Hey Moms! Why does getting things crossed off your to-do list make you feel happy? Because we are hardwired to want to get things done. We all want to be a productive Mom and not just a “spinning our wheels” kind of Mom.
However, it can be really hard for busy Moms to ever feel like they are accomplishing all the things they need to get done in a day. Your to-do list can feel like it is a million miles long.
So, what is a working mom or a stay at home Mom to do when they want to feel a sense of accomplishment during their day?
Establish Realistic Expectations as a Mom
The first thing you want to do as a Mom is realize you are essentially working 2 full-time jobs at all time. You have the job you get paid for and the one you don’t (being a Mom along with all the other hats you wear on a daily basis).
Here are just a few of the jobs you perform regularly as a Mom:
- Party/Event Planner
- CEO of the Household
- And many more
Is it any wonder you feel exhausted a lot of the time?
Working Moms versus Stay-at-Home Moms Debate
I have a problem with the terms working moms – because we are all working moms as illustrated above. And, the term stay-at-home mom is also antiquated at this point as you can work just as well from home as you can in the office.
Moms who are paid outside of the home also have the ability to outsource some of the above which makes their overall workload somewhat more manageable. I’m just saying the fight over whose job is harder needs to end – it is all hard and requires us all to support one another – period.
Time Management Tips to be a Productive Mom
Since we all have the same 24 hours in a day, your goal as a Mom is to try to have the most productive day you can while also not giving yourself too much stress. And, of course, your main goal is to also have quality time with your kids and partner too, because otherwise what is the point of it all, right?
So, as a veteran Mom of three (one grown, 2 teenagers), here are some of my most valuable tips to make the most of this season of life.
You Need to Plan like a Mother
All kidding aside, planning is your best friend. If you aren’t a planner, I’m sorry. You are going to be at a disadvantage a lot of the time. I used to be a much more spontaneous person and I’ll get back there, but for now, I have to plan or I will go crazy.
When you don’t have the luxury of much time to get everything done, you really need to have a game plan to get ahead or even to just tread water. My most important tip is to find tools that work for you to keep track of everything that needs done. The more organized you can be, the better.
When your kids are small, you may be able to take advantage of certain blocks of time during the day like nap time or quiet time. So try and establish those times as being sacrosanct – like no matter what from 1 to 2 p.m.- it is nap time. Or, we always have quiet time where the kids do independent play from 1 to 3 p.m.. You need to have some blocks of time to either regroup, rest, or complete tasks depending on the day.
Routines Make Life Easier
Kids thrive on routines. They like to know what to expect each day within reason. Being able to chunk up your day into routines for kids let’s them know what to expect each day.
Establishing Set Routines for Kids:
- Morning Routine (from early morning wake-up to getting off to day care or preschool)
- Afternoon Routine (after school to dinner time)
- Evening Routine (after dinner to bed time)
You establish what works best for your household in each of these time blocks. As a Mom, only you know how much time your kids need to wake up, shower, etc. to get going. So, sketch out the “ideal” routine for your kids giving them some built-in buffer time for the most success.
You also want to include some family time into your daily routine, whether that is bath time, reading time, meal time, watch a particular show, or whenever. The goal is to establish a set time every day to reconnect as a family and give the kids your full attention during that time frame. (If you want some inspiration on routines you can include in your household, check out “Back to School Routines”).
Why Household Management Systems are Your Friend
Home management systems are some of the best kept secrets of some of the most productive Moms you know. You can find out more about how to save valuable time in your day with “Easy Ways of Household Management for Moms”. This in-depth article covers the main things you are going to want to have as far as systems as a Mom.
Sample Productive Mom Systems:
- Meal Planning (my favorite is Emeals). Find out how to begin here “How I Meal Plan”.
- Grocery Shopping (I love to send my meal plan from Emeals.com directly to a Kroger or Walmart App for easy shopping online and then pickup or delivery to my house)
- Cleaning Your House (daily declutter pickup and a set routine for when and what to clean)
- Daily tasks like washing dishes and doing a load of laundry (I do one a day of each to stay up on this and find it is usually enough, combine it with making dinner so you can get it all done at once)
- Finances (I use Quicken and a cash flow spreadsheet to make sense of our finances)
- Calendar for the family (You can read more about my favorites in the “Easy Ways of Household Management Systems” article)
I don’t care what system you use for all of these important tasks to keep your house running smoothly as long as you have one.
Enlist Help of Your Family Members
I know no one can do (insert everything) here as well as you can. However, unless you want to be a burnt out crisp of a woman, you have to let go of HOW things get done and focus instead on GETTING THINGS DONE.
I feel you on the struggle of seeing things done imperfectly at least initially, but how are they ever going to learn if they don’t have practice either? So, figure out what you can stand to see done less than perfectly for a while.
Some of my favorite ones to get help with: dishes, laundry, and cleaning. Some really easy tasks like taking the trash out or getting the mail, putting clothes away (even if it is in stacks in their room), feeding the dog, etc. You get the idea. Anything you can take off your list of things to do each day is a good thing.
How to Enlist Your Spouse for Help
My husband and I used to have the argument of who does more, until I made us keep track for a week of the amount of time spent on tasks around the house. This was eye-opening to both of us.
If you both work outside of the home, you need to come up with some kind of equitable division of labor for the jobs around the house. If you don’t do this, you are probably going to end up resenting the heck out of each other.
In our case, whoever cooks – the other cleans the dishes. When our kids were little, he was in charge of bath time while I picked up and got their rooms ready for bed. I would then read them a bed time story, etc.
Productive Mom Problem and Solutions – How to Encourage Yourself at the End of the Day
There will be times (many times) when you will feel like you got nothing done of importance at the end of the day. One, that isn’t true, if your kids are alive and well and taken care of, you did your job.
Two, there are so many small things that fill in your time or take longer than you think they should have. This is why I am more of a fan of DONE lists than To-Do lists.
Problem Number 1 – Feeling like you got nothing done
If this is the case, spend some time at the end of the day filling out a done list. List out all of the things you can think of that you completed that day.
Usually you get more done than you think. It just may not be the things you thought “should” be completed that day.
Problem Number 2 – Always moving the same tasks from one day to the next
If are moving the same task from day to day – either this task isn’t really important in the grand scheme of things or it is important but you need to find someone else to get it done.
And, if you know that it is important and needs done but you keep putting it off (like doctor appointments, taxes, etc.). At some point, you just have to book it and call it non-negotiable time.
Problem Number 3 – Never having any “me” time for yourself during the day
This one needs to be one of the non-negotiables on your list. It doesn’t have to be a long time, but to avoid burn out as a Mom and caregiver, you have to have at least 15 minutes every day to recharge your batteries. If you have no idea how you will find time in your day to do this, check out our “My Self-Care Planner” tool for help.
Problem Number 4 – Spending Too Much Time on Social Media
If you find yourself spending any (or all) available free time on social media, you will probably find that you feel more stressed at the end of that time rather than less stress. I know it can seem like an easy way to zone out but these apps are really designed to suck all your time into some crazy vortex where you never get it back.
Aside from keeping up with what friends from high school are doing, there isn’t much that Facebook or Instagram really bring to our lives. It would be nice if you took a little of that time and actually devoted it to something that does fill you up and refills your well before you run dry.
Creative play is one great way to have time pass in a pleasant way. Try it!
How to Complete Tasks and Still Be Happy as a Productive Mom
We all want to take action each day and get stuff done. It only makes sense, doesn’t it? Our survival as a society depends on the actions of lots of different people.
We each do our part and everything runs smoothly. The internal mechanism in our brain gives us a gold star when we do what we need to do.
I’m sure you’ve seen this in action in your own life. You feel proud, accomplished, and happy when you wrap up a big work project, or finish reorganizing your closet.
It’s a great feeling and it’s what drives us to complete tasks on a regular basis. It’s motivation to get to work and take action.
Why Being a Productive Mom Can Feel Impossible Some Days
This is probably one of the reasons being a Mom can be a hard job. We feel like we are spending our time on things that society doesn’t seem to value.
“Oh, you are just a stay at home Mom” kind of crap. Or people who minimize the monumental task that being a Mom is every day.
So, if you find yourself feeling sad that your life doesn’t feel as meaningful as it once did, just know you are doing some of the most meaningful work for society as a whole.
Being a Mom isn’t celebrated as much as it should (just like teachers and nurses and other helper type fields are taken for granted), but they are of vital importance.
Keep Your Head Up and Keep Going
One of the best things you can do is to take action somewhere. Maybe you have a project you have been wanting to work on – like organizing an area of your house.
Even if you only get to work on it in 15 to 20 minute bursts, don’t give up. If you just work as much or little as you can, you may find you can get more done than you thought.
If you are feeling out of sorts, remember the important work you are doing caring and nurturing human beings to be productive citizens for the world. This is the most important job you can probably have in life.
You are having a positive impact on their lives. Try to remember this when you feel like you can’t watch another Disney show.
Also, put snuggle time or playing games on your “done” list too. Someday your kids will outgrow those things and you will fill different roles for them, but right now it all counts.
What can you do this week or this month to work towards your own productivity goal? Whatever you decide, that is where you want to start.
In the meantime, keep taking action, and do things that make you feel happy and accomplished when you can. I am cheering you on!
My Favorite Productive Mom Productivity Hacks and Tools:
- Pomodoro Timer (to work in 20 minute bursts and then take a break of 10 minutes – for 30 minute time blocks)
- Trello or Asana App
- Phone notes app
- Google calendar (desktop and connected to my mobile phone)
- Mom Tips and Tricks – How Systems Can be a Huge Time Saver
What is your favorite productivity hack for Moms? Share in the comments below!
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