Getting things done with a little one at home can feel really impossible sometimes. When they are awake they can often consume 100% of your attention.
Personally, I know I really struggled with this when I first became a mom. A “doer” by nature, I like to be doing. Motherhood was an adjustment for me in that way.
One of the number one requests I get is questions about time management with kids and tips for getting things done. During my journey of parenthood, I’ve been making some adjustments to find productivity in this new role as mom. I wanted to share the top ones with you.
If you have a place where you’re constantly feeling like you’re having to pop back in to see your kids (for me it’s the kitchen and bathroom) a simple trick is to use a mirror to your advantage. Now you can either hang a decorative mirror in a strategic place OR just get a small mirror, even something handheld. Then, place it in a way that you can easily look in on your kids without haven’t to go all the way into the room. You can even use something like command strips so you can take the mirror down when you don’t need it.
Wake up before your kids
I’m gonna get some eye rolls on the next hack, but it’s to wake up before your child. I know the idea of giving up precious sleep is daunting. But trust me, you’re about to spend the next 12 hours entertaining a little one (with hopefully a nap in there for a break), you need some time for yourself before the day gets started. I can’t stress to you how much better my mornings are when I get up before Miles.
Now, this doesn’t need to be a drastic amount, it can even be just 15 minutes. Personally, I like an hour but do what works for you.
Now, the important thing here is intention. You’re not just setting an early alarm and then waking up and randomly wandering the house not sure what to do because your kids aren’t awake. You want to be intentional with this time to fill your cup. So identify what’s something you can do for YOU. Exercise? Coffee and social media scrolling? Getting work done so you feel productive? Getting dressed and brushing your hair? It doesn’t matter what it is, it just needs to be something that you enjoy and you need to know what it is. This way when you wake up you know exactly what you want to achieve and you can feel like you’ve done something for yourself before your kid is up.
Hooks on the Highchair
I don’t know about you, but every time I pop my kid into his highchair with something messy I realize I don’t have a bib and it’s a mad dash to grab a bib before yogurt and mac and cheese is everywhere. So, I use this hack. Put command hooks on the back of your highchair. Right after you wash your bibs hang them here to dry. Then next time it’s mealtime, you’ll have your bibs right where you need them!
Use Toy Rotation
Kid’s toys can be this catch 22, it’s like you need them to entertain and engage your kids but you also struggle to feel like your house is becoming overwhelmed with them. My trick is toy rotation and I’ve talked about this before. This is the idea of only letting your kid have access to a portion of their toys at once and the rest are in storage. When your kid has too many toys available they can get bored of them (toy fatigue can make their favorite toy look like a piece junk) and it can also be overwhelming. By rotating toys, you keep the selection new, fresh, and concise. Check out my ENTIRE post on toy rotation including how often to do it, how many toys, etc.
Naptime Hustle List
How often have you had all these things you wanted to do but then as soon as bedtime or nap came, you froze up and couldn’t remember any of it?
Me. ALL THE TIME.
So, that’s why now I use the “naptime hustle list.” This isn’t anything fancy, it’s just a scrap of paper I keep in the kitchen. Whenever something comes to my mind I want to do, I jot it down really quick. Then, the minute Miles is asleep I have a quick reference of what I wanted to do. I can jump right in and get some things on my to-do list done! And, whatever I don’t get to, I just add to tomorrow’s list.
Just Have One
The “have just one” rule or the “have just enough” rule has to do with children products. It feels like our kid’s stuff is overtaking our house because, honestly, they have a lot of stuff for such small humans.
With so many things it can be tempting to buy “extras” of things. We think extra spoons, extra cups, extra sleep sacks will make things easier. But, I often find it just creates more kid clutter which is hard to manage, organize, and stay on top of. I try really hard to have “just enough” of what I need of things. Miles has just enough cups for his 3 drinks a day. He only has 2 sleep sacks (one to wear, one for the laundry). We only have a week’s worth of pajamas, etc.
This helps keeps the kid clutter to a minimum and it’s actually A LOT easier to manage. Washing cups every night isn’t that hard when it’s just 2 or 3 cups.
So much of our kid’s food needs to be prepped. So I try to bulk prep any of these things I can do. If I’m quartering grapes, I’ll do a bunch at once. If I’m making pancakes I’ll make a huge batch and freeze them. In the long run, it saves a ton of time.
I also meal prep for actual meals which saves me SO MUCH time at the dinner time hustle. Check out this post on how I meal plan and how it saves me time and money.
Use a Schedule
Sometimes a schedule with a toddler seems impossible. Nothing ever goes according to plan with a little one. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a general routine to follow. Not only will it give you a sense of control but toddlers THRIVE on routine.
I like to use block scheduling. I have blocks of time for each thing. Some blocks are the same every day (like breakfast, nap, cooking dinner together). And, some change like activities, playtime, outside time, etc.
Just remember, this is only a guide. You don’t have to immediately rush to the next activity because the schedule says it’s time if your little one is entertained and happy. Vice versa, you don’t have to force something that isn’t working, you can always move on or throw an entire block out the window.
I think the last thing I want to touch on is that you’re going to need to redefine what productivity is as a parent. You’re not going to be as productive as you were before kids. You also need to let go of the temptation to compare your productivity to those you see online because remember no one is every has productive/organized/put-together as it looks on the internet.
At the end of the day, I remind myself that if I am mentally and emotionally happy and my family is happy, loved, and fed, then THAT is the real success. I can’t always get to everything on my to do list. Some weeks are WAY more productive than others. So, I have to focus on constantly remembering that my emotional health matters more than anything.