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I have this habit of creating blog posts based around what’s going on in my life, and this is no exception. Right now there’s so much going on in my life that it feels like I’m drowning. I need to figure out how to be more productive with kids.
A lot of productivity stuff only really is structured exclusively around professionals. They leave families, and all the obligations that come with them, out of the picture.
But if you’re a millennial (like me) then over half of us have kids at home. Most of us are juggling that around a pandemic, work obligations, and running a household.
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How to be More Productive With Kids
We have money goals right now which means I’ve been ramping up the amount of work I’m doing for my company. In some ways this is great, but I’m really struggling to balance everything.
This is the case for a lot of parents right now. Even most stay at home moms I know have some kind of side hustle going on, and so many more are trying to work full time while also being their child’s full time caregiver.
Something’s got to give.
You Could Get Help
When you’re struggling, the first thing you need to do is try and outsource. If you’re burning out and your partner isn’t, for example, then they obviously need to pick up more of the slack.
If you’re both burning out, or your spouse taking on more will cause them to burn out, then you’ll need to also look at other options.
Unfortunately, that’s not something that’s possible for everyone. Maybe even with all you do your budget is still maxed out, or maybe you have reasons to avoid people coming over during a pandemic.
Here are some other ideas for what you can do.
Create a schedule
Kids are going to likely mess this up, but you can still for the most part block off parts of your day. Especially the times where your partner can take over the childcare duties.
You may have already naturally fallen into a rhythm, but it’s really necessary to be inflexible about your schedule. You have to treat work time like work – don’t let your partner (and children) interrupt you unless it’s really necessary.
Find a system for chores
We use the Sweepy app, which lets everyone in the house see when chores were last completed. It also makes it easier to see what needs to be done without me having to direct.
The other thing that a system does, though, is takes away some of the guilt. If the app says the bathroom is good enough, it’s good enough. Move on to more important things and let the toothpaste on the faucet slide.
After all, who’s coming over anyway?
Prioritize when you don’t have time
If we don’t run the dishwasher we have no clean dishes. That’s a priority in our house. But if the toys are all over the twins’ room, no one (besides maybe me who steps on them) suffers.
When there’s only so much time in the day just focus on the most important things. You could even make a list that you and your partner can refer to so everyone’s on the same page.
Use a planner, calendar, etc
This is pretty open ended and really is up to your lifestyle and personality. But basically the idea is to use some kind of system to organize your life. That means appointments, things at the kids’ school, work stuff, etc.
When you’re really busy and stressed out it’s impossible to remember everything. Writing this, for example, I suddenly remembered I promised my kid I’d order her a book from the book order. How many more things am I forgetting?
Anyway, get in the habit of writing each and every little thing down that you have to do or remember. That way you can “brain dump” and be more focused on tasks knowing you have that covered.
Ask for help
I might not be able to afford a cleaning service, but I know that my mom will come over and fold laundry or complete home renos if I ask her. If you’re as lucky as I am to have someone in your life who wants to do that, use it sometimes.
By best tip for this is to keep asks around that person’s interests. For example, my mom doesn’t really like to babysit so I ask maybe once or twice a year. I, on the other hand, am happy to babysit my friends’ kids every now and then.
Buy time savers
If you can afford it, add some time savers to your home. Some of these can be really inexpensive.
Recently we hung a piece of barn wood with some hooks on it near the kitchen for the kid’s backpacks. It only cost about $10 and has made our mornings go way smoother.
More importantly, though, we also installed a dishwasher. After not having one for 3 years it has literally been a lifesaver.
So buy the better soap so you don’t have to rinse as much, add an extra laundry basket so you can go longer between loads, buy some pre made snacks – anything that will make things easier.
This goes along with the last point, but more reflects what’s currently going on in your home/life. For me, cutting out clutter has had a huge effect on my productivity with kids at home.
I spend way less time cleaning and putting things away.
The other thing is streamlining all our routines so they’re both simple and easy for the kids to follow. We get less fights. There is less confusion. We don’t waste time whenever possible.
Keep a to do list and be flexible
Sometimes I sit down to work and realize that I can’t accomplish that. Other times my kids won’t let me sit at the computer. When I have to quickly change up what I’m doing I tend to get displaced and end up wasting time.
Instead, I’ve started keeping a list of other things I can do. If I sit down to do A, but can’t do it for some reason, I can move onto B.
A list also helps you prioritize and identify what needs to be done.
Really watch your wasted/leisure time
You probably know all about quality time when it comes to your kids and spouse, but what about quality time with yourself?
If you have a few minutes, try and do something you really want to do with your time rather than wasting it on something that doesn’t help fill your bucket.
Keep a list of things you’d like to do and have them in a place that’s easy to get to. It might be 15 minutes of a book or magazine, playing a video game, doing a craft, etc. Just do what works for you.
There’s no magic secret
I wish I could come on here and tell you that if you just changed this one thing it would all be easier. The truth is that the only way to be more productive, with or without kids, is to just stay organized and get it done.
Keep adjusting and tweaking things that work or don’t work. Hopefully you’ll find your groove soon!