In the News
How Many Things Can a Mom Do at Once?
Tales from extreme multitasking moms
-Julie Ryan Evans
Last spring we had just moved to Florida, into a house with a pool – a big deal for my then-4-year-old son, who wanted to swim in it every hour of every day. On one of those days I had an important call to do for work, and he wanted to swim. I told him if he could swim silently while mommy did her call I would let him swim. No splashing, no yelling, just quiet swimming.
He agreed, and we went out back. Things were going along, well … swimmingly, UNTIL I saw a snake swimming in the pool with my son!
Not wanting to interrupt the call and explain the situation, I found some kind of bravery that my self, who would normally be shrieking, never knew I had, grabbed a net, scooped up the snake and trapped it, silently screaming to myself, while continuing my conversation – without the person on the other end of the line or my son in the pool with said snake any the wiser.
I should note that it was a tiny little snake, but STILL it was a SNAKE! And while a crazy story, it’s not really that out of the ordinary in the day-to-day life of mothers who must multitask to make life work.
Take for instance the the 39-year-old Ohio woman who was recently arrested for breastfeeding her child while driving her car AND talking on the phone. While taking your child out of a car seat is NEVER OK, the thinking behind her decision is understandable.
There’s only so much time in day, and mothers can’t do everything we need to in those limited hours. So a multitasking we go – and sometimes to extremes. Whether safe, sane or sufficient are other questions ….
But we all do it, and we thought it would be interesting and, perhaps therapeutic, to hear the things other mothers juggle simultaneously. Here are some of their tales:
My greatest multi-tasking feat as a mother was achieved when my daughter was still a baby. Over a two-month period, I wrote the first draft of the Victorian suspense novel Vertigo (since published by Random House) while breastfeeding. Not in one continuous session, obviously. But for 55 days straight, anytime my daughter needed to eat, I breastfed on the left while typing with one hand on the right. And people say you can’t get any writing done with a new baby in the house! I wound up looking lopsided, but still …
-Lauren Baratz-Logsted, laurenbaratzlogsted.com, sisterseight.com
One time on a long car trip when Isabella was 5 months old I tried to nurse her while SHE WAS STILL IN HER CAR SEAT … leaning over… it was totally insane.
-April Daniels Hussar, ontheverge.tv
The best multitasking I have found is that I can get so much laundry done while having great conversations on the phone with my girlfriends. It’s like I go into a coma or something and don’t even know that I’m sorting, folding, actually putting clothes AWAY. If I know I have piles and piles of clothes that have finally gotten so out of control I can’t even find my way into the room I’ve stuffed them into, I grab the cordless phone, pick a long-lost friend to call, dial her up, and start the process. I get some good quality friend time, and the most horrible chore in the world gets done without me even noticing because I’m having a great conversation reconnecting with a friend I have missed! I seriously hang up the phone and wonder, “Where did all the clothes go?!”
-Stephanie Elliot, aka Manic Mommy
I have breastfed while doing just about everything – on the phone, on the toilet, putting laundry in the washing machine, folding laundry, doing leg lifts (side-lying position is ideal for this), writing correspondence, etc … I feel like all I do is multitask, but most are everyday tasks – preparing a meal while making an appointment for example.
One thing I NEVER do, however, is talk on the phone and drive. I see so many women doing this, and I can totally understand why – it’s the only time they have – but it’s so dangerous. I have seen two accidents happen while women were driving and talking on cell phones.
I wear a headset while on the phone and cook, fold laundry, bring my computer into the kitchen while I play with Duplos with my kid on the kitchen floor. We have a big kitchen, so four or five things at once … six or seven if you count e-mailing and Facebooking while doing the other five things.
My job and my mothering duties clash like Titans on a regular basis. I’ll be balancing my Blackberry in one hand, trying to deal with an after-hours crisis at work, while my toddler pulls at my leg, wanting attention, and the cats are crying in the background, wanting to be fed!
Every morning I multi-task. I’ll be on my laptop at 7 a.m., looking at work-related e-mails, then turn around, peel a banana for Alex, then go back to the laptop. A few minutes later I’ll give him some dry cereal, then pack my lunch, pour coffee for my husband, then go back to the laptop. Crazy life.
I was trying to distract my 4 year old who was crying in the back seat so I told her we’d play hide and seek while I was driving. Of course, neither of us could move because we were both buckled, but she’d hide her face and I’d pretend she was gone and then she’s peek out and I’d yell “FOUND YOU!” Then when it was my turn, I shielded the side of my face from her and crouched down so I could just see over the steering wheel saying “You can’t find me. You can’t find me”. Then she’s all “I see you!” and I look over to see two policemen in their car staring at me angrily while trying to figure out why I was hiding from them. I rolled down my window and was all “I wasn’t hiding from you!” and I smiled. They weren’t amused.
-Jenny, The Blogess.com
So what about you? What are your craziest multitasking moments?