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As a mom, I consider myself to be efficient and, if I do say so myself, to have mastered the art of multitasking.
I can read The Cat in the Hat and put a child in time out all while taking a call. Easy peasy!
Try playing a competitive game of Go Fish while cleaning up the kitchen. I can do it with my eyes closed.
Bottle feed my baby while making dinner. Check!
Change a diaper and help another child with homework. (I’ve only gotten squirted twice.) I’ve got this one down!
It’s second nature to me, to be working on more than one thing at a time. I recently came across the statement below and I was a caught off guard.
Guy Winch, PhD, author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries says, “When it comes to attention and productivity, our brains have a finite amount.”
“It’s like a pie chart, and whatever we’re working on is going to take up the majority of that pie. There’s not a lot left over for other things, with the exception of automatic behaviors like walking or chewing gum.” Moving back and forth between several tasks actually wastes productivity, he says, because your attention is expended on the act of switching gears — plus, you never get fully “in the zone” for either activity.”
I love life and it’s important to me that I live it fully. So when I read the above statement I was a little shocked, especially since I consider myself quite productive when I multitask. If living life fully with your kids is important, you may want to consider the following when you multitask :
- Driving. Many of us try to text and drive, or we engage in other activities that are not safe while driving. Did you know that texting while driving is involved in 100,000+ vehicle crashes each year, often causing injuries and deaths?
- Disciplining. You won’t want to multitask this one. I have to admit I have done this when I have a 2 year old who needs potty help and from the other room I hear yelling, screaming and then crying. If disciplining for you is a means to an end, then you will want to stop whatever you’re doing so that you can fully engage with your child as you talk through what just happened.
- Listening. When your child talks to you, stop and let him know that you are fully present and you care. This can be challenging when you have more than one kids but below I share a tip on how to come back to them and connect. You won’t want to use this too much though.
- Relaxing. If you’re going to turn it off, turn it off. It’s hard to relax when you’re multitasking. I know it sounds basic but for some of us we have a To Do List for our relaxing time.
- Eating. There are studies that show you eat more when you’re multitasking.
Maybe you’ve looked over my list and are thinking, “I am more efficient in my home if I multitask” or “I have to multitask if I am ever going to get anything done.” I totally get you and there are definitely certain things in your day that will require multitasking. I was just making dinner and my little chatty Cathy was talking away showing me his train book. I looked over at him as much as I could, but made him aware that I couldn’t give him my full attention, because I was cooking. The same thing happens when I am working at home. I intentionally stop and tell my children, “I can’t give you my full attention right now because I have to meet this deadline but you can show my later.” Again, you won’t want to use this one too much.
One strategy that might help is to go over your “To Do” list and pair up the things you can multitask by writing them side by side. Then write down the things you want to stop multitasking at the top of that list. For example, I like to multitask while I watch television. I watch tv and work on a craft or sometimes even read.
Now let me focus on one of the points from above. If it’s not already on there, I ask that you add driving to your No More Multitasking list. Believe me, I have been guilty of doing other things while driving, like reprimanding a kid. But please, whatever you do, don’t text and drive.
In a recent study, 77 percent of kids shared that their parents text and drive. When we do this not only are we putting our kids in danger, we are also putting all those around us in danger. It drives me nuts when I am behind a bad driver and when I pass them I see them texting.
Let’s commit to being an example to our kids by taking the It Can Wait Pledge and not texting while driving.