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I’m Retiring My Crown for “Queen of Multitasking”

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My 2-year-old son is yelling at me to come play race cars with him while I stand at the stove alternately flipping chocolate chip pancakes and putting dishes away. I have my phone resting on the counter next to me with an open email and my planner is lying in a dusting of flour as I jot down a few notes. It’s not yet 6 AM and in a span of less than 5 minutes, I’ve already done 100 things.

For most of my adult life, I’ve been like this. Trying to get everything and anything done as quickly and efficiently as possible. I doubt it’s an uncommon characteristic, especially of women. When I was in school, it was about studying as efficiently as possible while working on a million other projects that were due the same day, ritualistically crossing things of my to-do list five at a time.

As a mom, it’s about getting as much work and grown-up responsibilities done as I can while also entertaining and taking care of my son. I don’t want to let a single unproductive minute go by. Most of the time, this strategy is great. It’s effective and I get a ton accomplished. But the more I try to get on top of this thing called parenting, the more I’ve realized that my über-efficient habits are actually what’s dragging me down.

Do you ever notice that your kids annoy and pester you the most when you’re trying to get something done? (And I say that with love.) It’s not because they’re trying to drive us crazy, although at the age of 2, sometimes that seems exactly like what my son is attempting. But no, he’s getting all up in my business because I’m not paying attention to him. Whether it’s hammering out a quick response to an email or working on a more involved project, those are the moments when my son wants me. I’ve slowly and somewhat begrudgingly learned that maybe, just perhaps, in motherhood, multitasking is not the answer.

Yes, I can get a lot done in a short amount of time if I tackle lots of things at any available moment, but at what cost? I could do all those things and constantly interrupt myself by scolding my son for getting into something he’s not supposed to or miss the sweet innocent question he’s just asked me, or I could save those other tasks for later. They’ll still get done eventually — that’s how motherhood works, but I’ll also get the luxury of devoting my full attention to the toy trains my son is lining up in some very specific order or the messy craft we’re conquering together. Even if it takes me a little longer to knock off my to-do list, it seems to get done faster because I can eliminate the stressful factor of a whining, frustrated toddler.

I learned a lesson last week when I accidentally dumped my phone in the toilet: My hands like to be busy, but there’s certain things they don’t need to be busy with when I’m in the midst of mothering. Checking my phone, scheduling appointments, and taking notes for articles are things that can be done another time. Occupying my hands with crayons and trucks and pipe cleaners — that keeps me engaged without taking my brain and attention away from my son.

So I may be turning in my crown for queen of multitasking and leaving items on my to-do list for the next day, but I’m enjoying more of the everyday moments — the ones you miss when you blink your eyes and your kid has grown up, yet again. Until I figure out how to stop that from happening, I think I’ll just focus on the one thing that really matters right now: being Mom.

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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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