Tired mommies would get a lot from this book. It has something to offer anyone who is having trouble juggling work and personal life; it's just that, as Laura Vanderkam points out, women find everything more tiring than men do. Work, commute, housework, even relaxation - everything leaves women more tired. Why is that? Nobody knows yet. (I suspect that women have a biological need for more sleep than men, and we aren't prioritizing it). The premise of I Know How She Does It is that objective data about how we use our time can help us take back control of our lives. If we so choose, we may find that we can also pursue more challenging positions in our careers, without sacrificing as much personal time as we have been taught to fear.
One of the most interesting things I learned from this book is that people who claim to work unusually long hours tend to inflate their estimates, often by quite a lot. People who believe they work 75-hour weeks are overestimating that time by as much as 25 hours! Keeping an accurate time log can be fussy, but it reveals more detail than "Work: 7 AM to 7 PM." Certain workplaces valorize long hours, and it pays to be seen staying late or sending email late at night. That doesn't necessarily mean that personal time isn't being fit into the cracks, and it also doesn't mean that this kind of office culture is an inescapable prison.
Moms especially seem to fall for the trap of evaluating their "performance" as moms (and therefore, humans) according to what they think everyone else is doing. We develop internal standards of housekeeping, parenting, fitness, hostessing, and scheduling that are based at least as much on our perceptions as on reality. We feel constantly judged and found wanting. The reality is that there are a million billion ways to define a life, and nobody else has the power to come in and tell us how to decorate or whether to bring homemade versus store-bought cupcakes. We can say, "This is how I roll," to ourselves anyway, and maybe we'll find that nobody else even questions us. We can make the rules in life, set our own standards, and decide for ourselves whether we are living up to them.
I Know How She Does It is a solution-oriented book. It offers practical strategies for adjusting workplace schedules, negotiating household tasks and errands with a partner, and planning around the demands of tiny kids. Vanderkam is a mommy and wife who knows her way around the corporate world. She interviews other women in similar situations and shares their methods of involvement in both career and family at a high level. For most families, earning more money would ease more stress than cutting back on hours would. For everyone, more planning and prioritizing has the potential to return a sense of fun and relaxation to daily life.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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