When our first child arrived, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was physically and emotionally drained. There were so many things left undone. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
I recently described it to my husband as “feeling like I was trying to walk while having my heels tied together”. I didn’t even want to run, just to walk slowly. To put one foot in front of the other each day.
My approach was wrong and other aspects of my life, unrelated to raising my child, quickly unravelled.
All too often, we get lost in motherhood, neglect ourselves and forget about our own self development and progress. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
These are a few of the things that I’ve started to do differently, after learning the hard way.
Accept that things have changed
First of all, I’ve accepted that I’m not going to be as productive as I was before I had kids. And that’s ok. For example, I can’t sit down and give my undivided attention to something for eight hours straight anymore. But remember this: being a parent is such an important job. Other things are going to have to be put on hold for a while or just moved down the list of priorities.
Decide what’s important
Recognise that we can’t do everything. There just won’t be enough time, and if you commit to too many things, it’s likely that nothing will be done properly.
Instead, think about what are the most important things you need to do right now that will help you reach your goals. In the beginning, even start with just 15 to 30 minutes a day which you dedicate to yourself. Use that time for something that brings you forward, whether it’s exercise, reading, writing or being creative.
Try not to multitask. There’s a common misconception that we can perform several tasks at once and still be productive. This is a lie!
In fact, there are studies which show that we can’t really focus on two things at once. If we’re constantly switching between two separate tasks, some of our attention remains on the previous thing we were doing. This is called ‘attention residue’ and is the reason why we might feel stressed and frustrated while trying to focus on more than one thing at a time.
Instead of trying to multitask, focus on one thing at a time. If you’re reading your kids a bedtime story, focus on that. Be fully present.
If you need to work on yourself, schedule some time and work specifically on that. If you need time to write, schedule one hour before your kids get up in the morning and just write. It’s best not to do anything else during this time. Set a timer and get to work! Sometimes I set a timer for about 20 to 30 minutes and aim to write 500 words of content during that time. If you restrict your time like this, you’re more likely to force yourself to be productive.
Manage your energy in the best way possible
Being a parent can take its toll quite quickly and this is why it’s especially important to manage your physical, emotional and mental energy.
Managing your energy is one of the most important things you can do to be productive. Since becoming a parent, managing my energy has become a bit more difficult. Unfortunately, there’ll be some nights when it’s impossible to get a full eight hours of unbroken sleep.
While you’ll not really be able to make up for the lack of sleep, there are other ways to manage your energy and stay healthy:
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables (avoid processed foods and foods high in refined sugar).
- Get outside for fresh air at least once a day.
- Try to structure your day and have a routine. If your day is chaotic, it is more likely to drain your mental and emotional energy.
If you can, get some help
In the early days of being a parent, I did everything myself. I was trying to chop vegetables with one hand, while breastfeeding the baby, and at the same time having stressful thoughts about how I was going to stay on top of all the work I had to do to keep my small business going.
In reality, it turned out what I was doing was impossible. I needed support, but was too proud, even embarrassed, to ask for it.
So get some help, even if it’s for one hour, three mornings a week, while you get a shower so you can feel like a member of the human race again.
I’ve just recently had my second child, and things are much better. I’m still 100% committed to being the best mother I can be, and am not going to short change my new baby.
I’m now making time to work on developing myself and doing things that will help my future. While it can be tough at times, I try to make some kind of progress everyday.
Loreta O’Hanlon is a mom of 2 who writes at inspirationbites.com. Here she shares everything she’s learning about productivity, positive psychology, self-improvement, entrepreneurship, spirituality and more.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.