You already know I'm a huge fan of Laura Vanderkam's books on time management. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of her new e-book, What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend: A Short Guide to Making the Most of Your Days Off.
It was a short, easy, and useful book, which I read on my smartphone over the course of a few sessions nursing BabyM. Don't be put off by the title - this isn't about becoming a CEO and aspiring to some crazy life where you sleep in 15 minute chunks to maximize your working time.
It's got an interesting premise - in order to have a relaxing weekend, you have to put some effort into planning things. I would have disagreed with this before kids, but now with an infant and a preschooler, it's imperative that we structure our (weekend) days. (Right now, technically every day is a weekend for us, until T's preschool starts again.) When we don't, it seems that we waste time and/or get on each others' nerves, and before we know it, we're in the thick of the dinner-bedtime routine and another day has passed without much to show for it.
Vanderkam calls these activities "meaningless somethings" which captures it spot-on - halfheartedly doing laundry or dishes, the endless stream of putting things away and preparing/cleaning up meals, or grabbing some empty Internet time while the baby sleeps or the preschooler is playing by herself.
The book has lots of great suggestions for planning a weekend that's both fun and productive. One thing we do already is planning a few "anchor events" for each weekend. Our family threshold for feeling overscheduled is pretty low, so we typically have 1-2 events planned for a weekend, but others could plan something for all the mornings, afternoons and evenings from Friday night through Sunday night and still have plenty of time to do the other things that *need* to get done.
One tip I really want to try is having dedicated time for planning the week ahead. I used to do this pre-kids but got out of the habit with our new crazy schedule. I think it would be awesome to do this with TJ, or also with T, just like we did with our Holiday Fun List.
Vanderkam's writing itself is great - clean and efficient, while still making what could be a very dry topic interesting. She interviews a wide range of people for real-life examples and all are relatable in *some* way.
When I read particularly good fiction, I often highlight quotes that I love. I don't expect to do this with a non-fiction book, so I was totally caught by surprise reading the last chapter. Rather than giving more concrete tips and suggestions, it focuses on the fact that our weekends are finite, our children are only little once, and how holidays should be filled with memory-making activities.
This part made me tear up a little: "September brings a melancholy sense of time passing, as my oldest child is off to kindergarten, the three-year-old starts preschool, and even the baby turns daily into a little girl who laughs and stumbles toward her first steps. In the photos from last Labor Day she was simply a very round belly. Now we've gotten to know the sweet, toddling child once contained in that roundness." Sniff. Lovely.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book, and the price is right at only $3 - less than one Starbucks drink. It's short enough that you can read it before the first weekend in 2013. Let me know what you think! Enjoy, and happy weekends to you!