Now I might get some haters by the end of this post. But I have good reason for calling this item a productivity destroyer. Because, frankly, it derails my productivity constantly. Dear mamas, I’m talking about:
I love my kids. I really do. Their cute faces. Their hilarious comments. And their squeezy hugs. But I’d be lying if I said that they’re not a constant source of distraction in my house. Ouch! Yes, I said my kids are a distraction. And you might hate on me for saying that. But hear me out.
I don’t mean that I don’t want my kids around. I homeschool – so I must really want them around! Nor am I the kind of parent that wishes my kids were somewhere else because I find them to be annoying or a nuisance.
My kids are only a distraction when I want to focus on a particular task which, occasionally, happens to not be them.
You see, as mamas, we wear many hats apart from just our ‘mama hat’. We might transition to a ‘chef’, ‘writer’, ‘public speaker’, ‘teacher’, ‘wife’, ‘friend’, ‘neighbour’ or a myriad of other responsibilities and roles. And although we are a mama 100% of the time, we may need to be a ‘[fill in your own blank here]’ some of the time. And that’s not a bad thing.
Girl, do you feel guilty when you need to cook a meal for your kids? Of course not! And is it possible to play tag with our kids whilst cooking? Ummm, my guess is ‘no’. You see, there are times when our kids need to give us a bit of space so that we can be our best ‘chef’ self.
And the same applies for when we are in a different role. Some roles we can do with our kids alongside us, like ‘chauffeur’ or ‘gardener’. But there are other roles where we need space to focus on that responsibility. And that’s a good thing!
If you consider your roles to be good for your family, then don’t feel guilty about asking your family to give you the space you need for that role.
But how do we do this? Here are a few solutions for you to help you gain back some productivity:
1. Sort your kids out!
That sounds so rude! But I mean it in a completely friendly way!
Take some time to get your kids sorted and settled before you focus on XYZ. This may mean giving them a snack and an activity to do for an hour so that you can focus.
Or perhaps, spending some time playing with them before asking them to continue playing without you so that you can do XYZ. When kids have had some focused attention from you, they’re less likely to draw you away from what it is you need to do just so that they can get your attention.
Check out these links for some activity ideas:
- Activities for kids to do without a lot of parental intervention
- 9 things for kids to do while you work
- How to get your kids to play alone
- 50 awesome summer acitivites for bored kids (no parents required)
2. Swap your kids!
When I was speaking to my husband about swapping our kids, I saw my eldest daughter’s face fall in horror! She thought that I wanted to give her and her siblings away!
But what I mean is this, arrange with another mum you know to have all of your kids for a few hours one day. And then on another day, you take all of her kids for a few hours. What mum wouldn’t want a few hours to herself? And the great thing about this solution is that your kids can have a couple play dates too!
If it works well, why not try making it a regular thing? My husband’s parents did this when he was young so that the adults could go on dates every other Friday. Win-win I say!
There’s even an app that has been developed for this specific purpose. It’s called Komae (which is the Greek word for ‘village’). Ask some girlfriends to sign up (it’s 100% free) and you can start swapping ‘babysitting’ hours with each other. Whenever you babysit for another mum, you earn credits. Which in turn you spend when someone babysits for you. And you can babysit for anyone on your network, not just the same person. And the only people who can babysit for you are mums that you know and trust. Which means that each person’s network of mums will be different depending on who they’ve asked or allowed to join their network. Check it out here:
3. Go Daddy
Kids love spending time with their dads. Dads are often silly, fun, adventurous and kinda like big kids themselves! Why not ask dad to take the kids out to the park or playground so that you have a bit of time to get things done.
If he’s able, ask if he can commit to doing it at regular intervals!
My husband’s work is completely sporadic (being self-employed), so he can’t commit to a schedule, but he will take the kids out when he can.
Work with what you have and don’t complain if he can’t do it as often as you’d like. If he can do it at all, that’s a good thing, right?
And if he’s stuck for ideas of what to do with the kiddos, ask him to check out these links:
- 20 activities for dads to do with their kids
- 30 dad approved projects for fathers and kids (for the more DIY confident dad)
- 101 weekend family activity ideas
4. Grandparents to the rescue!
If you are fortunate enough to have your own parents or in-laws around who are willing to help – ask them! Many grandparents really live up to the role of spoiling their grandchildren! And they can often be more than happy to take your kids off your hands for the afternoon to grab an ice-cream or feed the ducks in a local park.
If your parents or in-laws are nervous about watching little ones for any length of time, I suggest you ease them into it. Have them round, or visit them and let them hang out with the kids. Do this several times before asking if they would mind taking little Jimmy down the road to the shops.
Once they feel quite comfortable doing that, why not ask if little Jimmy could spend a few hours at their place. They might feel more comfortable if they are in their own environment. But essentially, you need to gradually build up their confidence and feelings of success. Keep encouraging them and tell them how much fun Jimmy had with them.
Soon, they’ll be asking when they can take little Jimmy out for you!
5. Hire someone
Now, unless you’re doing work that will be bringing in an income, this solution may not be an option for you.
Having said that, my husband and I have “hired” someone to watch our kids in the past without paying them. My husband has given guitar lessons to a youngster in our church for free and in return, she was happy to babysit for us without getting paid. It was kind of a service-for-service swap if you like.
So see whether you are able to pay someone to watch your kids for a few hours. And if not, find out if there’s a service you could give someone in exchange for babysitting. Perhaps it’s lessons in French, sewing, cooking, Adobe Illustrator or any other skill you may have up your sleeve. Utilise it! And find someone willing to swap their services with you.
Sometimes, in order to prolong our productivity, we need to sort our kids out. Keeping them occupied or at a play date, or even with a responsible teen or adult can greatly increase our productivity as mums. We’ll always be mums. But sometimes, we may want and need to be other things. And that is absolutely fine! Don’t feel guilty about the other roles you may have if they are good for your family. Speak to your family about it and ask for their support.
You can do this, Mama!