When Being Productive Doesn’t Look Like Much

"When being productive doesn't look like much" by Lindsay Schlegel (CatholicMom.com)

Via Pixabay (2017), CC0 Public Domain. Title added in Picmonkey.

I recognize that our society tends to base a person’s worth more on what he or she accomplishes or contributes than on the simple fact of that person’s existence as a child of God. I acknowledge that this happens, and that it’s way off base. In truth, a person—even a person such as myself—needs only to exist (something beyond his or her control) to be worthy of the love of God and a place on this earth.

And yet.

Too often, I find myself gauging the value of a given day—and worse, of my self—on what I did or did not achieve. Did I write a story? Did I yell at the kids? Did I work out? Did I floss? What did we eat? How clean is the house?

I’ve been noticing a pattern in apologizing to myself or to my husband at the end of the day, regretting the things I messed up or didn’t get to. I feel at a loss, like somehow I failed someone or something because I wasn’t getting it all done.

Striving for excellence is a good thing, until it prevents me from seeing the truth of who I am, of whose I am. Sometimes, I mess up. Other times, things are out of my control. No matter what, I am a daughter of God, and what matters day in and day out is that I love. That I serve in the places I find myself, the people set before me.

Sometimes, being productive doesn’t look like much. My house is messy. Much of our food is coming from the freezer these days. The kids have come to expect fruit snacks each afternoon. I’m losing patience more than I’d like. Some things I want to progress are at a standstill.

Here’s another way to look at it: I’m 20 weeks pregnant. I’m growing a human. My other kids are fed and they are growing. No one, thank God, is sick or malnourished. It’s the last week of summer before school starts (and really, the box of fruit snacks is almost empty anyway). This is a sweet time we should be savoring with treats now and then. Each day, I have opportunities to grow in patience and teach my kids to trust in the Lord. Our God rejoices over a sinner who returns to Him—and that’s me today.

My house is not a magazine spread; it’s a home. My children are learning to love by building community with each other. They argue, but they also help each other out. They laugh together and it is music.

I couldn’t grow in holiness if I thought there was nothing wrong with me. I am a daughter of God. I mess up. But with His grace, I stand back up again.

At the end of the day, all I am called to do is to respond to His love. Every day that looks a little different. But every day, it’s really the only “productive” thing I can do for myself, my family, and this world.

Copyright 2017 Lindsay Schlegel


About Author

Lindsay Schlegel is a daughter of God, wife, mom, editor, and speaker. She’s the author of Don’t Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God and host of the podcast Quote Me with Lindsay Schlegel. Lindsay seeks to encourage, inspire, and lift others up to be all they were created to be. Connect with Lindsay at her website, LindsaySchlegel.com.


  1. Unlike tasks that offer immediate satisfaction – a fresh coat of paint or creating something out of nothing – motherhood done well (or even okay) doesn’t really look like much at the end of the day. I’m not pregnant, and I still feel like at the end of the day so much didn’t get done. Because it didn’t. I have the lists to prove it. But the essentials happen. The kids are healthy and loved. Thanks for the perspective.

  2. This is beautiful, Lindsey! I fall into that trap too. What a lovely reminder of what really matters.

    Congratulations on your new tiny human. You’re doing great.

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