A few days ago I was driving my oldest to school. We had just had a crazy rushed morning. I never lost my cool but I was doing 5 things at once all while rushing my tiny army along. When we were finally in the car I decided to quickly listen to a message. Since I was driving I had the phone on speaker. I had fazed the radio music to the back of the car so my children could still enjoy the song. I was driving , taking mental notes and simultaneously asking my 3 year old to not kick my seat. Classic multitasking mom stuff. When the message was done I turned off the music to ask my oldest the mandatory pre-drop-off questions. Immediately the 6 year old said. “Thanks mom, things were getting a bit crazy.” I suddenly realized how intense our morning might have seemed!
How often do I do this to my loved ones, and myself. I am so used to doing all the things all at onceI don’t notice the affect it has on those around me.
Is there such thing as too much…much?
I feel like one of my greatest gifts is the ability to get multiple things done at once. It is seriously a moms bread and butter. Without the ability to multitask my dinner would be burning, all the clothes would still be in the hamper, my answering machine would never be checked and a stray child might be half way to the others side of town. It is a great power, but with great power comes great responsibility….or the need for self control.
Think of the last GREAT DAY you had. Was it a great day because you got 30 things done?
My last great day was a day that I got the dishes loaded and the front room cleaned. Then my littles and I walked to a park and met up with some friends. I left my phone in the stroller and really participated in some much needed adult chat. After the park all the little people napped while I folded some laundry and watched a show. In the afternoon my children and I cleaned the basement and set up a new play area. Did I get all the things done? No. I was able to tackle a few things on my list AND engage in some non-distracted interactions that filled my happiness-bucket. The take away? On that day I didn’t win any multitasking awards, and I was better off for it!
It seems I often give so many little pieces of myself away to tasks, stressors and people that there seems to be nothing left but a crazy, stressed out woman. Just because I can do it all doesn’t mean I should. Just because I don’t get everything done at once doesn’t mean my time wasn’t well spent.
So how do we make smart choices, get things done AND enjoy our life?
Here are 5 tips that have helped me reign in the crazy multitasking woman:
- Choose a time of the day to leave devices in the other room.This is a huge Mama Hack for me. It doesn’t need to be for 5 hours. Just pick a time of day and go as long as you can. I often put my phone in the back room to charge for a few hours in the morning. I miss a few calls or texts but I also had a great dance party with my munchkins!
- Involve those around you in what you are doing. If I tell my family we are going to do a 10 minute Crazy Clean it brings a goal and focus to EVERYONE in the house. We are all concentrated on one thing and working together so there is less distraction. I will ask my littles to help me make cookies, do yard work, or even take naps…everyone…at the same time. (A mom can dream right?) If we are all doing something together it cuts out a huge reason I multitask. There is far less need to referee and field little people problems. Even just announcing to the house, “Mom needs 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to finish this email.” can help enlist support from those around me.
- Prepare. Do any prep work that you can. Especially for crazier parts of your day. If I am a lone woman for the morning mayhem I will do what I can to simplify that part of my day the night before. For preparation the munchkins and I will pick out day clothes, I’ll prep lunches and I have even been known to set the table for breakfast the night before. It sounds like more work right? But it will actually make the morning so much less stressful and simplified. You will find there is less of a need to multitask, simply because there will be less tasks to do.
- Recognize when multitasking is a problem. I don’t want to bring your world crashing down but there are rumors that people cannot actually multitask….deep breaths, or are you scoffing. For our purposes, as parents, we are going to pretend we didn’t hear that but we can take away an important message. If our brains can’t actually process 2, or 3, or 12 things at once then maybe we should stop trying. David Meyer, a cognitive scientist, explains that,“Even the most adept multitasker will “crash and burn” trying to resolve simultaneous conflicting demands.”(Check out this great article HERE) If you are feeling overly stressed, frustrated, foggy brained you might be on the edge of a CRASH AND BURN moment. So stop trying to do it all woman! Recognize those feelings and simplify BEFORE the crashing part.
- Do a reset. This will be different for all of us. I personally have a few resets to help me clear my mind and feel more focused. Most mornings I do a simple meditation. This helps me focus on something important to me. I breath in my focus and breath out my tension. I listen to soothing music and sit in the dark and quiet. So when life gets INSANE, as it does on a daily bases, I can remember what I want to focus on that day and try to push out all the crazy. Another reset I have is Dance Party Time. When all the multitasking makes me feel like I have a split personality I turn on some JT, Trainor or Camila. I make it obnoxiously loud and insist everyone in the house dance with me! My kids LOVE this, because they don’t know I’m a weirdo yet. We all drop everything and focus on Dance Party Time. Seriously just turn on No Excuses and just try to multitask! This helps put us in a good mood and pushes all distractions out the door. Find what works for you and make it part of your routine.
My sweet mamas! We are so gifted with the ability to take care of a household and all those that live in it. I am so grateful for my multitasking super power. However, I am vowing to be more conscious of this gift and use it carefully. There are so many beautiful things in my life I would hate to miss because I have too many other balls in the air. I hope you and your multitasking superpower can find a way to thrive! Okay I’m off to reset to some Happy with my munchkins!