Searching for Sanity: The Most Unhelpful Advice (for me) for being a Productive Stay at Home Mom

Hi, everyone! Today is more of a rant-y post, so feel free to skip this one if you’re not in the mood.  Everyone (including myself, of course) is just full of advice. No one’s situation is the same, and apparently mine is more unique than most, considering what I’ve read online.  Here are a few of my limitations:

  • I have a toddler who has a mind of her own and fights routine tooth-and-nail
  • I have a job as a caretaker which requires me to be out of my house a couple hours a day
  • I don’t drive, and even if I did, my husband takes our car to work

My fellow mommy bloggers have a wealth of advice for others (we wouldn’t have started our blogs otherwise, right?) when it comes to being productive as a stay-at-home mom. Even though I do technically work outside the home, I can take my daughter with me and it’s only 2-3 hours a day, so I do still think of myself as a stay-at-home mom.

The first thing everyone and their mother advocates is a morning and nighttime routine in order to run like a well-oiled machine. I, however, have always been so bad with them. Maybe it’s because growing up, each day could be so different from the next in terms of not only scheduling but also my emotional state that day. This might very well be the case today, too.  Lately I’ve found myself in a bit of a rut and unable to get much done.  So living in the digital age, I decided to look up “productivity tips for stay-at-home moms.” Here’s what I found that was (unintentionally, of course) unhelpful and why.

1.       Get up earlier than your kids. This is the one that literally everyone brings up first, whether or not they’re even a parent.  These lucky mommies have kids that are regular with EVERYTHING. My little one wakes up at different times –but most of the time it’s between 6:00 and 7:00. So I thought I’d get up at 5:15 to get a workout and a quick shower in before she got out of bed. Know what time she was whining at the door? 5:30 AM. I guess 15 minutes is better than nothing, but it was most certainly not long enough for a workout and a shower.  Definitely not what I had in mind. Getting up any earlier would mean going to bed earlier, which I wouldn’t have a problem with if my husband didn’t work a lot of nights. Going to bed earlier cuts into any quality time I could have with him after she goes to sleep.

2.       Use naptime to get stuff done. While I have been re-instituting naptime over the past few weeks, it is never long enough to get much accomplished. It gives me about 45 minutes at most to do anything that requires silence, concentration, and focus. So every day I have to pick and choose between housework, writing, or working out, because there is no way in hell it’s ALL getting done.

3.       Reach out to family for help. Great idea, except there’s a reason I do not have a full time job outside the home: there is no one to stay with my child . My dad is the one needing MY help, and my mom works full-time as do my in-laws. This is not an option on an everyday basis.

4.       Hire a babysitter. Wow, what a novel idea! Except unlike you, Jennifer,* my husband does not make thousands of dollars a week working in corporate ‘Merica. I do not make a six-figure income staying home and making YouTube videos. Childcare is not cheap. Do you think I would have left a career where I was actually utilizing my degree to stay home if that was an option? The correct answer is no.

*name was made up, mainly because my kid is currently watching Llama Llama, and Jennifer Garner is the voice of his mama.

Well folks, there’s my mommy rant for the week. I guess the point of this post was not just to vent, but also to make a point that no one’s situation is the same. If you want to be productive, it’s a matter of figuring out what works for you. Whether that means using a timer, sticking to a strict routine, or simply writing out an extensive to-do list, depends entirely on you and what you prioritize. For now, I’m going to try out organizing tasks into two categories: things that can be done while she’s playing independently/sleeping, and things that she definitely needs to be asleep for me to accomplish.  We’ll have to see how it goes.

How about you, friends? Are you ritualistic about your routine, or are you more of a roll-with-it kind of person? Let me know in the comments!