Here's a crazy truth: I've been back at work for longer than I was on maternity leave! I feel like a broken record when I keep mentioning how time is flying - is this just adulthood? It seems to be happening to all of us these days!
Actually, this little life hack is not just for working moms. It's not even just for moms. It's for everyone who has ever felt like achieving balance in life is the work of Sisyphus (trying to roll a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down, over and over again). And here goes: If you look at life in 3 month intervals, it (usually) all balances out.
It's kind of like not seeing the forest for the trees - if you look at the last 3 months from an aerial view, it will look less like individual days (/trees) where you didn't spend enough time with your kids, or screwed something up at work, or didn't get to wash your hair for way too long... it'll look like an actual forest, with some shorter trees and some taller trees, some skinny trees and some super lush trees, some trees that may have gotten bent way out of shape in a recent storm and others that withstood the same storm completely untouched. In other words, if you zoom out of your daily grind and look at the big picture, you can get a lot more satisfaction out of your life and won't sweat the little things as much.
I've attended my fair share of meetings and talks on work-life-balance, "making it work", "having it all", you name it. What most of them boil down to is just being really efficient and organized. You know, the kind of advice where you meal-plan and outfit-plan on the weekend, get up at the same time every morning (without snoozing!) for your workout, fit in networking events, actual work, weekly manicures (because you're a woman and need to look put together) and baby snuggles and somehow also do some actual parenting between the hours of oh, I don't know, 8:45 am and 8:55 am...
I have to say, I aspire to be the person who has her s*** together to that degree, I really do, but let's face it - inevitably, life happens and throws off my meticulous schedule. It starts with something as mundane as planning to wear my suede boots and it ends up raining. Or Magnus is up all night and I barely slept an hour, so I get in some extra Z's in the morning. Then there are also the days or weeks when work is so insane that I barely eat or sleep, let alone the giant pile of laundry that is calling my name from the bedroom corner.... and those other days or weeks where work is unexpectedly so slow, I find myself looking for new projects. It happens. You (or at least I...) can't plan everything.
Instead of feeling like a failure for not sticking to the schedule, the 3 months trick has brought a level of zen to my life that, as a New York resident, is honestly eerie sometimes. Like, should I be more stressed out about subway delays? Should I get madder at slow walking people on the sidewalk? Should I feel like an underachiever when I am not in the office until 11 pm on the reg? Should I not experience crippling anxiety when reading about ingredients in store-bought baby food? AM I EVEN A NEW YORKER IF I FEEL SO CHILL????
Jokes aside, zooming out has really, really been a blessing for me in finding my peace through the several reinventions it took to get pregnant, become a mom and then become a working mom, so I wanted to share it with you.
And if you are wondering where I got it from, a while back, I went to a Mindr event where Lauren Smith Brody, the author of the book "The Fifth Trimester" was the speaker. It was one of my favorite Mindr events, if not one of my favorite talks I've ever listened to! The book provides some amazing guidance for moms returning to work after maternity leave. It's called "The Fifth Trimester" because after three trimesters of pregnancy, followed by the "fourth trimester" which is the whirlwind of the first 3 months of baby's life, going back to work, aka the "fifth trimester" is yet another huge adjustment. By the time the fifth trimester hits, you are basically already used to thinking about life in 3-month-increments. Hence the 3 month trick. Thank you, Lauren Smith Brody!