When my husband offers to make me a cup of tea, he simultaneously asks if he should just leave it on the windowsill. Our little joke stems from me regularly doing more than one thing at once and daily leaving cold cups of half drunk tea all around the house. I chide him for not being able to have a conversation with me while he washes the dishes. When it comes to multi-tasking it has already been scientifically proven that women do this more successfully than men. All though it drives me totally nuts when my husband can’t do more than one thing at a time – it does mean he’s very focused on the one thing he is doing.
A few weeks ago I took the challenge of my women’s faith sharing group to give up multi-tasking for one day. We had to really be in tune to that one task, be it a phone conversation, making a meal, dealing with an unruly child. I set out on a Wednesday to make a conscious effort to do one thing at a time and not think about the next thing I needed to do. Oui vey! My four year old son and his buddy kept needing a drink or a snack, a toy to be fixed or found, this or that. But I diligently went back to the task at hand after each interruption. I wrote in my journal, washed the dishes, sent an email, all while trying to think of nothing else but what I was doing that moment. Fully immersed for the few minutes I was doing that task before…”MOM!!”
Later in the day-moving in and out of each task, remembering to just do one thing at a time, I had to take a pee. In the bathroom I lifted the lid, noticing my son’s toothbrush out on the shelf above the toilet and not put away in the cupboard. I reached for the toothbrush to put it away simultaneously thinking, “one thing at a time” and “just this one multi-tasking thing won’t hurt.” That’s when the toothbrush went flying into the air and SPLASH into the toilet. Yep, no cold cup of tea on the windowsill that day, just a floating toothbrush.
Mothers multi-task out of necessity. It is an inborn skill to be able to butter the toast, answer the phone, wipe a runny nose. Then I have that thought, along with all the other thoughts, “what am I teaching my children?” Am I once again not setting the best example? All valid thoughts to consider, but this post would not have been written if it weren’t for my multi-tasking ability. For at the same time I wrote this, I made dinner, cut veggies for a snack, washed the dog, answered the phone, and most importantly paid homage to Mr. Walt Disney for making this all possible.