Hey, mom! Take a quick second to look at your life. What are you doing right now? Are you reading this post while talking on the phone? Or waiting in a parked car? Or eating? (Please tell me you’re not reading this post while driving.)
It’s no secret that all of us are busier than ever before. Between the demands of modern parenting, taking care of our homes, working (from home or away), going to school (for some of us), homeschooling (for some of us), and attempting to maintain our health, it seems as if moms never get a break. And if you have more than one child, all of those responsibilities are doubled, tripled, quadrupled, or more.
Interestingly, if you Google the phrase “multitasking”, the first few results are from articles that present evidence that multitasking can actually impair our ability to perform tasks well. If so, we might have to ask the question: Is multitasking bad for moms?
Image: olly / Dollar Photo Club
Is Multitasking Bad for Moms?
How Multitasking Can Take a Toll on Your Health
For starters, it’s a good idea to look at how multitasking may be affecting your life. Personally, I started to notice the differences in my health first. When I was homeschooling the kids, working, and going to school full-time, I started to rely on fast food, pre-packaged junk, and constant snacking. Unsurprisingly, I gained about 10 pounds. Also unsurprisingly, my sleeping habits suffered, which turned me into Mom-Hulk. (“You didn’t do your copywork! MOM SMASH!”)
The house suffered as well. I didn’t keep up with the chores, which led to the formation of Mount Laundry atop our washing machine. I couldn’t even remember the last time I prepared an actual meal for my family. I also started to lose my memory. I would lose my train of thought when speaking or forget what I was going to do when I walked into a room. I’m 31, by the way.
Is Multitasking Really More Efficient?
I also found that in my attempts to multitask, I ended up taking longer to do each thing. For example, I’d sit down to outline a post for the blog, then I’d check in on one of the kids’ school lessons and end up getting sidetracked by a question or two (or six) and another child’s tantrum, then Piglet would need a diaper change, and, before I knew it, it was time to make lunch. Sometimes I wouldn’t come back to the computer until after the kids went to bed.
If I had just sat down and written the post, I could have been done in 20 minutes or so. Instead, it took me nearly 12 hours! Plus, I worried about it all day, which made me irritable and short-tempered with everyone I dealt with, including my kids. That, my friends, is neither an effective use of my time nor a way to be a good mama.
What to Do Instead
So, if we shouldn’t multitask, how are we ever supposed to get all this stuff done? Short answer: We can’t. We were never meant to do ALL of these things at once and trying to do it is killing us. So, we have to simplify. For me, that meant taking a break from homeschooling and cutting down on work, so I could get the rest I need, take care of our home properly, and be attentive to my kids and my husband.
Another way to avoid the tendency to multitask is to devote a set amount of time to each task, if possible. I like to use the Pomodoro Method, which is to work on one thing for 25 minutes, then take a five minute break. To keep myself on task, I use the free program Instant Boss. And, I have to say, now that I’m trying to slow down, simplify, and be more intentional about what I do, I’m actually beginning to find joy in the “small” things again, such as making breakfast for my family, sewing, and even writing on this blog.
What do you think? Is multitasking bad for moms? Are you a chronic multi-tasker? Do you think it’s helping your parenting or hurting it? Let us know in the comments!