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How to Accept Inefficiency While Striving for Productivity as a SAHM

My biggest struggle when I first stayed home full time with my daughters was in the area of productivity. You see, I’m naturally a Type A box checker. In my career, I learned and honed in all kinds of strategies to “get it done,” and not just what needs to be done in the immediate moment. For example, I was the kind of teacher who would detail plan curriculum maps, lesson slides, lesson plans, and differentiation strategies for the entire school year the summer before school starts. I learned to anticipate the deliverables and expectations for work. With this background I, naively, figured being home with the girls would be cake. Surely, I could anticipate all of my family’s needs, tend to all of the domestic responsibilities of my household and do so with pizzazz.

My home would be scrubbed clean, laundry would always be done, my children would be actively learning through play, I would have the time to create gourmet meals for dinner daily, I could work out every day if I want, and I could have time for my own intellectual pursuits, like writing this blog and other projects.

No. It took no time for me to realize that my vision of being a SAHM was a perception that did not take into account the actual attention needs of my littles and how these two bundles of sugar and spice can transform a room from Pinterest chic to the destructive aftermath of Hurricane Littles upon landfall. I didn’t consider how, without another adult at home, I wouldn’t have time to myself unless they were asleep.

Consider a chore like putting away clean laundry. If left alone, I can get a load folded, hung, and otherwise put away in less than 15 minutes. Doing it with my daughters can take hours. Yes, hours. How, you may ask? Well, a typical load is a mix of everyone’s clothes (mine, the girls’, and my husband’s). What I did, at the start of my new career as SAHM, was put the basket on top of the dresser and fold an article of clothing. Then Hazel will be at my feet, crying “uppas!” Or she’ll request a one woman rendition of Frozen 2 songs. “This will all make sense when I’m older” is my usual go to. As I fold, sing, and stack, Maggie would have snuck up from behind and pulled the diaper changing pad off the dresser with all of the freshly folded clothes, now piled on the floor.

Pointlessly inefficient? Yes, absolutely. Too many times in the first few weeks, I had thrown my hands up in the air and marched the little ones away from the laundry in the bedroom, mentally resigned to just picking clean clothes off the floor.

I don’t do that, at least, I don’t do that anymore.

Here’s what I do: I put things away as I go. If I need to stop, I leave it. Like if Maggie has a seizure and needs to be held, I drop everything and snuggle her. What I can do while I hold her or while the kids are distracted with independent play is write on my phone or read or listen to a book, or close my eyes and with my kids safe in my arms, and just breathe.

Like I learned at work, I needed to learn new strategies to “get it done” at home. Here it is: love is greater than done. The laundry does not need to be put away in fifteen minutes. I remind myself why I’m home and it’s for them. So now, I will sooner let a load of clean laundry sit for hours when there’s snuggles, stories, and oh so many Frozen songs to sing.


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