Episode 5

#5 Reframing Busyness in Motherhood The Matrescence Podcast

During this discussion Kelly and Bree analyze what "busy" means to them. Together they explore the difference between "time" and "capacity," and how to figure out if you are operating over capacity. This is not an episode with quick snappy suggestions about "how to have more time in your day" or "how to be more productive." It is a thoughtful  discussion that involves unpacking where our beliefs about busyness originated from, who do they serve, why do mothers so often feel burnout and unappreciated and what we can do about it. This episode will help you to  consider how being productive is linked to your identity and to make sure you are spending your days in a way that truly adds value to your life. It is the perfect antidote to the current hustle culture that is infiltrating motherhood.  Key Themes: Busyness, Motherhood, Working Mothers, value


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Kelly: [00:00:00] The birth of a baby is a defining moment in a woman’s life. 

[00:00:15] Bree: [00:00:15] But what about the birth of a mother? That’s right 

[00:00:18] Kelly: [00:00:18] when a baby is born. So two is a mother. 

[00:00:21] Bree: [00:00:21] This transition from woman to mother has a name it’s called Matrescence. 

[00:00:26] Kelly: [00:00:26] This developmental stage is as powerful and irreversible as adolescence, and yet few women have ever heard of it.

[00:00:32] Bree: [00:00:32] So let’s talk about it. 

[00:00:34] Kelly: [00:00:34] Let’s talk about it. Each episode, we will bring you honest and thought provoking conversations, evidence-based research and knowledgeable guests in order to help you emerge a more powerful and aligned version of yourself. 

[00:00:47] Bree: [00:00:47] So join us, your hosts, Kelly and Bree, as we attempt to make sense of Al Matrescence journey and to help you make sense of yours.

[00:01:01] So. Kelly. And I have been talking lately about what kind of content we want to bring out. And with season one, we felt really drawn to putting together a series of podcasts that would show you who we are and what we’re here to talk about. , so we sat down and we wrote a list of, we have about 80 topics that we’d like to cover.

[00:01:25] , But then this week, we kind of realized that what is going to be most authentic for us and therefore what will connect best are topics that are relevant to our own life at the moment. Things that we’re kind of currently struggling with or working through or, , embracing in our own life. And so Cal put the question to me earlier this week, what feels relevant?

[00:01:52] For you right now. , and a couple of things pop to mind, but one that immediately stood out was busy-ness the concept of busy-ness. , and it’s something that I’ve been grappling with a lot this year. So. That was kind of what led us to put this episode together. 

[00:02:11] Kelly: [00:02:11] , and the irony of two people who already have quite full lives, adding something in like let’s put aside quality time to record a podcast, but realizing that that was so important to us to add that into the time really helps to bring that lens back to, well, what is busy and what does it mean?

[00:02:32] Bree: [00:02:32] Exactly. And trying to find the time to sit down and brainstorm an episode on busy-ness this week was so tough because we both lead really full lives. , but this is one of the things that is important to us and that we are really trying hard to carve out time for. , so it’s, it’s absolutely not going to be an episode with answers on how to live a slower paced life.

[00:02:56] And you’re not suddenly at the end gonna feel, , What’s the word I’m looking for? 

[00:03:03] Kelly: [00:03:03] Well, I think sometimes the first step is acknowledgement that validation of feelings, because we are all busy and it’s really a strong word. And out of it in the language that’s used or, you know, how are you doing? I’m really busy.

[00:03:19] Are you busy too? I feel busy. And I’ve been trying to find other words. So I find myself. When people say, how you going? My mind goes, I’m so busy and I think, no, stop, stop. Don’t use that word. What else can you say? You know, things are really feeling full right now. , you know, I certainly not bored, you know, I can often make a joke with myself because this busy-ness epidemic that we talk about.

[00:03:43] , yeah, it’s about, I guess, deliberate being deliberate. Is that a 

[00:03:51] Bree: [00:03:51] word? Yeah, I think so. And I think that. , what we wanted to get to the bottom of is what busy looks like for us. And if it’s something that we want to live in our life, maybe 

[00:04:05] Kelly: [00:04:05] rather than answers, what we’d like to do is validate the feelings of it and, and talk through some things that might’ve worked at certain times, things that are not working right now, , and sometimes create space, just say, Well, if there’s all this stuff we have to fit in, yes, there are tips and tricks you can use.

[00:04:27] But also a lot of times it’s about how we frame things. Like how do we think about the whole, you get one life, how do you make it count if this is just one day and I only have 12 hours in which to deliver, how do I, what am I going to do with that time that I will feel that it was quality. And I didn’t just wake up and rush through the day with busy-ness.

[00:04:47] So that’s where I talk about thinking about deliberateness. So yeah. Rather than simple answers, like, you know, be better, be faster, be stronger that you use these hacks to get through the day. Yeah. In some ways it’s bringing to the surface, the concept of consciously living your life. Yeah. And knowing that well right now, yeah.

[00:05:05] It’s more than I would have liked to have it fit into this day, but I choose that because it’s all important to me. And so I’m going to live with the business today. But tomorrow, maybe I don’t want it to 

[00:05:15] Bree: [00:05:15] be that full. Yeah. And I think that we are busier than ever, and there are so, so many resources out there on how to be more efficient, how to get more done, how to, , streamline certain tasks.

[00:05:29] But for me, it often just felt like another thing to do even minimalism the concept of it. Right. Initially made me busier it decluttering. It’s another thing to do. So I think that for us, it’s less about the processes and more about the thoughts behind it and how we feel about it and, , how we get to frame that conversation and think about.

[00:05:54] Being busy 

[00:05:55] Kelly: [00:05:55] like that, like my dirty secret of just shutting the door on the cupboard that I know I have to clean out and declutter, but I’m like, you know what, right now, is it more important for me to spend two hours DECA cluttering that room or just to shut the door and let it go? 

[00:06:08] Bree: [00:06:08] Yeah, for sure. And so what I wanted to kind of do today is talk through three particular phases in my life where I have felt busy and what that looked like for me and the lessons I learned from that time.

[00:06:23] And then subsequently, we’re going to talk about the, , the strategies we use in our life to reshape being busy and how we, , redefine what that means to 

[00:06:39] Kelly: [00:06:39] us, I guess. Yeah. And I think it’s an interesting intersection because in the planning for this, I realized that at a time in our lives where we felt we needed help.

[00:06:49] From overwhelmed and busy and you entered your version of busy and mine were actually very different paces. And so that in itself was a really defining moment and a like aha moment for me about, , because I struggled with busy-ness, but my version of my speed of that is different to everyone else. And that’s part of the acknowledgement and process.

[00:07:10] So I think it’s a great thing to start with. Like, why don’t you talk through what those phases of your life of busy-ness are. And, uh, we can see where that 

[00:07:21] Bree: [00:07:21] goes. So to begin with prior to meeting Cal going way back in time, growing up, , we led an incredibly busy lifestyle, and I think that that comes with the territory of being one of four.

[00:07:35] We had a big family, , and we did. Many extracurricular activities. , without a doubt, my m was the busiest person. I know, and I think she really thrived under those conditions and she wanted to give us everything. And throughout primary school, we were involved in so many different sports and, , musical activities and extracurricular activities.

[00:08:05] And. , so for me growing up, I did diving, which was the time commitment of, uh, about three hours a day, five days a week. , I also did sports aerobics, which we did most lunch hours and then competed. , I did swimming training and competed in swimming club on Friday nights. , I played flute. I sung in choir and.

[00:08:32] While it’s exhausting, just listing those things now and reflecting on it at the time. I can’t say that I ever felt busy. , I felt like life was full, but they were things that I wanted to do. There was never any external pressure from my parents. Just. Unconditional support to do the things we wanted. , but as I said, I was one of four children and we were all doing that kind of vole.

[00:08:58] , so I think for many years, mom was like a taxi driver driving us back and forward and that kind of ebbed and flowed over the years, I think that there was different times in my life where for example, sport took a back seat, but, , School leadership positions became more prominent, but consistently throughout my childhood, I would say we were very busy people.

[00:09:29] , and that was what was role modeled to me. And I very much accepted that as normal, , and never questioned it. That was until I met you guys and. The irony of that situation is the fact that you guys were bringing me in. You were searching for a nanny, , to help combat busy-ness and overwhelm. And yet my experience of your family was that you were living quite a slow paced life.

[00:10:01] And my afternoons with the boys were very, very slow paced and we would. Literally spend an hour eating afternoon tea and chatting about the day the boys would play outside and run around while I would cook dinner. And we’d all sit down and eat that together. And that was such a novel concept to me because I can count on two hands the times in my childhood that I recall, , sitting down as a family at the dinner table.

[00:10:31] Because it was just not conducive to our lifestyle. So we were, three of us were competing in diving and we would finish training at 8:00 PM and then it was a case of rush home, eat dinner, and get to bed. , so it just wasn’t practical for us. Not that it’s something we didn’t value, but it was just not.

[00:10:52] Conducive to our lifestyle. , and I was sharing with Kelly before that 18 year old may was very judgmental about that. And at first I found myself really questioning that choice and, , having come from a background of sport, and that was such a defining thing in my life. I was shocked that the boys went involved in sport and that.

[00:11:19] They weren’t busy every afternoon and that they were just spending their afternoons running round sword, fighting in the backyard, doing what they wanted. But with time, I started to see the value of that and really notice that your boys needed that that’s exactly what they needed was to come home and decompress and by eating meals together, the conversations we had and the insight that I got into their days was incredible.

[00:11:50] And so I found myself questioning. , how I would do it myself and which side I was leaning towards. , and I think that’s an ongoing process. We, my little boys, only two, we’re not having to make these decisions just yet, but I think the answer for me is probably somewhere in the middle. Hmm. 

[00:12:14] Kelly: [00:12:14] Yeah. And it’s, it was such an interesting reflection for me because.

[00:12:18] When we bought you into our life, we felt like we didn’t have the space to give our boys the opportunity to do things. So the opposite happened as I was growing up, my parents were very parent focused on their own lives. So if we wanted to do sport, it was on us. It was on us to get ourselves there. It was upon us to get any tools we needed.

[00:12:40] So, you know, I played competitive volleyball, but I had to get myself up and out of the house and walk to school or beg for rides to go to competitions for my friend’s family, because my parents were not able to do that because they were busy in their own lives. And so I had this concept that I wanted to allow my kids to do just one sport.

[00:12:59] , and when I say just once, that’s partly selfishly, because I didn’t want it to be completely child-focused. We wanted to have a family. We want to have quality time. And I felt that we didn’t have enough space in our agenda to create for them to have their one sport, but also to have that free play.

[00:13:18] And that really slowed down and decompressing, particularly because as we will discuss throughout this, you know, my oldest childhood did have some special needs, which was part of the reason. And we felt that that life intensity was way too much. So, you know, our version of busy was different and actually much slower than your version of busy, but it still felt busy to us.

[00:13:42] And I think that’s a really interesting lens of, we wanted to create a bit of bubble of space of. Afternoons to eat properly, make good choices to play free, play, to have conversations. Uh, but in some ways I didn’t, I don’t think I could verbalize that at the time, but it’s not like I sat you down and said, this is what I want.

[00:14:01] I just was like, here’s some space, you know, fill it with. Love and the rest, it doesn’t really matter. 

[00:14:08] Bree: [00:14:08] Yeah. Yeah. And I think that we know how important that, that white space is for kids. It’s well, well-researched well-docented , and I don’t recall your boys ever being bored many days, I would say, Nope, go outside and play.

[00:14:22] I’m busy at the moment doing dinner and they were happy to do so, and they’d occupied themselves and use their imagination. And that was fantastic. , and the few times you did put them in school, Sports in that early states of us working together, they weren’t really that thrilled. You know, they didn’t seem to find anything that they were really drawn to and passionate about until later on down the track.

[00:14:46] And I guess that was kind of the difference in that we, we were pushing for this. We wanted to be making these commitments and doing these sports, whereas your boys might driven too at that time. 

[00:15:00] Kelly: [00:15:00] Yeah, absolutely. And so that version of busy-ness for us. And then when you became a parent yourself, you had the opportunity to reassess that lens because it’s a new type of busy.

[00:15:12] You’re not dealing with older children. You’ve moved back to having a baby and balancing those different commitments. So tell me about. What happened when you became a parent and then you went to the next phase of 

[00:15:23] Bree: [00:15:23] busy-ness. So I’ve been reflecting on this and it’s a tricky one. Cause I remember feeling both incredibly busy and overwhelmed and also bored, which is an interesting, , I guess paradox.

[00:15:39] , but when I became a mom, it was the first time that I hadn’t worked, , or being at uni or. Being educated in some capacity ever, essentially I’d graduated and gone straight into uni and I’d consistently worked in, studied, leading up to becoming a mom. And I really struggled with it because I’m someone who’s incredibly extrinsically motivated.

[00:16:07] And I felt like it was the first time in my life that I didn’t have anyone to. Validate me or give me feedback. There was no targets or, , any sense of achievement. It was just one day rolling into another. And I was incredibly motivated to be a good mom, but I felt I had no way to gauge that. So what kind of happened for me was aside from the general busy-ness of learning to be a mom and running a household for the first time, I think I gradually began to tie productivity to my worth.

[00:16:43] And I started to fill my days with things that were just not that important. , things like reorganizing pantries and making hmus from scratch and setting up baby sensory activities that I’d seen on Pinterest. And inevitably what would happen would be that my toddler would just tear them down or throw the food on the floor.

[00:17:09] And I think that. That was tough for me because I was trying to feel worthy and valuable and successful, but it wasn’t landing. I wasn’t feeling that my toddler certainly didn’t appreciate it. He was just as happy if not happier to eat peanut butter on toast. And what happened was that I began looking to my husband to validate me.

[00:17:36] And I wanted to hear that he recognized that, , I was cooking home cooked meals and attending music classes and that I was really going above and yeah. , because words of affirmation is my love language, but it’s not his. And I think he was coming from a place of your worth is inherent. It doesn’t increase or decrease.

[00:18:00] Based on your productivity. So he didn’t feel that he needed to give me that feedback. , but it was devastating for me. It’s still a sore point. I, I really seek that. , I guess external validation and 

[00:18:16] Kelly: [00:18:16] it’s touching on a whole different conversation about what is the identity we hold for ourself. And how does that change through different phases and that create recreating busy-ness was a place of comfort for you.

[00:18:30] Almost because you’d had this younger life busy means everything’s working. If I can fill my day with things that create outcomes. Whereas when you do become a parent and it for anyone who’s done it and the outcomes don’t look exactly the way you think, and you certainly there’s, there’s not a scorecard that matches the input that’s for sure.

[00:18:53] Bree: [00:18:53] Yeah. Not at all. And I think that, , Eventually, I just started to pair back. I was like, I’m exhausted and I can’t keep this up. And that was a period where I entered into really questioning. Are these my own values or are they ones that were handed down to me? And what’s the busy life look like to me? , and from that phase, I ended up, , I guess in enrolling in some volunteering and.

[00:19:23] Uh, signing up to go back to university and study to be a midwife. And that kind of entered into a whole nother phase of busy-ness for me. But, , the new parenthood was one that I definitely found challenging because as you were saying, there’s no, there’s no feedback. There’s no, the work is never done.

[00:19:42] It just is a continuous, , 

[00:19:47] Kelly: [00:19:47] and for context, , when you were, how old, when you fell pregnant, 

[00:19:51] Bree: [00:19:51] Oh, 21. I think 21. 

[00:19:54] Kelly: [00:19:54] Yeah. You know, in this day and age is quite at a young age. Most people are waiting longer statistics in Western societies waiting longer. And you know, I was 30 when I fell pregnant with my first child.

[00:20:06] And I, I remember having that overwhelming feeling of feeling of I’m 30 now. I kind of know stuff. I know how to, if I need to learn something, I know the process. I know the structure. Yeah. You know, I can do stuff. I know stuff. And then you go home with a baby and you know, nothing, nothing can prepare you.

[00:20:25] There was no reading, no research. You’re completely back to square. One of having this creature who you love because it’s yours. But actually there is no reward system because if you’re doing it all right, they still cry. They still poop. They still are unhappy with you. They still have challenges. And so it’s, it’s so confronting to your identity hugely.

[00:20:50] And when I did have my first child, I was. Working full time, right up until the day 

[00:20:54] Bree: [00:20:54] before. Yeah. Managing teams and implementing processes. No doubt. And it’s such a change of scenery to then be struggling with, with tasks. That seems so basic. Everyone does, no men were told it should come naturally, but it often doesn’t, it’s a whole new period of learning and yeah.

[00:21:15] Kelly: [00:21:15] Yeah. And I remember distinctly, you know, finishing work, having the baby. Going back to work after six weeks with the baby over my shoulder, uh, which is a whole nother discussion that we’ll get to it at another time and realizing that something had to give, because it was not making us all happy. Then the flip side was moving to a country environment where everything was a much from London to rural new south Wales, much slower pace.

[00:21:42] And I suddenly threw myself into that same, how do I feel that void? So, and I remember distinctly phoning my mother and saying. Mom, I have baked for the local field day. , I’ve had coffee with the ladies. I I’ve done all music lessons, all those baby things. Why am I still so unhappy? And she said to me, well, darling, maybe you’re just not cut out for that.

[00:22:07] And it was like a really distinct moment where it was like, what is it that you’re trying to do? To pour the career self into being a parent. So what are you trying to prove? So it was that whole making busy instead of making a life. So, yeah, which comes all the way back to your current phase where you’re, you’re still incredibly busy, but you’re busy from a point of view of deliberately wanting to make a life that’s fully enough for you.

[00:22:34] Bree: [00:22:34] Yeah. And I think that that’s something that we were discussing before. The difference between. , being chronically busy and adding things to your plate and wearing it as a badge of honor, which I think many moms fall into that trap. , and then the other side of it is just being busy, not by choice, but because these tasks are non-negotiable.

[00:22:56] And I think that there’s many reasons that you end up in that situation. , and it’s not always as simple as taking things off your plate saying no to things. , Sometimes you’re just genuinely busy and that’s a whole nother conversation. So let’s 

[00:23:16] Kelly: [00:23:16] frame about what is going on right now, and that will give us this conversation about busy now.

[00:23:24] So, uh, I think my life is pretty full and pretty busy. Uh, I’m a 40 something works full time and I’ve got two kids. I’ve got to help helper in the house, which is you. And. I do have a busy life. You have some works and uni family commitments, a toddler, or a husband who works. But what I realize is that in Australia and in general, in Western society, if we’re connected to technology, which the majority is the opportunities to have busier endless, because we have got this unbelievable fire hose of things coming at us all the time, which we can fill our life with.

[00:24:06] So. What I’m really interested in is that deliberateness of what are we going to fit in? And an example we talk about is we carve out time to do this in our life. So we still have space in which we want to do things we, I can spend this afternoon with my children. You know, you have your family, barbecue, which you make a commitment to join us Sunday.

[00:24:27] And it’s. It’s that reframing of busy-ness has a choice. What is it hours that I have in the day and what do I want to do with them? Because it’s the pipeline of things coming at us in society is endless that you could fill 

[00:24:45] Bree: [00:24:45] your life with it. Yeah, and I think it is a choice, but it’s also important to acknowledge that there are some non-negotiables and that’s a phase that I found myself in this year and something I really struggled with, , and spoke to my husband about was the fact that I was being very intentional about how I was spending my time.

[00:25:06] I was saying no to things that didn’t serve me or aligned with my values. And yet I was still so busy and. There weren’t a lot of things that I could actually take off my plate. I couldn’t just not parent. I didn’t feel like I could reduce my university workload anymore. , and that is something I found really hard because I felt very trapped by that.

[00:25:34] And where that left me was having to reframe it and. Change the way I thought about it, because I was constantly saying to myself and anyone who would listen, I’m so busy, I’m so busy and it’s true. I, I wasn’t, I am very busy, but that mindset was not serving me at all. It was just making me flustered and anxious.

[00:25:55] , and as you said, I think that it’s coming back to what choices do we get to make around that? And a way that I like to. Frame that is talking about time versus capacity. And that is what Cal was touching on. Before we lead very full lives. We have consistent consistently, , running from one task to another.

[00:26:22] And yet our weekends, we do make time to do things as a family. And we have put hours aside to record this podcast. And I think that that is acknowledging that sometimes your time and your capacity have very different. And I think that that’s a concept that can really serve you. , because for example, I’ve got a rule where I don’t do anything productive after 8:00 PM and I take that role very seriously.

[00:26:50] I almost never break it. , and there’s a couple of reasons there. The first one is that by 8:00 PM, I have been. Consistently busy the entire day from the moment my eyes open with my toddler nudging me at 6:30 AM, right through till 8:00 PM. If I can’t take a breather for one hour before I go to bed.

[00:27:11] When can I, and what kind of life am I living? , the second reason is capacity. I could sit down and do my uni work or record a podcast at 8:00 PM, but the quality of that work would be so low that I know that I’m better off using that time to nourish myself, get an early nights rest, and that I will be more productive the next day.

[00:27:37] Having done that. , and the third reason is just simply that I don’t sleep well. And for an hour of productivity, it’s not worth sacrificing having a poor night’s sleep and then being very unproductive the next day. So I think framing it in terms of capacity versus time really serves me because it allows me to make myself where I am and to acknowledge that.

[00:28:04] In the morning might be the time where I have capacity to exercise and at nighttime, after parenting and working all day, I don’t. , so it’s something that I use a lot in my own life. 

[00:28:17] Kelly: [00:28:17] Yes. Yeah. I, I do like that concept and a lot of it does come back to knowing yourself as well. And when other times. And phases that work best for you because, you know, if you want to research it, there’s all kinds of recommendations, like exercise in the morning, no exercise at night, you know, eat breakfast, et cetera.

[00:28:38] But, you know, I encourage you to experiment. I mean, experiment with yourself, what works, what feels good? You know, one of the things that I’ve been doing for the last six months or so as we’ve been in a fair bit of lockdown is. Saying to myself between 6:00 AM and 7:00 AM is my time. My children are now old enough that they don’t need me between 6:00 AM and 7:00 AM anymore, either because they’re still asleep, which one of my children usually is, or because they’re old enough to get up and look after themselves.

[00:29:06] So all of a sudden I’ve got that time back, which is one of my favorite times in the morning, which I like to, you know, do yoga or do some exercise or read, or sometimes it is just lie in bed and look out the window. But sort of in my mind, mentally my time. Because I used to be someone who would sort of bounce out of bed and go for a run and do busy-ness.

[00:29:26] And now I don’t want that intensity at that time in the morning, maybe because my life has changed and I had to recognize that and say, you’re not who you used to be anymore. And that now works for me. And then between seven and eight is kids time. And it’s like intentionally talking, spending time with them.

[00:29:45] And when we first got you into our lives, that was work time. You know, I would leave the house at six 30 or seven in the morning and hand over to you. And I would be on work time between seven and eight. So intentionally now feeling that hour of time feels like a lost productivity to work because I used to give that hour to work.

[00:30:03] But now I’ve said to myself, no, because actually I do. I think my capacity to work at that time is now. 

[00:30:09] Bree: [00:30:09] Yeah. And I think that it’s giving yourself permission, firstly, but it also ties into, I guess the next thing we want to talk about in, , the capacity you have in different seasons of your life, because something that has always served me is waking early.

[00:30:27] Doing some exercise or stretching having a cup of tea journaling starting my morning on my terms. And when I was as a new mom, that involved waking before my child so that I could nourish myself. And I think that that’s something that’s very popular. I hear it a lot. Like wake up before your baby does start your day, but my child was waking like six times through the night.

[00:30:52] So it was so incredibly unrealistic for me to get up at 5:30 AM. And sometimes I would successfully force myself to, but overwhelmingly that was not appropriate for that phase of life for me. And that’s, I think the risk in one size fits all approaches is they don’t acknowledge your capacity. And it was really hard because I wanted that and I knew it was good for me, but it was not realistic.

[00:31:21] Whereas now, , he’s now two and he does sleep in late. There’s more opportunity for me to do that. And I think I’m not where you are yet. , in terms of getting up to exercise Kellen, I sometimes exercise at my house because it’s not realistic for me to be out of the house at a gym class. At 6:00 AM. , and I think that acknowledging that is really empowering because it lets you see what’s realistic for you.

[00:31:51] And also that this is temporary, it’s a phase. And while you might not have the capacity to do these things right now in the future, there may be the opportunity to, 

[00:32:03] Kelly: [00:32:03] yes I do. I think that’s really important and I sometimes feel like I can write on. The parade of people with younger children, because, you know, they might say, oh, I’ve got, you know, I got a two year old now, how long before I can do X my bed.

[00:32:16] And I’ll be like, years, it’ll be years before you can do that. Yeah. I’m not being a doom stare about it. I’m not being negative, but let it go find something else because for you to actually contort yourself into the shape of that, whilst you have a family at this season, it’s probably not worth it. 

[00:32:36] Bree: [00:32:36] And I think.

[00:32:38] Seeing you guys in this phase at the moment where you now can do things without the kids and pop out for brief moments is so lovely for me because it’s kind of like light at the end of the tunnel. And instead of feeling like I’ll never have that, it’s a case of this is where I am lean into that and to make it work and the times where I’ve ignored that and tried to force myself, I’ve just ended up, ended up flustered and exhausted and, , I think that that’s part of knowing your capacity and something that Cal and I were talking about before is the difference between a full life and a busy life and what that means to you and what that looks like to you.

[00:33:25] And for me, a full life looks like being busy. 80% of the time I do gen genuinely like. Having a full life and lots of social commitments. I’m very much an extrovert. , once I cross over that 80%, I start to feel busy and I do not like being busy. What do you think your percentage is? You know, I’ve 

[00:33:50] Kelly: [00:33:50] really struggled with this question, uh, and framing in a different way.

[00:33:55] First. I think we’re both married to people whose threshold for busyness is much lower than ours. I think they mentioned, , you know, your husband’s at about 10%. Yeah. And I, when I first heard that I was like, whoa, that’s then I was thinking about my husband and I was like, I think he would love it. 10%. Yeah. Like that’s, you know, that’s definitely his style. 

[00:34:19] Bree: [00:34:19] It’s funny. Cause when I said to him, you know, I feel like you’re about 10%. What do you reckon he was like at best? Like that’s my man. 

[00:34:29] Kelly: [00:34:29] I know. I think I have to have this conversation. 

[00:34:32] Bree: [00:34:32] There’s a lot of similarities between the two. So it would be interesting to hear is this one.

[00:34:37] Kelly: [00:34:37] And what I mean, there’s a whole bunch of rabbit holes here, but the choice of partners who clearly, when they met us, we were way over the 80% already in our lives. It’s not like they met people who were at 10% and suddenly something changed. They met and fell in love with us, where we were clearly people operating at an 80 to 90% already.

[00:34:56] And there’s been times in my life where I’ve operated. Very very, , over and realizing that it was like, okay, I need to back down here. I need to back off. , what feels comfortable to me? I can see it changing. I think I’ve always been someone who’s been really comfortable at 90%. And I’d say I’m definitely working more towards a 70%.

[00:35:19] I’d like to be at a 70%. And 

[00:35:21] Bree: [00:35:21] I think, yeah, and I don’t know about you, but, , Assigning that percentage allows me to reflect on life at the moment and over the past year. And I would say that pretty consistently, I’ve been operating above that percentage. And I think that as we said, that’s the difference between full and busy and knowing that, , Gives me the information to make choices.

[00:35:45] Is this a phase of life where I’m happy to accept I’m busier than I would like, but it’s a means to an end, I’m working towards getting a degree. I’ve got a young toddler and I can just embrace that. Or is it a case of stepping back and reflecting and really making decisions to offload? And I did make one of those decisions this week when I, , Resigned from volunteering.

[00:36:09] And that was a really tough decision because it’s something that really enriches my life and I feel really passionate about it, but it is a time commitment of about three hours a week. And there are about 70 volunteers in the program. And I would be the youngest by, I’m going to say about. 30 years. The average age is definitely in the 60 to 70 region.

[00:36:35] And I think there’s a reason for that in that that is a phase of life where you have more time and there’s really a drive to give back. And when I started volunteering, I was only working a little bit. I wasn’t studying and I had the time, but life has changed for me. And I had to acknowledge that I don’t.

[00:36:56] I no longer have the time to give and that’s okay. And I just need to be grateful for that phase. And. 

[00:37:06] Kelly: [00:37:06] Yeah, I, yes. And the percentage thing is really powerful and I’m using it a lot in a lot. So there is of my life. One of the things we’d never wanted with this podcast was to go, if you do these five things, everything will be all right.

[00:37:19] Because maybe because we don’t believe that because we’ve tried those and it didn’t 

[00:37:24] Bree: [00:37:24] work, but I mean, you were just telling me that a week ago you were feeling incredibly overwhelmed. So it’s not like we’ve got this figured out. No, 

[00:37:31] Kelly: [00:37:31] I had definitely had a meltdown last week where I just sat there and went.

[00:37:35] Okay. I can’t do it all. Who am I going to disappoint? And inside of that, there was this thing of, wow, I’m kind of disappointing myself and what’s my identity and all kinds of things. And one of the tools is this percentage thing where I think to myself, okay, well, I agree a hundred percent and I couldn’t do a hundred percent of the things.

[00:37:52] So what does 80% look like? Because something’s gotta give, , you know, even using that concept in terms of how certain am I, that this is the exact right thing to do right now? Well, I’m only 50% certain, so why am I holding so tightly to this ideal, if I’m going to be 50% certain about something. So is it.

[00:38:08] You know, tip of things. Sometimes it’s not about the what to do, but how to think about something. So that percentage of Hafele is my life. What am I comfortable with is a fantastic tool to frame, 

[00:38:22] Bree: [00:38:22] understanding where you’re at. Yeah. It’s a case of trying to fit a square into a circle. You can’t consistently try to deliver the same results, the same capacity when your life is changing.

[00:38:33] You know, if you are, , Go experiencing grief or loss. So you’re supporting a friend through a hard time. You might be pregnant or ill, or have, , been going through a diagnosis process with a child. The, all these things are going to reduce your capacity. And I think that we need to be aware of that. So not trying to consistently deliver the same results when we’re not the same person who could do that a month ago or a year ago.

[00:39:01] Yeah. 

[00:39:02] Kelly: [00:39:02] It’s it’s just occurred to me that these last six months, which for, for reference, we’ve been in a form of code lockdown, different levels in different parts of Australia and the world. But one thing that happened in the discussions that I’ve had is that people had. Some level of time back in their lives because of the restriction.

[00:39:24] So they were able to move around less. They were able to travel less, uh, whether that was commuting to and from the office, or actually move traveling interstate or overseas for work. So, yeah. Pockets of time opened up, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their capacity to do more with that time opened up because of psychological safety, emotional challenges about either not being able to do things, see people caring for sick people in their lives, grief, collective grief.

[00:39:51] So time as a concept opened up, but not necessarily capacity. And then there was this emotions around. I’m squandering this opportunity, or, you know, I have to get too busy, renovate the house, 

[00:40:03] Bree: [00:40:03] do the garden, which is wild concept because it’s a pandemic, but it’s very much something we saw on social media is use this time, you know, renovate, learn a new language.

[00:40:14] And then I think people found themselves in a position where they’re like, I just can’t motivate myself. And I think that that’s the capacity versus time thing. , 

[00:40:25] Kelly: [00:40:25] Well, there’s a funny anecdote. So we went to Bunnings to get something, something that we needed and. Uh, my husband who is quite sensitive to, , noticing what’s going on around him said, well, we’re not going back to Bunnings ever again.

[00:40:38] I said why? And he said, did you notice how miserable everyone was in there? And he was so right. I looked around and thought everybody was there because they felt they had to do 

[00:40:46] Bree: [00:40:46] something. Had to plan a veggie. Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. I have to 

[00:40:49] Kelly: [00:40:49] find a video and I had people at work say, oh, this pandemic is killing me.

[00:40:53] My wife’s got a list of jobs to fix around the house, which I could avoid because we had sport or we had the holiday or what have you. And so, yeah. All these people walking around Bunnings looking absolutely miserable because they had to do something with this time, as opposed to going, what is it that we want to do?

[00:41:09] What does quality look like? Yeah, but as a 

[00:41:11] Bree: [00:41:11] school, I feel guilty when my sitting still, we feel like it’s wasted time, which it’s not, it’s, it’s incredibly important time. , but I guess what we wanted to do next is leave some. Final thoughts surrounding business. We could talk about this all day, I think.

[00:41:29] , but we felt that it was important to talk about some strategies and ways we frame this situation to make life a little bit less resistant and run a bit more smoothly. So, do you have any, you want to share? 

[00:41:44] Kelly: [00:41:44] Uh, well, one of the most important, I mean, I talked about the framing of percentages, which has been a really important tool for me because it’s, it’s about catching myself and being mindful of saying, well, in this moment, where am I at?

[00:41:57] Uh, I do, I think. Looking at times in the day and time blocking, there’s a fantastic article by Tim urban, which talks about a hundred blocks a day or your life in blocks, which I’m a very visual person. So it’s, it’s that whole concept of you get one life. And if this is one day or one hour in my life, how do I want to spend it?

[00:42:18] Yeah. So that, that is a really important tool that I use to think about. And I had Ken tin. I have tended in the past to be an over. Shake Julep. And that can feel very, I can just add to the overwhelm. It can feel really suffocating, but having those things, those things that I choked, right. Which is okay between six and 7:00 AM in the morning.

[00:42:38] I just call it my time. I don’t say I’ve got five things. I must meditate. I must do yoga. I must journal. I must do this. I must do that. I go, it’s just time for Leslie. And then what I feel like doing on that day, sometimes it is about. You know, I feel like doing this type of XSD because I know at the end of it, I feel good and it fits into this overall framing of, I should be doing exercise two or three times a week because it’s good for my long-term health, even if at that moment.

[00:43:05] , so that’s, there are two things that come to the top of mind for 

[00:43:09] Bree: [00:43:09] me. What about yourself? Yeah, I think much the same and that’s something that I’ve really tried to work on over the past year is, , I guess what you would call need to asking, which is the opposite to multitasking. So what we know is that hans actually don’t have the capacity to multitask.

[00:43:27] What we’re effectively doing is switching between two or three or four tasks. And, , that’s linked with. A reduction in productivity. It doesn’t actually make us more productive. We don’t get things done quicker. And I think that women, , are often championed for being good multitaskers and we pride ourselves on that.

[00:43:49] But what happened for me was that I felt like I was getting nothing done and I felt overwhelmed constantly. So what I do now is focus on one task. , I will do dishes from start to finish. I will. , yeah, I pretty much never switched between tasks. And I think that that is quite tied to mindfulness and being present for me.

[00:44:14] And especially being that I feel like my time is so much more limited. I’ve gone from being a stay at home mom to now, uh, working, volunteering, studying m. So, although I have less hours with my toddler, when I’m there with him, I’m fully there. I’m engaged, I’m playing, I’m present. And I think that that trade-off is a good one.

[00:44:37] We might have less time, but it is really quality. And I bring that into every area of my life. For example, now I have a biology assignment that if I had to assign a percentage, I would be maybe 12% done and it’s due in two days. Which I’m usually someone that starts and finishes things early. I like to be very prepared, but this week, this month has just not allowed for that.

[00:45:06] But right now, if I were cleaning a podcast and I’m here and I’m focused and, , I think that that’s really important. So that’s something that I try to do. 

[00:45:16] Kelly: [00:45:16] I do really like that. And it’s an area that I’m really struggling with. And partly I realized because in my working life, Although you may want to, your new task and environment is not really set up for that.

[00:45:28] And I think that’s quite a different discussion, but, uh, access to technology and tools means that there is a life of constant interruption. So you need tasking. , isn’t a huge discipline because, because multitasking, although not efficient is still expected. And to some extent it’s still valued of. , and, and rewarded.

[00:45:53] And we had a situation this week where someone came in for a job interview and the way they would describe as wow, that person gets so much into their life. They’re playing sport at a high grade, they’ve got three kids, uh they’re you know, doing a huge job. They’re managing 40 people. Fantastic. Like this is going to be awesome that they can come into our work.

[00:46:13] And I had this real conflict inside of me of like, that’s awesome that it shows that they have. Managed to fit those things into the life and they using that capacity to its fullest. But my question is, wow, how do they actually feel about that? And what’s that quality they’re going to bring? So you need tasking.

[00:46:34] I haven’t, I don’t think I’m got. That working as well as you do, but something I definitely want to 

[00:46:39] Bree: [00:46:39] work on. I think it’s something you have to have incredibly good boundaries surrounding, and it’s an ongoing process, but I guess, , for me, part of that has been batching tasks. So for example, I hate making phone calls.

[00:46:53] Uh, it’s one of my least favorite tasks. So what I’ll do is when I’m making phone calls, I make them all. If I have to call insurance for a quote, if I have to return, someone’s call I’ll sit down and do that from start to finish, because then I’m in the zone. I’m in the mode, I’ve geared myself up for it.

[00:47:10] And another thing that I often do with you is you will text me as thoughts, come in and. Sometimes I’ll reply straight away. Otherwise I will say to you, look, I don’t have the capacity to get back to you right now. Come two 30. When I shifted into work mode I’ll while I’m waiting to pick the boys up, I will then get back to you because I want to be able to give you a thought out response.

[00:47:37] And I know that I can’t shift my mind away from what I’m doing right now. , 

[00:47:42] Kelly: [00:47:42] that that’s actually a really interesting point because you’re right. One of my things is I like to get things out of my head because otherwise I go round. So if I’m asking the same thing over and over, I asked myself, is this useful?

[00:47:56] Where do I need to put it? You know, lists and I love lists not from a point of view of, I feel good to cross them off from point of view. If I can get it onto a list, it can get out of my head. And so one of the tools is trying to create more shared lists that people can come back to it their time. And even, I just had a moment where I was like, oh, instead of texting you, I should probably create a list where we share our grocery list.

[00:48:17] We share those other things because it allows it to get it out of my head and into something that I know can become back to. But it’s. Text messaging used to be asynchronous. So you put it in one direction, but because of expectation, it feels like it needs to be real time. We feel when we get a text message that it’s real time I have to respond now, but it was actually designed as an asynchronous method of communication.

[00:48:42] Bree: [00:48:42] Absolutely. And that’s something that, , there’s two things that I’m thinking right now. The first one is that, , that’s something that I have been working on as well. Yeah. Instead of thinking about, and the mental load of, , worrying about tasks. It’s that whole, if it’s going to take less than five minutes, do it right now.

[00:49:04] And so I can spend a week thinking, oh my God, I’ve got so much folding to do or look how many dishes there are in the sink. But if I don’t think about it and absolutely just do it, it’s usually a very quick task. So it’s finding that balance between. Getting back to things light up or just doing them right now.

[00:49:22] And it’s something that my friends joke about with me all the time is that I’ll eat either respond to you instantly or in three to five business days. And often, especially when the questions and the topics are loaded. And I need to think about them. I will again wait and respond to everyone who has messaged me across any platform at the same time.

[00:49:48] And I think everyone has just got, gotten used to that. But at first it really bothered people that I was taking so long and I had to explain to them, it’s not that it’s not important to me. It’s important enough that I want time to think about it and be really present when I’m responding to 

[00:50:06] Kelly: [00:50:06] you. , that, that is really, yeah, I get that because it’s like, if I can answer you right now, if I can actually have.

[00:50:14] Both the mindspace and the capacity to just enter that question from I’m going to do it right now, if I need to put time to it, because it’s important enough to me that I need to do it at another time. W which is another, I guess, tool that I am getting better at. I’m not saying I’m, there is trying to be explicit with the people in my life.

[00:50:31] Yeah. I’m really good at that. How I work and yeah. And, and be able to explain to them that, you know, one of the things is when I talk yeah. I don’t talk in fully formed ideas. So for me, talking is thinking, and I’m thinking out loud, so I’m going on a journey with this, and I’m thinking this, whereas in particular in, , and I don’t want to genderize it, but it, it, because it’s different for different people, but certainly, and maybe this is part cultural, , with men in my life, when they talk, they come with a complete idea.

[00:51:02] So here’s the solution. Here’s what I want to do here is where I’m at right now. And so what happens is sometimes I might start a conversation and the, you know, the other person thinks that it’s a complete thought, like, no, hang on a minute, I’m going somewhere with this. I’m not finished. I’m actually thinking this through.

[00:51:19] So explain to people, this is the way I think. So when I talk to you, Bear with me, cause 

[00:51:23] Bree: [00:51:23] this isn’t a complete, and I think I’ve learned that from you sometimes he’ll throw out like really left of center ideas and I’ll be like, okay. Yeah. And then you’re like, come back and be like, yeah, no, that’s probably not a good thing.

[00:51:34] Let’s just discard that. So I often just like white, beautiful, like your process. But I think when I reflect on it, what I was talking about before is something that I’ve probably learned from you in that in the past. I wouldn’t communicate to people why I wasn’t getting back to them. And I think eventually.

[00:51:51] , from talking to you and texting you, something that you do very well is you’ll say to me, let me think on this and I’ll get back to you or I’m just going into a meeting. Let me get back to you. And I think that that’s something that I’ve started using because it lets people know that they’re important to me and I’m thinking about it and I will come back to it instead of just kind of leaving them in the lurch.

[00:52:15] Because as you said, that’s the norm, that’s the expectation. It’s what everyone else is doing is instantly communicating. , but another thing that is very closely tied to social media use and communicating, , something that I’ve done is stop apologizing and just start thinking, saying, thank you for being patient with me.

[00:52:37] You know, I really appreciate you. 

[00:52:40] Kelly: [00:52:40] Yeah. Yeah. Oh look, and this really is actually a super power is validating or the han beings. And how much of your time that will give you back because when someone asks something of you, they often don’t know what they’re really asking for. So. If they need time from you.

[00:52:59] And this comes to that, how do I fit everything in my life? You know? But by the time we’ve dealt with our immediate family, the people we live with and then our parents and our siblings and our friends, and then you’ve got these, you know, loose connections and work colleagues and uni colleagues, et cetera, the complexity of han complexity.

[00:53:18] So when someone asks it, just being able to validate and say, yes, Look, I’m so grateful you asked me, but I just don’t have, I don’t have the capacity for that, but it doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. They’re like, oh, I feel validated, not rejected. And that is a superpower 

[00:53:33] Bree: [00:53:33] the best time. And I think sometimes it catches people off guard that people also really appreciate it.

[00:53:38] And it’s something, , one of my good friends, she constantly checks in and will send me a message and ask to catch up. And I felt guilty about that because. It’s not that I didn’t want to catch up with her. I’m just busy and I, and I forget, and I don’t make time for it. And instead of apologizing again, I just said, you are so great at checking in on me.

[00:53:58] And I really appreciate that. You’re always the one to send the first message. And if that wasn’t said she might’ve in time, started to feel like, well, I’m always the one doing the work. Does she not value our friendship as much as I do? So I think just being really honest with people about your capacity is.

[00:54:17] A learned skill, but one that’s worth working on. 

[00:54:21] Kelly: [00:54:21] Yeah, absolutely. And look, I think that’s a really good place to probably finish up this because ultimately our authenticity with each other is one of the biggest skills we can develop because where we’re at. We, if I went onto the TV and said, I’m a mind reader, I’m a clairvoyant.

[00:54:39] I can see what other people are thinking. We would just get stage. But actually we walk around a lots all the time expecting that others can read out minds, understand where, what at, what we’re dealing with right now. And so our ability to constructively validate what they need from us, but also explain where we’re at is actually quite a superpower because.

[00:54:59] We haven’t got it all worked out. Nobody does. And the minute we do it changes because that’s life it’s full of change all the time. And, you know, busy-ness and fitting things in being able to authentically say to people sometimes, you know, I’m not managing to fit in all things that I want right now. And I know other people want things from me.

[00:55:18] I haven’t got it worked out, but, , you know, I’m trying some things, can you bear with me? Really powerful. 

[00:55:23] Bree: [00:55:23] Yeah. And I think it all kind of comes back to, we all leave lead full busy lives, and we’re all doing the best we can. And I think a bit of kindness towards ourselves and others go such a long way.

[00:55:35] Kelly: [00:55:35] It does. One of my favorite sayings is go gently. I like that. Excellent. Thanks for the chat and we’ll be back next time with some curious 

[00:55:45] Bree: [00:55:45] conversations.

[00:55:51] Kelly: [00:55:51] Thanks for joining us for today’s conversation. If you want to hear more like this, don’t forget to hit subscribe. So you don’t miss an episode. If you’d like to know more about anything we talked about or you heard on the podcast today, check out our website, http://www.birthofamother.com.edu. You can find us on Instagram at Matrescence dot podcast.

[00:56:11] Well, send us an email to info@birthofamother.com. Did I, you, 

[00:56:15] Bree: [00:56:15] if you think others could benefit from this podcast, take a screenshot of you listening to this episode, to post on your social media and tag us. Alternatively, consider leaving a review with your favorite things about the Matrescence podcast.

[00:56:29] This really helps us to increase our visibility and ensure we are reaching as many women as possible as always thank you for spending your time with us. We hope you will tune in next time.

Kelly and Bree


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