‘I Know How She Does It’ by Laura Vanderkam Book Review

This year I set a goal of trying to read a little more non-fiction. I am usually not a fan of ‘self help’ or ‘Personal Development’ books. I find that most of them push the same ‘Believe in Yourself’ and ‘Don’t Give Up’ message and are just repetitive. I am in no way saying not to ‘Believe in Yourself’ or to give up however, I have just never found that any of these books say anything life changing.

Nonetheless, I am trying to broaden my horizons by alternating between Fiction and Non-Fiction books. The Non- Fiction books don’t need to be Personal Development books by the way. I recently read MAID which I shared about in this post: http://workoutsandwineblog.com/2022/01/27/maid-book-and-netflix-series-review/. I’m learning I’m a fan of memoirs since I also enjoyed Bella Figura by Kamin Mohammadi and Educated by Tara Westover.

I have listened to Laura Vanderkam and Sarah Hart-Unger’s podcast Best of Both Worlds for a few years now. I love this podcast for working moms and as I mentioned in my previous post, I plan to write a post on some of my favorite podcasts so I’ll share more about this then! One of the hosts though, Laura Vanderkam is an author, speaker and blogger. In the podcast she would reference her book ‘I Know How She Does It’ so I’d had it on my list of books I would like to read for some time now. She wrote the book in response to Allison Pearson’s ‘I Don’t Know How She Does it.’ I did not read this book but according to Laura it’s about how working moms cannot have it all. You are either a career woman or a mom. While I know I have felt this way quite a bit after having children, I need to work to pay bills so I just don’t think a book like this would be a positive influence in my life. Laura’s book was meant to counter this and to show that working moms can have a full life including a big career and plenty of time with children. It’s all in how you manage your time.

I know most moms, especially working moms, can relate when I say that we feel overwhelmed for the most part. Work, the kids activities, running a household etc. I know oftentimes I feel like I am doing something wrong because the chaos just doesn’t seem normal. This January I was feeling the pressure as always and going into tax season I decided, what better time to give this book a shot!

The main message behind this book is even if you are working as much as 60 hours a week, the week has 168 hours. Assuming you worked 60 hours and you slept a very reasonable 8 hours a night, you’d still have 52 hours left to do as you please.

I thought this book had some great advice and I did make some changes to my routine after reading it. Laura is a big fan of tracking your time so you can see what you are actually spending your hours doing. She does this normally, which I find difficult, but I did do it for a few days and found it helpful.

I learned that as much as I may want to sleep a little more, I need to start my week days around 5Am, especially during tax season. With everything I have going on, it’s the only way I am going to have enough hours to get the amount of work I want to get done finished. Surprisingly, although it’s hard to wake up that early, I am a happier person when I wake up early and get some work done in those early morning hours. Ideally I would wake up at that time and get my workout out of the way, but then I would not be home when the kids wake up and I may not get to see them off to school so this routine actually works better for me. I’d been doing this from before I read the book however, I know Laura would approve! This book encourages you to think outside the box and to consider working odd hours if need be.

Tracking my time I also realized that I was spending way too much time cooking, meal prepping and doing dishes. I was doing Ultimate Portion Fix, which I shared about in this blog post: http://workoutsandwineblog.com/2022/02/03/ultimate-portion-fix-or-as-i-call-itthe-container-diet/. I mention in the blog post that it is time consuming but I did not realize just how time consuming until I tracked my time. I decided while pricey, it may be worth it for us to do a meal delivery service. It’s only been a few weeks back on meal delivery service (I had done them in the past, especially during tax season) and I’m wondering how I was surviving without it!

While she does make some really good points, I felt that many of her suggestions assumed flexible work schedules and the ability to work from home. I know these days many more work from home and have more flexibility than they did 2 years ago. I have seen this change in my own office. It was interesting to me that this book was written pre COVID since I feel the flexibility she assumes was not plausible for many back then and still may not be for some now depending on your line of work. She does give some advice on how to advocate for a more flexible schedule and the ability to work from home.

I also found this book’s audience is those who love their careers and are there not so much for the paycheck but because it gives them purpose and it’s their passion. As a result, one of the suggestions she gives is to outsource. This is a great idea in theory but, this also requires expendable income. All the women she interviewed did make over $100,000. I think the idea behind interviewing only those with a 6 figure income was if you are successful at your big career, you should be making in the 6 figures. Needless to say $100,000 is not a small salary, however, in Miami the cost of living is very high. I am not sure how much some of these women’s husband’s brought to the table but in order to outsource childcare, housekeeping, cooking etc. you do need to have a good amount of income. I did have nannies for the kids when they were younger and despite paying a reasonable rate it was still a HUGE expense. It felt like I was working hard to give up a chunk of that income for someone to be doing what deep down I really wanted to be doing which was to be the main caretaker of my children. A Catholic education was also always a priority for us so our kids are in Catholic school. The expense of school tuitions plus a nanny adds up.

Another recomendation she has is to look at the week as a whole and to possibly save some of those working hours for the weekend. I worked weekends during tax season, 4 months out of the year, for most of my adult life. Once my kids got to an age though where they started to have birthday parties, sports games, dance competitions etc. this became hard. I ultimately realized I did not want my kids sitting at home with a nanny on Saturdays for 4 months out of the year missing out on things. Of course everyone’s routine, schedules and commitments are different so this may be a good recomendation for some.

She also believes that most people do not work as much as they think they do. Before I had kids I worked really long hours during tax season. It got to a point where I would develop cabin fever from being in the office and I would basically only come home to sleep. I even ate all meals at the office. The hours were long and miserable. As research for this book Laura was able to collect time logs from working women. Interesting enough, of the logs collected, the only ones that actually showed over 60 hours of actual work happened to belong to tax accountants during tax season. This included the woman with the most hours worked coming in at 69 for a week. Go figure!

Despite some of her assumptions and the fact that some of her suggestions won’t fit everyone’s lifestyle, I definitely think the book was a worth a read! Needless to say she is trying to cover all bases and what works for one person may not work for the next. I felt she gave some really good ideas not just on how to fit in time for work and family but how to find time for fitness, socializing and even for intimacy with your partner.

While I feel as if I finally got into a better routine for this season with the help of the book, I sadly still have not found a designated time slot for blogging. I am considering tracking my time again to see if I can figure out where to fit that in. As I type this, I am trying out working on it while I stay in the kids rooms as they fall asleep! Haha Additionally, this book made me realize that I do need to prioritize sleep more. Most of the candidates in her research were getting about 7 of sleep, including the accountant that worked 69 hours in a week. I get between 5-6 and I know I should get a couple hours more a night. Ideally I would also get my kids to bed earlier so it seems I have some kinks to workout in our evenings. If you have read or read this book I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for visiting!


3 thoughts on “‘I Know How She Does It’ by Laura Vanderkam Book Review

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: