Do you know how to flex: new skill to learn and to teach our children
Flex: the modern woman’s handbook by Annie Auerbach has resonated with me as a woman, as a parent, as an entrepreneur and a business-owner.
Being flexible is becoming one of the most important skills as technology, science advances and gender expectations unlock opportunities and put new challenges in front of us at home and at work. Annie explores in her book how to reach flexibility of mind, work, home, body and your future.
I will not summarise all the book not to spoil you the pleasure of reading it, but I will share my favourite bits from each of five parts. And by the way, as the book is available in all three formats, you have no excuse not to read it. I used flex reading (thanks, Annie!), starting in the morning while walking from school drop-off to work (audio), continuing on a bus on the way home from work (kindle) and a bit before going to sleep (paperback).
Mind Everybody needs creativity to deal with unexpected and tackle any problem but creativity is like a muscle one can exercise to strengthen. To have a regular exposure to things out of ordinary will help you to pay attention. In other words, have a habit to change your habits. Visit a new place, meet new people, pick an unusual magazine to read or just start talking (and listening) to a stranger. I personally found refreshing to read random articles from museum magazines or change routs of my walks once in a while.
Work As I am working for myself, it is easier for me to be flexible at work and I do allow myself a luxury to be disconnected from emails, what’s up, social media and phone calls when I am with children or have to focus on some work. And I do also follow my natural rhythm and work after everybody else is in bed, while allow myself long morning coffees and walks. However, after reading the book, I became more aware about my responsibility as an employer to spread this culture of flexibility and trust people who work for me.
Home I loved the point that Annie is making about bringing up flexible children: we should set an example within a family on what is expected from a man and a woman in a marriage. It is not necessarily about doing an equal part of chores, it is about being happy with what you are doing and changing if something bothers you. I love spending time with my kids, taking them to school or doing their homework with them. But I hate packing. According to some unwritten rules of our household, I am the one putting bags together for family holidays. Guess who was packing for my son’s school trip this Saturday after I finished Flex?
Body Importance of listening to the body’s needs can not be underestimated. I love the discussion in the book on how our natural sleeping patterns change our daily productivity and how we should adjust our schedule accordingly. I also can not agree more about a taboo topic of menstrual cycle and how the concept should be changed from being something embarrassing into a normal part of our being. Woman should learn not to fight it but rather go with the flow.
Future. I love the point Annie makes about the importance of developing friendships as we need better support network as we live longer lives. To keep friendship strong it is not enough just to catch up over a coffee with your friend but we need to build common experiences. I will take it a step further and apply it with my parents and children when they leave the house. Relationships are made of shared experiences, not exchange of knowledge of each others lives running in parallel.
I hope you have a chance to read the book and let me know your thoughts. And if you need more inspiration, have a look at a chat we had with Annie this morning about what inspired her to write the book.