In the book, The 7 Stages of Motherhood, author and former editor of Parents magazine Ann Pleschette Murphy shares the following experience. She was sitting in the bathroom with her back against the wall while her young but capable son was taking a bath. As she looked through her daily to do list she sighed; when he asked her why, she said, “I didn’t do anything productive today.” He thoughtfully responded, “Yes, you did. You’re sitting here with me taking my bath when I don’t really need you to be here and you found Lego Man’s hair.” At that, she recalled the time taken to scour each room of the house in search of the tiny hair piece, eventually triumphant. She hadn’t considered that a “productive” thing, but eye-openingly, her son did.
With Mrs. Murphy’s experience, I then thought back through my week and reconsidered–not that I wasn’t productive in the prior list, but this time included the “other” productivity–the intangible things that also mattered, and generally mattered most. I thought of finding my son’s Yugi-Oh cards, picking up another child’s favorite lunch treat, and searching the house for the perfect crazy hat for Crazy Days at school for my 1st grader. Each of these accomplishments was met with a, “Wow, mom, you found it/did it/you’re the best!” I felt happy and fulfilled that as a mom, I had done my job! These were small, could be overlooked things to me, but they were important to them. This was just as applicable to my husband, friends and neighbors. As I thought further, I recalled picking up a sippie cup at the store–on a playdate I had noticed a hammered sippie cup belonging to a neighbor’s child, taking a pint of Ben and Jerry’s to a friend who’d been in a car accident, and making an important phone call for my husband that he had forgotten. Each person responded with joy and gratitude, and their outlook on life seemed improved. I began to see where these intangibles were definitely “productive”.
What are some of the “productive” things you do daily, that you possibly hadn’t considered? At the close of the day or evening, as you review the essential items of the day--most likely with a planner at your bedside–resist the urge to first check off your “to do” list. Instead, first recall the long-term productive moments–pausing to call a friend, stopping to look at and kiss your child as you fastened the car seat belt, turning off the TV to listen to a child or a spouse tell you something–and mentally pat yourself on the back and smile at your accomplishment.
That sounds pretty productive to me.
All my best,