Today we have a great guest post by fellow blogger, Marissa. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
If you have a child, it goes without saying that it can be downright challenging to stay productive in motherhood. As mothers, a myriad of things interfere with our productivity on a daily basis.
But take heart, Mama. There are ways you can stay productive in motherhood and I’m sharing seven of them below!
1. Keep the TV Off
The first way to stay productive in motherhood is to keep the TV off.
Once my daughter got old enough to be distracted by the TV (when she was around 3 months old), I stopped turning it on. I didn’t want her developing little mind to be zoned out when it could be engaging in learning.
And I discovered an amazing byproduct from keeping the TV off: I became instantly more productive and engaged with my real, physical life.
This is still the case over a year later. I used to watch a lot of TV. Consequently, I wasted a lot of time. Now, I watch very little or no TV on an average day, and I accomplish so much more.
I have found that even on “lazy” days, my time is rarely wasted. During moments when I am feeling tired or unmotivated, I might sit with my daughter and play, do a puzzle or read her a book.
But I do not turn on the TV.
I turn the TV on when I am not feeling well and need to rest or when my daughter is sick and miserable. But I don’t turn it on for background noise or as a distraction for my child.
As a result, I am not distracted by it either.
Just try keeping the TV off for one day, and see how it affects your level of productivity. You might be surprised by how accomplished you feel by the end of the day!
2. Find Something You Can Accomplish During Wasted Time
The second way to stay productive in motherhood is to find things you can get done during those wasted little moments throughout your day.
When I started building my blog, my daughter was only 9 months old. At that point, I had a lot of wasted time, because I was sitting in a dark room for several hours multiple times a day, holding my reflux baby while she slept.
However, as she’s gotten older and required less naptime and less holding, my time to work on my blog – along with other online “chores” – has dwindled. To make up for this, I’ve begun using wasted snippets of time here and there to get some things done on my phone.
Often times I can catch up on some messages while my toddler plays outside, requiring little or no entertainment from me. I might also use this time to do some Amazon shopping to order things I’ve been intending to purchase for about ten years.
Sometimes I do some online networking or marketing while she’s playing for the last few minutes of her bath. Or, sometimes I clean the bathroom.
Some nursing sessions turn into focus time for me to work on writing a post. Some nursing sessions, I simply sit and connect with my daughter.
Sometimes it’s good to just be with your child without any distractions. But sometimes you have to take advantage of what little chance you have to get something done.
3. Do Something You Love on a Regular Basis
The third way to stay productive in motherhood is to do something you thoroughly enjoy on a regular basis.
Being a stay-at-home mom, I absolutely love my 24/7 job. But sometimes the monotony of everyday life can completely kill the motivation to be productive.
I get a certain level of satisfaction out of keeping the laundry pile down, the dishes washed and the bellies full. But the endless repetition of doing those same things every day can make life feel like an endless cycle.
Don’t you ever just wonder to yourself what the point is of washing bedsheets and going through the hassle of wrestling them back on the bed only to have to do it all over again in a couple of weeks?
It’s hard to have the energy, mentally or physically, to do anything beyond the basics when you’re so bored with the business of repeating your life every day.
But once you do something fun to snap out of that funk, it’s easier to go back to your everyday job of mothering with renewed gusto!
I have been in quite the funk lately. I keep reminding myself how amazingly wonderful and blessed my life is and I don’t doubt it for a second. But the monotony and isolation of being a stay-at-home mama has been depleting my energy.
Then, a couple of weekends ago, I started getting really into the fall mood and did some baking with my daughter. I love to bake creatively but rarely have time to bake anything besides the essentials anymore (like bread or some quick and easy breakfast bars).
It was so much fun for me and my daughter, and I felt so refreshed and excited about fall. This fun reprieve from my normal everyday activities reenergized me to head into my “work week” with a brighter attitude and more gumption to get things done.
If you’re feeling that tired weight of lethargy surrounding your daily tasks, take a break to do something you love, something that gets you really excited.
We all know how much energy our kids suddenly have when we mention one of their favorite things to do. Find that excited kid within yourself and then enjoy the after-fruits of that energy.
4. Make a Schedule … and (Flexibly) Stick to it
The fourth way to stay productive in motherhood is to make a schedule that you can stick to without over-doing it.
Honestly, a schedule was not realistic for me when my daughter was younger. For basically her entire first year of life, she was so clingy and needy that I could often only accomplish what could be done while holding a nursing baby.
But since shortly after she turned one, she has been gradually becoming more independent. A few months ago she reached the point of playing on her own so well that I could accomplish a good chunk of housework before she needed me.
I suddenly found myself with a lot more time to get things done, but I was still chaotically struggling to do everything I wanted to. This was because my time was poorly managed and completely unorganized.
I recognized that I needed to have a schedule of what to do on what days. This way, I knew everything would get done that needed to be done by the end of the week, but I didn’t have to frantically try to do it all on Monday.
Different people function well with different types of schedules. I have learned over the years that I get stressed out by strict, hour-by-hour schedules. But without a schedule, I get disorganized and lazy.
What works well for me at this point in life is to have a schedule wherein I have certain household duties I complete on certain days of the week. I have a routine for each day as well, but I am not overly concerned with keeping a schedule for each day.
If I get behind, I try not to stress about catching up. I just keep moving forward.
It’s hard to be effectively and efficiently productive when you do random things at random times. Try to have a schedule, even if it’s a loose one.
5. Utilize Special Occasion Toys for the Kids When You Really Need to Get Something Done
The fifth way to stay productive in motherhood is to pull out those special toys that are stored away in the closet when you just have to get something done.
Busy bags are a great way to keep little ones entertained while you accomplish something. It may only give you ten minutes, but on those rough days, maybe you can at least get the dishwasher unloaded!
“Busy bag” is basically just a term people use when referring to a collection of items, toys, crafts, etc. which a child can work on by himself. They often involve some educational elements, but the goal is to engage your child in screen-free playtime without requiring much or any assistance from you.
Journey of Parenthood has a great list of busy bags/activities you can create or purchase to build up your collection of special occasion toys. There are also countless busy bag ideas on Pinterest. The possibilities are endless.
Get some busy bags or activities together and store them away from your child’s reach until a time comes when you need a novel distraction.
6. Encourage Your Child to Help You Accomplish Tasks
The sixth way to stay productive in motherhood is to enlist your child’s assistance in completing your chores.
With younger children, this obviously will not make your job easier or quicker. But you should still do it.
Why? Because, besides the fact that it teaches your child the same important skills you are practicing, you will also be staying productive.
When my daughter was age one and younger, unloading the dishwasher was very difficult because she constantly wanted to be held. But around the time she turned a year old, I was able to entice her to enjoy unloading the dishwasher with me by letting her pull dishes and silverware out too.
Yes, this meant spoons and forks were all over our kitchen floor, but I was still getting the dishwasher unloaded while my daughter “helped.” To me, this was much better than holding her in my lap as I looked at the pile of dishes in the sink with frustration.
Distract your child with the allurement of helping you accomplish your task so that he can’t distract you from completing it.
7. Set Realistic Goals for Yourself
The seventh way to stay productive in motherhood is to set goals for yourself that motivate but don’t intimidate you.
Trust me, I understand what it’s like to feel like it’s a good day when you finally finish one chore before bedtime. Some days, your only goal is to not go deaf from listening to your baby’s screaming, keep your child asleep for an hour straight, or get some food into your own mouth.
On those days (or months), it can be incredibly difficult to get a single thing done. Instead of getting weighed down by guilt, think about what you realistically can accomplish in a day and aim for that.
Maybe you can catch up on dishes – or wash one pot. Maybe you can cook a quick, easy meal – or place an order at Papa John’s online. Maybe you can pick up in the living room – or make a quarantined pile out of the scattered minefield.
Your one goal for the day may seem pathetic in your own mind, but meeting that goal will make you feel a whole lot better than failing to meet several unreachable goals.
The #1 Way to Stay Productive in Motherhood
Finally, the most productive thing you can possibly do as a mom is to spend time with your child.
When you applied for the job of being a mom, you probably weren’t excited about the side jobs of doing more laundry, washing more dishes, and cleaning up more messes.
No, the reason you accepted this job was because of the main job description: Excelling at loving, nurturing, teaching and guiding your child.
As you struggle to be productive in motherhood, Mama, remember that as long as you are giving your child the time, affection, and training that she needs, you are being highly productive indeed.
Please check out Marissa’s great blog, Mama Rissa, and show her some love!