I recently posted an article, "Multitasking is not for Mothers". I am still thinking so much about this idea of multitasking that I am posting a series on it this week...
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I got everyone in socks, shoes, coats, hats, gloves, and snacks packed. The dog went out. The kids are buckled in their seats and I remembered the diaper bag, car keys and my coffee! So I sit in the drive way taking a deep breath. I need the moment to think through our route and remember to buckle my seat belt. I want five seconds before I am asked something. I want quiet so I remember to look both ways before backing out of my drive way (which is on an alley with very little traffic, so don’t be scared about my forgetfulness to do so periodically).
I don’t think well in noise.
Before I put the van in reverse I hear all the opinions of song choices. They each want a different song from different albums and because I am not tech savvy they are all on different apps. That’s a lot of work. That’s dangerous to do when driving 70 mph. This is all confusing to the three-year old in the back seat who is now screaming and kicking my seat because I won’t switch from The Black Keys to the Hamilton soundtrack. After exiting and changing the song at a red light he is now throwing a new fit because I won’t turn around and find his shoe that he took off. Again, confusing to him that I have to look only at the road.
As I thought about why this made him rage I realized how many things I do at one time outside of the car. At home I cook dinner, do the dishes, play Spot It with my four year-old and listen to my six-year old read aloud ALL AT THE SAME TIME. That’s too much. But, we all do it don’t we? We nurse our babies, grocery shop, answer the phone and remind our three year-old “no touching”. We have taught our children and ourselves that multitasking is required. I dare say we applaud moms for being able to do all this. But, what if we stopped. What if we taught ourselves and our children to slow down, to be patient, to make choices and to enjoy. What if we stopped working and playing and we made individual time for both?
Prioritizing is hard for me. I don’t want more sleep, I want more mom nights out and I forget the pain of going to bed at 1 a.m. and being woken up by happy kids at 6 a.m. Most days my priority is to not be yelled at and feel loved. I forget that the goal in parenting is to teach and that means saying “no” which rarely causes kids to smile or offer neck squeezing hugs. When my house is a wreck and I need to teach math I typically pick cleaning the house because it makes me feel better. That’s a good decision if the house has looked that way for a week. But, what if instead sweeping while I teach math I do them separately? The reality we all know is they would both take less time and be more enjoyable. But, we allow stress to cloud our thoughts and we give authority to the emotions that whisper we are a failure because we can’t seem to keep our house spotless. We believe lies about who we are based on what we do. We compare and we trust that everyone else is living in a beautiful Instagram feed.
Would dinner still get cooked or the clean clothes washed if we spent a few hours not multitasking? Often I have to discipline one child while nursing the baby. In a previous article I observed that multitasking is a necessity and a thief. I believe that is still true. We can’t allow it to be one without recognizing the other.