I’m a firm believer that motherhood requires expertise in multitasking. How else can one get it all done? There’s clothes to wash, meals to prepare, and mountains of errands to run. When you’re not overrun by minutia, you need to find time to raise and nurture the kids.
After experiencing nearly 10 years of motherhood, I felt as though I had a good handle on the multitasking game. One-handed vacuuming with baby on hip while singing the ABCs. Cooking meals and checking emails. Helping with homework and busting suds.
Recently, my multitasking skills were rendered useless. Lil Ma was diagnosed with bronchilitis, and with that came a brief stay in the pediatric ward. She was all that mattered. I left Hubby to care for our oldest and fired off a half-sensical email to my employer stating I would be out the rest of the week.
Fortunately, Lil Ma came home less than 24 hours after being admitted, but she needs breathing treatments until her lungs are back at full strength. That could be a month from now.
It’s amazing how one rough day threw off our family routine. We didn’t buy groceries. The kitchen was a wreck. Mini Me’s supply of clean clothes rapidly diminished. As an added bonus, Lil Ma no longer tolerated sharing the spotlight with her sister, dishes, laundry, or a mobile device. She wanted playing, holding, and singing. Any combination of those was acceptable, but that was the only multitasking allowed.
Honestly, her request was not unreasonable. I, however, still had other things that needed my attention. A husband. Another kid. A job. A me.
Feelings of failure circled.
I tried to shake them off by reconnecting with my multitasking mojo. I planned new ways to combine tasks. Could I make the bed and clip coupons? Or, could I wash dishes and sort clothes? What could I accomplish in just five minutes? (That’s still a good idea, by the way. Just not right now.) The thought of it made me all the more overwhelmed.
Instead, I slowed down and focused on one thing at a time. I thought about what reasonably fit into our weeknight evenings. Dinner. Homework. Play. Baths. Bed.
I rejiggered the order of things to eliminate rush. Bath time moved ahead of dinner and homework. That ended the mad dash to the tub and the battle to get the girls in bed at their appointed bedtimes. Plus, it gets done while dinner is in the oven. (Ah, multitasking responsibly!)
The girls have my undivided attention while we play pat-a-cake or look at doll fashion. I reserved 30 minutes after their bedtime for general clean up.
The most important thing I’ve done over the last few days is to cut myself some slack. There will always be something else to do, but I don’t need to try to do it all. I’ll pick what’s important, bundle when it makes sense, and get to the rest when I can. And I’m certainly no failure for that.