When you have two kids at home, “getting a break” means that one of those lovelies goes on vacation and you are left with the other one. I never thought I would feel that way after having my firstborn, but I’ve adapted and evolved so that my mind can rest a little bit when I’m left with one responsibility instead of two. I’m sure mothers of multiples can relate. The more items or children needing to be multi-tasked, the faster we grow tired.
On the other hand, the more time I have and the less divided my attention is, the less productive I am. I’ve spent a few days with my youngest and it has been a joy to share time with him like I did with my first. But, my house is a mess, I haven’t touched the dishes, I haven’t made a “real” meal, and I find myself feeling bored. Not because he’s not a delight, but because I’m used to being pulled in two different directions, and right now I’m just being pulled in one.
It’s funny to think that more responsibilities breed more productivity, but I get it. The things that grab our attention throughout the day give our time purpose. Without the constant battles for my attention between my kids, the laundry, my writing, the cleaning and the meal prep, my time starts to feel like it runs together, and all of the sudden I’m left with nothing accomplished and feelings of laziness and inadequacy.
So here are some ways that I’m making sure I do enough while combatting the feelings that I’m not:
- Give my time a focus by saving a portion for Jesus. I’ve been going through James daily on Instagram, and whether I do my study at the beginning of the day or the end of it, I know that part of my time that day will be spent meditating on Truth. This gives me peace knowing that those minutes spent reading His word and in prayer are not wasted, and in fact, will bless the rest of my day with what I’ve learned. I try to focus on one truth to take with me so that I’m not overwhelmed, and so that I will actually bring it to mind when the scripture isn’t sitting in front of me.
- Pick three things that must be accomplished. Who doesn’t have a page-long list of things to get done? It’s overwhelming to keep seeing those line-items without a checkmark beside them, so I try to pick three priorities each day. If I accomplish those and can make room for more? Great. If not? Great. This has been the best way for me to balance productivity and grace.
- Set a schedule. This is something I’m about to implement in my home as I attempt to be a work-from-home mom with my writing. I have blocks of time for writing, blocks of time for chores, blocks of time for teaching my children, and blocks of time for errands and play-dates. I’m also setting a schedule for my little ones to help their time be more productive, and to make the most of the resources we have for them. This will look like designated times for playroom play, outside play, books, puzzles, craft-time, independent play and playtime with Mommy. My heart behind this is to help designate spots for my attention so that when I’m writing or working, all or most of my attention can be given to that task, and when I’m playing with or teaching my children, all or most of my attention can be with them. Hopefully next week i’ll be able to let you know how this goes.
- Go with the flow. This may seem like the antithesis of #3, but I challenge that it’s vital to the process. Schedules thrive on the fact that there is chaos to be maintained. Take away the chaos and you eliminate the need for a schedule. Yes, the schedule contains the chaos, but a little chaos never hurt anyone. In fact, I think allowing the chaos to occasionally creep in sets the stage for the schedule to succeed. The 80/20 rule applies to so many aspects of life; aim for keeping the rules strict 100% of the time and choose to enjoy the 20% that surprise you.
- Always choose grace over judgment. There are enough external factors putting pressure on us as moms, women, employees, etc. Don’t join their ranks and make life miserable for yourself. If there are 9 voices telling you what you need to do and who you need to be, choose to be the 1 that speaks kindly to yourself.
So there you have it – my tips for maintaining purpose and productivity no matter what season of life you’re in. Above all of these things, remember who has given you your calling and your season, and rest assured that He will provide you with plenty of what you need to get things done, even if all you need is grace when you can’t do it all.
And let’s be honest, we can never do it all.