I absolutely LOVE to read. Books bring me joy through life’s everyday moments, comfort on a hard day, make me feel less alone in the world, and have inspired me to both discover who I am and then make choices to be more in integrity with that version of myself. I am not lying when I say books have transformed my life. I read the Enid Blyton boarding school series in middle school which inspired me to convince my parents to send me to a boarding school in India (from UAE) at 13 when there was no internet and cell phone and I’d only stay connected with them over letters. That experience changed my life in small and big ways and I am so grateful to my brave parents to let me go on that life-changing adventure…
Speaking of books and reading, I am sharing my perspective on Laura Vanderkam’s latest book – Tranquility by Tuesday. I had the honor of receiving an early copy and highly recommend the book to anyone with a full life with many balls in the air that can sometimes feel too chaotic, transactional, and devoid of joy. I had a rare kid-free weekend when I was traveling solo and the book was so good I read it in 2 days!
My favorite part about the book was its basic premise and foundation which was around making time for what matters and how we can bring joy and ease, especially in the intense and full seasons of our life. This book is not about how to hustle and “do more” for the sake of being productive but rather inspiring and guiding the reader around small, simple, and accessible practices to include more of what matters and drop the ball on what doesn’t. The book will make you feel seen for the intensity, unpredictability, and chaos of modern living, especially for those of us with big dreams for ourselves, our families, and our worlds.
The book is full of real-life examples from other humans who participated in her research so all you data geeks will find a lot of evidence for her recommendations. I also love the fact that her guidance is not about perfection but rather about making progress and the recognition that living with intention and integrity is a lifelong practice and in a beautiful way embodies a lot of self-compassion. I have been a longtime fan of Laura’s writing and podcast and if you are in a full season with work, family, and other responsibilities and aspirations, this book will give you hope, inspiration, and practical guidance on living a more fulfilled life that has room for the many moving parts in our lives.
The book contains 9 simple, practical, and effective rules. As I reflected on them, I realized depending on the season and stage of my life I am in, some have been applied better than others. In this current season here’s how I am doing and what’s helping me stay on track and what’s on my wishlist!
Give yourself a bedtime – Go to sleep at about the same time every night unless you have a good reason not to.
I am generally really good with this as I go to bed with my kids, typically between 8:30 and 9:30 pm. I never thought I’d be that mom but I STILL co-sleep (by choice mostly!) with my 8 and 6-year-old boys and that means I am really well rested on most days. I have had seasons of insomnia and I breastfed my kids for almost 2 years each while also working full-time so I am deeply savoring this season acutely aware of what a gift this is.
Plan on Fridays – Think through your weeks, holistically, before you’re in them.
I do this most (not all!) weeks and it makes a world of difference not just from a work and logistics standpoint but also when I think of joy and fulfillment. Thinking ahead about holidays, volunteering, birthdays, camping trips, and gatherings with friends and family gives me double the joy – that of anticipation as well as the actual joy of the activity itself.
Move by 3 pm – Do some form of physical activity for ten minutes in the first half of every day
I have lately been good about this. Sometimes it is a 30 min walk/hike or online barre class. Sometimes, it is a series of 5 and 10-minute breaks. I have lately been walking to a coffee shop a few times a week and I try to move for a couple of minutes every hour and it’s both energizing but also grounding as the weather is gorgeous as we are welcome fall.
Three times a week is a habit – Things don’t have to happen daily to become a part of your identity, and “often” can be more doable than “always”
I LOVE the premise of this because we can so easily get caught up in the perfection spiral or set a goal so big that achieving it feels so tough and guess what we don’t even try. Here is what’s on my stretch list for this season.
— Solo time with each kid and spouse – 15 mins counts!
— Seated Meditation – I am good with other forms of meditation and spiritual practice and most weeks I do a seated meditation a few times a week but want to be more intentional about this!
Create a backup slot – Make a resilient schedule where your priorities still happen, even when life doesn’t go as planned
I like the premise here though I am in a season where I tend to have open slots and a lot more flexibility that allows me to move things around and be intentional about what goes above/below the line. There is a lot that still doesn’t get done both for work and outside of it but is typically more of an intentional choice or a function of distraction or lack of focus at certain moments. So I do follow this advice but not in the same way as Laura suggests!
One big adventure, one little adventure – Each week, do at least two things that will be worth remembering
This always happens, yay! Planning ahead means there are always adventures happening in our world. Weekdays are not always as adventurous and scheduled but my life at this time feels sufficiently joyful, spacious, and intentional that I am not aiming to make any changes here.
I love this one because of its emphasis on putting joy, fun, and play on our lists, something that can often be an afterthought or unfortunately often below the line in many, many seasons of our lives. I am glad Laura is reminding us that even a few hours of play, making memories, and breaking up our routines can spark so much joy.
Take one night for you – Commit to an activity you love that is separate from work and household responsibilities
Ah, I don’t do this right now but have in many previous seasons. This is partly because I am not dying to do something I can’t do at the moment. I do take sufficient breaks from the family and responsibilities, especially on weekend mornings and my husband runs the regular weekday morning so I can often go for an early morning hike or start my day at a coffee shop at 6:30 in the morning (like I did today!).
But again, I love this emphasis especially as our culture doesn’t encourage adults especially mothers to cultivate interests outside of work and family. If this topic intrigues you, I’d also highly recommend Eve Rodsky’s Find Your Own Unicorn Space.
Batch the little things – Keep most of your schedule clear from the unimportant tasks
I will confess this one isn’t my superpower in this season. In previous chapters when I had so much more to do, I was much better or rather more strategic about where I’d fit in the little things so I have room to turn up the dial here.
Effortful before effortless – Do active leisure activities before passive ones whenever time opens up.
This one was interesting. I can definitely do better with my phone and the internet on my computer. Having so many interests and sources of inspiration mean I can get easily lose track of what’s at hand. Sometimes, that’s a gift and I have discovered many new literal and metaphoric adventures along the way but I need a lot of structure and support to make things intentional. I almost always keep books on all my reading avenues (kindle, audible, paperback). I don’t have social media on my phone but can sometimes cheat and use my browser to log in and I am learning to disable chrome. I also have timers for apps on my phone and often keep my phone in airplane mode. I also have freedom installed so I can block certain parts of the internet so when I take a break I don’t default to the internet and can move instead.