Photo by liikenevalo
I‘m a big believer in multi-tasking. I like folding laundry while I’m talking with my husband, letting dinner simmer on the stove while I empty the dishwasher, and straightening up the bathroom while my preschooler takes her bath.
I’ve also witnessed the power of single-tasking, and in this era when we worship productivity, there’s something to be said about doing only one thing at a time. You can fully concentrate on the task at hand, you’re less prone to making mistakes, and in many cases, the task is done quicker because you’re not doing something else.
It’s good to blend both multi and single-tasking into your day. The problem lies when we apply the wrong approach to the wrong task. We single-task when we should be multi-tasking, or more often in my case, we multi-task when perhaps it’s best that we single-task.
Here are a few things I do better when I single-task:
- create our monthly budget
- update our accounts
- menu plan
- respond to emails
- talk on the phone
- spend time with my children
- talk with my husband
And here are some things that are basically accomplished well when I multi-task:
- cleaning while I listen to podcasts
- cooking while straightening the kitchen (unless it’s a dish that requires my full attention)
- decluttering paperwork while I watch a movie with my husband
- washing dishes while I chit-chat with my daughter
- nursing my son while I catch up on blog reading
Too often, I try to talk on the phone while I straighten up the house, or menu plan online while also reading blogs and replying to emails. I end up scatterbrained and a bit chaotic, not fully concentrating on anything.
A Mama’s Challenge
Here’s the irony. With children at home, it often feels impossible for us to focus on anything more than two minutes at a time, because we’re constantly interrupted. As soon as I sit down to update our bank accounts, my daughter wants me to sharpen her colored pencils, or my son has dropped his toy for the umpteenth time and needs help retrieving it.
It’s the stage of life, and it is what it is. Small children require a lot of hands-on, interactive parenting, and while it’s a short-lived job, it leaves you utterly exhausted come bedtime, doesn’t it?
Even though I’d love to single-task most of my day jobs, it just isn’t going to happen. What mom doesn’t multi-task all day long? You’ve got to change the diaper and answer the phone. You oftentimes need to read to your older one while you nurse your younger.
My Personal Solution
It’s a great thing for children to learn independence, and they learn patience when Mommy can’t get to something exactly when they want it. But we can’t make our children need us less. Being a mom requires all our attention, and the short breaks throughout the day called “nap time” are rich blessings to enjoy some quiet. Otherwise, to expect single-tasking as the default method of getting things done is just setting ourselves up for frustration.
Here’s what I remind myself:
- It’s a good thing for my children to learn patience and to put others’ needs before their own
- They are young, and they need help with a lot of tasks
My main job is to parent, not to get my to-do list done
- I’ll often have to resort to multi-tasking, even when I prefer single-tasking
Remind yourself today that there are more important things in life than getting things done. It’s good to be productive, yes. But we can’t do everything at once – and sometimes, certain things deserve being done one at a time, with all our devoted attention. Like parenting.
Do you find this to be true in your life? Is it even possible for a mom of littles to single-task? Which is easier for you – multi-tasking or single-tasking?