You read that title right, you can become a more productive parent! It may seem like a pipe dream, but I promise its possible. I have laid out 9 powerful tips below that can help you become a more productive parent because we all know that we don’t have enough time in the day.
As a parent your day is filled with many decisions. What should I pack the kids for lunch? What should I make for lunch and dinner? Should I clean this or that? Do I need to go grocery shopping today or can it wait? Which screaming child should I help first? Did I eat yet today? And the list goes on and on. In fact, according to Psychology Today some studies claim that humans make an average of one decision every two seconds when they are awake.
One decision every two seconds? Most people probably don’t even realize they’re making 30 decisions in the span of a minute. All that decision making can take a lot out of you when you have little ones to take care of. We don't always want to be constantly caffeinated, so that’s why I have tried to implement several habits and techniques into my day to become a more productive parent. Listed below are the top 9 tips that I have found to be the most helpful in my pursuit of productivity.
1. Do what you can the night before
Mornings can be a gamble. You never know for sure when the kids will wake up. You may have some time to prepare breakfast and lunches, or you could have all of the kids wake up an hour early demanding breakfast five minutes ago. Then there are the days when no one is in a good mood and you’re fighting off the grumpies. You look at the clock and realize you need to be in the car in 5 minutes to get everyone to school on time and two of the four kids are still in their pajamas. That is when doing what you can the night before comes in handy.
I personally like to clean the kitchen and prepare lunch boxes after the kids go to sleep. This way when I inevitably have to help everyone get ready, I don’t have to remember to pack something healthy for their lunch. Instead, it has already been taken care of. Also, I have found that my kids are less grumpy when they wake up to a clean kitchen. I know they don’t directly think about how clean it is, but I have noticed everyone is less stressed when dishes are clean and clutter is tucked away. Some people like to have their children pick out their clothes for the next day before bedtime to avoid a clothing crisis. Others have their children pack their backpacks and put them by the door ready to go.
It may take some time to figure out what works best for you, but find something that gives you one less thing to do in the morning and you will be on your way to becoming a more productive parent.
2. Make household chores a team effort
I’m going to be honest, a messy house stresses me out. I can’t focus on being present with my kids when all I can see is a mess. I start thinking about how I need to clean up so I am less stressed, which leads to being stressed about how much there is to clean. Which then makes me think about how much time it will take and how I won’t get to spend time with my kids because of all the cleaning that needs done. It’s a vicious cycle. Now, please know that I am working on being okay with some mess in the house, but I want to share with you what has helped me get to the point where I can be present with my children and not concerned about household duties.
One day as I was cleaning up all the toys my toddler had thrown around the playroom I asked myself, why am I the only one doing this? We talk all the time about how our family is a unit, a team. Shouldn’t taking care of the house be a team effort as well? Yes! Yes, a million times, yes! It should most definitely be a team effort. Not only will the house be cleaner, but there are also long term benefits for our children in teaching them to care for their home.
A University of Minnesota study “found that the best predictor of success in young adulthood, on measures related to education completion, career path, and personal relationships, was whether they had begun doing chores at an early age — as young as 3 or 4.” This article explains that chores lead toward a strong work ethic. If they are required to pitch in at home, they are more likely to do so in the workplace. Instead of simply checking off a to-do list at work, they are more likely to jump in when others need help and share the workload of others. Starting chores at a young age builds a work ethic they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Chores can also teach them how to properly care for their possessions. After my son had to clean his own bathroom, I noticed that it was getting less and less dirty between each cleaning. I asked him about this and he told me he was trying to make less of a mess in the bathroom so it wasn’t as hard to clean. Proud mom moment. He learned that taking care of the items in the bathroom meant less work when it came time to clean. Thankfully this has transferred to more than just the bathroom and he is practicing the habit of tidiness throughout the house.
You can become a productive parent by making the act of taking care of your home a team effort.
3. Construct a schedule or routine that works for you
Part of being a more productive parent is sticking to a schedule and doing the best you can to not stray from that schedule. This can be hard. Especially if you’re like me and don’t particularly like schedules. I prefer to be spontaneous about life and jump at opportunities as they come. Doing the same thing at the same time everyday has never been my thing. Then I got married to a routine stickler. He taught me the importance of being on a schedule and sticking to it as best you can. Having a schedule takes a lot of guessing out of your day; it decreases the amount of decisions you have to make. You know exactly what to expect on any given day and can prepare accordingly. Schedules and routines boost parenting productivity because you are not being reactionary to the day, you are being proactive.
In order to be a productive parent, you are going to need some energy throughout your day. Instead of chugging multiple pots of coffee, try exercising. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improves, you have more energy to tackle daily chores”. I have found that it works best for me to workout when the children are still sleeping. I force myself to be in bed before ten and get up to exercise before they are awake.
When our kids were younger, this didn’t always work. Instead of working out while they were asleep, I would work out with them. I would push them in a stroller, do air squats with them, or even run laps around the park while they played on the play structure. I got pretty creative at times. Find what works for you and be consistent. Exercising daily will improve your energy levels and you can get so much more done during your day with all that new found energy.
5. Compose a Go-To Menu/Meal Plan
Cooking for a family is a daunting task. There are food preferences and allergies to take in account. Then there is the time management aspect to ensure you have enough time to make the meal because you know as soon as dinner time hits everyone gets hangry. Oh, and you better have all the ingredients on hand or you’ll be running to the store for every meal. Talk about eating away at productivity.
So much time can be wasted when it comes to meal times. If you have to go through all of that every time you cook a meal, there would be no time for anything else. Meal planning can help by taking the daily guesswork out of cooking and works really well for some. I have found that having a stockpile of go to meals works well for our family. My children, and husband, aren’t that daring in what they like to eat so I end up making similar meals, but I like to have a variety.
That is why I made a list of healthy meals that are easy to make and everyone loves. Before I go to the grocery store, I check to make sure I have all the essentials for each meal and add items to the list that may be running low. Doing this helps me be spontaneous on what we’re going to make because I always have the ingredients for each dish. It also allows me to switch the menu at the last minute if we’re low on time.
Having a menu or meal planning aids productive parenting by ensuring dinner is always taken care of, even if nothing else in the day goes as planned.
6. To do list everyday
I love my lists. I can’t even tell you how many lists I have made in my life, but if I wrote them in journals I would probably have my own library by now. Each day I like to make a six list; six things I can do during the day to count it as a productive day. A friend suggested this to me and I chose to stay with the number six because it’s not a daunting number. I can do six things everyday. If the list was too long, I would get discouraged immediately. If those six items get done, then I have the satisfaction of knowing the day was extremely productive. I usually like to reward myself with a sweet treat when I get to all six before noon. Just a little challenge I give myself to make it fun. Being a productive parent means organizing your thoughts. A list can help you organize your thoughts for the day and give you a finish line.
7. Independent Play
If you are a stay at home parent you can feel the need to constantly play with your child. Sometimes you even feel guilty if you don’t give them all the attention they want. I know I have felt that way before and some days I still have those thoughts. It is extremely important for you to play with your child and nurture them, but it is almost equally important for your child to see you doing adult things. They need to see you working, taking care of the house, and prioritizing family. I’m not saying don’t play with your children, but along with play they also need you to model to them what it looks like to be a responsible adult.
Not only will you be modeling adulthood to your child, but if you introduce independent play you are helping your child learn to be comfortable in their own skin and build their imagination.You will be well on your way to becoming a more productive parent with all the time you have once you’ve introduced independent play.
8. Set reminders
Nothing kills productivity more than forgetting about a project or appointment and having to stop what you were focused on. Trust me, I actually did this today when I was working on my blog and forgot it was time to pick up my daughter from preschool. I had a new phone and hadn’t put my reminders in yet. Don’t worry, I made it with one minute to spare!
That is why setting reminders on your phone or calendar app can be a saving grace when you are trying to be more productive. I set reminders or put events in my calendar for everything my family or myself are expected to attend. This includes school events, extra curricular practices, pick-up times for school, appointments, when permission slips are due, etc. I obviously forget to put things in sometimes, like today, but I try to put everything in when I can. That way I can accurately calculate how much time I have to do a task or I will be reminded to pick up my daughter if I get caught up in the day.
If you want to become a more productive parent start using the reminder app on your phone or your calendar. It will save you from being a hot mess at pick up like me today in my sweats, mismatched socks, and sandals on a 50 degree fall day.
9. Stay off social media and practice self care
Okay, I know this is technically two steps, but I think they go hand in hand. Most of the time when we get a free minute in our day we spend it on social media. We might not all be this way, but a lot of us tend to spend a good chunk of time online. We like to catch up with what our friends are doing or see what our favorite icon has been up to lately. Social media is a time waster and a huge drain on productivity. It sucks us in and our 2 minute check in has now become a half hour.
When you have some free time, instead of pulling out that phone, try to practice some self care. Self care can be anything from painting your nails, reading a few pages of your favorite book, journaling, learning a new skill, or showering for the first time in three days. Psychology Today states that practicing self care can help reduce stress and assist you in living a healthier life. In turn, self care will help you be more productive by staying healthy, having energy, and lowering the stress in your life. As parents, we all need less stress in our lives.
Productive Parents Set Themselves Up For Success
At the end of the day becoming a more productive parent is all about setting yourself up for success. Whether that is planning your schedule out or taking care of yourself, you are practicing good habits to help you through life. These 9 life changing tips will help you become a more productive parent. With consistency and a little bit of grace, you will find that you are getting more done during the day without all the stress or guilt attached.