When I was pregnant with my first child I remember my mom asking me how I was going to cope with work and running a household when the baby arrived and I said not to worry I would keep my baby at home with me and just get on with it. She laughed and I was so upset. I can see now she didn’t laugh out of ugliness or anything like that. She laughed because… if you are a mom at home with kids and trying to get anything done other than keep your kids alive and well, you know don’t you?
I remember another discussion I had with someone else that doesn’t have kids (when I had a newborn baby and toddler, )and when she asked how I was doing I just outlined one or two difficulties (out of a list of about 500) I was having she smiled sweetly at me and said “Oh but you are coping well”… and I was thinking that no, I was breathing. How does breathing equal coping?
**Full disclosure – Le Naturel has sponsored a prize for this post – scroll to the bottom for details**
When my children were much younger I wrote a number of posts about my struggles, thankfully now that my kids are a bit older I can confirm what so many moms told me. It DOES actually get easier.
I have found that there are number of things that I do that help me to be a more productive and happier stay at home mom, as well as run a business from home. Some of these things are really simple and quick but oh my word they make such a difference!
So here’s what I do to make sure I am productive and happy:
Have A Morning Routine And Stick To It
This is really important, not just for you but also for your kids. I have a set wake up time for myself and a set wake up time for my kids. We have set times for breakfast and for leaving the house.
Both my children have certain things that they must do in the morning before we leave for school. It is not a lot but it is important to start teaching kids from a young age to do things for themselves.
They must each make their beds in the morning before they get dressed and they must also pack their own bags. I make their lunches ready for them and put out any sports clothing or anything else they need for the day but they must then put it all in their bags.
I have shown them what the clock must look when it is time to leave and my 6 year old daughter now understands how much time they have and is now often helping me chase after her little brother in the morning telling him that the big hand is nearly on the 3 and we have to go soon!
Make The Bed, Get Those Curtains and Windows Open
This is one of those really simple and quick things that make a massive impact on my day. Often I would get home from dropping my kids at school and get preoccupied with things I had to get done and I would just leave everything as is and turn on my laptop to start work.
I now have a completely different routine when I get home and the first thing I do is make my bed, then walk around the house and open all the curtains and windows. If you leave everything closed up give this a go first thing and you will be amazed at the impact it will have on the rest of your day.
Daily Quick Clean
You may have a long list of things to do or perhaps like me you work from home, so it may feel like you need to knuckle down as soon as possible to get through that mega long to do list. And yes you do need to get those things done, however trying to get those things done in a home that looks like a bomb has hit it is not going to help your productivity at all.
Trust me on this, I have tried it and it does not work. Instead start your day with cleaning up the worst of the worst. What I do is check the time and give myself exactly thirty minutes and I rush around like a crazy person doing the most important things first. I tidy, do the dishes, hang up the washing and wipe down tables and counters.
When the thirty minutes are up my house looks at least half decent and I actually feel so much better even though I detest cleaning.
Walk or Exercise
I make sure to do some light exercise straight away, even if it is just a quick walk down the road and back. Sometimes I get out my yoga mat and do a quick exercise routine and other times I just put on some funky music and dance around for 10 minutes.
If you have children or a baby at home with you then take them with you for a walk. You can put your baby into a baby carrier or pram.
Once again it may seem like your priorities are backwards when there is so much to get done, but I have found that making sure that I look after myself and get some exercise in just starts everything off on the right note.
Have A Green Smoothie
I have started having a green smoothie every day for breakfast and it has given me so much energy and I have lost some weight too which is a big time bonus. (More to follow soon about my weight loss because I have managed to lose 7 kilograms this year from the beginning of January until end of February!)
Starting your day with a green smoothie will give you all those goods things you need to be physically and mentally at the top of your game.
I will be sharing some green smoothie recipes soon, however for now I always use roughly the same recipe but change it a little according to whatever I have in my kitchen. As long as it is green in it goes.
I always have a base of green leaves (baby spinach or kale are my favorites), fresh ginger, cucumber, plan full cream yogurt, almond milk, avo and peanut butter. I love to also add celery, broccoli and apple.
As a rule I try and make my green smoothies mostly out of vegetables and not so much fruit. If you stick to an 80% vegetable and 20% fruit you should be fine, otherwise you are just taking in too much sugar.
If you are not into smoothies, just replace this one with a healthy breakfast – you will need it for energy to get through your day. Skipping breakfast is not going to help you at all.
Tackle Your To Do List
So looking at all the things I said to do first you may think it is late afternoon before you get to tackle your actual to do list, but this really isn’t so. I have gotten into a smooth routine every day and from the time I get home from dropping my kids at school until the time I get to this point and start work it is one hour from the time I get home so it is always about 9am.
I also have a routine for how I tackle my work every day, but I won’t go into that now. Just prioritize what you need to get done and don’t leave the worst tasks for last otherwise you may just end up procrastinating those things to the next day. I always try to tackle the things I like least first. This makes me feel positive and happy as soon as I have finished those things, leaving me feeling a sense of accomplishment.
What About Getting Things Done With Kids At Home?
Suddenly all planning goes out the window right? Here’s my suggestion for when you have a baby or a toddler at home. Put your child or baby first.
Schedule some time into your daily routine to do things with your kids, make some biscuits, do some crafts or read a book. There is a reason you decided to be a stay at home mom so try and remember that. Time goes by so fast and you don’t want to look back and feel sad that you put your focus on something other than your children.
Being at home with your children is amazing but it can also get seriously frustrating too. You will have many days where you feel like you have managed to get nothing done and it is not always easy to be a patient mother.
If you have something urgent to do I can guarantee you that your baby or child will disrupt you and drive you batty. Instead of trying to get that done as soon as possible give your child some attention first. Play a game or sing a silly song. Get your child started on an activity and when your child is settled and distracted then attempt to get something done.
It sounds like doing things backwards but if you try and put your work or chores above your child you will come short, always! Your child will also get used to your routine and know when he gets attention and when you work. As long as you put your child’s needs first you should be able to get some things done when you need to.
Make a list of all the things that need to be done when it comes to running the household and decide what you need to do and what other members of the family need to do.
Yes you may be at home all day and yes you will be the one doing the majority of the household duties, however everyone in your family lives in the home and everyone must contribute to according to their abilities and time available.
So if you have a toddler you can’t expect too much of your child but you can set daily tasks such as making his bed or setting the table. Yes it will be a very messily made bed and no doubt the table settings will be interesting and take a long time to get done, along with tantrums along the way. However long term this will benefit your child and help you.
As your children get older you can add new chores to their responsibilities.
This step involves other addicts in the house too! Your husband or partner must also do his bit, so for example if you cook dinner every night he can do the dishes.
If there is any extended family such your parents living in your home make sure to include them in the delegation of tasks. They may be elderly but they can do things like reading bedtime stories to your children to give you a night off!
Afternoons – Homework and Kids
Having an afternoon routine is very important too, if you have children in school make sure that they know what is expected of them and set time aside to do homework with your kids.
Your child’s schooling is so important and the days go by so fast. I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at my watch and been shocked to discover it is nearly time to start supper.
When we get home from picking my kids up from school they each have to unpack their school bags while I get lunch ready. We eat lunch together and then we do homework immediately so it is out of the way. This is good for me and it is good for my daughter too. She is learning to prioritize her homework before she plays.
This also means that I can get a little bit of work in before I have to cook supper.
Self Care and Help
Being the mother you will spend so much of your day looking after everyone else and ensuring the proper running of the household, which is a crucial role in the family.
This also means that you give so much of yourself and very often there is nobody to give anything back to you, to nurture you. It is important to make sure that you nurture yourself.
If you don’t make sure to look after yourself you will find it a huge struggle.
Doing the things I mentioned in the beginning of this post where you look after your health needs before doing anything else will help so much in the self care department but you will need more than this.
Make sure to schedule some self love time, such as painting your nails, having your hair done, going out for coffee with a girlfriend or just lying in bed reading a good book.
It is just way too easy to get sucked up in the things you need to do and put those chores above looking after yourself.
Ask your husband or another family member to look after the kids for bit on the weekends so that you can catch a breather and reboot.
And on that note of self love, Le Naturel has kindly sponsored an awesome prize for this post:
To enter this giveaway leave a comment on this post and share any tips you have for being a more productive and happy stay at home mom.
The winner will be announced on Tuesday 27 March 2018 via blog post.
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Also published on Medium.