Figuring out Productivity as a Stay-at-home Mom

I've never liked the word productivity. 

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It's sort of like "portion size", makes me cringe a little and immediately lose interest. If you also cringe when you hear productivity, I apologize in advance 'cause I'm about the say it like a million times. Whether I like the word or not, productivity is part of life both for both working and nonworking mamas.

The meaning of productivity has changed dramatically for me between when I was working and now. Productivity for working me: putting on pants, finishing a presentation, sitting in on calls, scheduling and attending meetings, leaving the office for lunch, sitting in traffic for 2 hours a day, oh yea, and making $$$. Productivity for stay-at-home me: A mystery. Started as keeping babies safe and fed, not completely trashing the house everyday, and maybe taking a shower and is currently morphing into writing blog posts at midnight. I haven't really figured it out yet.

I do know that newborn babies throw a total wrench in traditional views of productivity, obvs. They take a scheduled life and turn it upside down. This stage probably lasts a different amount of time for everyone. The first time for me it pretty much lasted the entire 12 weeks of maternity leave. Going back to work brought order and schedule back and by default, feelings of productivity. With my second baby, I decided that going back to work wasn't going to happen so the hard deadline ending the newborn stage never came. Where did that leave me? Incredibly happy and grateful to be home followed by feelings of "S&*t, I'm going to have to figure out how to feel organized and productive by myself this time."

I wanted to know what productivity means to other working-turned-SAHMs, so I asked a few.

Meet Laura (a different Laura, I swear).

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Amazing mom to almost 2 year old, Bodhi, and brand-spanking-newborn, Wilder. Corporate insurance broker: whip smart, put together AF, great hair. Spent her days in pencil skirts and seriously high heels. She knew during her pregnancy with Bodhi that she was going to stay home after his arrival. Laura and her boys travel for her husband's job, so she knows very few people in her current city and is about to move to a new one (yes, with a newborn and a toddler 😱).  

I can't really imagine Laura being unproductive, but I asked her about it anyway. Her response to my email was polished enough to be an article in some sort of boss mom magazine. To her new life at home with babes, productivity means leaving the house most days. Without those structured escapes she fears her and her toddler will get on each others nerves (#truth). She also tries to keep a schedule most days but isn't super strict about it (I'm gonna call her a soft scheduler), possibly a nod to her former life planning for deadlines months in advance. Laura takes advantage of conveniences like online grocery shopping and meal delivery services (like plated) Because next to staying at home all day, one of the things that makes her feel most unproductive is having an empty fridge.

Laura most missed the adult convos she used to have at the office. I imagine those convos were pretty badass and involved words such as integrative, expedite, and perhaps synergy? She also misses the clothes & shoes required by the corporate life. I totally relate to this. My office was much more casual than Laura's, but not so casual where I could show up in the PJ lookalikes I currently wear to work. 

Meet Anne.

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Hilarious, so so kind, cute as hell, and laid back, being a mom appears second nature to her. She went back to work after her first babe, David, and decided to call it quits when she was expecting her second little nug, Lucy. Anne is the first friend you text when you get pooped on by your child. Like Laura, she is raising her babes far from extended family while her husband finishes up his residency. 

Productivity to Anne as it relates to caring for babes means keeping an at least slightly organized house and tackling stuff that needs to get done, like meals and laundry. She's working on not beating herself up and letting messes happen (I feel you). She focuses on getting herself and the kids ready every morning (unlike me and my typically naked kids πŸ™ˆ) with the goal of getting out and about during the day (park, zoo, errands). The part she most missed about working is seeing her work friends everyday. Luckily she still has them around to text with because work friends can seriously turn into the best friends sometimes.

Something Anne told me I'm her email totally struck a chord, and that was she feels less productive when her 2 year old watches too much TV. I 100% agree. It also makes me feel unproductive and also just like a bad parent when Ruthie watches too much Clifford (January and February right after Bobby was born = WAY more TV that id like to admitπŸ™ˆ. It was Thomas back then, I miss Thomas).

Things I've been doing in order to feel like I'm not just floating around between diaper changes all day:

1. Get up before babies - I've been failing at this most days because Bobby wakes up at 3 am lately, but days I get up early I have a slightly more laid-back attitude all day. Might be the extra coffee.

2. Listen to a podcast - I usually pick trending nutrition related stuff, or inspiring but short shows like How I Built This.

3. Turn Netflix off - Especially difficult lately because I've started watching Gilmore Girls again (it makes me feel fallish?!).

4. Limit social media - Somebody please help me with this.

5. Cut the ties between productivity and a clean house - I read somewhere that cleaning a house with a toddler is like brushing your teeth while eating oreo's. For someone who isn't very cleaning motivated to begin with, basing productivity on keeping the kitchen clean is a terrible idea.

What do you guys do to feel productive at work or at home?

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