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  • Writer's pictureanniecarpenter

Mothertime Law

A blog post written in the duration of one nap.*

I was listening to Radio 4 the other day and they mentioned ‘Parkinson’s Law’, namely the rule that ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’. It may have been originally formulated in jest as a dig at overburaucracy, but for me there’s something in it.

I’ve always been interested in work, time and productivity, possibly because I’m a procrastinator and will inevitably leave anything hard to the last minute. I’ve spent years trying to change this. My biggest test was doing an Open University degree. Every few weeks I would suffer the stress of having to complete an assignment in very little time. Every time I would swear never to leave it so late again, but this continued for the full 8 years!

I was terrified that having a child would tip me over the edge - that I’d never get anything done and be confined to a life of half-finished projects and good intentions. It’s true, I have much less free time. As Katherine Akey muses in her IN Motherhood post, you really can’t get anything done while a baby is awake. Cole needs constant supervision, especially now he’s at the exploration stage, pushing the limits of his own body and space. A whole new world has opened up to him and he currently has three bruises on his head to prove it.

But despite this, I can’t say that I’m getting much less done than I was before. Mothertime is a kind of magic. It allows great focus for a small amount of time. Whereas before I would labour over any piece of writing for weeks, now I can get it done in 40 minutes. Is the quality as high? Possibly not, but it’s certainly not that much lower considering the time saved.

So, with a nod to Parkinson, I’d like to introduce the ‘Mothertime law’: an understanding of time where work contracts to fit into the space left around childcare. If only the Civil Service of 1955 which inspired Parkinson had known about this productivity hack...

What else could I get done in the time it takes for Cole to nap?

*I also tidied, hoovered, checked my emails,put some clothes away, made a coffee and pondered for a bit!


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