Multi-tasking is something I pride myself in being good at. There are days when I get so much accomplished and I feel really good about myself. Then there is my husband. It is a common male trait that they just aren’t great at multi-tasking. You know what I mean. They get so focused on what they are doing that you don’t exist. Trying to talk to him when he is engrossed in a project is pointless. He doesn’t hear a thing! There are times when I want to scream at him, “Can you not do two things at once?”
Despite me being frustrated, I have learned a lot from him. When he is focussed on a task, he is fully present with it. He is giving it 100% of his attention and is far more productive. With multi-tasking, I am getting a lot done but I am not fully present with any of the tasks. My attention is spread all over the place and I make mistakes or forget things. A classic example happened a couple of days ago. I was about to head out for my second ski of the winter and I was really pumped. It was a beautiful day and I was going to have some time to myself exercising in nature. I was rushing out the door to get as much ski time in as I could. At the same time, I was thinking about what I was going to do with the chicken I defrosted for dinner, the nursery school open house we were going to later that evening and a friend of mine that I had been meaning to call. I was half way to the ski trails, rocking out to the music in the car radio when the realization hit me, “Oh Crap! I forgot to put my skis and poles in the car!”. I laughed all the way home and was still laughing when I pulled up to the house. My hubby stuck his head out the door to see what was going on. He just shook his head and sighed as I told him what I had done. So in the end, I had even less time to ski but it was all my own fault. Now I could blame this on sleep deprivation as my youngest daughter is waking in the night a lot right now due to teething but deep down I know that my “monkey mind” is to blame.
My daughters are also a great barometer for me of not being fully present. If I am on the phone too long or trying to do a million things, they will both start acting out or my eldest daughter will nag me to death. One of my mentors said that kids nag because they feel like they aren’t being fully heard or understood. So instead of trying to communicate with her across the room while I am doing the dishes, I stop what I am doing, get down to her level, look her in the eyes and give her my full attention as she is talking to me. Once I have done that, amazingly the nagging stops. Imagine that! I realize that the time spent with my kids isn’t the important thing. It is the quality time spent with them when I am fully present, that is most important. Now I explain to my daughter when I have to get certain things done and then give her my full attention afterwards instead of trying to cram it all together.
Letting go of the need to get everything done on my to-do list has been huge for me. At the end of the day, my children’s health and happiness is more important to me than having a spic and span house with everything in its place. I still have my to-do list but I prioritize what really needs to get done and the other stuff can wait for another day. Do I still beat myself up over it? Yes, I do have my moments but they don’t happen as often. I try to be fully present when I am working and fully present when I am with my girls. It is a challenge for sure as I work from home and I still have my scattered times but it is worth it in the long run. My kids don’t care if everything is in its place. They just want me and my full attention. There are absolutely times for multi-tasking that are necessary like when we are trying to get out the door but being stuck in habitual multi-tasking has its down-sides. I realize that who I am being defines me as a person, not what I am doing. Simplifying and not over-committing myself is the key to me feeling relaxed and happy. Being “superwoman” is a hat I have gladly removed because at the end of the day, superwoman wasn’t really being that super at anything.