Secrets of Productive Moms
By: Rivky Blumenfeld, Lubicom Staff
Every mom tries her best. From wakeup in the morning to the dinner time rush, moms juggle every role, from chauffeur to chef. And if we’re being honest, it’s really really hard to do it all. That’s why I spoke to four moms who excel at productivity to learn how they do it, and I have their secrets to tell.
The first productive mom I spoke to was Naomi Nachman, a culinary educator, media personality, author of two cookbooks (Perfect Flavors and Perfect for Pesach), and star of the Kosher.com cooking show, Sunny Side Up. From the beginning of our conversation, Naomi stressed how important getting up early in the morning is for her productivity. “Your morning brain is your best brain,” she enthusiastically told me, and for her, being productive starts the night before. Naomi writes a list of everything she needs to do before she actually does it. She can’t sleep at night if she hasn’t written down her tasks for the next day. Get a cute notebook if you need some motivation to write down tasks, or use the notes app on your phone if you’re techier and see how your day-to-day productivity peaks.
Naomi also has a trick for remembering all her tasks. She’ll make an acronym. For example, let’s say she has to go to the bank, call Adina, and go to Gourmet Glatt, she’ll remember the acronym BAGG- for bank, Adina, and Gourmet Glatt. Aside from that, Naomi let me in on a trick she uses that can revolutionize your productivity. She uses excel spreadsheets. She has three to be exact: One for calls, one with a shopping list, and another Costco list. For the shopping and Costco list, Naomi has lists of everything she ever gets, and on any particular day she opens her excel spreadsheet and highlights what she needs for that trip, and she’s good to go. The key to going to a kosher supermarket is to go as early as possible for efficiency, but be warned that they may not have everything out right when the store opens. With a store like Costco, Naomi will leave her house at 9:30 so she’s there right when it opens, and she can be in and out.
Naomi’s final tip for your productivity is to train your kids from when they are young to have responsibility, so everything doesn’t fall onto your shoulders. Everyone does something in the Nachman household, like Shabbos for example. Her older daughter does candle sticks, two kids set the table, and the older kids would work on a recipe, while her little ones would work on a cake with her. This way everything gets done, (and her kids learn know how to cook!) and these skills go beyond preparing a recipe and helps them through life.
The next mom I spoke to was Rorie Weisberg, the founder of Full ‘n Free, a recipe developer, health coach, creator of Rorie’s unique dough mixes, and star of the Kosher.com cooking show, Living Full ‘n Free. Rorie created her mixes because of a need that brought her to healthier eating. When she found that her business was taking over, she had to step back to reevaluate her priorities. What helps Rorie is setting black and white boundaries and structure.
Separating home and work life was impossible until she got another phone for work. Her personal phone is filtered with no social media, and her work phone has her emails, dropbox, Instagram, etc. Her work phone primarily stays at home unless she’s travelling or at a store doing stories. Doing stories is part of her career, because an Instagram presence is so important nowadays. What Rorie will do is prepare stories in advance, so if she’s baking or cooking, she’ll video it and take pictures, so she has things to post even if it’s not on the particular day they were taken. This way, her work time is more efficient, and she doesn’t have to stress. This can be applied to every aspect of your life, not just Insta. Prepare in advance! This way you can dial back the stress, and get more things done.
Rorie loves to be organized and she does best with a schedule, although it doesn’t come naturally for her (or her kids as she told me. Genetics are a funny thing.) Her kids need her to be on top of them, so she sets up doable boundaries, though she knows that life doesn’t always stick to schedule. She’s usually in bed between 10-10:30 because she can’t function without sleep. “Rather sleep at 10 and wake up at 6 than sleep at 12 and wake up at 8.” She knows what works best for her, and she sticks to what lends to her productivity, which for her is an early night. Once you find your groove, you may find your productivity increases.
Let’s talk mealtime. Mealtime for most moms can be nightmarish, but Rorie’s tips to make meal prep more productive can save your sanity, so listen close. If you know you’re going to be home late, prepare dinner in the morning, and consider a crockpot dinner or even a sheet pan dinner that someone in the house can stick in the oven. For something more exciting, Rorie loves stir fry dinners. “They are super-fast and if I plan the night before I can whip it up in 15 mins.” To make a stir fry even easier, buy pre-chunked meat or chicken cutlets and pre-cut and checked vegetables (some supermarkets even have a medley for stir-fry). It can’t get any easier than that! Stick it in a pan with olive oil, tamari sauce or balsamic vinegar or whatever you like to use, add lots of spices, like garlic and herbs. Rice and grains don’t take too long to make, so you can put it up quickly and then you’re all set with dinner.
Next, I spoke to Sara Goldstein, a Chef and co-author of ‘The Goldstein’s, where they introduce readers to new recipes, which is featured in Ami Magazine’s Whisk. You can stay in touch with her on Instagram at @tomatoes_tomahtos. Sara has an order to her week, which she follows to make sure that the priorities like food and household chores don’t get neglected. On Sunday, Sara will clean the house, do the laundry, meal plan, and order groceries so the rest of the week will go smoothly. On Wednesday, Sara will review the week, change around dinners if necessary, plan Shabbos, and restock groceries. This way, the whole week is structured, and productivity can be maximized.
“Everyone has a lot to do, all the time. Try to take each day at a time and set specific attainable goals for each day so you don’t get overwhelmed.” The feeling of checking off tasks is sometimes enough to keep you going, so feel free to write down even the simplest of tasks, and you may feel a motivational surge to cross off all your other tasks now that you got the ball rolling.
Sara does a lot of shopping online, or store pickup for basic home necessities. “Have you ever tried Target drive up? It’s life changing”, says Sara. For those that don’t know, you can do a Target drive up by shopping on the app, waiting for the notification that your order is ready to pick up, and then park in a designated spot so your car can be loaded up. It saves a tremendous amount of time.
The last, but certainly not least, woman I spoke to was Chanie Apfelbaum, AKA @busyinbrooklyn. For the unlikely few that don’t know, Chanie is a food writer and recipe developer as well as photographer (check out her cookbook, Millenial Kosher) and she has her own food blog. She is a cooking instructor and brand ambassador as well as a full-time mom to five kids.
With so many things to do, but without the strict schedule of a 9 to 5, it can be hard to keep things moving through the day. Because of this, Chanie needs to plan her schedule out ahead of time, sometimes even a week in advance and gives herself tasks to complete. She used to be very unorganized (her words, not mine!) but she started using google calendar, which she uses to write everything she has to do into each day, and she knows “if I don’t write it down, it’s not going to happen.”
Because of her lack of schedule, she created her own rough outline of what her days look like. Like most of us, one of her main tips for productivity was to “drink a big cup of coffee in the morning.” This gets the body revved up and ready to go. Once that’s done, she’ll get her kids off to school. The rest of the day is usually emails, testing recipes, editing photos, writing proposals for companies, phone meetings, (or meetings in person). But one thing is for sure, and that is that every day is different.
“To be productive in work and in life I thinks it’s important to do things you enjoy.” A lot of times it’s all about doing something for the kids or for life in general, but finding things that you enjoy (Chanie loves shopping in Home Goods!) can give you the motivation to keep moving forward. “If you do something for yourself you become a more productive person and it fuels you and helps you be productive.”
Sometimes what being productive really requires is taking yourself into account. Take a step back and figure out what works best for you. It might be either getting more rest, creating spreadsheets and delegating tasks, getting some extra help from ordering groceries online, or searching for something you enjoy that motivates you to keep going. Try making one change to your routine. You may just find yourself breathing easier throughout the day.