Moms are the most capable beings on earth. It’s true. We have superpowers. It is totally “normal” to see a mom breastfeeding an infant while cooking dinner. Listening to a meeting on her computer while feeding a wiggly toddler on her lap. Even taking a shower while quizzing her school-ager on their spelling words. Moms are amazing. We have to be. But what is all the multi-tasking doing to our mental health?
I used to think I was a rock star multi-tasker. I had this “busy mom” thing down. Constantly running, juggling and checking boxes on my “to do” list. But truthfully, I was exhausted. And if I am being honest here, I was taking risks I didn’t need to.
What would happen if I accidentally spilled hot water on my child while making dinner because my attention is divided? How well am I actually performing at my job, really? Am I prioritizing my health when I am both eating in the car while running kids to after-school activities? The answer is no.
I was in a leadership meeting that required we put our phones down and give undivided attention to our task at hand. Total focus. It had been years since I blocked out time to do one dedicated task. But the lesson really hit home. Am I giving 5 tasks 20% of my energy, or one task 100% of my attention? Which is better?
For me, the answer is giving 100% focus to one task at a time.
Slowing down really is okay. Email will wait. Dinner will wait. Laundry will wait.
Try isolating your tasks and see how it feels.
- Sleep better at night if you eat a well-balanced meal at a table after saying a prayer and taking a deep breath?
- Find that you are more productive on a task at work if you work through it without taking phone calls or email breaks?
- Find that your kids thrive when you dedicate an hour just to homework rather than trying to answer questions without burning dinner?
In our busy world, I was amazed to discover the capacity for creativity I still have (mommy brain aside), when I give myself the space to focus. If you want to try quieting your world so you can focus, here are some suggestions.
1. Silence your phone
I have a do not disturb option that I use that automatically turns off my phone on Sundays from 8:00 to 9:00 (church) and 6:30 to 7:30 (dinner). I don’t even have to think about it!
2. Turn off notifications
If you are working on a report, a blog post, a kindergarten parent feedback form, turn off notifications. You can set yourself as “away” on chats, silence your phone and make a habit of checking email after you have completed your task.
3. Block out time on your calendar.
My life is run by my calendar. Some days from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. If I need to get something accomplished, I block out time on my schedule to dedicate to that task and make sure that when I get to that time, I work on that assignment.
I recently have learned the power of sitting quietly. Just taking even 10 minutes to sit still has opened my eyes to the severity of how over-programmed I was as a mom. Sitting still for 10 minutes a day helps me regulate my heart, breathing, anxiety, and clear my head to be more productive the rest of the day.
5. Ask for help.
Sometimes, it doesn’t seem possible to get everything done in a day that needs to be done. That is because it isn’t! Ask for help. Making dinner? Ask a big kid to entertain your toddler. Folding laundry, but the dogs are knocking over your piles? Have a kid take them for a walk. Moms are superheroes, but even superheroes need a little help.