Wanna know a secret? This is actually a teaser, a sneak peek if you will, at the type of content that’s inside our course, The Productivity Tool Kit! Now, I can’t give the whole thing away and ruin all of the surprises, so this is actually some extra content that we created for you right here on the blog. But! I did want to try to help with a common problem that so many other mothers talk to me about frequently. And I wanted to give you a little something extra just to thank you for being rad.
We’ve been talking lots about being productive and what that means, and inside our upcoming course The Productivity Tool Kit, there are literally nine modules full of strategies to help you reframe your thinking and get productive, so that you can stress less and live more. But! Right now, what I’m hearing from you, is that it is insanely hard to be productive when you are a stay-at-home parent. It’s nearly impossible to feel like you have a second to work or to accomplish things around the house. And yes. Yes, it is.
So. I wanted to offer a small suggestion and a solution that works in our house.
Use a Family Schedule to Be More Present at Home
I think, often, when we’re home parenting young kids, it’s insanely hard to get things done because the days are so unpredictable. You never know what a kid is going to need. And! You can’t count on a kid to just magically leave you alone for an hour so that you can answer emails or do the laundry. (Not right off the bat, anyway.)
So here’s what we do. Almost every day, we have a rough plan or idea of what we’re going to do on that day when we’re home with the kids. I’m not talking about a detailed, specific, planner-type schedule. I’m talking more about time blocks. There’s time blocked out for meals, there’s time blocked out for getting out the house, there’s time blocked out for play, there’s time blocked out for work, and so on. Big chunks of time that are sort of general, so that the kids can understand an overarching concept of what to expect during certain hours. (That’s one of the reasons that this works so well for toddlers and younger kids.)
So instead of thinking something like “8:30 doctor appointment, 9:15 grocery store,” think more along the lines of “8:30-10:00 errands.” And be sure that you balance that out with something for the kids later in the day. A library time block, or a playground time block. Or even just play time at home where the kids get to call the shots!
Then! And here’s the trick. Schedule yourself a work block in there too. It can be short, especially if your kiddos are young or just getting used to the idea. And “work” can be whatever you want — emails, laundry, cleaning, journaling, actual desk work, or just about anything. But schedule it in and let them know ahead of time to expect that maybe they’ll be playing independently during your work time, or coloring, or something similar that they can do in another room or alongside you.
Why Family Schedules Work
We have found that if the kids know what to expect, there is so much less resistance when you say that you need them to give you an hour to get things done. If your kids like visual cues, having a daily schedule that they can see somewhere, on the fridge or in their room is huge. Print out this Family Schedule if you want to try it. You can even highlight the time blocks in different colors to help them understand what is happening when. Show them what each section means, and teach them the critical part that they play in each time block. Let them know that they’re an important, contributing member of the family, and when they give you that time to work, they’re helping the family in so many ways.
The most beautiful thing about planning your family schedule like this is that you can be fully present, no matter what you’re doing. If you are in a play time block, relax into that and show your kids that you are fully there, spending time with them (as opposed to sneaking over to a corner to try to answer an email on your phone). If you are in a work time block, your kids will eventually learn that your focus will be on work, and they’ll benefit from the independent play that they get. So you’ll be able to fully focus on your tasks and be present in that way, which is a huge productivity booster.
This strategy is truly amazing if you can start from when your kiddos are super young. But you can retrain your older kids to love this too! Start small, with little blocks of work time if they’re having trouble with independent play. And always make sure that there’s a payoff for them in the fact that when you schedule time together, you are truly present and participating as a parent. You’ll see them start to trust that they will get that time from you and so they’ll be more likely to let you have the time you need during other parts of the day.
What do you think? Doesn’t it sound lovely? I think you’d be surprised at what your kiddos can manage if you put this into practice.
And if this idea resonates with you and you’re looking for more like this, get on our list for The Productivity Tool Kit! Because this is just the tip of the iceberg, baby. xoxo