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Today I’m excited to introduce my friend, fellow military spouse and mom, Noralee Jones!
Noralee blogs over at MrsNavyMama.com and I’ve come to realize that she’s a master of productivity.
She’s going to share with you all about how to be productive at home, which is something she mastered long before having her four children. But I’m pretty sure she’s almost perfected it by now.
Noralee and I have followed each other around the country, ending up at nearby duty stations multiple times. Both of our third kiddos even had the same scheduled c-section date in San Diego, though my daughter pulled a fast one and decided to come early.
Don’t miss all of Noralee’s incredible tips that will make your life as a new mama sooooooo much easier! I’ve already learned some awesome hacks in the process of preparing this post. Yay!
How To Be Productive At Home As A Mom With Young Kids
Children are one of the most amazing paradoxes the universe has ever come up with.
A child can make you want to cry from joy in one minute and fear in the next. They can deprive you of so much sleep that you begin to think they’re doing it on purpose and then, with a flutter of the eyes, make you feel like you can fly.
For all the joy that newborns can bring, there’s no question that they can have a significant effect on parents’ productivity and health due to the unpredictability of their schedules, the resultant lack of sleep, and the fear of new responsibilities involved in keeping a watermelon-sized human alive.
I should know—I’m the proud mother of four children. Sienna is 5 years old, Archer is 4 years old, Ellery is 2 years old and Rowen is 6 month old. (yes, that is 4 kids under the age of 6).
Having 4 kids under the age of 6 has taught me a few things about maintaining sanity and productivity in the face of one of life’s greatest challenges: parenthood.
Here I’m going to share some of the strategies I’ve learned over the years on how to get stuff done with a newborn (and maybe a toddler or two as well).
Be More Productive By Prioritizing Tasks and Learning When to Outsource
Every Sunday, I spend time focusing on what is happening that next week. And then each night, I make sure to write down what needs to happen for the next day.
I like to number the tasks from the most important to the least. However, the ONE most important should go on top.
By preparing yourself the night before, a lot of prep can occur ahead of time, as well as allow your brain to better turn off at the end of the day.
How To Be Productive At Home By Outsourcing
For those times and activities you do not want to do or find you do not have time for, consider outsourcing.
Personally, it takes me all day to clean my house with all my kids. As a mom who also works and wears a few different hats, I do not have time for that.
So I outsource that to a cleaning company who comes once a month to give me a fresh start.
Your outsourcing can be in the form of:
- hiring a virtual assistant to complete tasks for your business
- hiring a housekeeper
- doing a meal or grocery delivery services
- laundry service
- or even hiring a mother’s helper who can manage the older children so you have free time.
This may all seem like overkill, but finding help can free up your time for more important things while also allowing you to not get burnt out.
Use Cheat Sheets
When you’re wondering how to be productive at home, with lack of sleep and trying to manage so many responsibilities, having cheat sheets on hand can be a life saver!
The day before I returned to work from maternity leave, I taped up a cheat sheet on the fridge with clear, “if this, then that” instructions.
Not only was this for the regular babysitter, but also for myself! When a baby gets fussy or starts to cry, the answer is usually a major need going unfilled. A good cheat sheet cuts through the anxiety all new parents feel to bring things back to basics.
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Here’s an all-purpose cheat sheet to get you started:
- IF BABY IS FUSSY – THEN:
- Hungry? Warm up a bottle in the kitchen.
- Dirty Diaper? Should be changed Every Hour (2 at Most)
- Cold? Check Hands and Feet. Bundle with Blanket and Hold.
- Need Some Activity? Set up toys and supervise a 10-15 minute play session.
- Tired or Need Cuddles? If nap time, swaddle and paci
Another “Cheatsheet” I use is a HUGE calendar from The Essential Calendar and place it in a central section of the house.
Everyone can use it: the cleaning lady marking my next appointment, the sitter putting down the times she is out of town, and myself marking the doctor appointments for my kids.
I’m going to say it again-use cheat sheets if you’re looking for ways to be more productive! Do not be afraid for notes, lists and calendars to be all over the house.
A Few More Ways To Be Productive:
Routines Are Your Friend
All babies eventually fall into a routine that works for them.
There are ways to help things along, such as understanding sleep/wake cycles and mental leaps in your child. However, none of this can be forced, so don’t even try.
I noticed that my last baby would wake around 6am and then go back to sleep for another couple of hours. This gave me an hour before my other kids woke up. I would use that time to workout, shower, start a load of laundry and make the bed before having to deal with anyone else.
How To Be More Productive At Home Or Away: Go Mobile
A laptop and smartphone can accomplish a tremendous amount of work on short notice, and can easily be set up wherever your child is.
If your job requires you to be in a specific room of the house, transform the space into a part-office and part-nursery filled with toys and a place for your child to nap.
If you need to do other work such as bill paying, meal planning or ordering supplies for projects, using your phone while feeding, and snuggling a baby can be a life saver.
Many people will recommend a baby carrier in order to go more mobile with the tasks you need to do. I myself never found that helpful, as I have a bad back and my babies were huge.
However, if you find it helpful, don’t be afraid to give it a try!
Follow Through To Get Stuff Done
Taking a scattershot approach to ticking items off your calendar simply won’t work with a baby—there’s too much risk of things changing at a moment’s notice.
Instead, focus on one particular task for each break period that presents itself.
Checking and answering emails can be one. Switching out laundry, or prepping for dinner can be another. Just try to see one task through to its end before beginning another.
Finally – Know What Really Matters
Becoming a parent means gradually letting go of the mentality that we need to do everything and it’s all about us.
When I had my first child, I was incredibly hard on myself when I fell short on an assignment or had to reschedule something at the last minute. I felt like I was failing or that I was never going to be the same as before.
But the truth is that all of the occurrences which initially appear to be obstacles, whether it’s taking an extra half-hour to soothe your child or taking a detour to show him a part of the world he’s never seen before, are actually the most important things you can do.
Being there for your child is what matters, and everything else will fall into place.
ABOUT NORALEE JONES
Noralee Jones is a MILSO of 12 years, mom of 4 and writer/creator at www.mrsnavymama.com. Having experiences with 7 deployments, 4 PCS moves alone and the author of the Self-Care Guide for MILSOs, she is an expert on the importance of taking the time to focus on filling our bodies, minds and souls with our individual needs in order to make the most out of our lives. She is also the Co-Author of The Newbie’s Guide to Military life and focuses on supporting MILSOs through the ups and downs of military life through Mrs. Navy Mama. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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