“Mommy, I peepeed in my bed.”
I woke up to my daughter standing beside my bed, her soaking wet pull up sagging. I could see where streams of pee, now dried, had made their way down her legs, and probably onto the carpet.
I sighed, glancing at my phone. I guess I missed my alarm again, I thought.
I had planned on getting up early that morning to spend some quiet time with the Lord, in prayer and in the Word. My goal was to be up before the kids and be able to enjoy my hot creamed coffee while I got myself ready for the day.
Instead, I found myself once again getting up after my children. And once again, I found myself and hitting the ground running. Will I ever be able to actually get up before my kids and have a slow, quiet morning?
As I got out of bed, I begrudged the fact that I had to immediately meet a child’s need before I even got a chance to pray. Again.
I quickly bathed my daughter, lotioned and dressed her, stripped her bedding, and started the wash. Then, to the kitchen to start the coffee pot. Then, to the bathroom for some quick personal hygiene.
I leaned against the sink, and I could hear a couple siblings bickering in the background. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I can’t start this day upset. Help me today, Lord. Help me not to be angry. Help me not to lose it. Help me to like motherhood today.
I don’t know about you, mama, but I have a tendency to like for things to go according to schedule. I love creating systems and schedules, and I like to follow them. There’s just something so fulfilling about being able to create a plan and have the discipline enough to carry it out.
But if you’ve been a mom for any length of time, you know that things don’t always go according to plan. You have to be willing to adjust your plans, or sometimes even throw them out the window…and be ok with it.
So how do we possibly have productive, orderly days with this kind of uncertainty? I mean, we have to be ready for spilled milk, diaper leaks, tantrums, and conflict management that can sometimes hinder us from being able to get certain things done.
But we also still need to get three meals on the table, make doctor’s appointments, pay bills, scrub the toilet, and squeeze in a workout.
And get enough sleep.
And take off our makeup every night.
And make sure the library books get turned in on time.
Not to mention being present with our kids and setting limits with screen time.
Can we, like, actually do all this stuff? In my opinion, yes…and no. We can get these things done, but it will take some strategy, some wisdom, some trial and error.
It will absolutely also require perspective shifts to get us operating in a healthy way, without sinking into anxiety or purposelessness.
As a stay at home mom, we don’t need to have days that are unmanageable. We need not feel like we’re running around hair-brained all day, just waiting til the kids are sitting in front of a tv or napping so we can brush our teeth and have some peace and quiet.
There’s more to motherhood than survival. I’ve been there, done that, and felt the weight of purposeless. In this post, I want to share five things I’ve personally done to increase productivity as a stay at home mom. I’ve stopped using my kids as an excuse, spent time getting vision, stopped trying to do everything, spent more time listening to the Lord, and accepted real life with kids.
I stopped using my kids as an excuse
A few years into stay-at-home motherhood, I was still having a very difficult time figuring out how to get things done during the day, and I was really frustrated about it.
I always felt that I just could not get stuff done with my kids there. I couldn’t take or make phone calls, I couldn’t do certain chores, and I couldn’t cook. And since I was with my kiddos all day and night, 24/7, I was really struggling internally.
I relied heavily on naptimes and tv shows to help me out with getting my to-do list done every day (as well as breaks!). I would complain to my husband and make excuses as to why I couldn’t do this, get that done, etc. “because of the kids.”
Eventually, I realized…I actually believe I can’t get anything done with my kids around.
But why? Why did I think that way?
I blamed it largely on my only-child-for-eleven-years upbringing, combined with the very self-centered mentality I’d had as an independent woman.
Regardless, I decided that I couldn’t continue any longer with that mentality. But I also realized that I didn’t know what to do about it.
So I browsed Pinterest and other mommy blogs, and see what other moms were doing with their kids. As I looked through images of busy and happy kids, I would think man, these moms got it all together!
I wanted to learn their ways. So I kept reading and even subscribed to some of their blogs, and you know what I realized? They actually didn’t have it all together. Everything didn’t go according to plan for them. But what they did have were strategies and a lot of grace, and I realized I had neither.
I started seeing that I actually had a kid-centered mentality, where I was basically allowing the whole day to revolve around my kids. And not on purpose, but because I didn’t know what else to do. Not to mention that I didn’t know how to possibly get things done and keep small children alive at the same time.
So I learned that a) little kids need to be busy, and b) kids don’t need you to give them something to do every second of the day. I started keeping little things like play doh and tools, Color Wonder stuff, water colors, kinetic sand, etc. as table activities for my littles when I needed to do chores.
This would occupy their focus for a good deal of time, and it would allow me to at least do things like switch the laundry, clear up breakfast dishes, sweep the floor, and tidy up.
When we moved from an apartment into a house, I also started regularly encouraging my kids to play more in our backyard. We keep some balls and other toys out there, and I encourage our kiddos to go outside as much as possible to both get fresh air and keep busy.
Lastly, I realized that I don’t actually have to give my kids something to do every second of the day. They need to experience the slow (and sometimes boring) nature of home life. Every moment does not have to be magical and spectacular.
There are times when I don’t make myself available to my kids. They’re homeschooled, so of course they’re always within my radar, but I neither find something for them to do nor play with them. What usually happens during these times is that my kids find something to do as I bustle about managing the home.
I spent time getting a clearer vision
For a long time as a stay at home/homeschooling mom, I had no vision. In fact, I had no idea that I should have one.
When there is no vision, there is no focus, no clarity, and no healthy boundaries. If you don’t know where you’re wanting to go, you won’t know what road to take (or not take) to get there.
I used to spend a HUGE amount of time cleaning, because I liked having a clean house. But one day I sat down and made a list of all the things that I wanted and needed to do and prioritized them. I realized that in terms of importance, cleaning was actually at the bottom of the list!
I spent most of my time doing the thing that mattered the least, and I was not often getting around to doing the things that mattered the most (spending time with the Lord, teaching my kids things, etc).
So I spent time getting vision. I spent time asking the Lord to reveal vision and purpose for both my life in general and for motherhood.
As I started developing vision for what I’m doing at home, the things I focused on doing started narrowing down, and some activities naturally eliminated themselves.
It made it easier to say no to other commitments, other people wanting me to watch their kids during the day, etc.
Stay at home moms especially need vision because of the nature of what we do. We work long hours, we have no boss, we’re largely unmonitored, and we don’t get paid!
I’ll be launching a resource in the next few months that will teach you how to operate out of vision. It will help you get your life in focus, get clarity, and have productive days every day. Subscribe to my email list to stay in the loop. 🙂
I realized I can’t do everything
I’ve always been a bit of an over-achiever.
You know, the kind of person who wants not only to ace a test, but to nail all the bonus questions as well.
This mentality served me well as a college athlete and student. It landed me a full-ride academic scholarship, and even after transferring to another school, helped me become a three-time All-American volleyball player.
But little did I know that it was going to absolutely fail me in motherhood.
I managed to stay above water with it when I only had one child, but when I added a second one, I felt like I was drowning. By my third and fourth, I was just around the corner from anxiety and other stress-related issues.
When I finally came to the realization that I couldn’t do everything, it was like a huge burden that I didn’t realize I was carrying lifted off of me. But what I also had to consciously stave off was guilt-the guilt that only moms are familiar with that tries to make you feel guilty for not doing and being everything.
I knew that it was not God who was bringing guilt, so I rejected it. I started outsourcing certain tasks, and even enrolled my two youngest kiddos in a Mother’s Day Out program once a week.
This has been HUGE for me, and I’ve realized that my “do it all” mentality was not only unhealthy, but it was actually unproductive, because I would end up doing what didn’t need to be done instead of being super focused on what mattered.
Being productive doesn’t mean YOU have to do everything. There are things that need to get done, but they don’t need to be done by you alone. None of us mamas can do it all. 🙂
If you need more help in this area, check out my resource called The Busy Mom’s Simple Guide to Home Management. It’s your blueprint to simplifying, systemizing, and managing your home without feeling overwhelmed. It will help you identify what needs to be managed in the home and help you plan out options for how to manage it all.
I started spending more time listening to God
There’s nothing quite like the clarity that comes as a result of spending time praying and listening to God.
I’ve come to realize that if I want to stop doing things that don’t matter, break bad habits I’ve had as a mom, and be more focused, then spending time in prayer and in the Word is non-negotiable.
We can take advice from a lot of other sources-YouTube channels, blogs, ebooks, podcasts, etc. And all of these things are good, and they help us. They’ve certainly helped me.
However, nothing was ever intended to replace our personal relationship with God-the relationship He paid for us to have with Him, where union and communion are restored, and He speaks directly to our hearts the things we need to hear in season, imparting wisdom and understanding for what we’re facing.
As a result of spending more time in prayer, I’ve noticed a change in myself in certain areas over time, such as how I handle and relate to my kids, a greater growth in self-discipline, etc.
And through prayer, I’ve also gained vision for what to focus on in this season of my life, and it has freed me from being all over the place.
I started embracing real life
Lastly, I’ve learned to increase productivity as a stay at home mom by accepting the ebb and flow of real life.
I always wanted everything to flow and follow a schedule, just like it did before kids. But I could never quite make it fit. And because I continued to struggle, I would repeatedly return to Pinterest and to other blogs and think, why is this working for other moms and not for me?
Well. I realized that home life and children can be quite unpredictable, and especially if you have a big family. I needed to have routines that were more holistic, focusing on more than just “tasks that needed to be done”.
I also realized that every. single. thing did not have to be scheduled. It could just happen, like in the real flow of life, without having to be jotted in ink first.
I’ve learned that real life with kids can be beautiful, and it can be challenging. As a homeschooling mom, I’ve probably spent most of my days teaching conflict management and following instructions. I’ve learned to consider this, and other character training that happens throughout our day, as highly productive and very important.
Well, there you go! I hope these tips have helped you get inspired to be a more productive stay at home mom, and have encouraged you to see that we’re all in the same boat here. What are some of your favorite tips? Comment below!