Does this scenario sound familiar. You start your day with a list of 5 things you need to get done. You start with the dishes after breakfast. You are not even one minute into this task and you have a 2 year old hanging on your leg. "mom, come play with me." You go play for a few minutes and then try to sneak back to those dishes. This works for a few minutes and then the toddler is back. "Maaam. Plaaay with meeee." You feel bad so you go back to play but the whole time you are thinking about the dishes and you aren't fully engaged with your child. You continue back and forth between the dishes and your child. An hour has past and you haven't really had good playtime and those dishes are still stacked high.
Has your week started out this way? Anxious about what needs to get done and then frustrated when your children are clamoring for your attention. It is a horrible feeling knowing you are frustrated with your kids because you have tasks to do. And knowing you have tasks that need to get done but are unsure of how they will ever get done.
This is how my week started. Then I remembered a simple idea that has served our family. It has been an adjustment to how we approach our work. It has helped us have better quality time with our kids, showing them they are a priority. And it has also helped us get tasks done, even more than we had thought was possible.
If I have a lot to do in a day, it usually goes better if I start by spending time with my kids. Depending on the day it can be 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour. I start with quality time with them. In order for this to be effective the time needs to be focused. I make my list and put it on the counter for later (and don't think about it until then). I put my phone down and don't check it. I dedicate a certain amount of time to my kids and they get my full attention.
Then after our time is up I tell them we are going to have individual play time. Or if my kids want to play together they can. I set the timer (for them and for me) and tell them for the next 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour they will be playing while I get work done. In the baby stage I put them in a contained space with toys and books (swing, bouncer, pack n' play, crib, gated area). In the toddler stage playing in their room works well. My kids are almost 3 and 5 and can play by themselves for an hour in our family room with their toys. So as they get older they will be able to play more independently for longer periods of time. At the baby and toddler stages I found 15 minutes - 30 minutes was the amount of independent play time that worked best.
I know there are some days we just need to get ready and out the door or days where a task is very time sensitive and needs to get done first thing. But for days where we are mostly at home, I found our days go more smoothly when it starts with my full attention to the kids. Their tanks are full of my attention and they know they are a priority. It is easier to work tasks into the day as they play independently because we have had that time together. I try to keep this rhythm of quality time with them throughout the day - quality time, work, quality time, work. It is definitely not a formula but it has helped the needs within the family get met.