Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Multitasking: a necessity and a thief part 2

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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Multitasking: a thief

For me it has started in very simple silly ways. Perhaps, sneaky ways that I didn’t see clearly until months had gone by.

I send my kids upstairs to get ready for bed and I grab my phone so I can check my email while walking up 16 steps. Seems innocent but because I was doing that I ignored the kid sliding back down the stairs and the bathroom sink water that was left on all for 16 steps of “me-time”. I created problems by not being present.
I ask my kids to get their coats on so we can leave the house and I decide to spend three extra minutes cleaning up their school books so they aren’t left on the table when we get home. In those three minutes they have put their shoes on and gone outside into the snow. I get the books put away and clean out the coffee maker since I’m in the kitchen anyways. When I get outside I realize one kid went outside in tennis shoes with no socks and another fell and has soaking wet pants. We are late because my three minutes of tidying while they put their shoes on turned into ten minutes of cleaning and ten more minutes of redressing them. I created problems by being distracted.

I ask my kids to wait on the couch for me. I find them…anywhere: in the kitchen getting a cheese stick, in their room playing Hot Wheels, wrestling on the floor. Or, worst of all I don’t find them but I hear them as my daughter screams and cries in pain from a rough brother playing too rough. I roll my eyes, scoop her up and explain to them in too few words that they didn’t obey. I put them in the car and drive away because I don’t want to call my friend and tell her we are late again. But, what did my child learn? Nothing! I sacrifice discipline for being on time or being less late. I create future problems by not being attentive.

I scream at my kids because I am stressed out that the house is a mess and people are coming over in ten minutes. But, I enjoyed rest time when the house was quiet and read a book and convinced myself we could get everything prepared in thirty minutes for the guests. “You” could without kids, “we” cannot…ever!

We need to teach ourselves to do one thing at a time. We need to mimic this to our kids, friends and family. We do one thing at a time!

I do not think this always means our children wait until our house is clean to be played with. I think they understand the idea best when we ignore the dishes in the sink and sit at the table to play a game with them. My six-year old was sitting in the kitchen and heard my text message beep on my phone sitting on the counter. He brought it upstairs to find me and tell me. What if we started letting our kids hear our phone beep and they saw us finish the book we were reading them or the game? What if just as they see us choose to sweep the floor they see us choose to be present with them despite all the other tasks?

Being actively present means making a choice to not be perfect, to not be superwoman who does it all and leaves everyone smiling. It requires us to make choices. This is something we often don’t want to do. We leave our options open but we also leave room for stress, chaos and indecision.

I think if we as moms started showing our kids that playing with them is more important than a phone call or a sink of dirty dishes they would begin to believe us when we said “Yes, I will play with you after I vacuum.” Kids understand steps and process and order at a young age. They develop an understanding of routine and time around four months old but at some point in our desire to be flexible and capable of doing “it all” we have allowed our kids to believe we should do everything they want when they want it. We have made everything urgent. We have all lost patience and we struggle to teach it to our kids. Ignoring their request to play and hoping they get distracted is not teaching them patience. It is teaching them distraction.

It allows us distraction also.

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