What is it about the beginning of a year that makes a mom (or anyone, for that matter) reevaluate how productive they are?
That’s all fine and good, but I think there’s a flaw in this when it comes to moms.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s important to actively work to grow as a person, especially after you start having kids. Because if we’re being real, once little ones start running around it gets hard to do anything for your own benefit.
But here’s the problem. How most people measure productivity pre-kids is usually not very realistic after kids come into the picture.
We need to redefine what a productive mom looks like. Because if we don’t, new and seasoned moms alike will continue to needlessly run themselves into the ground trying to achieve that “productive” status.
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Redefining The Productive Mom
Look, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be productive. In and of itself, it’s a good thing to aim for. It’s good to want to get things done, and done well.
And for many moms, myself included, getting things done helps them feel more like themselves.
I was always a very disciplined person, especially in my college years. I always had a long to do list that regularly had things checked off it.
Even now, I like to have to do lists to stay organized and on task. Checking things off gives me a sense of accomplishment and makes me feel more like myself.
There’s something about getting things done that makes a lot of us feel better. But here’s where that starts to fall apart after you have kids.
Too often, we go into motherhood with that same mindset that we should have productive days and check things off to do lists.
And when things don’t get checked off, we feel we’ve been unproductive. But is that really the case?
How Moms Measure Their Productivity
Let’s back up a second and evaluate how moms tend to measure their productivity. Because really, that’s where things tend to fall apart.
I think for most of us, we keep measuring our productivity the same way we did before we became a mom.
All too often, we measure how productive we are by what we check off the to do list. We like to see tangible, visible evidence of the work we’ve done all day.
I think this is especially true for stay at home moms (although it can also be true of working moms). We spend all day doing laundry, cleaning, cooking, and taking care of kids.
At the end of the day, we sit down and it feels like we haven’t done anything at all. The house still feels like a mess, because your toddler kept pulling out toys everywhere you cleaned.
Even if you got all the laundry washed, it still needs to be folded and put away. And chances are there’s a new, tiny pile beginning build for tomorrow’s load.
Maybe you cooked or maybe you didn’t. Either way, there’s likely a few more dishes that need washed, even if you did in fact wash dishes already.
The end result: you end up feeling like you had an unproductive day. And before long, you start to feel like you aren’t a productive mom as those days begin to stack up.
Here’s the thing. It’s not that you suddenly aren’t as productive as a mom as you were before you had kids. It’s that you’re measuring your productivity by a measuring stick that no longer fits your life.
Why Is That An Inaccurate Way To Measure Productivity?
I think we can all agree that motherhood brings new challenges and responsibilities. But why is it that we don’t take that into account when we try to measure our productivity?
Before kids, we can easily measure what we’ve done with to do lists and progress reports. It’s easy to see what we’ve accomplished, because it’s nearly all tangible, visible tasks. Tasks with tangible, visible results.
But the reality is that motherhood bring responsibilities and “to do’s” that aren’t all tangible. There are things that as a mom, you need to do every day, but you may not be able to see the results.
Motherhood often breaks down our streak of instant gratification, which can often make us feel unproductive solely because we aren’t noticing the things we’re getting done.
The Reality Of Intangible Productivity
While there’s nothing wrong with checking things off a list, we have to realize and acknowledge the fact that there are intangible things we do as mothers.
Have you ever thought about the things you’re teaching your kids throughout the day? Maybe its teaching your baby to walk, or your toddler to color inside the lines.
Maybe you spent extra time today helping your little one learn to be kind to their sibling, or cuddled a little longer with your baby.
Those things are just as important, if not more important, than the things on your to do list. And those things are almost never on an easy checklist for you to see.
Girl, even if nothing “got done” today, I can almost guarantee you were still productive. Because I’m willing to bet you didn’t even think to count all the “intangible” things you did today.
6 Ways Mom Is Being Productive Without Checking Off The List
There’s no possible way to list all the intangible things a mom gets done in a truly productive day.
But I also know it helps to have examples to begin to see the productive things you did.
So, with that in mind, here are a few ways you are getting truly important things done, even on days when it doesn’t feel like anything is getting done.
Loving their children
I’m betting that loving your children isn’t on your to do list. But I’m also willing to bet it’s something you do everyday, anyway.
Somedays, loving our kids is easy. Other days, it takes a lot more effort. Maybe it means more time spent cuddling in bed in the morning. Or maybe it means spending more time reading books or playing with your toddler.
Some days, loving our kids well takes up most of our time. It can leave us feeling like we didn’t get anything done, because nothing was checked off our list.
Give yourself grace on those days. Spending time loving your kids is well worth it. It’s a kind of productive that isn’t as easily seen as a completed list, but it’s far more important.
Teaching their children behavioral traits
Some days it feels like all I do is correct my toddler. Some days it feels like we just go from one thing to the next, all the while trying to teach him to be kind and patient and obedient.
Sometimes that feels like running into a brick wall, like we’re not getting anywhere. And often on those days, I don’t get much done as far as housework goes.
Teaching your kids takes time—and a lot of it. That means that there are going to be days when nothing else gets done. Teach your kids anyway.
Babies don’t keep, and kids grow up fast. We have a limited time to spend with them, to teach them the things they need to know. Don’t ever consider that time spent as unproductive.
Keeping the little ones alive
Look, if we’re all being honest, there are days when it feels like we just barely made it. Days when it seems all we succeeded in doing was keeping everyone alive.
Give yourself some credit for that!
Caring for babies and raising little ones is hard work. It takes a lot of time, effort, and energy. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart.
So even if all you did was keep everyone alive, count it as a productive day.
Taking a break & self care
Girl, you can’t pour from an empty cup. But for some reason, most of us try keep trying to.
I know taking a break and practicing some self care doesn’t always sound like a productive thing to do. And it can be hard to do when there dishes and laundry piling up, and million other things that need to be done.
But you matter too, mama. And if you don’t take time to relax and care for yourself, you will quickly burn out.
You are far more productive when you’re taking care of yourself. It’s not selfish, and it does help you to be more productive in the long run.
Stop thinking of self care and time spent relaxing as being unproductive. You’re refilling your cup, so that you can pour into your family. And that is productive.
Reading with their kids
While most of us know the importance of reading with our kids, how many of us actually put it on our daily checklist?
Chances are, it’s something that we do during their bedtime routine, or perhaps during the day. But how often do we give ourselves credit for it?
Reading is incredibly good for our kids, and essential for our own growth. But how many of us add that reading time to our daily to do list?
Personally, I love reading. But for a long time, it didn’t feel like I had time to read. After all, there were so many other things to do.
Sometime last year, I start putting reading time on my daily checklist. I didn’t set a time limit. Instead, I committed to reading two chapters of whatever book I was reading at the time.
And you know what? It all got done. I was able to get some reading in every day, and the things on my to do list still got completed. In fact, I was actually more productive with that relaxing time included!
Another honest moment coming at you. It’s often easier to do things ourselves than to teach our kids to do it. Know what I mean?
My toddler is in the “helping” phase. You know the one—the phase where your toddler wants to help with everything you do. But really, it just makes it take longer and you probably end up redoing it all later while they nap.
But here’s the thing. These are all things your child needs to learn eventually, and it’s going to be inconvenient no matter when you teach them. But it is so, so worth it.
Even if it makes you feel unproductive, teach your kids to do things for themselves. Teach them to be independent.
Even when it sets you back, let them help you. Help them learn to do daily tasks. Assign them age appropriate chores, and let them help out.
It may set you back in the moment, but it is so beneficial and helpful in the long run.
How Do You Measure “Productive” As A Mom?
Often, how productive you are as a mom looks different than it did pre-kids. And that’s because so much of the productive things moms do are intangible, invisible tasks.
Give yourself some credit. You’re doing amazing work raising your little ones. Just because it doesn’t all check off on paper doesn’t mean you aren’t being productive, every single day.
Stop being so hard on yourself. You’re amazing, productive mom doing amazing work.
Do you tend to measure your productiveness by a checklist? How do you feel when the list doesn’t get done?
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!