The life of a mom can seem the opposite of productive.
Every mom has “those days”.
You woke up late, and now you’re scrambling to get your kids out the door. Then you have to go grocery shopping, and right before you leave your baby has a blowout diaper. You get stuck in traffic on your way back while baby screams inconsolably in the backseat, and when you finally get home, he’s asleep in his car seat. Then your kids come home, homework, dinner, sibling spat after spat, and when they’re finally all bathed and in bed, you look at the shambles of your house and wonder where the day went—and will you ever catch up?
Besides for daily routines (which I will discuss in another post) to keep you generally on top of things at home and which prevent most messes from looking insurmountable, what do you do when you feel like you just can’t get a handle on your life/housework and things are out of control?
Whenever I feel inadequate, or unable to cope emotionally with the chaos, there are a few things I do to keep myself feeling like a productive, contributing member of society.
Here are a few ideas:
I know, I know. We are mothers of young kids, and we are SO busy! But taking the time for yourself in the morning to talk to God and ask for his help with the day can be life-changing. Try it, you’ll see!
Make your bed
Yes, I said it. Some of you may be shaking your head and wondering why I’m suggesting such a simple thing that of course you do every day, and some of you may wonder why you should bother making your bed when you’re just going to get into it in a few hours anyway?
I find when our bed is made, without anything dumped on it, even if the rest of the room is a disaster it somehow looks better and more put together. I don’t know if it’s a psychological thing but it just makes me feel calmer.
Do a load of laundry from start to finish.
“But I haven’t washed the dishes/started supper/gotten dressed!” you may protest. Throw one load of laundry in while you’re still in your pajamas and switch it over to the dryer an hour later. Then a speedy fold and put away (stack the clothes according to room so you can easily run a pile to each room) and you might even have time before your kids get home from school! I find that a sorter like this one (it even has a hanging rod!) in the laundry room speeds up the process considerably. Just throw in the section that’s fullest!
I normally have two laundry days a week, and I generally fold at night (see my 6 tips to set your morning up for success) and put the clothes away the next morning. But on the rare days that I actually manage to fold the clothes and put them away before my kids go to bed, I feel like my evening is a vacation! There’s nothing like knowing you have FINISHED your laundry for the day to make you feel productive.
Feed your freezer
With anything. The easier the better. A batch of muffins that your kids can grab as breakfast on their way out or enjoy as an after school snack. Pancakes in bags of 2 to send to school for lunch. A pound of meat made into hamburger patties and flash frozen for the next time you’re stuck without an idea for dinner. At the end of the day, knowing that you did something small to streamline your life tomorrow or the next day will give you a major sense of satisfaction. There’s nothing like actually producing something to make a mom feel productive.
Do something for someone else.
It’s always good to feel like you have something to offer someone else. It doesn’t even have to be hard or take a long time. Pick up a bakery pastry and cup of coffee for a new mom and take it to her on your way back from dropping your kids off at school. Offer to have your sick friend’s kid over for a playdate. Call up your parent/grandparent/aunt/elderly relative who you’ve been meaning to call but just never finding the time. Do it while you’re folding that load of laundry 😉
Do something you’ve been procrastinating.
When I’ve been putting and putting something off, somehow every day that I don’t do it the thing seems to sit a little heavier on my shoulders. When I finally bite the bullet and do it, I feel like a million bucks! Even if it’s something small, like making a phone call, paying a bill, replacing a broken utensil–those little things tend to get pushed off because either a) it’s unpleasant b) it’s inconvenient or c) it’s so small that you just don’t remember it until you bang up against it, like buying toothpaste! (Yes, that has been forgotten and forgotten because I don’t brush my teeth in the kitchen where I hang my shopping list. By the time I get to the list I forget all about it–until the next time I have to brush my teeth.)
Find something small that you’ve been pushing off and in the words of Nike©, JUST DO IT.
Whether you regularly work out or not, a 10-minute yoga stretching session in your living room can feel amazing. If you want to feel even more accomplished and productive, try 10 minutes of cardio. You can find thousands of 10-20 minute workouts for FREE on YouTube. FitnessBlender also has free full-length workouts if you can spare the time. Don’t be fooled into thinking that if it isn’t at least a 45-minute workout then it’s not worth anything anyway. “The only bad workout is the one you didn’t do.” I’ll be writing a post on how to fit exercise into your busy day and which workouts I like best!
Make yourself a healthy snack
We so rarely think about ourselves when it comes to food preparation. Who has the time to make themselves a healthy breakfast or lunch, or dinner for that matter (if your kids are like a couple of mine and only like a maximum of 2 vegetables)?
Putting a nice snack together for yourself, like a couple of fruits cut up with yogurt and granola, or a smoothie, or even just cutting up a pepper to have with cottage cheese feels like you’re actually doing something to take care of yourself. I also used to think I didn’t have the time, but I was wrong. Even if you have to cut up an extra pepper for your 3-year-old who suddenly NEEDS what’s on your plate, there’s a bonus right there—they see Mommy eating healthy food and now they want it too!
Declutter one shelf.
Or drawer. Or surface. Just for 15 minutes. There’s nothing like knowing that there’s a little corner of your house that is perfectly organized and clutter-free. Personally, I love doing the top of my dresser. Like a made bed, it instantly gives the room a neater look. I just take everything off, dust the dresser top, and put things back as I dust them too (or not, because I’m throwing them out). It takes me a maximum of 15 minutes and I immediately feel better and more productive because it somehow just makes everything look better.
Put on one thing that makes you feel like you look better.
I’m not trying to be shallow here, and I know I may get a lot of flak for this, but here it is. Feeling that you look better on the outside makes you feel better on the inside. Proven fact. My sister was on a bus with her friend once and her friend was telling her how she feels like everything is so hard, she’s so down in the dumps and she feels like nothing will work out. My sister looked at her and asked, “X, are you feeling fat?”. Her friend looked at her in amazement. “YES! How did you know?”
This is not a comment on how thin people may or may not be. Fat is a state of mind (and I happen to know that this girl is absolutely not even close to fat) but the point is, when you’re not feeling great about how you look, sometimes life can feel insurmountable.
So do one thing. Put on lipstick (that’s my trick for looking put-together after having a baby, lipstick and big sunglasses!), a pair of earrings, a nice necklace, a cute skirt instead of yoga pants…whatever it is to make you feel like you look that little much better.
I hope you’ve picked up some ideas from here about how to feel like you’ve got productivity down, what are some things that YOU do to feel productive?