I always start the day off with the best of intentions, but then dishes pile up, the kid(s) wants to go to the park and it takes a long time to get out the door, clothes have to be washed and put away, etc, etc, etc (you get the idea.) It can be really had to balance taking care of a family and finding time for your own hobbies. As mothers, we are geared to give everything first to the family – which is good! – but I think our families will also benefit when we DO put time into our own creative endeavors.
My top 5 productivity tips for mom’s who are also trying to study/work while at home with little children.
Here I mean your own discipline (not children’s discipline.) We are all familiar with the quote “Do what must be done even if you don’t want to” or something to that effect. Have a daily routine, stick to it, and be disciplined about it. When it’s time to cook, cook. Time to clean, clean. Time to hop online or sit and write, do that, even if the “creative juices” are not flowing. Write anyway. Multitasking is not a great habit, so do each work or chore diligently and with discipline, and you’d be surprised how much you can get accomplished.
Each day, I have a to-do list before me; I love the thrill of checking off items on paper as I complete my tasks. But just as important as to-do list is a not-to-do list. With advent of social media sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, the 24/7 new cycle, and WhatsApp, it is so easy to become distracted from the task at hand. For the stay at home mom, however, it’s really easy to be pulled away from work by the unwashed dishes that seem to multiple throughout the day or the desire to reorganize the closet or bedrooms. While each of these things are good habits, don’t focus or do them during the time you have allotted for working! There will be time enough to wash up and tidy later in the day.
If you have young children who wake up when do you, this isn’t an option, but otherwise the still quiet time in the morning is often the only time I will get the chance to sit and write without interruptions. Yes, it’s terrible hard to wake up early when I can just keep sleeping in my cozy bed, but I find the days go much more smoothly when I have had a cup of coffee, some time to meditate, make breakfast and work on m hobbies before the household wakes up and the busy race of the day begins. I have found that having an accountability partner, such as a fellow mom or friend with the same goals, can be extremely beneficial for developing the early AM rising habit.
I cannot say enough good things about developing this habit. Each Saturday, I will peruse my current pantry and freezer, and then cookbooks or my homemade list of my family’s favorite meals and choose 5 for the week. With this list, I head to the market to buy the the essential ingredients and prep anything I can ahead of time (marinade meat, chop and freeze veggies, etc.) Cooking homemade healthy food is so important for our family’s, and it must be a priority, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Avoiding the 4 o’clock “what are we having!” will greatly cut down on stress, and if I know exactly what is for dinner each night, I feel a lot more at peace and free to do my other work throughout the day. Another pro mom tip: 1) Slow cooker and 2) pressure cooker. While at opposite ends of the spectrum, they both are immense times savers. I love that I can drop in some marinated meat and 5-8 hours later, it will be delicious. On the other hand, with the pressure cooker, I can make potatoes or beans in a pinch.
Have Community Support
Man is not an island- we need others’ support, fellowship, and assistance. Join Facebook groups or blogging communities with mom’s who are on a similar journey. It can be incredibly motivating and a great source of accountability. If you can’t find such a group, start one! Additionally, maintain friendships and groups “in real life” as the Internet folks say. If possible, find help to watch or play with the children a few hours each week if you need interrupted work time. Staying motivated and encouraged in our work, both in the home and for our own interests, is invaluable!