Parent or not – how do you fight Time Poverty? 

Clear Glass With Red Sand Grainer

Firstly, a few interesting FACTS! 

The Modern Families Index 2017 (nearly 3,000 participants from the UK) has revealed that over 60% of parents have some flexible working arrangements due to childcare. However, 80% of parents feel they don’t have either enough money or time, or both, to fully enjoy their family life. This shows that although most of the parents work flexible hours, there is still “… a clear desire for more flexibility in working time, and control of it, suggesting a ‘flexibility gap’ – with parents wanting more flexibility than is available to them.” 

According to the research, most parents do some overtime in the evenings or at weekends. Parents admitted that this is the only way to deal with their large workload. So working from home, agile working – these are not the solutions to work-life balance problem.

Childcare and domestic responsibilities prevented 49% of the parents from being able to take up some physical activity and 43% complained that they were so busy there was no time to organise a healthy diet on an everyday basis.

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Approximately 50% of parents feel constantly stressed and burnt out by work. The participants were asked how they dealt with it and there were three main answers: they take annual leave, sick leave or reduce their hours.

How many times a day or a week do you try to incorporate some time for yourself, your interests, or your own projects? I’m really interested in the answers. You see, that’s what I struggle with quite often and that’s the reason I haven’t written here for a while. Life with a small baby and a five year old is beautiful but is also incredibly busy , especially if you are trying your best to ensure that you don’t just meet basic children’s needs but also take care of their personal development, learning, physical activities.

Most days I’m up at 6am and until around 8pm-ish I rush with everything- cleaning, cooking, shopping, sorting out stuff like arranging a GP appointment or washing machine repair. And then I plan to do my stuff in the evening, even if by saying my stuff I mean just reading for a bit, but by the time the evening comes I’m so tired that I can’t manage to do anything else that would need my brain to understand, create or analyse anything I do or read. 

However, I do fight for a bit of Me Time most of the week, and well, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but usually I feel happy if I manage to get any bit of time for writing, learning photography or just simply having a nap during the day! Due to my very active lifestyle I have become really interested in the time poverty topic and sometimes I wonder how other people juggle their responsibilities and keep on top of their work-life balance; whether others find time for themselves or whether they are TRYING to find time for themselves and how hard they do that, and how far they would go. Do they arrange childcare to go to the gym or do they try to do something for themselves only when the children go sleep? And if they do, do they have a plan for every week or is it more of a spontaneous thing when they try to catch every opportunity that they get? Do some people want time for themselves but give up on this dream as it’s too hard to incorporate into their life…??

Round Gold-colored Black Analog Watch With Grey Leather Band

Well, I feel that my children are priority No.1, but at the same time I feel I can’t simply give up on my personal development or interests for, say, 10 years, until the children are bigger and I can spend some time on my stuff. So, it’s hard because it’s like a continuous everyday fight for a piece of space where I can rest or do something I like but that doesn’t necessarily involve my kids (like simply reading a book). Some days it seems impossible and yet in my opinion, if children see parents doing some creative work, or exercising it actually sets them a good example to follow – that we should devote some time to take care of ourselves.

Lifelong learning, passions, being physically active – many research studies have shown these aspects to be CRUCIAL to people’s happiness levels. Children want to see us happy rather than grumpy. I hope 😉

It’s the XXIst  century and we know that a woman’s place is not in the kitchen and that they have equal rights to their partners; more dads contribute to looking after children than ever before … and yet, there are many who judge women for being selfish and not putting 110% of their time solely into family life and childcare. This makes things worse because some women like me may not only struggle to find so-called ME TIME on an everyday basis but they also feel stigmatised by other people who don’t understand their need for personal development or perhaps don’t have any interests themselves. Some of you may say we shouldn’t care about the opinions of others and I agree but, on the other hand, we are social creatures and our emotions often trigger automatic reactions (like anxiety or anger) in our bodies before we have time to analyse and think logically about a situation. So we can try to not care but it isn’t always that easy. 

The concept of free time seems like an illusion, and yet, we all need some time to recharge.

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So yes, life with children is like a rollercoaster. If you are in a similarly extremely busy period of your life, are you able to find some time for yourself and do you use any time-management or organisational techniques that help you with your routine or perhaps the lack of it?pastedGraphic.png I have a magnetic calendar on my fridge that I can’t imagine life without! 😉 All appointments, events, birthdays, and reminders go there. Oh dear, I would be so lost without it! I’d love to hear how you deal with this! 🙂

Attitude is the KEY

I’ve started to exercise a little and drink a lot more water recently and this helps me to stay more positive and energetic for longer during the day. A friend of mine said that she would also like to start exercising to lose her post-pregnancy weight but I’ve noticed that quite often she feels overwhelmed, as though losing a bigger amount of weight while looking after two small children is almost like mission impossible.

I think that the first thing that bring us closer to reaching our goals is our ATTITUDE. Your mindset, attitude and outlook are more than critical in reaching your goals. Any goals that you set for yourself.

Without the right mindset and positive attitude you won’t ever start. Without them, what else will keep you motivated during your journey? How will you overcome any problems and challenges?

Try to not worry too much about the current situation if it isn’t the best and focus on what you can do to change this. Attitude can take you a long way. It can help you to “move mountains” and, as Robert T. Kiyosaki said in his book “Rich Dad Poor Dad”, remember that your thoughts are actually responsible for creating your life. You CAN live the life you want. You CAN do what you enjoy and achieve what you dream about.

The attitude is the key and this is emphasised by many successful people too.

You’ve probably heard or read some famous quotes, such as the one by Henry Ford:

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”

The best book I’ve ever read in the field of psychology, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck (available here), also stresses how the way you look at things and respond to different situations is important because this determines whether you will be (or rather allow yourself to be) a successful and happy human being.

Negative situations, bad circumstances, not enough resources (such as time or money) – that happens to EVERYONE in the world. EVERYONE. Yet, some people achieve a lot, even though it looks like everything is against them, even though they have no money and not much time etc. and some others choose (consciously or not) to use these unsatisfactory aspects and lack of resources as excuses.

An incredibly successful writer no-one had heard of around a decade ago, Haruki Murakami, had a full-time job and family, and hadn’t really much time for writing but enjoyed it so much that one day he decided he would spend 2 hours on writing every day after work. Now Haruki, whenever he decides to write a new book, gets up very early in the morning and spends 4-6 hours on writing. Every single day for a few weeks: 4-6 hours daily! Do you remember how energy draining and at the same time how rewarding it feels when you write a long essay? Haruki admits that spending so much time on writing his books is hard but without that he wouldn’t achieve his goals. And achieving goals is incredibly satisfying 😉 What’s interesting, although he is already 69, is that he enjoys running a lot and takes part in marathons. It helps to clear his mind, increase his energy and improve the creativity that is needed to write great books!

Image result for haruki murakami

Getting the right attitude is a crucial step before we decide what our priorities are and make plans!

You can do more than you think you can with a bit of hard work and consistency. You will need to get inspired and motivated. You will need to spend some time on your goals. You may need to make some sacrifices BUT remember that wherever you are right now, if you don’t know where to start, and if your situation looks overwhelming – you start with your attitude. You think of your outlook first.

How to improve your mindset and get the right attitude?

Try to keep all the negative thoughts away.

Try meditation.

Try to worry less.

Try to stay inspired and motivated by others and the things they create.

Try to connect/re-connect with nature as much and as often as you can.

Try exercising a bit every single day to stay energetic and positive for longer!

There is a lot you can do to improve your mindset and start working on your goals with the right attitude.

Just remember what the KEY is!

 

How I discovered some new passions

White Printing Paper Near Black Computer Keyboard

I haven’t written for a while because since giving birth to my second child I have been having a few sleepless nights, lots of responsibilities and little time for anything. I don’t like to use time as an excuse so maybe I should re-word it and say that I had time but there were other priorities for me. Even organising my house better was more important than reading and writing for a while. Cleaning doesn’t seem as productive and developing as writing or reading but hey… sometimes we need to be flexible and change our priorities for a while because there is often a lot more on our plates than just taking care of our hobbies.

I’ve always tried to ensure that my passions don’t get pushed aside and that my life won’t be taken over by mundane activities, such as cooking, shopping, cleaning and work; but I guess sometimes we can control our lives a bit more than other times as it is more complex than we may want, especially if we live with people that depend on us in some way.

Anyway, the responsibilities I have had haven’t only been the boring or hard ones after all. With the birth of my second child I had to devote a large proportion of my days to taking care of children: changing nappies and breastfeeding the little one and finding & making up some games and activities I could do with my 4-year-old daughter so I could still spend some quality time with her, and hopefully make her less jealous of the new mini-boss in da house! 😉 It actually turned out better than I thought it would – more fun, more interesting. Even though I’m in my 30s I’ve been learning a lot while doing some science experiments and different activities with my child.

Did you know, for example, that adding some hot water to skittles can create a beautiful rainbow?

And that mixing bicarbonate of soda and vinegar will create a little volcano that your child will love? And that adding a bit of vanilla extract will get rid of all the vinegar smell in your house when you are doing this experiment?

Did you know that foam sheets such as those soaked in water for a bit can stick to your window for up to 48 hours? I cut a lot of small pieces in various shapes for my daughter so she could create people, robots, flowers and anything else that her imagination came up with!

Adding food colouring to pasta, rice or shaving foam can be a lot of fun too, especially for a pre-schooler who is still discovering new textures and shapes and exploring the variety the world offers.

Colorful Sweets

I bought some books with screen-free activities and our days have become more colourful and enjoyable than ever before! 😉 The book I like the most is 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids: The Very Best and Easiest Playtime Activities from FunAtHomeWithKids.com!

What’s more, I’ve created an Instagram account where I share some of these activities. I have family living in different countries – mainly in Poland and Brazil but also some in the USA, and it feels great when they can see what my daughter and I have been up to sometimes! 😉

If you would like to get some ideas for children’s activities have a look at my new Instagram page and follow us there: https://www.instagram.com/nathikc/ and don’t forget to let me know what you think about the activities!

BETTERING YOURSELF – a healthier perspective

achievement, confident, free

I have always enjoyed reading and learning about different aspects which contribute to our personal development: motivation, consistency, passion, grit, being prepared to face and learn from failures, accepting that we make mistakes, etc. I think this list can be endless as personal growth is a multifaceted, lifelong process. However, we aren’t perfect creatures and we can’t adhere to all these hundreds of rules and meet all the requirements all the time because we wish to grow successfully throughout our life. There are thousands of pieces of advice out there on the internet, TV, in magazines – each tells us something different:

– “To be able to improve yourself you MUST get up at 4am!”

– “To achieve success you HAVE TO sleep for 7-8hrs a day and be ready and prepared, ahead of your competition, all the time”

– ”To change your habit for a better one you NEED TO eat healthier/meditate and exercise more/be more confident/ work when others sleep”

There are LOTS of pieces of advice as to what we should do and what we must do, and what we definitely should not be doing, to make sure we are better human beings. BETTER … but what does it really mean?

When is the moment when you know that now you are good enough? Nobody seems to be talking about that …

Where are the boundaries to make sure that we are not getting trapped into perfectionism?

We aren’t and can’t be PERFECT but on the other hand humans have this inner drive and desire towards bettering themselves constantly.

To tackle this problem, I believe that allowing ourselves time to reflect, review and consider our values, goals and plans is crucial. Otherwise it’s easy to forget what we wanted to achieve and what we are really aiming for, and stress too much about the process and try to do more and better, and faster.

It’s important to take care of your personal development indeed, but it shouldn’t mean joining the rat race. Let others be part of it. You don’t need to be better in every single area of your life. Life is not a marathon or a competition. It’s about the journey, the process, the very moments when you are here and now. Let’s enjoy it a bit more.

How to cut out all meaningless stuff?

Yellow and White Ceramic Coffee Mug on Brown Wooden Surface With Black Eyeglasses

There are many tempting things in the world!

Every week try to cut off or limit something that doesn’t matter much to you but takes up your time—it may be complaining, Facebook, TV, gossiping or worrying about the future. Don’t feel bad though if you procrastinate a bit sometimes; according to research this is normal and everyone does it. It’s important not to feel guilty about it and make sure that it doesn’t take too much of your time and attention.

It’s easy to get into meaningless chats or meet with negative people not because we really want to but because for some reason we feel we should. When you start to say NO to some invitations you may lose some friends. But then, are they real friends if they don’t understand your need to work on something important to you so you can’t hang out with them as much as you used to?

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The average adult person who has children has for themselves only around 2 hours a day. Due to lack of energy these 2 hours are often spent in front of the TV in the evenings. Think how you can organise this time differently. Surely you need to rest a bit but, to tell the truth, TV isn’t a good method for gaining more energy. Maybe you could allow only half an hour a day for TV (and occasionally watch a film, say at weekends) and spend the remaining time on some exercises, such as yoga from a YouTube channel.

Exercise is a very effective cure for fatigue.

Way too often we spend our time also on… looking for different things. Try to be organised and dedicate a week or a whole month to de-cluttering your house. Plan what you will do each day to tidy your stuff up. A method by Marie Kondo is very popular and helpful nowadays. Have you heard of it yet?

  • Try to find a place for everything in your home and group things together. Don’t keep coins or hairpins in a lot of different places at home. One type of item = one place at your home.
  • Organising your clothes (including the ones in the laundry and in any other place at home), on the same day works wonders. Put into a bin everything you haven’t used for a few years but think that you “might use it one day’. If you didn’t need something for 4 years, do you really think you will need it now or in the near future?
  • Many of your documents, notes, and other similar things also could go in the bin. Don’t deceive yourself; some of these things you will never use or need again!

Try a meaningless stuff diet and see how well it tastes! 😉

How to avoid distractions?

A simple distraction such as a notification (often not important at all!) on your mobile means that each time you lose your focus and, according to studies, need 4 to 15 minutes to concentrate and motivate yourself again to keep working effectively on your tasks!

It was found that office workers are distracted every 3 minutes on average!

Data from 2016 indicated that 3 out of 4 employers believe that every day an average employee loses 2 hours of work due to distractions. While you are doing your work, write down all the distractions that happen for a week or two and analyse them. Think what you could do to minimise or avoid them!

We get easily distracted when we are tired. Remember about taking regular breaks, going for a walk and catching some fresh air. Breathe, eat well, drink a lot of water and some green tea. These SIMPLE (but often neglected!) pieces of advice will help you to stay calmer, more focused and more patient.

If you can, and surely sometimes you can, turn your mobile off or change it to airplane mode.

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One of the greatest pieces of advice, although quite difficult to follow at first, is to get up earlier to avoid distractions: requests, phone calls, noise, notifications, and questions from others! You’d be amazed how much meaningful work can be done in the early morning hours. Don’t get up earlier to catch up with emails or to clean your home! Get up earlier to do something creative, something that’s meaningful for you, something that will give you exceptional results and will bring you closer to achieving your goals. Write, read, work on your business or project, for example. This is a precious time.

If you get up 1 hour earlier every day you will gain 7 extra hours for something that matters to you! How does that sound? Seven quiet precious hours. I had a long period of time when I was able to get up 2 hours earlier than usual. That’s 14 hours a week! Now while in advanced pregnancy I have had to change my schedule because of the need for more sleep. Remember, not every piece of advice will work the same for everyone but I can say that this tip which I read about in What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfastby Laura Vanderkam (available here) made a huge improvement in my life.

Experts advise that to change your habit and make this morning routine easier, ideally, you should get up at the same time every single day. If you allow yourself to sleep longer at weekends, then you’ll feel that it’s more difficult to get up early during weekdays.

If you feel it’s too difficult to do this, maybe try a shorter period of time; for example, 30 mins extra in the morning—that will also make a difference. Just remember to make sure that you still can sleep 7-8 hours a day.

Some people like to have their Power Hour in the morning so they can feel they’ve achieved something before everyone else gets up. Power Hour means that you dedicate one hour where you put 100% effort into a dedicated project, activity or task. Or it may mean for  some people, for example: 20 mins spent on some creative work, 20 mins of reading and 20 mins of exercising. Check what will work best for you. Knowing that you achieve something early in the morning will make you more satisfied and put you in a more positive mood which will last for hours during the day.

Energy-draining forms of resting

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Yes, you read this correctly. Some activities seem to be helping us to relax but actually drain a lot of our energy because they need a great deal of attention and focus.

For example, using the Internet may seem like fun but as you know it’s a really huge time waster and energy and attention drainer! Funny videos on You Tube may feel like a great way to relax because they make you smile or laugh but it’s a bit like eating chocolate—it works only for a moment and after such a break you actually feel more tired.

The Apple company confirmed in 2016 that their device users unlock their phones 80 times a day on average. This means 6 to 8 times an hour! Sounds unbelievable, right? Make a simple experiment. You can check how much time you waste on your phone by using one of these apps: Checky, Menthal or the recently created AntiSocial. These apps will allow you to see a lot of different interesting information about your phone usage. For instance, AntiSocial will show you if you use your phone or social media more or less when compared with someone who has a similar demographic as you. Researchers advise the use of one of these apps for around 2 weeks to be able to see a more accurate reflection of your real habits.

It is important to be aware how much time we waste on the Internet or on our phone, especially when it’s associated with factors such as low self-esteem, depression, insomnia and, of course, contributes to our delaying or failing to achieve our personal goals.

Many of us say that we have NO TIME. Check the results of your phone, tablet and PC usage and think again – do you really lack time or can you use your time more effectively?

Spending time with SOME people is another activity which looks like a form of resting but may actually drain a lot of your energy. You perhaps don’t feel like meeting some people but at the same time you think you probably should see and speak to them (family friends; a colleague that you see once or twice a year because neither of you feel you should call each other more often; a work colleague that you don’t really like or can’t trust but you feel you should sit with them during lunch time). Meeting people just for the sake of it and having some meaningless conversations can be really energy draining. It is often more about being polite and pretending than being really interested in socialising or what another person wants to tell you.

Try a brisk walk, mindfulness, stretching, or reading a book instead! Did you know that only 6 minutes of reading can decrease your stress level by nearly 70%? 

If you think of different activities during your usual week you may find more things like that. Surely watching TV is one of the examples.

What activities actually make you feel better, more confident, stronger, more optimistic and creative? Think what things make you feel like you have more energy and do them WAY MORE OFTEN!

What about unimportant meaningless stuff—don’t waste your precious time on it. Don’t let others decide what may be good for you. Don’t do things just to satisfy others and just because something may look good. Often no-one will remember and care. You have only one precious life and really, you should live it the way you want to.