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Are you frustrated when trying to get things done?
You follow all the tips to help with productivity and time management, but yet, feel as if nothing gets done?!?
You wake up early and stay up late; burning the candle at both ends, but not making any tread way.
Well, it may not be your fault. If you have kids, especially little ones who aren’t in school yet, it’s hard to get things done! Just plain hard!!
(Especially if they are on a rotating sleep schedule and you can’t guess if they’ll sleep in or wake up when you do, or take a nap during the day!)
You’re not alone; I’m right there with you, struggling to accomplish simple everyday tasks.
And if you’re reading this, then there’s a good chance that you have probably read many other articles on time management and are obsessed with being as productive as possible, like I am!!
As parents of small children, we can’t afford to not be productive with everything we do! Especially, if we want to take a few minutes of the day for ourselves!
Unfortunately, one thing that many articles are lacking when it comes to time management, or productivity, is the fact that we have small children and that they require A LOT of attention. And, when I say a lot, I mean they basically want our attention 24/7, and if we don’t give it them they start to act out. Or, they start to purposely annoy and bug us until we give in.
(Like my five year old is doing right now as I write this…she couldn’t wait 5 seconds while I finish this sentence to get a second blueberry muffin……..)
(…..alright, now she has her muffin, and so does her sister. So now, maybe, just maybe I can write this…except now her sister threw her sippy cup on the floor…. See what I mean about kids needing a lot of attention!)
What time management and productivity tips tell us to do…
….and why they don’t work for us!
1. Don’t multi-task
This is a joke, right? How is a stay at home parent supposed to not multi-task and be more productive? That’s one of the job requirements for this unpaid and unappreciated, high level career! Seriously, I think this (being a SAHM) is what my psychology degree is for!
If I couldn’t talk to one child about one thing, have another child thinking my leg is a carnival ride, and do dishes at the same time; I’d be in trouble!
The people who think you shouldn’t multi-task probably work away from home and don’t have children to tend to when trying to complete important tasks. Or, maybe they work from home and actually get some help during the day!(And, they consider multi-tasking as being on facebook while trying to write or being on the phone with an important client. If that was the only multi-tasking that I had to worry about; I’d be golden!)
2. Time blocking
I think this is a great idea to get a lot done! When I worked outside the home I would use this technique. But, when I became a stay at home mom, I quickly realized that this technique is not practical, or even possible! Especially, with more than one child!
Being a mother of two small children means completing tasks in 10 to 15 minute increments; or less (or while doing something else). Sorry, but it’s not that realistic to find a full hour in the day to simply get things done. Sometimes I can’t even find 5 minutes of uninterrupted time in the day!!
Even if you are to get one child down for a nap; what’s the likelihood that your other child(ren) will nap, too? Let me give you a hint; not very likely! If you’re lucky, then it might happen once every couple of months. But still, that’s an hour of time alone, every once in awhile; it’s not predictable and you can’t count on it! But, it is AMAZINGGG!!!! when it does happen!
And, are you really going to want to do work in that one hour of peace and quiet? Or, are you going to want to finally take a break and relax. I’d rather relax and enjoy my hour, maybe even take a nap, too!
3. Write your schedule or plan tasks in your calendar, or agenda.
Don’t get me wrong, I love planning and organizing and scheduling out my days! It worked miracles when I was a busy college student and working two part time jobs.
However, I didn’t have two kids needing my attention 24/7 back then. I had myself to worry about; my schedule, my work, and my school work. It was a lot easier to stick to a strict schedule back then. I knew how long it took me to do things, didn’t have as many distractions, and knew I could get everything done.
And, it’s not that I haven’t tried to schedule out my days at home with my kids.
I have created many different schedules and tried out all of them; and I continue to attempt this insane task! I’ve even written a how to guide on creating a weekly schedule, simply because I have done it soo many times!I have more luck with my kids when I just go with the flow of things. If they sleep in, I don’t dare to wake them up; same thing if they fall asleep at 6 or 7pm.
One thing I’ve learned from creating schedules for the day for myself and my kids is to not get upset when nothing goes as planned. Sure, creating a daily schedule is important for yourself and your children. But, if you get upset or give up on trying to get anything done because your plan is all out of whack; you seriously need to give yourself a break and some more credit. No one ever said raising kids is easy!
4. Use the Pomodoro Technique.
If you have never heard of this technique, let me explain. This technique is simply working for 25 minutes, taking a 5 minute break, then working for 25 minutes, and so on. Eventually, you get a longer break! But, I’ve never made it to that point before. When I do attempt this technique, I use https://tomato-timer.com/ to time myself. (It’s free, and just a simply timer designed specifically for this technique.)
If I could have all 25 minutes of work time, and uninterrupted; it would really help me be more productive. I can get a bit competitive at times, so I thought this would be perfect for me; competing against the clock to get my work done!
Unfortunately, this technique of working for 25 minutes at a time does not account for the 25 interruptions you get from your children while trying to get your task done.
So, unless you have children who will either help you do the task at hand, or be quiet for a whole 25 minutes (at one time); then I would not recommend this technique. You’re supposed to be super focused during the whole 25 minutes. If you do have children who behave well enough for you to use this technique; please, let me know how you get them to behave so well. (And, no, sitting them in front of the TV doesn’t work! At least not for me and my girls.)
5. Wake up earlier.
Alright, I used to be a believer in this time management tip…til I had my second child. My kids like to get up when I do. And, I keep going back and fourth on whether this works or not.
I can sometimes get away with waking up before they do to get a few things done, but it’s never a guarantee. This is especially difficult since I am still nursing my youngest and we co-sleep. So, my youngest can pretty much tell when I wake up and she wakes up with me.
If you can sneak out of bed without your kids waking up; great!! It’s a great feeling being able to get up before everyone else to get a few things done, or to just have some peace and quiet at the beginning of the day!
(Update: I can finally get up before my girls and get an hour or 2 to myself in the morning!!! But, I have to get up at 3am.)
When trying to get things done with kids around, it can feel almost impossible. And, this list isn’t to give you another excuse to not get things done!
I just want you to know that you’re not alone. I’m right there with you; trying to fit too many ‘to do’s’ into a chaotic day with kids wanting every speck of the time you have.
This doesn’t mean that we should give up on trying to get anything done. It just means we need to have more will-power, more discipline(for ourselves), and more creativity than those without children.
We can do everything we need to; it’s just going to be in different (and more difficult) than those without kids. We may not have as much time to get things done; but, this simply means we can’t procrastinate as much as those without kids. And, I think deep down, we know this.
We know if we don’t get things done as soon as we get the opportunity to, we aren’t going to get it done at all!
So, to all of those parents out there trying to do it all; be a little easier on yourself. Those who seem like they are able to do it all probably don’t really do it all, they’re probably just good at making it look that way!!
If you have any real tips to help real parents be more productive, please share in the comments below. And, share this article with friends and family of little ones, to help them not feel as alone when feeling as if they can’t get anything done!