing what toys belong in which bin. More recently, since I started my own company, I worked.
Then I read this article about how small talk doesn’t make people happy and we need to jump right into the “real stuff”. I’m completely on board with this. I hate small talk and love to hear about what people are really loving/struggling with. It had some example questions to trigger these conversations. One of the questions was so compelling it stuck with me for days.
If you didn’t need to sleep for 8 hours a night, what would you do with that time?
My mind started spinning out. The scientist in me had so many follow up questions: Does everyone get to skip sleep or just me? Does the entire structure of society continue as is? Does that mean that all stores and services are closed? Does that mean it’s still dark?
After my scientist brain calmed down, there was something magically simple about this question. It gets to “what do I really want to do with my time?”
I imagined this would be completely found time, so I wouldn’t need to figure out who would cook dinner, get groceries, bring kids to hockey games, answer work emails. Those are all taken care of during the regular 16 hours of the day. So if I had an extra 8 hours on top of my normal life, what would I do?
1 hour - I would exercise every day. I would switch it up, walks, bike rides, the gym.
30 minutes - I would meditate. At first I thought I would meditate longer, but I actually think in my dream extra 8 hours I would do it at the beginning and end of “night”.
1 hour - I would spend a full hour doing something just for me, something that made me happy.
1 hour - I would get my husband up for one of those hours and just sit around and talk or go somewhere, just the two of us.
2 hour - I would spend one hour doing one-on-one activities with each of my children where no one else was around.
1 hour - I would have an interesting conversation with someone, where we really talked about our thoughts, feelings, dreams, ambitions, fears
1 hour - I would work on Balancing Bravely. I love the time I work on Balancing Bravely, it inspires me and helps me process my own life.
30 minutes - I would lay in bed, not sleeping. It takes me a though to fall asleep and I have great thoughts before bed.
Interestingly, I would not watch TV. I would not play on my phone. I would not clean my house. I would not multi-task. I would not do anything destructive to my self-care. All of those activities are focused time on one thing.
What would you do if you didn’t need to sleep at night
Once you think about what you would do with an extra 8 hours, you can think about how similar or different that is to the hours you currently use. Are there things you are doing that didn’t make it onto the list? Is that really how you want to be spending your free time?
Are there things on that list that you don’t do at all now? Is there a way to fit them into your life now, even in a small way?
Share your ideas to inspire other women!