Why It’s So Hard to Be a Productive Mom
Mom life is a struggle! Just about every mom experiences challenges trying to be the most effective and productive mom as possible. Because let’s face it, we moms have a lot going on. Every day is a balancing act, and it can be quite a challenge to keep track of it all and be a productive mom.
We juggle our little ones’ needs and nap schedules, the endless tasks of running a home (cleaning, laundry, dishes, errands), and hopefully leave some space for ourselves (exercise, showering, or even just eating). On top of this, some moms even add office work to the mix.
What Inspired These Productive Mom Tricks
Like many other moms out there, I worked in a business setting for several years before having my first child. While the work of mothering is vastly different, I’ve found that applying some of the project management skills from my old jobs has helped me to be a more effective, productive mom at home.
Productive Mom Trick #1 | Arrive in the “office” before your “colleagues”.
Just like I enjoyed getting to my desk before anyone else was in the office, I still love being able to start my day before all the distractions begin. Even if I can wake up 15 minutes before the kids do, it gives me time to brush my teeth, get dressed, and pour some coffee.
Productive Mom Trick #2 | Harness the power of music.
I’m always amazed at how music can speak to my soul. When I would sit down at my desk, I would put my headphones in and start playing whatever my soul needed. I love having my assistant play us music while I make breakfast. I choose the music based on what my soul and/or our home environment needs at the moment: My favorite stations are: Hillsong radio, Jack Johnson radio, classical guitar radio, or my own “Happy Playlist”.
Productive Mom Trick #3 | Choose your top priority(-ies) each day.
When I worked in an office setting, the first thing I would open in the morning was Evernote. I had a simple list of action items I needed to tackle, and I made sure they were in the right priorities each day.
I’ve continued this habit as a mom, with my command center, my bullet journal, and my laptop. I’m always tempted to list out everything I want to accomplish, but I make it a point to keep my list minimal.
I always say that if my kids are alive at the end of the day, I’ve succeeded. So, even if it’s one of those days where you couldn’t even tackle your main priorities, rest in the fact that you succeeded in getting through another day with your little humans, and that each day is different.
Here is my usual list of “action items” each day:
- Empty the dishwasher (Morning)
- Do laundry (Morning)
- Plan & prep dinner (Nap time)
- Chore of the day (Choose ONE for nap time): Grocery shopping, dry cleaning, sweep floors, clean toilets, etc.
Productive Mom Trick #4 | Protect your sanity.
In the office setting, I needed my desk to be somewhat clear before I could concentrate. At home, I need the kitchen counters cleared. If the counters are cleared, my home already feels 80% clean.
Productive Mom Trick #5 | Reject the myth of multitasking.
When I worked in an office setting, I tried to focus on one project at a time. While everyone around me seemed to pride themselves on their ability to multitask, I knew it was the wrong path to take.
This applies in the home setting, too.
Example: My daughter had an accident the other day. I threw her wet shorts and undies into the bathroom sink, closed the drain, and turned on the faucet to let them soak. I then stepped away to toss a dirty sock in the laundry (literally right next to the bathroom I was in). I meant to get right back to the sink but (somehow within 1.7 seconds) completely forgot about it.
Guys, it seriously took 10 minutes for me to remember that the water was running. If it weren’t for those overflow holes, my bathroom would have been flooded.
Multitasking is a joke. A misnomer. You are not completing several things at once. Instead, you’re making yourself crazy and being entirely inefficient. So, resist the urge to “multitask”, at least as much as you can. I realize that little ones are bound to interrupt while you’re making dinner or doing a load of laundry. Let this be the extent of your “multitasking”. You’ll be more efficient and sane because of it.
Productive Mom Trick #6 | Recognize that you are human.
Humans have a unique set of needs and limitations.
We can’t be amazingly productive every day, and this is OK. If you aren’t feeling productive one day, try giving yourself a little kick-start (with music) or some incentive (like a trip to Starbucks) to complete one small item on your to-do list.
But if this doesn’t help you, give yourself grace. You are not a machine. Some days we just wake up feeling a little off.
(By the way, this same concept applies to our kids, too.)
Productive Mom Trick #7 | Take note of the needs/problems/inefficiencies.
One of my favorite things to do in my office job was to analyze processes and improve them. I love that I can apply this skill to my home and family life.
Maybe you always have a hard time finding shoes. Perhaps laundry takes you forever. Or maybe you are realizing that you look at your phone way too much. Whatever the main inefficiency is, the first step to correcting it is to acknowledge it. Then, strategize ways of addressing it.
Example: After having kids, my car quickly became a mom car. I was amazed at how I could clean it out, only to have it cluttered, littered, and smelling like old cheese the next day.
To address this problem, we invested in a handheld vacuum that stays on its charging station in the garage. I keep a reusable grocery bag in my car for trash and just empty it when it gets full. We’re also developing the habit of clearing out any cups or toys every time we come home.
Loading everyone up into a tidy car makes this productive mom so happy!
Productive Mom Trick #8 | Keep your supplies handy.
When I worked in an office setting, there were certain supplies I used on a regular basis (e.g., pens, highlighters, a notebook). In the home setting, I’m always wiping down the counters. So, I keep a spray bottle of vinegar/water close by, along with a microfiber cloth. I love that I can use this on almost everything in my house too. It makes cleaning a breeze.
Tip: Consider investing in some nice glass spray bottles for your all-purpose cleaner. You won’t mind having it out on the counter as much, which will make it easier to keep things clean.
Productive Mom Trick #9 | Delegate.
Anyone who has worked in a leadership role is probably familiar with the need to delegate. This concept can be applied in the home too.
Productive Mom Trick #10 | Take a personal day.
Sometimes we just need to rejuvenate our spirits with some time away. Even if you can’t swing an entire day, try to snag a couple hours away. Walk around Target by yourself, go outside for a walk, or head to the gym. You will never be able to give of yourself if you have no self left to give. I’m also surprised at how it’s these personal moments that allow me to fully appreciate the gift I’ve been given.
Productive Mom Trick #11 | Connect with others in your line of work.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of people staying in a job they hate because they love the people they work with. People make all the difference.
Of course I’m not suggesting that any of us “hate” the job of parenting. Rather, I’m emphasizing the impact that relationships have on our endurance and the enjoyment we get out of doing something. Not only that, but we also have a lot to learn from each other.
So, make time to connect with other parents. If you’re married, definitely prioritize connecting with your spouse. Connecting with other moms is important too. (Preferably in person, if you can.)
Productive Mom Trick #12 | Don’t neglect personal and professional development.
If you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward. Try to set aside even an hour a week to develop your own personal talents and gifts. Not only will you benefit from this time, but your kids will also benefit from seeing you put into action the concept of always learning and always growing.
And, if you consider “momming” to be a profession (I do — the best one ever!), consider checking out some mom conferences, webinars, or other talks. Here are a few to get you started:
There’s my list of tips. Now I want to hear yours!