How to Be a Productive Stay at Home Mom

Inside: how to be productive as a stay-at-home mom. The tips, tricks, and attitude adjustments you need to stay busy at home.

Everyone starts life as a stay-at-home mom with good intentions. Homemade waffles! Storytime at the library every Monday! A beautiful garden in the backyard. And then, over time… life gets in the way. Your kids are more demanding than you expected. Your motivation for housework wanes. And it becomes all too easy to do the bare minimum day after day. And every day you don’t get anything done, you actually feel worse about yourself: like you aren’t contributing and should just back to work.

productive stay at home mom at desk

The key to being productive as a stay-at-home mom is to treat your life at home like a paid job.

It’s time to realize that being a stay-at-home mom is hard and requires you to work hard, even when you don’t feel like it. It’s hard to stay motivated when you don’t have a boss watching you, but you have to.

Here’s how:

Make a daily routine

A routine will help you stay productive because you don’t have endless amounts of time to waste. (It can also be helpful with kids because they’ll know what is going on for the day).

Set goals for the day and week, and make a routine that helps you achieve them.

If you start your morning by making a list of what you want to get done, it will help keep you on task throughout the day. You’ll be more productive this way.

Plus, breaking down big tasks or projects into small steps makes them seem less overwhelming.

Get up before the kids

Even if you get up just 30 minutes before the children, it has a huge impact. Imagine all that quiet alone time. You can work out, read, do Bible study, and enjoy your coffee in peace.

So much better than being woken up by children, which makes you feel behind before the day even starts. It’s clearly easier said than done, but it’s absolutely worth the effort. The earlier, the better.

Would you show up to work having just rolled out of bed, or would you first have a cup of coffee and get ready for the day? You know the answer. Remember: this is your job.

Get some exercise

woman holding yoga mat

Exercise is also a great way to increase productivity. Not only does it help you stay physically healthy, but it can also make you feel mentally refreshed. If you’re feeling frustrated or unmotivated, try going for a walk or doing some stretches or push-ups before starting your day.

Personally, I wouldn’t say I like to exercise, and I resisted this idea for a long time. But once I finally took it seriously, my level of productivity went way up. I had more energy to get things done throughout the whole day, just by getting exercise in the morning.

Get dressed

There’s nothing like a great outfit to make you feel good about yourself. And there’s nothing like sitting around in pajamas all day to make you feel gross.

When you don’t work outside the home, it’s easy to let your appearance slide, to the point you aren’t even getting dressed. Ladies, this has to stop.

Being sloppy all day is depressing and one of the worst habits in the world. Take your job as a stay-at-home mom seriously and get dressed for it. This doesn’t have to be a fancy outfit and makeup routine. You just have to be neat, clean, and presentable.

How can anyone be productive in their pajamas?

Set a deadline time, like 8 AM, by which you must be fully dressed. And stick to it!

Watch less TV

TV can be entertaining and relaxing.

But remember, a productive stay-at-home mom treats her home life as a job. Would you watch TV at work? (Let’s hope not!)

If you’re watching TV when dishes are waiting to be washed or kids who need help with their homework, you’re wasting precious time–your own time–on something that doesn’t benefit you in any way.

Get some sleep

I know it’s tempting to stay up late because it’s your only time to yourself. But if you stay up too late, you can’ get up early in the morning, which means your whole routine is thrown off.

Take care of yourself in the simplest way possible by going to bed early and setting yourself up for a productive day in the morning.

Clean the house bit by bit

You probably know how long it takes to clean up behind kids who have been playing with their toys all day long. One of the best ways to stay productive is by cleaning throughout the day.

This keeps your spirits high because the house looks nice. It’s a positive cycle. Think of those days when the house is so messy that you don’t know where to start, and you just sit around and waste time. Keeping on top of the housework throughout the day has a huge effect on your mood and productivity.

Let the kids help

Let your children help with little things rather than sitting down with a screen. This way, they have something they can do when you’re doing work around the house.

At first, teaching them to help will take longer than just doing it yourself, and they won’t do things as well as you.

But over time, having kids who will help you instead of just expecting to be constantly entertained is a huge asset to your family. It’s definitely worth the effort.

Have a hobby

Yes, stay-at-home moms can have hobbies.

Many moms think that they don’t have time for anything but their kids, and it’s not true.

There are plenty of ways to find short periods during the day–even just fifteen minutes a day!–to do something you enjoy.

Some women like to garden. Others may be into reading or painting, or scrapbooking. The possibilities are endless! If there is an activity that makes you feel creative and energized, make sure you give yourself some time each week to pursue it!

Sunday prep day

woman with planner at white table

The best way to stay productive as a mom is to plan and keep your schedule organized.

Take 30-60 minutes every Sunday to prepare for the week.

This helps you handle how much time you have to work with and realistically fill your days.

Make a meal plan (more on this in a second), break down your big tasks, and schedule time for your hobbies and activities for the kids.

Planning helps you say productive but not overwhelmed.

Plan out menus for the week ahead

One of the most important things that stay-at-home moms should do every Sunday night is to plan their meals for the whole upcoming week.

Why does this help your productivity, you might ask?

Well, nothing kills productivity like indecision. If you spend the whole afternoon rummaging through the fridge and looking on Pinterest for dinner ideas, you’ll feel busy and stressed, but you won’t actually have done anything.

Anytime you can make a decision ahead of time and make your work automatic, you become more productive.

Schedule a daily quiet time for the kids

This quiet time or nap time gives you a big chunk of time to get more complicated tasks done.

It can be hard to find chunks of time, but I promise you’ll feel so much happier when you’re able to actually have downtime that isn’t interrupted by kids yelling at each other and asking you for things.

Even older children can have a scheduled downtime: this can be when you allow screentime or let them have alone time away from younger siblings.

Do small, fun things with the kids

Visit a park. Invite another friend with little kids in for coffee or lunch. Plant a garden, even just a container. Enjoy a picnic at home or in a park. Have crafts to do with your little ones.

Scheduling little tasks like this keeps the kids happy and makes it more likely that they’ll leave you in peace to get things done later on.

It also keeps you from feeling guilty about requiring things like naps and independent play: you are still giving your children plenty of focused attention.

Get organized

Remember how we discussed indecision being a productivity killer? Looking for stuff is too. That’s why organization is crucial for running the home smoothly and being a productive stay-at-home mom. But don’t get caught up in this.

If it helps you, don’t forget to use organizational tools like containers with labeled lids and whatever else will help you stay organized. You can have a well-functioning space without spending any money on organizing knick-knacks. Instead, try looking for a few minutes every day and you’ll see the difference in just two weeks.

You don’t need to spend hours each week organizing your kitchen or closet. (That’s actually a huge waste of time.) The truth is, if you’re having a hard time keeping organized, you probably just have too much stuff.

Feeling overwhelmed is not helpful

Being productive doesn’t mean doing everything yourself or working so hard you’re burned out. Absolutely not. You can (and should!) expect your children to do chores around the house. You should make routines for yourself that balance work and rest, productive periods, and relaxing periods.

Pretending everything’s fine while secretly feeling overwhelmed will burn you out faster than anything else.

Find the balance in your day between being lazy and doing too much. If you feel like a productive stay-at-home mom, you’re probably doing just fine.

Stay at home moms have to carefully manage their own time.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is essential to take care of yourself and your well-being.

Make sure that you take a break for little things like tea or reading a book. This helps you recharge and feel accomplished for the work you have done instead of feeling like you’re wasting time.