131. Productivity With Little Kids

The little kids stage of life can be tricky because there definitely needs to be some flexibility to your schedule – it’s hard to plan on what kind of 2-year-old shenanigans will ensue during the day, am I right?

… but too much flexibility means you’re always feeling behind, playing ‘catch-up,’ and feeling frustrated that you can’t stay consistent on a project for more than 2 minutes (what’s the point?).

If you’ve ever wondered how to get things done with little kids underfoot I’ve got some pointers in today’s podcast.

I’ll see you there! xo, Janeen

>> CLICK to WATCH on YouTube

Check out the Mamas Who Do App! It’s live in the App Store (iOS) and Google Play Store (Android). Download it now to get my FREE mini course, The Follow Through Formula!



[00:00:00] Janeen: Hello my friend. Welcome back to another episode of the podcast. I’m trying to find my notes here. Here they are. Okay. I am really excited for this episode. We were talking about productivity and little kids today. So if you have little people in your house, this podcast is for you.

[00:00:18] If you don’t have little people in your house, you can still listen in. You might be able to find some pointers about how you can be more productive and how this applies to the things that you have going on. Because I know we’re all busy and we’re all busy for different reasons. But this episode is specifically for moms who are busy with little people most of the day. I have a very close friend in town who has littles at home most of the day. I also have clients who have little people at home with them for most of the day, and I remember what it’s like to have little people at home for most of the day.

[00:00:55] I don’t anymore. It wasn’t that long ago that I did, but I don’t anymore. I have teenagers [00:01:00] and older kids now who are around and need other things from me besides helping them get dressed during a day or helping them find food, like all those things. But I feel like moms who have littles have a different challenge because it’s really tricky to have the same day every single day because you might wake up with sick kids or you just wanna take them out for a play date. You know? They need to get outside. No one can spend one more minute inside. . I know this is particularly challenging sometimes in the wintertime, but little kids have specific challenges and needs that we need to be present for kind of on the turn of a dime when they are little.

[00:01:45] So it’s a little bit different when they’re a little bit more predictable as teenagers sometimes, not all the time, but most of the time they’re a little bit more predictable than little people. So when I’m talking about little kids, I’m talking about the ages between one and like kindergarten age, when [00:02:00] sometimes they go to school for a half day.

[00:02:02] I know kindergartners are a little bit more independent, but if you have between one toddler age, kindergarten age at your house, this is what I am directing my comments to today.

[00:02:13] But my goal for this episode today is to help you relax once in a while. That’s my goal. And I’m sharing things that I wish I had known in my twenties and thirties when I did have little people with me all the time. And the reason why I’m sharing this with you is because I feel like I often needlessly suffered in my life because I was stressing myself out with all the things that I chose to do and the way that I was thinking about those things at the time. And so I wanna help you to kinda look at your life differently. and to scale back so that you can take a few deep breaths and [00:03:00] enjoy your life right now. Your kids don’t need to be a different age.

[00:03:05] They don’t need to be more independent even. They don’t need to get out of your way or do anything differently for you to find that joy in your life right now. All right, so we’re just gonna dive in. I’m just gonna start by sharing some things that I wish I had known when I had little kids in my house. So the first one is give yourself permission to take a break.

[00:03:29] Don’t skip this step. No one’s going to help you take a break, but you. It’s not like your two year old is gonna come up and be like, mommy, I think we need a break right now. , that’s not gonna happen. So you need to be the one that does that for you. All right. So I know you have a lot of things going on and I know that you might be thinking, yeah, you don’t really remember.

[00:03:52] I totally remember . I do. And there was some, some things that I came out kind of scarred over because I do [00:04:00] remember what it was like to have little kids at home. And again, the way that I was thinking about that created some of those scars. So , I don’t want you to feel like this doesn’t apply to you because I’m too far removed from having little kids, but I want you to give yourself permission every single day to take a break.

[00:04:21] I remember thinking to myself at that phase in my life that if I literally stopped moving, everything would fall apart. If you’re thinking that, just relax. Your life isn’t going to start to unravel as soon as you stop moving, I promise.

[00:04:36] So give yourself permission to take a break, no matter what your house looks like right now. No matter what you look like right now, I don’t care if you haven’t had a shower today, you can still give yourself permission to take a break if there’s Cheerios on the floor, if there’s dishes in the sink, if there’s dirty laundry that’s on the floor or in people’s rooms and beds aren’t made like I totally get it.

[00:04:58] I want you to just take [00:05:00] a moment. , you can come back to this part of the podcast if you need me to walk you through it. If you can’t take a break right now, but hopefully you can remember to do this. All I want you to do is just lie down on the couch or on your bed. I want you to bend your knees and you can even tilt your knees so that your knees are supporting each other so that you’re really relaxed, so the muscles of your legs are not even holding your legs up.

[00:05:25] Okay? This is how I want you to relax. It only takes five minutes. Okay. While you’re on your back, I want you to tune into your breath. I want you to place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart, and I want you to just breathe deeply and just soften into the couch. And I want you to feel your body being held by the cushions of the couch.

[00:05:49] All right. So often what happens when we sit down to tell ourselves we’re gonna take a break, , our brains just totally continue to spin out, right? We keep telling ourselves, I gotta [00:06:00] get this done. I have to get dinner started. There’s laundry that needs to be done.

[00:06:03] I just literally can’t take a break. I can’t tell you how many times I told myself that. I told myself that multiple times a day when I had little kids. But just give yourself permission to take this little, little tiny mini power break, . We’re just gonna call it a power break. Might even turn into a power nap, which would even be better.

[00:06:26] Okay? But five minutes you can do that. I promise you you can. And not only will your kids thank you, but you’ll be so grateful that you did that for yourself. All right. The next thing is give yourself permission to be present with what’s going on. I know little kids take a lot of physical energy. When I had little kids, I had a friend tell me like, yeah, little kids take a lot of physical energy. When they become teenagers.

[00:06:56] They take a lot of emotional and mental energy from you. And I have found that that , [00:07:00] that is true. Has been my experience, but I know how draining and exhausting little people can be, and sometimes being with littles I know isn’t as mentally stimulating as other things in your life. Maybe other relationships that you have or other things that you have going on.

[00:07:18] I know with a two-year-old, there aren’t a lot of deep conversations that we have, right? There are rarely any belly laughs unless they do something really silly, which happens sometimes. But it’s not like a belly laugh that you have with an adult who can say things that help you to understand that they get you, like get your life. The two year old’s gonna do that for you, right? So sometimes what happens is we avoid being present. . We’re either thinking five steps ahead or we’re focusing on something that happened in the past, right?

[00:07:53] It takes intention to be present with them and to find meaning in just being [00:08:00] in that moment, even if you’re cleaning up spilled food or dirty diapers or whatever it is that you’re doing. So practice just being and letting that be enough for the moment, I know you have really fun and amazing things in your life. That’s not what makes you amazing. So just practice being present with what is in your life and let that be enough. Practice that.

[00:08:23] Okay. The next thing that I have that I wish I had known when I had little people is I wish I could go back and tell myself to stop cramming things in into my life.

[00:08:35] I was somebody who literally hit the ground running in the beginning of my day and I would fall into bed exhausted and I felt like I was so busy and there wasn’t enough time, and I would cram things into every waking minute of my life.

[00:08:49] So of course I was exhausted at the end of the day. But what I wish I had known, and these are things that I learned actually when I started homeschooling my kids, and we lived in a really rural [00:09:00] area of the country out in, in the boondocks in Germany. We lived in a little village and there was a grocery store close by, but everything just about everything took about 30 minutes for us to get to.

[00:09:11] So if I could go back in time, I would tell myself to eliminate time in the car. Driving around, I learned how to batch errands. I learned how to shop online. Even back then, we did have Amazon, and that was a huge help to me. I learned how to shop online. We couldn’t shop for groceries online. Which would be a power move for sure, right now.

[00:09:35] So if you’re not shopping online for your groceries, make sure that you start, start doing that. You will save yourself oodles of time to do that, unless you love going to the grocery store, of course. But those are ways that you can start getting some of your time back. Other things to eliminate are toys and papers and laundry and clothes and all of that stuff.

[00:09:56] And I totally get hand-me-downs, like if you have older kids and [00:10:00] you’re saving clothes to hand them down to younger kids. I totally get that. I did that too, but we had two unique situations. actually with our housing that I wanna share, just to kind of help you just start thinking outside of the box when it comes to space.

[00:10:15] So when we lived in Japan, Emma was born in Japan. We lived there when Thomas turned five. He’s my oldest and we left when he turned nine, so Thomas was nine, Emma was two, and I had two kids in between when we moved away from Japan. So 1700 square foot townhouse is what we lived in, and the bedrooms were all upstairs.

[00:10:36] We actually had a four bedroom house, which is kind of weird. I wish we had three bedrooms. , and here’s why I couldn’t get two twin beds on the floor in those bedrooms upstairs. So my boys were in bunk beds, actually, Thomas and Lucy both started out in the bunk room together, and then Lucy got a little bit older

[00:10:54] I moved her into the bedroom with Emma and when Emma was a baby, and [00:11:00] Emma slept in a pack and play until we moved. So she was in a pack and play for over two years when we lived in Japan. And then when we moved to Germany, They had much bigger rooms and beds could sit on the floor and everything there.

[00:11:14] So I had to get really creative with space. Not only toys that they had and clothes in their closets, but also things that I was storing and hanging onto. So I want you thinking, if you had limited space, what would you hang onto? And things got even more tricky a little bit with storage pace when we moved to Germany, because in Europe most houses are not built with closet.

[00:11:40] I know that seems a little bit strange to us, but they have wardrobes, you know, like the lion and the witch and the wardrobe. They have their closets in these wardrobes that actually sat on the floor and. They had two doors that kind of kept everything hidden , not necessarily tidy, but hidden [00:12:00] inside of those closets.

[00:12:01] So that was also something that we had to get used to. Now, we weren’t going to go out and buy a bunch of wardrobes because we knew that was a temporary location. It wasn’t like we were in a space that we were gonna live in for another 10 or 15 years. We knew that we were only gonna be there for a couple years, so I didn’t want to go out and spend a lot of money on wardrobes.

[00:12:21] I think we bought a few, as in like two or three, but we didn’t buy a bunch. Now, the base, however, loaned out furniture. For the time that we were there, and they would loan out wardrobes depending on how many people you had in your family. So we had six people in our family, so we got seven wardrobes, , we got one extra that I think held like winter stuff, you know, it wasn’t like the regular things that we were wearing every day, but I had to figure out how to put not only my stuff, but all of my kid’s stuff in these wardrobes.

[00:12:55] And not feel like every time I opened the door, all of this stuff was like piling out [00:13:00] on top of my head, you know? And these wardrobes weren’t really big they were think maybe like three, three and a half feet wide. And they were closet depth ish. I mean, I could hang up my clothes and stuff in there, but that was kind of it.

[00:13:11] I mean, it was, they had the same size that I got in my college dorm room, like per person. That was what we had. So anyway, I want you thinking about if you had a situation like that. , how would you eliminate stuff? I want you just thinking kind of outside the box of what you’re normally thinking about when it comes to your stuff.

[00:13:34] How can you eliminate and then eliminate further and then eliminate even further with your stuff. You want to be able to simplify your life. I promise you this is going to save you energy, not just physical energy, but also mental and emotional energy as well. When you can create literal space in your life when things aren’t so tightly jammed in and [00:14:00] it feels difficult to take a deep breath in your own house.

[00:14:04] Okay. So that’s the, that’s the tip that I have for that. And I want you to also take the same principle and apply it to your goals. How can you simplify your goals? So I talk a lot about doing things that matter to you. I want you thinking about this. What are some of the things that matter to you in your life?

[00:14:24] And it doesn’t have to be earth shattering. Okay. It doesn’t have to get you on the news . Okay? Not that that’s everybody’s goal, but I think sometimes we think, well, I don’t have like a really, really big goal. All I started out with when I had kids and I started thinking about things that I wanted to accomplish in my life was the first thing that I came up with was I would love to teach yoga.

[00:14:46] I think it would be so fun to be a yoga teacher. that was it. Okay. It wasn’t, like I said, it wasn’t earth shattering. It was just something that I wanted to do. Now, when it comes to goals, I want you to really simplify your goals, and I wanna [00:15:00] encourage you to have a spiritual goal for sure. And then maybe one other.

[00:15:04] I think having a spiritual goal helps you to ground yourself in yourself, for sure. But then have one other goal. maybe, like I said, fitness goal, weight loss goal, business goal, something else, and then simplify that goal to make it really easy. Maybe a 15 minute workout or a salad at lunchtime, or maybe just exploring different types of client management software one afternoon.

[00:15:28] Like it could be something really simple like, Okay. I think it’s really easy for us to get distracted and discouraged with our goals because we’re focused on all the improvements that we wanna make in our life this week. . We wanna do it all right now and we come up with really strategic ways to cram things in or get it done on the weekends and become like these weekend warriors with all of it.

[00:15:53] And I want you to stop doing that in your life. Cause when you have back to back to back [00:16:00] days, And back to back to back hours and minutes of time. There’s no extra space to really stop and smell the roses along the way and like take these deep breaths to help you really relax and soften into the beautiful life that you have right now.

[00:16:16] nothing has to change. Like I said, your kids don’t need to get older in order for that to happen. So focus on one thing. Goals should be fun. So these goals that I’m talking about should be focused on the things, like I said, that matter to you, that gets you really excited. And it’s not about like keeping a tidy house or getting the laundry done unless that is your thing. Unless that is the goal. And that has actually been my goal. If I’m getting ready for a move, that is my focus is cleaning out my house for sure. Okay. And make sure that these goals are centered on you. Cuz remember, we can’t control other people. So if you have family goals, that’s great, but just focus on the part of those goals that you [00:17:00] can control.

[00:17:01] Okay. I wish I had also known that I spent a lot of time trying to control people in my family. , it doesn’t work out super great, and I know with little kids there’s that balance there because you are guiding them and you are focused on their growth. But at the same time, you want to release the idea that it needs to look a certain way in order for you to have accomplished that goal.

[00:17:23] There is actually a. A comedian who I love actually just this one skit. This is the only skit I can vouch for . His name is Michael McIntyre. And um, he’s British. He is hilarious, but he does this sketch that is all about parenting. So if you’re looking him up, just focus on that one sketch.

[00:17:44] Like I said, he can’t vouch for any of the other sketches that he’s done . Not to say they’re good or bad, I just can’t vouch for him. But he talks about these goals that we have as parents and the lives that we have as parents and how before we have kids, they look a certain way. [00:18:00] You know, kids in their dungarees, he says in his cute little British accent and skipping through fields of flowers and ready for their picnic, you know, and it’s just, it’s so funny the way he describes this and he is like, how did that turn into me on a daily basis looking over the toilet and asking, who’s poo is this ? So I definitely think we have some some ideologies about what parenthood should look like, but just focus on your piece of that pie.

[00:18:30] What do you have control over? And focus on that and give yourself permission to let it be what it is with all the things that come with the reality of parenting little people. All right? Okay. Now the next thing that I have kind of goes along with goals. When you’re thinking about your goal, and I’m talking about focusing on the thing that matters to you, I want you to come up with [00:19:00] only your weekly three, and I strategically put in that word only

[00:19:06] Okay. I remember back in the day I was listening to an interview with Chalene Johnson. If you’re not familiar with who Chalene Johnson is, she is an entrepreneur, she’s a fitness mogul, she’s a mom. She has three kids. She is a really, really hard worker. And I love listening to interviews with her because she’s so inspiring. And one of the things that she said was, she has a daily three.

[00:19:29] I’m like, well, tell me a little bit more about that. What’s her daily three, I mean, Not specifically what you’re doing, but what is your daily three? And all this is, is focusing in on three things that she wanted to accomplish in her business for that day. And then she was done. And I’m like, wait, what? I mean for me, I had a list, a list of things that I wanted to get done that literally filled up a page on a piece of paper in one day.

[00:19:55] That was what my lists used to look like. Like 20, 15, 20 things on a [00:20:00] list in one day. Now listen my friend, I know that your brain might be freaking out right now. Like, how do I get all these other things done if all I’m focusing in on is three things? These three things are specific to your one goal, okay? Or if you’ve got a spiritual goal in there, it can be associated with both of those things, but not any more than that.

[00:20:20] Just one to two goals, and then everything else is gonna fit in the crack. Okay, now I know, and this is the thing that’s hard, this is the tricky thing that’s hard with little people, is sometimes their schedules are unpredictable, right? They might be transitioning from one from two naps to one nap or no nap at all, and you’re like, where did my time go?

[00:20:43] This is really frustrating to me. So you want to whittle down your expectations of what you can get done. So you wanna think about weekly three. What are the three things that would be amazing to achieve this week? and then break those down into little daily goals. And you don’t [00:21:00] even need to map out all seven days at one time.

[00:21:03] Just think about, okay, what would be awesome to get done? Three things that would help me get a little bit closer to the weekly three that I have with that goal. Okay, so maybe an example of this. Let’s say you have a weight loss goal. Your weekly three could be down one pound. . It could be salads five days a week for lunch, and it could be something like, a 15 minute walk each day.

[00:21:29] That’s it. You guys see how I did that? Okay, so that’s how you would break that down. Now I’ve got two stories about fitting things in the cracks.

[00:21:40] So when Merrill and I were newly wed, this is back in the age of the dinosaurs. That’s what my kids think. They’re like, you didn’t have a cell phone, mom, we can’t relate to you. Uh, but we got married in 1999 and we were students at the time. And there were days that Merrill would go to the store, he would [00:22:00] do our weekly grocery trip, and these days he would always come home with four cartons of ice cream.

[00:22:06] There was just the two of us, but this was before we became much more conscientious about what it was that we were eating. he would come home with four, four cartons of ice cream, and at first I’m like, babe, Wow. Like, how fast do you think we’re gonna get through that? And he’s like, no, it was a buy one, get one free sale.

[00:22:22] And I’m like, honey, it is always buy one, get one free . Like that sale never goes out. It’s always available at the grocery store that we shopped at. But the thing was, we loved ice cream. . And after dinner every single night, we would inevitably have a bowl of ice cream, and Merril would always say, I’m always ready for ice cream.

[00:22:43] It just fills in the cracks. Like we were stuffed, and the ice cream just like fills in the cracks with our stomachs. So I want you thinking about laundry and dishes, kind of like filling in the cracks. The way that I [00:23:00] really learned how to do this as far as my productivity was concerned, is I read a book called Cheaper by the Dozen, and this is a book that has inspired movies over the ages. There are several movies out there that are loosely based off of this book. That’s not what I’m talking about. I, I am specifically talking about this book, cheaper by the Dozen. It was written by a brother and sister who were children in this family that had 12 kids, 12 kids in this family. And their dad is a very charismatic man. He was kind of the, the hero of the book, the star of the show, actually both parents were, but he was an efficiency expert. And what he did for a living was he would go into businesses and he would teach them how to create more efficient systems or cut down on manpower, or cut down on even the way the workers moved in their jobs to help them to be more effective and efficient in the business. So ultimately, save the business [00:24:00] money. Now, the book wasn’t about his job, it was about how the dad ran the household.

[00:24:06] Because he was an efficiency expert by trade he transferred a lot of that into the way that he taught his kids. And I remember there was one story about getting the kids clean for the day. I think they had six boys and six girls in this house. It was pretty even.

[00:24:21] And so one night he was teaching the boys how to take a bath and be really efficient in the bathtub, cuz you gotta get 12 kids in and out of the tub , you know, so it’s not taking six hours at night to get everybody clean. So, you know, he tell the boys, okay, this is what you do. You sit in a bathtub, you take that bar of soap, and you run it up one arm and down the other arm, and then up one leg and down the other leg, and then you just shimmy all the soap off and you hop out of the bathtub

[00:24:47] That was the way he taught the kids how to take a bath. But this book is loaded with stories like, and I just realized after I read this book, how to be a little bit more efficient in my life and [00:25:00] how I wanted to let these mundane tasks in my life, like the laundry and the dishes and the things that I didn’t wanna focus my whole day doing.

[00:25:08] How do I fit that in the cracks of what I was doing with my homeschool with my kids. Cuz that really was what I wanted to focus on, and I remember before I even started homeschooling, this was before we even moved, I was getting the impression to homeschool and I’m like, I don’t even have any idea how I’m gonna fit that into my life.

[00:25:29] It’s not like I’m sitting on the couch watching Netflix and eating bonbons all day, although Netflix wasn’t a thing at the time, and there’s nothing wrong with that. , but I was thinking if I’m gonna homeschool all four of my children, I need to be thinking about things in a different way than I’m thinking about them. . So those are some of the things that I have learned. You want these, these tasks in your life that matter, the laundry matters for sure, the dishes matter, but you want those things playing more of a supportive role in your life than being kind of the [00:26:00] star of the show.

[00:26:00] Don’t focus on doing laundry all day long. Let it be something that happens on the side. Okay? The next thing that I wanna ask you is what is the best time of day for your work, and then schedule it. I talk a lot about this. You want to schedule your stuff on your calendar, and this is one of the things that’s a little tricky because you’re like, well, I don’t know how to do that.

[00:26:22] But you can say, you can give a block of time and say, okay, in the morning I’d like to get this done, and in the afternoon I wanna get this done. Instead of being like, okay, at 1:00 PM , I’m gonna do this thing because at 1:00 PM you know, all hell can break loose with a two and four year old in your house.

[00:26:39] So, and a baby and a baby. So you want to make sure that you are giving yourself flexible times. But I want you also thinking about what is the best time of day to get things done and also really paying attention to the 80 20 rule.

[00:26:52] So the 80 20 rule goes like this. 20% of what you do gives you 80% of your results. [00:27:00] So when you’re thinking about how you’re gonna use that 20% that needs to be doing stuff that is really going to move the needle. So you wanna stop doing all the little things first. Okay. If that makes sense. And you all know what I’m talking about, okay?

[00:27:18] So non check an email, you’re not picking up your phone, you’re not getting on Instagram. Those kinds of things are not going to get you the results that you want. They will get you results for sure, but not the results that you want. So if you’re focusing in on 20% of your time, gives you 80% of your results, how are you using that precious 20%.

[00:27:42] and I want you being really focused on what goes there. And for me, that means in the beginning of my day, what am I doing in the beginning of my day to help set me up for success for the rest of my day. So it’s usually getting a load of laundry started. That’s usually working on my business for an hour.

[00:27:58] It’s getting my workout [00:28:00] done. , and then I’m ready to start homeschool with Emma and then getting some work done in the afternoon right now. But of course this is now when my kids are a little bit older. So for you, it’s gonna look different in your life, but I want you to apply that same principle to your life right now.

[00:28:13] The 80 20 rule, 20% of what you do gives you 80% of your results.

[00:28:18] Okay. The last thing that I have to tell you, and this is super exciting. This is kind of a behind the scenes right now with my business, I have created an app. I’ve created an app for you. It’s called Mamas Who Do.

[00:28:31] Same name as the podcast. Now, this is not the podcast, the podcast you’re gonna find and whatever podcast platform that you listen to, but the app you’re actually going to download if you’d like access to it inside either the Google Play Store, if you have an Android phone, or into the Apple App Store if you have an iPhone.

[00:28:49] So go find that app, download it on your phone. You need to create a sign-in. So you just put your username and password there, and then once you get in, you can access a free program that I [00:29:00] have that’s inside there that I created just for you. It’s called the follow through formula, and it’s right there and it’s free for you on the app.

[00:29:07] So I would love it if you downloaded this app and gave it a try. I have had my clients download it. I’ve had them give me feedback on the userability of the app, and we are good to go. So it is live right now inside both the Apple store and in the Google Play Store. You can download it for free and you can access the follow through formula for free.

[00:29:27] You just have to click on the discover tab and then you have to just click on Join Me now, and there will be a little program for you to go through if you’re struggling to follow through. So that is it. I am really excited for you guys to dive in and give that a try. And of course, if you want more after the follow through formula, there is a link right there to the Burnout Breakthrough, which is my signature course that you can also access right there from the app.

[00:29:53] So that is it, my friends. That’s what I have for you today. Super fun, super exciting. I hope you guys have a beautiful rest of your [00:30:00] week. We’ll talk to you guys soon. Take care.

[00:30:01] Bye.