Lessons from a time management expert

Having children causes many lifestyle changes, but I think one of the toughest for people is that it becomes harder to make up sleep on the weekends. We all like to stay up a little later on weekends because hey, we don’t have to be up for anything in the morning! And yet little kids are still likely to be up early because they just are. You can trade off with your partner, or you can build in naps to the schedule — and you should — but both require planning and coordination.

The good news is that the weekend schedule does eventually open up somewhat. When I analyzed time logs for I Know How She Does It, which featured women with kids of all ages, I found that people averaged 7.3-7.5 hours of sleep on various weekdays, and then 8.1 hours on Saturdays and 8.6 on Sundays.

I am still in the baby/toddler stage myself, and it shows on my time logs from the past year. There was a much tighter range:

SLEEP HOURS BY DAY

  • Monday: 7.35
  • Tuesday: 7.54
  • Wednesday: 7.17
  • Thursday: 7.42
  • Friday: 7:15
  • Saturday: 7:57
  • Sunday: 7.61

In other words, while I am right with the I Know How She Does It average on weekdays, I am a reasonable bit under on weekends, including a whole hour under on Sundays. I have a line in some of my speeches about why we should think in terms of 168 hours, not 24: “What’s a normal day for you, is it Tuesday or is it Saturday? They both occur just as often, and they both have the same number of hours, but if I looked at you on those days, I’d get a very different picture of your life.” Except that in my life, when it comes to sleep, Tuesdays and Saturdays are basically identical. I am getting the amount of sleep I need, but partly because I am quite regimental about it. I would like to go to bed later on weekends, but I can’t do so without consequences.

(Unless I am in a hotel room by myself. Then all bets are off!)

Work is a slightly different beast. My days did not look identical there, but even so, I can see that the work days are shorter than I might ultimately like (especially Fridays — I had no childcare for a big chunk of the year’s Fridays), and hence Saturday and Sunday are seldom zeroes.

WORK HOURS BY DAY

  • Monday: 7.74
  • Tuesday: 7.30
  • Wednesday: 7.45
  • Thursday: 7.15
  • Friday: 4.46
  • Saturday: 1.44
  • Sunday: 1.77

There were only 43 days during the year that I did not work. Kid events during the weekdays shorten these days and make me spread out the work onto weekends and holidays to average 40 hours/week (during non-vacation weeks — it was 37.40 overall). There is a lot of work-life integration in my life. It is how I make the pieces all fit.

 

 


A version of this article originally appeared on Laura Vanderkam’s website