7 Productive Mom Tricks
The one thing I consistently found myself saying when I first became a mom was: “I don’t know where the day went.” Or, “What exactly did I do today?”
Hey, mommin’ is hard. So if all you did all day is take care of your kids, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s a 24/7 job with no breaks and no pay. And anyone who tells otherwise probably wouldn’t last an hour before calling it quits.
Now that I’m 16 months in, I think I’m finally getting a good grasp on how to make more out of nap time. In fact, I think I get more during a 1-hour nap than I used to get done in an entire day (no joke).
It started when my kid decided he only wanted to nap for 20 minutes, twice a day… and yet I would still have five deadlines to meet in a week. So I started getting creative with how I would get more done in less time… and somehow, the habits have started to stick– habits I wish I had learned a decade ago… to think how much more I could have gotten accomplished. 😉
For what it’s worth, here’s what I’ve learned along the way that I hope can help moms who want to do more in less time.
- Multitasking, rethought. The long-held notion that multitasking was the best way to accomplish more has come under scrutiny in recent years… and based on my own anecdotal research, I completely agree. I find it usually results in accomplishing more but at a lower quality. That said, as a mom, I think multi-tasking does have merit– and I’m always on the lookout for how I can do two tasks at the same time. For example, I’ve made household tasks into a playtime activity… my little one helps me push the laundry basket, put clothes in the washer, push the button, etc. And we ALWAYS do cleanup before bed so I’m not left to contend with the mess by myself. Besides instilling some good habits at an early age, I also get some help with whatever needs to get done around the house… even if it takes three time as long, I feel it contributes to his development. 🙂
- Embrace Independent Play: I used to think I HAD to give my son my full attention all day long… because if I didn’t, I was a bad mom. What I discovered is that it’s impossible to give your full attention to anything all day long, not to mention completely exhausting… and I found my mind was often somewhere else for the majority of the day. Here’s how I fixed that: For about 30 minutes each day, I put him in his pack-n-play to look at books, play with toys or color with his “water brush” (These “paint with water” activities are amazing… both for independent play and traveling since there’s zero mess). After that, I give him at least a full hour in the morning and then a full hour in the afternoon of my undivided attention (the cell phone is hidden so I’m not tempted to check it at all). We play games, go to the park, run outside… This way, we’re getting GENUINE quality time together where I’m completely focused on him… and yet he’s also discovering how to be content on his own from time to time, which in my opinion, is a very valuable skill to learn.
- Wear Your Baby: Something I SO wish I would have started doing sooner… Get a baby carrier and let your baby observe or just nap while you do the dishes, prep dinner or fold laundry. I absolutely adore the LilleBaby carrier for its back support, but I also loved the Boba wrap when my son was an infant.
- Book a Babysitter Once a Week or Set Up an Ongoing Babysitting Trade: Whenever I have a lot of upcoming assignments, I immediately book a babysitter to come by and play with my son for two hours for one or two afternoons. Or for a budget friendly option, set up a “babysitting swap” with a mom friend, where you watch their kids for an hour or two and then trade. I recently was introduced to the app Komae, which keeps track of hours between friends. I have yet to actually try it, but it looks great!
- Have a “Naptime” List: Planning my day the day before was a trick I discovered when I first started working from home almost three years ago. Now, I make a “naptime list” the night before in which I pick three tasks (and ONLY three- any more and you risk getting overwhelmed), and then order them from most important to least. This way, I can jump right in as soon as my son falls asleep as opposed to spending half of naptime figuring out what I need to do or getting sucked into “tasks” that don’t add value to my day (Facebook, I’m looking at you…). In general, the top things that usually end up on the naptime list are finishing an assignment or blog post, getting a workout in, prepping for dinner or taking a shower. 😉
- Set a Timer: My all-time favorite trick for years has been to set a timer so I don’t go down the rabbit hole of spending more time than I want on a particular task. For me, I actually have to set a timer for dealing with emails or checking social media because I will spend all of naptime just doing that (which always results in me being annoyed at myself for wasting so much time).
- Let the Chores “Do” Themselves: I actually can’t take credit for this one… this is all thanks to my super efficient husband for discovering this. I don’t do dishes during the day. Instead, I let them pile up in the sink and soak with Shaklee’s super powerful, eco-friendly dish wash concentrate all day long so that I don’t have to spend any time scrubbing. Then I do them in one swoop, usually after dinner (while listening to a book on tape or a TEDTalk so I feel like I’m learning something in the process of a “mindless” chore). For any caked-on messes, Shaklee’s Scour Off is a wonder… add some paste, let it soak and it will save you so much frustration and scrubbing time.
How about you, mamas? Do you have any productivity tricks you think others can benefit from? Let us know in the comments!
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My trick that I have found effective is to tap into my productive side before my son wakes up. I read the book “The Happiness Project,” where the author recommended using those wee morning hours to get work done and they have been magical. I am usually at work during nap time but found that I am very refreshed at that early morning hour to tackle the duties of my day before my son rises. So even on weekends when I am at home during nap time, I find myself rising before my family to work on my “to-do’s” and then, I get the remaining tasks done during nap that I missed in the morning…or sometimes take a nice nap myself.
Yes! You’re so right. I love that book! The days I wake up extra early are always the smoothest, most productive days. And it’s nice to have a quiet house to yourself too. 😉 Thanks for sharing!