Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Being Productive With Small Children

Last night I attended a women's meeting and the theme was dealing with being overwhelmed.  We have an endless list of things to do, it seems, and having small children makes it more complicated.  Here are some ways to cope with this situation.

1.  If you're on a mission to get a lot done, first give your kids your undivided attention.  Sit down and do something with them rather than just expecting them to just sit at the table and color.  You might feel like it's cutting into your day, but it lessens their meltdowns a lot.  You can spend 30 minutes playing with a train set, puzzle, etc. or you can spend the whole day trying in vain to do what you need to accomplish while they whine and cry for your attention.

2.  Prioritize.  Sometimes we expect too much of ourselves.  If you're overwhelmed already, don't commit to throwing someone a baby shower or the equivalent.

3.  Say no.  It's OK to say no and you don't have to give an explanation.  You know what you can handle.  Don't compare yourself to other women who seem to have it all together because they probably don't.

4.  Get the kids involved.  It's amazing how fun they think some chores are.  It will keep them busy while you continue your productivity spree.

5.  Ask a friend for help.  Maybe each of you would like a day to get some things done?  I did a trade recently with a friend and it was wonderful.  We were able to run all over town without having to take anyone to the potty or dealing with tantrums in public places.

6.  Don't be a martyr and don't expect your husband to automatically know what needs to be done.  You can run yourself ragged while feeling resentful that he doesn't have the same goals as you or you can ask for help.  Ask him if he prefers lists or just a verbal request.  Give him opportunities to do what you feel you do better than him.  Thank him for his help and don't criticize him.  If he feels like there's no pleasing you, why would he volunteer to help?  He can also take the kids to play at the park while you have some quiet at home and work on some projects you've been putting off.

7.  Take care of yourself.  You can't expect to be efficient or patient when you haven't eaten or met other needs.  It's difficult with small children, but keep some healthy snacks on hand to help like fruits and nuts.

8.  Don't overschedule yourself.  Your children do not have to be involved in every sport and other activity known to man.  With less running around, you have more time to cross things off your to do list.

Accomplishing goals with kids is tough, but with a enough experimentation and persistence, we can figure out a way to make it work while maintaining our sanity.

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