The secret to being productive and motivated every day as a stay-at-home-mom is that you’ve got to be intentional.
For the most part, good days don’t just happen… they’re made.
In this post, I’m walking you through 11 of the most important habits to practice that will boost your effectiveness and leave you feeling accomplished at the end of each day.
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Productive Habits for Stay-at-Home-Moms
#1. Wake Up Before Your Family
One of the best things you can do for yourself to start your day off well is to wake up before your family, even if only by 15 or 30 minutes.
The point of getting up before your family (or at least your kids) is NOT to get everything done before anyone wakes up (although you can if you want).
The point is that you start the day on YOUR terms.
If you wait for a child to pry your eyelids open before you get out of bed, you’re getting up because someone else needs you to. Which means you’re already behind.
Waking up on your own terms is a really simple shift, but can make a huge difference for you cognitively.
It allows you to have at least a few minutes where no one needs anything from you, which is a great mood-booster and will help you to feel more centered and in control.
From there, you’ll be far more motivated and productive.
#2. Get Ready For the Day
The next big boost you can give yourself is to get ready for the day by getting dressed and making yourself presentable.
What you wear DOES affect the way you feel and the way you act, so shlepping around in pajamas all day can definitely put a damper on your productivity.
You don’t have to go through an hour-long Instagram model GRWM routine… Just a quick five or ten minutes to put yourself together is all you need.
Choose clothes that make you feel confident and attractive, and become a master of the natural makeup look.
Or the no-makeup look.
Most days, I just take a quick 60 seconds to put on mascara, and nothing more.
Not only does looking presentable set an example for your children and impact their memories of you, it also causes you to feel more motivated and capable.
You view yourself as someone ready to get things done, rather than someone who should still be in bed.
#3. Fill Emotional Buckets
If you have little kids, you know that as soon as you start to do something productive, it’s like a signal for meltdown time.
This can’t always be avoided, but there are steps you can take to reduce its frequency.
The best thing you can do before starting in on your to-do list is to fill emotional buckets first.
Related: How to Be a More Present Parent
A lot of the time, they whine and misbehave because their emotional tanks are running on low.
Simply spending a few minutes being wholly present with your children can make all the difference.
Just that little bit of focused attention will make them feel respected and loved, and be the catalyst they need for some independent play.
#4. Knock Out Chores Early
There are a few reasons you’ll benefit from getting your housework done early in the day.
For one thing, the later in the day it gets, the more tired Littles are and the less they’re willing/able to play independently.
For another thing, you have the most motivation and drive earlier in the day.
After waking up on your terms, getting dressed for the day, and filling emotional buckets, you’re primed to get some good work done.
Take full advantage of this window!
Finally, getting your housework done early in the day will be a huge win and give you a strong sense of accomplishment.
That surge will leave you feeling really good, and ready to plow through anything else on your to-do list.
#5. Prioritize/Organize Your To-Do List
When you write out your to-do list for the day, don’t just go about it willy-nilly.
Being strategic can ensure that you get the most important things done without any frantic last minute scrambling.
Write your to-do list, but organize tasks by things you MUST do (A tasks), things you should do (B tasks), and things you would like to do (C tasks).
[You can read more about this strategy in Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, which I highly recommend!]
Your A tasks–your must-dos–are the most important tasks on your list which you should try to complete first.
Next, move on to your B tasks–your should-dos–but it’s not the end of the world if these don’t get finished.
You can relax a bit knowing that your most important jobs are already done.
Finally, you can get on to your C tasks–the ones you would like to do, but won’t make or break your day.
The one thing I will caution about this method is that you have to be intentional about taking a step back from your to-do priorities to make time for things that you enjoy.
If you group your self-care and hobbies into the “would-like-to-dos,” there’s a good chance you’ll never get to them.
For that reason, you should regularly pause your to-do list and choose something for yourself as a little break or reward.
#6. Do Something For YOU/Reward Yourself
Life is not all about how much you can check off of your to-do list each day.
The pressure to “hustle” and get things done can distort our view of what productivity really is.
If our understanding of productivity becomes warped by the demands of our culture, things like self-care and spending time with our children may seem to slow us down and hinder our ability to be “productive.”
This is a dangerous and destructive way of thinking.
Taking care of yourself IS productive.
Taking a shower, going for a walk, pursuing a hobby, reading books, and taking a nap are ALL productive things.
If you need to, write them on your to-do list so that you get the reward of checking them off.
And speaking of rewards, taking a few minutes to reward yourself from time to time throughout the day can actually boost your productivity rather than hinder it.
#7. Take an Outing
This one is for you to, my introvert mamas.
Try to make getting out of the house routine.
You don’t have to always go on an errand; it can be a trip to play at the park, or walk around the mall, visit a friend, whatever– it doesn’t matter.
Just get your butt out of the house.
For one thing, this can help tucker out the Littles so that they’ll be more likely to take an afternoon nap, or at least make bedtime easier.
For another, it helps all of you to keep from going stir crazy.
As an introvert myself, I used to fight going out at all costs.
But as my daughter started developing into an extroverted social butterfly, that became less and less of an option.
Now I love our daily outings, and it has made me realize how much it helps to recenter and refresh me so that when we get back, I’m in a better frame of mind to get things done.
#8. Focus on One Thing at a Time
Multitasking is not a gift or a talent… it’s a lie.
Rather than making you more productive, it undermines your effectiveness.
Make it your goal to focus on only ONE thing at a time.
Mom-brain can definitely sabotage you there.
I know I frequently feel scattered; as soon as I start one thing, I think of something else I also need to be doing, and it just spirals from there.
Related: Smart Strategies to Clean Faster
Be conscious of this disorganization and make a continual effort to refocus as often as it takes.
By focusing on only one task at a time, you will be far more efficient.
#9. Do What You Can When You Can
As a mom with Littles, you can make the best plan in the world, start the day with all of the right things, prioritize your to-dos perfectly, but some days things just won’t go the way you want.
Some days (many days), you’ll feel like you’re spinning your wheels all day just to accomplish one task.
Getting things done with kids is tough!
Related: How to Get Things Done with a Baby
That’s why sometimes your strategy should just be to do what you can when you can.
If all you can muster away from a clingy child is two minutes, then do something you know will only take you two minutes.
Don’t expect to finish a three hour decluttering project in one shot when you know it’s Tantrum Central that day.
Break your bigger tasks down into smaller pieces so that when you have a couple of minutes, you can knock out at least a little bit.
Two minutes here and there can really add up, especially if you prioritize tasks that make the biggest impact in your home.
#10. “Lose” Your Phone
Your phone will really slow you down.
Even on the days when my toddler plays on her own like an angel, I sometimes find productivity demolished by my own screen time.
It starts out with one text, which turns into a whole conversation, and then I’m scrolling Instagram, and from there, watching YouTube…
Your phone is a black hole, and you would do well to strategically “lose” it.
Often, I will leave it in a room I spend less time in, or put it somewhere I won’t think to check often (i.e. in a kitchen cabinet).
If you really must keep it with you, at least turn off notifications so that it only reminds you it’s there if you get a call.
By giving your phone a little independent play of its own, you really will get SO much more done.
#11. No Screens Before Bed
The end of the day is your opportunity to reset for your next day.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to wind down properly and go to bed on time.
As in, put away the screens.
Aim for at least an hour of screen-free time before switching off the light to fall asleep.
Spend this time doing literally anything else.
This is the perfect time to get in some of that reading you keep saying you don’t have time for.
Even if you only read for 30 minutes each evening, you’ll knock out a 300 page book every 10 days or so!
Tell me in the comments below:
What habit are you going to implement first?
I’d love to hear what your days look like as a mom, so be sure to let me know!
If you liked this post, make sure to check out:
- The Ultimate Guide to Keeping House
- 10 Genius Cleaning Strategies to Maximize Your Time
- How to Get Things Done with a Baby
- Why We Need to View Motherhood as a Career