Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Multitasking: a necessity and a thief part 3

A Necessity

Most of the questions and comments I have read are not about multitasking being a thief but how to live well when it is a necessity. Please, do not misunderstand that I never multitask or that I think it can be done rarely. But I do think there the standard is frenetic. 

Two summers ago, the idea of getting out of bed and taking care of three kids made me anxious. I felt paralyzed to do it well and cook dinner, clean the house and play with them. My husband offered me a beautiful gift. He said, "your job today is to keep them alive". Everything else can slide. This was a season (perhaps a long one) but I feel more able these days to keep them alive while doing additional tasks. However, I think it is important in multitasking to have in mind what the priorities are. 

My three year old is potty training and I am homeschool a four and six year old. It is a battle of wills, I spend most of the "school time" teaching them how we behave and not about math and phonics. If I get distracted or walk away to pour coffee everything goes awry. So, in that two hour span I have decided that my three year old will wear a diaper. I have to focus on school, showing my older two ow to stay focused and I cannot leave to go clean up accidents and I will not remember to take him to the bathroom often enough because it isn't part of my routine. Priorities aren't always that simple but if we work on creating a few then it helps everything not feel urgent. 

There are three little people counting on me and all they believe everything they need is urgent. There is a lot of noise. Multitasking as mothers involves noise in your head, your house, the rooms upstairs, the rooms next to the one you’re in…and it’s loud noise. In my house there are parades of kids banging pots and pans, the dog barking at a squirrel and me washing the dishes. Am I supposed to think with all that? I can’t.For me it is the noise that distracts, it is the chaos that forces me to multitask but due to lack of time I do not sit down and plan the tasks, the priorities and the desires. This I think is the key...having a plan!

For months we created a habit (read this took a lot of work before it was easy and fun) for my kids of sitting at the table while I cooked dinner. They were little as a six month old, two year old and four year old. They got to choose something to do: a puzzle, a book, scissors and paper. The chaos of them running around the house had gotten to me, cooking dinner was impossible and I was frustrated that T.V. was offering my only relief. This habit took work. It takes work to teach them to sit on the couch and look at books until I am ready to walk out the door. It takes work to teach them I am not the music DJ and the driver. But not doing those things comes with a very high price.

It is a necessity to multitask as we grocery shop with kids in tow, to keep them alive and entertained while we cook dinner. It is a necessity to clean up the crumbs and spilled milk before we put them down for a nap. It is often necessary for us to talk on the phone with them around or have a friend over to talk or pray while kids play. But, we do not have to surrender authority in our day to our children or our dreams of being superwoman. We do not have to allow the thief to destroy us.

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