By Athena Thompson
There’s a group of women in the inner west who hangout online on a facebook group, the Inner West Mamas’ Hub. They aim to support inner west businesses by shopping locally. I’m one of the co-founders and local mama – I realised that we would be having a ‘little’ extra time at home coming up, so, I put out a call to the group to start an online book club, to read and support local authors. Coincidentally, local author and time management expert Kate Christie happened to be launching her 4th book in April and proposed the suggestion. Kate is Founder and CEO of Time Stylers and has a reputation for helping people find 30 hours a month they didn’t know they had.
When I first met Kate, at a cafe in Williamstown, she emanated the presence of a person who can make all the time in the world just for you. Poised, confident and really relaxed. The way she spoke on life, her business and all the stuff in between, it was clear to me she had years of business experience and has a comfortable, firm handle on life.
In those early conversations she revealed her approach on time management and building equality in the workplace. Her remark on workplaces needing to focus on productivity rather than flexibility really resonated with me. An employer can achieve more output when they treat people like adults and trust them to perform. Who knew, when we were having that conversation months ago that employers would have this ‘flexible’ working situation forced upon them. Besides all that, I love reading, but since having kids have found it terribly hard to make time to do so. All this made Kate and her new book “Me First: The Guilt-Free Guide to Prioritising You” the perfect way to start a local mum’s book club.
Me First, published by Wiley, is for pretty much every time-poor working mum. It’s a book that gets you to shift your thinking and start putting yourself first. It teaches you how to put a value on your time, analyse exactly what your habits are costing you so you can take back control.
This book attracted an intimate and conscientious group of mums with young kids, either working, running their own business or family businesses and writing books and blogs, to come to an online book club. All experiencing the similar stay home isolation craziness that comes with managing small children and work and in a few cases homeschooling too. The evening was relaxed, with the occasional interlude of children appearing to cuddle their mum’s goodnight.
Starting off, Kate asks for an introduction to include a pre- and post-kids life. Already subtly getting each of us to think about putting ourselves first. She herself understands our collective anguish, having had 3 babies in 3.5 years. Meaning for at least 4-5 years non stop she was either pregnant and/or breastfeeding. A few of us nod in agreement with understanding of what it’s like to share an attachment 24/7, let alone over that extended time frame. Kate acknowledges the complicated relationship between the joys and pains of motherhood. The acceptance of being a mum and what it really means to ‘have it all’. Then she drives the point home, to make us stop and really to think about ourselves first, Kate asks us to acknowledge our sacrifice. And her blunt follow-up with talking about mother’s guilt that is totally on point, “Nobody is going to give you a gold star for feeling guilty. You’ve just got to let it go! And move past it.”
In the way she speaks about managing time, it also shows how she values family. She talked about insourcing, this is getting family members to help with household tasks. But really, it’s also teaching your children skills and habits that are going to help them survive as working adults. Given we have young kids, she emphasised that now is the perfect time to form habits, so by the time they’re older it’s normal to contribute to the household. So fingers crossed, we’ll have no real arguments back from your teenagers on (at least) doing the laundry.
We’re each given the opportunity to ask Kate questions. I query her on my own frustrations, which is, right now my kids and work are vying for attention at the same time. It’s impossible to do these two things at the same time. Once I say it out loud, I realise as I look at the nodding faces on screen, it is not a unique problem. How can you master both kids and work at the same time?
Kate suggests time blocking and getting our new ‘co-workers’ involved in planning the day each morning. Plan 30 minute blocks. Write it up on a white board. But make sure the first one of the day is full on, something physically enduring. Get the kids up and moving, as this will help them focus for the next block. The trick is to keep consistent with the routine.
Kate runs over the allocated time for the evening, showing that you can be flexible with your schedule, especially when having fun and fits fine with her time management philosophy. Spend time doing what you love. All in all, I found our first mamas’ hub book club uplifting and connecting. This was the first time in weeks where I managed to have some “me time” with a bunch of other adults. Now that I’ve learnt a few time making strategies, I’ve got some extra up my sleeve to go and hunt for our next book club’s inner west author.
Kate Christie’s book ‘Me First: The Guilt-free Guide to Prioritising You’ is available in bookstores and online at
Professional problem solver by day (business consultant at TechLever) and supreme question asker by night, exploring Melbourne’s west one curiosity at a time. Co-founder of the Inner West Women’s Hub, a group for women who live, work & play locally.