October 22 2022 – Shaunie Harker
How nice does it feel to get a shower and not have to rush thinking about your baby. These little things are huge in making me feel better and allow me to feel like I can navigate parenting a little easier.
Now, the first things I’d like to say is: Don’t feel guilty for not being productive. It’s a huge ask for all mamas. Being productive and organised around the clock, with children, is unrealistic. We all have days that we lack motivation, focus and even sanity - and that's absolutely ok.
Our self-care and mental health is the most important thing to prioritise here, not the dirty washing.
Sometimes, a drive to become more productive is something that some of us need to get ourselves a mindset that simply gets shit done. I personally need it because it is the one thing that makes me feel less anxious. Not everything below will suit everyone; each of us have different lifestyle’s, family sizes and personalities. Take from this list what is relevant to you and it would be great for you to share any other tips below in the comments.
1. plan in advance
Advance planning is very effective to get in the correct headspace for avoiding last minute dashes to the supermarket or being stuck in alone all day.
Meal plans – it doesn’t have to be concrete, but working to a meal plan helps avoid the last minute panic on what to cook. It allows you to get your food list built, lower wastage and saves money along the way.
Make a list of weekly / bi-weekly tasks – these things aren’t the daily kind. These are the kind I aim to ‘batch complete’ (see below). This list shouldn’t be worried about on a day to day basis.
Take 15- 20 minutes on a Sunday for planning – release what’s in your head and brain dump in a notebook (you’ll be surprised how good this makes you feel). Update your diary and look what events and birthdays you have coming up that you can prepare for. Text your friend so you're not feeling bound to the house.
It takes as much energy to ponder as it does plan
TO DO LISTS ARE KEY
Having a to do list enables you to spend less time and energy trying to juggle things in your head. Using a weekly planner pad helps see your weeks tasks as a whole. At the top of each day / list, put a task that is 100% achievable. This gives a sense of success to start the day and usually supports a more productive mindset for the rest of it. The tasks I usually put at the top of my list area cleaning related and the hardest, as I always feel better starting the day that way.
MASTER THE NIGHT BEFORE
Visiting family? Family coming to stay? Baby swim? Having everything cleaned, packed and / or tidied the night before allows for the mornings to run far more efficiently. You’re less likely to get in a rut and have a bad start to the day.
2. start your day right
Do something relaxing or pleasurable to start your day, whatever that is for you.
RISE BEFORE YOUR CHILD/(REN)
I’ve read several times, “getting up earlier than your child/dren gives you a better start to the day”. Yes, I believe this is a great way to get yourself in the correct head space (there is a ‘however’ below). You can have your coffee or have a quick work out without the distractions.
However, you start your day in whatever way make you feel most comfortable. Whether that’s rising early, or waking when your baby wakes. Making the most of those extra few minutes can also be important to keep you fully functional for the day.
DO YOUR HARDEST / MOST ANNOYING TASK FIRST
Procrastination can drain many of us, just get it out of the way!
3. adopt the batch method
Meal prep. Cleaning. Work. Beautifying (you know, the whole tanning, hair wash, face mask stuff). Anything like this, the batch method is a must.
What is Batching? – I came across a good example a while back:
“you don’t put single items on to wash, you wait for a build up, and wash at once”.
It’s about maximising your time by doing all similar tasks at once. And, for us mamas, time is key. Batching tasks helps improve focus and boost productivity on that particular task.
How do I batch? I power through my weekly bi/weekly tasks over a two hour window with music. I like to batch cook food. I try batch my content. I even try batching catching up with friends while the baby sleeps.
Think about what you can batch and how you can save time when multitasking becomes overwhelming.
4. prioritise right
Saying no is key.
TIME VS TASK
Think about the time it takes to do a task rather than the task itself (easier said than done). I hate doing the bottles but I timed how long it took to wash 8 bottles, it actually only took 4 minutes. In my head, this is a mammoth task yet something that takes only a few minutes.
ESSENTIAL VS NON ESSENTIAL
What actually NEEDS doing? Simple question but when you’re a mama, this applies more than ever. Colour code your to do list, highlighting the priorities for that day and when doing so, consider what is necessary vs cosmetic.
HAVE A ‘COME BACK TO LIST’
I keep a separate notepad where I can write down the cosmetic (non essential) to do’s. It’s ‘my come back to list’. I feel a lot less overwhelmed by stuff when I take it from my head and write it down. Things like organise the shoe cupboard or sort outgrown clothes etc.
Don’t put pressure on yourself, easier said than done but recruit help. Get your partner on board from the get go so you have the confidence that they can do said task (correctly), when you can’t.
KNOW YOUR FIVE PRIORITIES (THESE CAN CHANGE)
Feel a sense of achievement in a little task each day
Ensure my family are eating healthy
Dedicate undisturbed play time
Try stick to my job list but go easy on myself if I don't
5. your mindset matters
Being a mum is tough. We get pushed to our limits, cry in the shower and swear then feel bad for it. I’m not going to give some amazing tip n how to prevent those things because that’s unrealistic, it’s all part of parenting. However, there are a number of things that we can all do to get in the right mindset to help boost our feeling of productivity, here are mine:
🤍 Books / Podcasts that energise you (my favourites listed at the bottom)
🤍 Light exercise
🤍 Affirmations each day
🤍 I accept that being emotional is completely normal
🤍 I can’t have a house that is show home standard
🤍 Thing’s don’t always go to plan, I'm not just managing my own life anymore
🤍 Act of kindness a day
🤍 Reframe negative thoughts (we all have negative thoughts, we’re human)
🤍 Thing are temporary
🤍 Flexibility allows for the stuff that is out of your control
🤍 Align emotions to the bigger picture – “if I stress about the dirty highchair, will it be such a bad thing if I come back to it later?”
🤍 Tell yourself one thing that you are grateful for each day
🤍 Slow down – Time to myself each day creates space for me to feel a sense of calm, enjoy you and be with my your own thoughts. It’s refreshing and encourages productivity. Don’t feel guilty for it!
6. accept that cleaning doesn’t have to consume you
Ironic I say this because I find it consuming me most days. Your home has just accumulated many new things and will keep accumulating over the years. Your environments just become more and more untidy with toys and washing piles and that is absolutely ok! Having toys scattered across the floor actually encourages play. It also gives your child a great learning opportunity as they grow older to learn about taking care of the environment. So as annoying as the mess may seem, it's actually really positive for your child's development.
7. consider what tools / products can help
It could be a diary, a meal planner or a weekly schedule. It could be a Sleepyhead, a play pen or a Tommee Tippee machine. Anything that is useful and convenient, that saves time and allows you to get things done, is worth it. I put off getting a Tommee Tippee machine for weeks because" I didn’t want to feel lazy". I think that was possibly the craziest thing I every thought.
Take from this what you wish but remember, being a productive mum isn't a requirement of being a good mum. Productivity is important to people in different ways, for me..
MY FAVOURITE BOOKS FOR SELF-CARE, MINDFULNESS & PRODUCTIVITY
The Awakening, Sidra Jafri
The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad You Did), Phillipa Perry
Happy Mum, Happy Baby, Giovanni Fletcher
Others on my to read list:
Essentialism, Greg Mckeown
Eat that Frog, Brian Tracy
The Productivity Project, Chris Bailey
Mindfulness for Mums, Izzy Judd