Like you, I have become an expert at multi-tasking. What modern parent isn’t? It’s not a question of whether you want to maintain various schedules, work obligations, school practices, etc., just an expectation that you will. My second-grader recently brought to my attention just how much I tend to juggle several things at once. When we were waiting in the dentist office for her recent appointment, she leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Mom, is it hard to fill out that form and text at the same time?” Looking at her precious little face, I saw that she was truly perplexed. I had never stopped to contemplate how my chronic multi-tasking day in and day out must seem through her eyes. I set down the clipboard and put my phone in my purse. I wanted to burst into tears and have a mom tantrum right in the middle of the dentist office. I wanted to say to her, “Yes! It’s very hard! I’m exhausted! I want everything to slow down!”
When I first became a mom 15 years ago things were different. Of course, there were things to get done, but not the “hyper” multi-tasking that seems to be required today. For one thing, back then the internet, email, texting and social media were not a part of our lives. I used to have a thick calendar (called the “Mom Agenda”) that I carried around from meetings to appointments to keep my life straight and our family organized and moving forward. It was old school, but at the time it was the norm. Looking back, it seemed less chaotic that way. I had three kids ages six and under and I honestly think it was easier. Of course, I still had to manage motherhood, work and home life, but nothing like how it seems now. I know it sounds old fashioned, but I miss the old days. In fact, I long for them. I worry that by constantly juggling and shuffling several forms of communication at once – texting while emailing, talking on the phone while checking texts, texting while checking my calendar – my children won’t understand the ultimate goal I am trying to accomplish. What is that you might ask? Well, to finish multi-tasking so I can connect with them. Ironic, I know.
On that particular day, thanks to my young daughter, I saw my hyper multi-tasking self through her innocent eyes. I didn’t finish filling out the form before we got called back (we all survived) and the text I was returning could and did wait. We played “I see something you don’t see” while waiting in the lobby. I felt a burden lifted and made a vow right there to stop trying to do everything at once all the time and start noticing things. I want to take life from the small screen to the big screen. I don’t want my children’s memories of me to be hunched over my phone or computer, frantically tapping away. Instead, I want them to remember me being aware of my surroundings and connecting with them. Only then, can I be sure that being preoccupied and distracted is “something they don’t see.”
Mary Susan Buhner is a Life Coach for moms and author of “Mommy Magic: Tricks for Staying Sane in the Midst of Insanity.” Visit her Mommy Magic Fan Page on Facebook and her website at www.Mommy-Magic.com