In this week’s episode, Autumn and I talk about mom guilt, practicing gratitude, and keeping our kids engaged and happy in a fun, low-prep way, all while dealing with hectic schedules and time constraints. (And check out the link below for her free gift for The Productive Woman community!)
Practicing gratitude – and keeping your child(ren) engaged and learning
Autumn McKay has a degree in Early Childhood Education and has been certified to teach in several states, where she has taught both in the classroom and as an online teacher. After her first son was born, she wanted to be involved in helping him learn and grow, so she began to develop color lessons to help engage his developing mind. Autumn also wanted to help other moms dealing with hectic schedules and constant time restraints.
These activities evolved into her first book, Toddler Lesson Plans: Learning Colors. She has continued to create many more books for preschoolers including Learning Numbers Workbook, Learning ABC’s Workbook: Print and Precursive, Learning Preschool Math Workbook, Learning Kindergarten Math Workbook, and Learning 1st Grade Math Workbook.
Autumn has a passion for helping moms be able to educate their children in a fun, low-prep way that she shares on BestMomIdeas.com.
She lives with her husband and 3 children (ages 6, 4, and 3) in the state of Georgia, here in the U.S., where she enjoys spending time with her family and reading nonfiction books that help her think outside the box.
A typical day
A typical day for Autumn starts at 4:30 in the morning when she wakes up with her husband. He goes off to exercise while Autumn uses these early morning hours to work in the quiet without distractions.
After a while, the children wake up and Autumn puts her work away so she can focus on them. She prepares their breakfasts and gets the two oldest children off to school. If the children are going to be learning from home that day, Autumn will have them begin their school assignments after breakfast while she provides an activity for her youngest child.
They have lunch and playtime later on in the day and then take a nap from 1:00-3:00. Autumn uses this time to get a little more work done.
After this time Autumn will get in a workout, make dinner, and then end the evening by spending time with her family.
Because she gets up so early, Autumn goes to bed around 8:00 pm in order to ensure she is fully rested and can be productive the next day.
Biggest productivity challenges
One of Autumn’s biggest challenges is coping with mom guilt. Any time she has a work task that needs to get done outside of her normal working hours, such as an email that needs to go out, she feels guilty for not focusing on her children, since that was her original goal in working from home. She deals with this by explaining to the children that she will only be attending to these work tasks for a specific amount of time, and then the rest of the time is for them to do whatever they would like. She finds that when she explains the situation to them and reminds them that this is unusual and a special circumstance, they don’t feel put aside. However, it’s beneficial for children to see that moms are human beings who have other interests and responsibilities. It’s also important as a mom, to have a balance between parenting and exploring your own interests and goals.
Autumn has also struggled over the years with saying no. She has had to learn to be “selfish” sometimes and prioritize her own time in order to do what’s best for her family and her business. There may be times when you are asked to do something and it’s tempting to say yes. However, there will be other opportunities in the future. When opportunities come up, ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time, energy, and attention”? Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
Resources and tools Autumn recommends
Autumn considers herself an “old fashioned” pen and paper person. She likes to make to-do lists and cross off each item as she goes along in her day. She uses a teacher planner to organize her children’s schoolwork and activities and uses Google Calendar to manage project deadlines and interviews.
She also has created a gratitude journal called The Full Life Gratitude Journal for Moms, which she uses for herself as well. In this journal, Autumn lists one goal that she wants to accomplish in order to make her day more productive. This is part of her approach to practicing gratitude on a daily basis.
She created this journal because for a period of time she was struggling with mom burn out and just not enjoying her days as much. After listening to some podcasts with her husband and hearing about people who practiced gratitude each day, she made a mental note of it. Autumn’s husband started this practice before she did, and she noticed a huge change in his appreciation and attitude after about a month.
Autumn then began to practice gratitude herself each morning and also began journaling. This helped her stay focused on her goals and kept her confidence up.
It takes intentional practice to look past the things we’re worried about and focus on what we’re grateful for in our lives. And there is always something to be grateful for.
Autumn’s suggestions for spending quality time with your child(ren)
Autumn’s training and background are in early childhood education and her books revolve around this topic. Based on the work Autumn has done, as well as her experience as a mom, she has several suggestions for ways moms can enjoy the early years with their children.
The first thing Autumn suggests is to check out her free resource, The Ultimate Mom-Saver Activity Bundle, which she is making available to the listeners of this show. This bundle has six free activities and six free coloring pages to get you started on making good use of the time with your children.
Autumn also suggests that instead of doing lots of research and getting overwhelmed with all the activities that are available out there (such as on Pinterest), to instead focus on the age of your child(ren) and their interests. Pick just a few activities for the week and limit them to 10 or 15 minutes in length. Simple activities are best and allow you to spend quality time with each other.
What do you do to get back on track on a day when everything gets away from you?
Autumn says that on days when she is stressed and overwhelmed, the first thing she does is communicate to her husband that she is having a rough day and needs some help. This gives him the chance to step in and give her a break. She also talks to him about what is stressing her out and they can discuss ways for her to decompress.
She also likes to make a fresh, new to-do list on days when she is overwhelmed. This helps her to organize her thoughts and get her priorities in order.
Sometimes when we are stressed, things seem a lot worse than they really are. Getting it all out on paper and looking at it with fresh eyes can give us a new perspective.
What’s on the horizon for Autumn?
Autumn is currently writing another book, which she is really excited about.
She and her family are also building a new home. She is taking pictures of the building process to document this special time and taking her children to visit the building site so they can share in the excitement as well.
In order to keep organized and prioritize what needs to get done each day for both of these projects, she keeps her to-do list close by.
Autumn’s last words for the listener
Be intentional in creating a life that matters. Pick out just one goal to work on at a time, and this will drive you to succeed.
Connect with Autumn
What do you think? Questions? Comments?
Resources and Links
- Google Calendar
- Eureka Blue Harmony Lesson Plan book
- The Full Life Gratitude Journal for Moms
- The Ultimate Mom-Saver Activity Bundle–Gift for the TPW Community
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Royse City, Texas