July 22, 2009

Multitasking: A Major Mom Requirement

I was talking to a mom friend yesterday and learned she recently suffered a concussion. She has been having some "brain" issues ever since. Words don't come as easily as they once did. She often finds herself frustrated and "crabby" (her description). But she said the hardest thing for her has been the inability to multitask.
Reflecting on the conversation I realized how important it is for moms to multitask. For instance, right now I am trying to write this blog, listen for the dryer to buzz and convince Tortilla not to stand directly in front of the TV so Sue-Sue can see Sesame Street. Without the ability to multitask I would be one stressed out mother.
Often times parents multitask without thinking about it. How often have you cooked dinner and talked on the phone while trying to quietly break up a fight over whose turn it is to use the orange cup? OK, I'm being a little too specific, but that is exactly what I did while making mac and cheese for the girls last night. If I could have only done one of those things at a time I think I would have pulled my hair out. Either that or I would still be on the phone with the customer service rep trying to help me download my internet security program.
As a mom of multiples, the ability to multitask took on a whole new meaning. On laundry day I used to put two of the girls in the laundry basket so I could bring the dirty clothes and two of the kiddos downstairs at the same time. This, of course, was back in the day when I could still carry them two at a time. Even now during their breakfast you'll likely find me vacuuming the house in between pouring refills of milk. There are only so many hours in the day and I have a lot to do.
But, a word of caution about multitasking: don't be so caught up in the jobs that you forget what's going on around you. Sometimes I have to stop myself and look at one of the girls and ask her to repeat herself. Often times I'm being given an invitation to sit down and read a book or play with the baby dolls. That's when the multitasking is put on hold and I focus on one important task: spending time with my daughters.
As for my friend, she says she's about 90% better, which is a good thing. I know she's looking forward to being able to get back to the point where she can, like many moms, force herself to try to do 12 tasks at once.


LauraC said...

I can't imagine not being able to multi-task! Not sure how we would manage as a family.

Sadia said...

I think this need to multi-task and stereotypes of gender are part of the reason that we see so few stay-at-home dads in our world. There's a perception that women are better multi-taskers than men. (This has been debunked by research, but it's something of a self-fulfilling prophecy/perception.)

Quadmama said...

Laura: ditto!
Sadia: it never dawned on me as I wrote this post that multitasking is a trait typically attributed to women. Hmmm... well, nonetheless Hubby is a great multitasker, too!

Stephanie B said...

My gender-specific comparisons of multi-tasking abilities are all anecdotal (but compelling),but it occurs to me that perhaps that perception/reality is a result of expectations. At any given time, I feel I have no CHOICE but to multitask. Somehow the men I work with and my husband rarely seem to be in a position where they have to multitask.

I wonder how much of that is my own internal drive?

Quadmama said...

Hear hear Stephanie!

MaryAnne said...

I like that you point out the importance of not multitasking ALL the time - that's something I have to remind myself to do every day... I find I enjoy being a parent so much more when I make time to really focus on and enjoy just being with the kids without also thinking about dinner prep, vacuuming, mopping, laundry...

Quadmama said...

I'm very proud of myself when I can close the dishwasher door with my foot while opening the pantry... but as soon as someone starts tugging on my shirt I know it's time to stop focusing on chores.

Post a Comment