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Posts tagged ‘multi-tasking’

Kelly: Emotional Writing? Superwoman Unraveling…

So let me just tell you about my last week or so. I think it’ll be emotional writing at its finest. I had my last arts festival of the fall this past weekend: Market Days in Tallahassee. It’s a very large show, and this year was the first time I’ve participated in it. It’s also an indoor show, and I was on a center aisle, which meant I had to develop some sort of side and back walls with no tent. Over a month ago, I talked to DH about this. I did have a plan for my pipe and drape, and I drew it out for him. Five weeks before the show, mind you. Well, the Monday before the show, my plan was still a pile of PVC sitting on the side of the house. I had to work late two nights last week, Tuesday and Thursday. I had my first intense vestibular rehab appointment on Wednesday (you can read about that here). Each night when I got home, there was some crisis or other to deal with, and, of course, DH couldn’t help the girls with their homework that week because he was too busy making my pipe set up, which he’s had FIVE WEEKS to do. To add to that he said, “You’re going to have to start helping the girls with their homework. I don’t have the patience.” So okay, I guess it doesn’t matter that I get minimal help with the girls in the morning because he leaves for work at 6:15am, and I guess it doesn’t matter than he and the girls get home at 4pm as opposed to my 5:30-6:00pm, just in time for dinner and baths…unless, of course, he’s gone to work out before he picks up the girls…I can’t remember the last time I had time to work out. He doesn’t have the patience to help the girls with their homework, so that now falls to me as well? When am I supposed to do this?

Typically DH thankfully does load up my van for me for my shows and I’m very grateful for that, but since he hadn’t quite finished with the PVC and I had to teach a class Thursday night, that left the load up to me on Friday morning before I hit the road. Did I mention the part about the miserable cold I’ve been battling for the past two weeks? Blowing snot everywhere, I was, and still am. I usually travel to shows with a fellow artist friend. We had planned to leave Jacksonville at 10am, but she called me about 9:45am and told me she had decided to leave at 9am and would just see me over there during set up. Did I tell you that DH made the pipe set up for her as well? The same pipe set up I was trying to corral and load in to my van when she called to tell me she had already left? Are you feeling my frustration and lack of appreciation? By the time I got over to Tallahassee, I had exhausted a whole box of tissues and frankly was in a foul mood. She was already nearly set up, just waiting on me to deliver her the pipe set up that my DH built. When I apparently wasn’t moving fast enough, she reminded me that she needed to leave by 3pm to get back to Jacksonville for her son’s game. Fine. I’ve got a miserable cold, I feel like crap, but I’m moving as fast as I can. Gimme a freakin’ break.

I made it through the show, fairly decent sales given the economy, but not really decent enough to warrant the higher booth fee and added cost of having to create pipe and drape. Trying to find the positive, at least I was inside, not outside battling the weather. When I got home Sunday night at nearly 10pm, as par for the course on most of my trips, the house was a disaster and DH was grumpy from having the girls all weekend by himself. He doesn’t seem to realize that these shows are no walk in the park. They are a pain in the a** and I’m working that very same a** off the entire weekend, but no rest for the weary. I was back to work on Monday morning, only to come home to a very grumpy husband and the girls’ homework staring at me at the end of the day.

Then it was back to therapy Tuesday afternoon for more dizzy torture. Tuesday night was “Polar Express” night at the girls’ school, and I had already promised them we would go, dizzy nausea be damned. To make things easier, I figured we’d just go to Chick-fil-A for dinner (their favorite) and then head over to the school. I thought since DH had had them all weekend by himself and was so grumpy Monday afternoon that getting them out of the house for a while would give him a break as well. I got home a little early since my therapy ended at 4pm, so I beat them home, but the minute they got home, things went downhill. Sarah was distraught because she lost her gold locket on the playground, the same gold locket that I only let her wear because she promised and promised and promised again that she wouldn’t try to take it off. Well, apparently she tried to take it off and lost it. I have to admit I wasn’t too happy about it either since, in my stupidity, I had put the locket on a 14K gold chain when the cheap chain it came with turned her neck green. Learned that lesson!

We made it through that drama and I got them loaded up in the van to head to Chick-fil-A. On the exit ramp from I-95, as we made the turn onto Duval Road, Sarah’s car seat dumped to the center of the van. Apparently in his grumpiness Monday afternoon, DH had not checked to make sure it was locked in correctly when he reinstalled it after unloading my van. Of course, I was on a road with absolutely no where to pull over, while Sarah was laying sideways in her car seat as I tried to keep her steady with one hand reaching behind me and one hand on the wheel. Livvie, bless her heart, was trying to push her back up with all her might. We found a spot to pull over near the light to Chick-fil-A, and while I was getting her resettled and the seat tightened in correctly, the dozens of extra cars spilling out of the Chick-fil-A parking lot caught my eye. Great! It’s Cow Night at Chick-fil-A! Whoo hoo! No way we’re getting in there, so we went through the drive through. The server forgot half my order, which, of course, I didn’t notice until we were already moving on down the road to the school.

Now back up a minute and let me put all this in context. While dealing with all this family and art show drama for the past week, I’ve had a hellacious month at work. Long story short (though this is already a long story, isn’t it?), I have college-wide responsibility for the Student Life department (we have five campuses), yet I don’t have college-wide authority over the people who carry out our program. Yeah, doesn’t make sense to me either. That means while I’m working on deadline putting our college-wide calendar together (click here to see this term’s calendar as an example), the rest of our staff does not possess, shall we say, the same urgency I have. Well, hell no! They aren’t the ones responsible for getting the damned thing written, designed, printed and delivered on time! They’re just responsible for getting me their information to include in it! Remember my whole, “I think I just might go teach elementary school discussion”? This is part of the reason why.

Let me add just one more thing. I am the president of the Greater Jacksonville Chi Omega Alumnae Chapter. Now understand that I didn’t KNOW I was the president of the Greater Jacksonville Chi Omega Alumnae Chapter until I started getting phone calls and emails from people asking for information. I finally learned the previous president had told everyone (at a meeting I missed) that I was the new president, and neglected to inform me or give me any of the materials and giant box of stuff to carry out the job. She and I had had one discussion in which she asked me if I’d consider it, and I told her I’d think about it. Apparently she took that as a yes. When I learned this, I sent out an email to our chapter trying to find another volunteer but have had no luck. In the meantime, our annual Holiday Tea is December 21. Guess who’s responsible? Guess who was stuffing and labeling the 157 invites when the girls and DH got home Tuesday, Sarah distraught from having lost her necklace?

So what happens when you’re trying to live by the “Someday is Today” mantra and your Superwoman powers start to unravel? What happens when you have so much in your brain that you constantly walk into a room only to completely forget why the heck you walked in there? What happens when you need to tell your daughters to put something on, only the name of those rubber and canvas things that go on your feet totally escapes you? I guess I have to take some responsibility for my own downfall. There are things that I don’t have to do. I don’t have to sell my wares on the art show circuit, yet we’ve invested so much in my business that I feel obligated to bring some cash back into our family coffers. I don’t have to be the Greater Jacksonville Chi Omega Alumnae Chapter president (until I can beg someone else to take over), yet my name is out there, and I’m not the type of person who will let the ball drop. And yes, I do have to carry out my college-wide responsibilities at work, but it sure would be nice to actually get paid for that college-wide role, not just have it given to me because the powers that be know that I’ll get the job done (don’t even get me started on how I’m supposed to coordinate rugby clinics at the college for the UK rugby team coming to Jacksonville when my particular campus doesn’t even have facilities for such a thing). So what happens when all this happens? You find a way to carry on, that’s what happens. You thank the good Lord you have the skills to actually create wares to sell on the art show circuit. You thank God that people think highly enough of you to give you responsibility, knowing that you are the best person for the job. You thank Him for blessing you with a fairly understanding husband, two incredible little girls, and a roof over your head. And you write it all down. You get it all out by venting to those you know “get it”. You take a deep breath. You have a glass of wine. Maybe a little chocolate. And then you say, “Hmmmm…okay, I feel just a little bit better now.”

Cathy: More on multi-tasking moms

Baby C has a new trick. When she is nursing herself to sleep as I type, she now kicks my one typing hand over to where she can hang onto it with a foot and a hand. Now I can’t type at all. But is that really such a bad thing? After all, I should be using this precious time to bond with my little infant, right? But I really want to answer that email/add to the manuscript/compose a blog. So maybe she’ll grow up with an unnatural attachment to PCs. Apparently I have developed one, is that so bad?

Today (Tuesday as I write this to be posted later) is my son S’s tenth birthday. I wrapped his presents, while considering that I am missing half the cake ingredients, our bank accounts are drained from last week’s travels—gas alone was unmentionable—and honey gets paid tomorrow. I had K go out to the van to get the play yard (really, baby holding pen, let’s call a spade a spade). However, two sides refuse to go rigid for us. We tried everything—quite comically. So I put her in it anyway, and just wrapped away, on the floor right next to the pending crisis of collapse, while on the phone with a possible new client; and frantically waving S around to the front door so he can’t see what I’m wrapping by coming in through the slider in the office. Why am I trying so hard to hide these from him now, when he already found them? Because I can, I must. Maybe he didn’t see everything.

My mother-in-law just came back from her morning exercise. She has agreed to go to store for confectioner’s sugar and butter. Phew, one thing down. I don’t have to go to the grocery store and risk overdrawing my humble account. There will be chocolate frosting for the cake. And butter in the cake itself. Now, I just have to make both; switch the laundry from baby C’s pee accident on my bed this a.m., where she thoroughly soaked through every layer from comforter to the mattress pad; make that bed after two rounds each for two loads in the dryer because the sheets and comforter and mattress pad always twist up in knots around themselves and don’t dry on the first round. And there are still the two baskets of yesterday’s clothes unfolded, wrinkling for first week of school.

In the meantime, I’m still thinking about what I’m going to charge this woman for a curriculum consultation for her home-schooled child with special needs; trying to consider lunch and dinner options from what’s in pantry without over–pasta-ing the day, and it’s already 11:49; and I’m pinned nursing again, typing and fending off kicks, while also staring at the box of baby hand-me-downs taking up precious space waiting to be wrapped and sent off to friends expecting a girl any minute now, several states away. K has disappeared behind his locked bedroom door for the fourteenth time today already, completely sealing himself off with his MP3, so I can’t holler up to ask him for help again. S is wandering the house, humming and wanting a little attention and something to do. He wants to ‘sacrifice popcorn’ to the dog, because it’s fun to line up popped kernels on the couch and watch her lick up the row one by one with her long, fast, curly tongue.

I won’t even mention that box of papers that still need to be organized. Oops, too late! Now, baby C is asleep on me, I pray I can put her down without her waking up in the collapsing pen, so I can get started on that cake. Now what’s all that nonsense about scheduling and prioritizing, again?

Miranda: Multi-tasking my way to a new low

If you’re a mother, you know how to do at least six things at once.

But should you?

Apparently, it depends on just which six things you have in mind.

Yesterday, Lifehacker posted an interesting take on the pitfalls of multitasking in an interview with Dave Crenshaw, author of The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done. “Crenshaw explains the difference between ‘background tasking’ — like watching TV while exercising — and ‘switchtasking,’ juggling two tasks by refocusing your attention back and forth between them, and losing time and progress in the switch.” The Lifehacker blog post centers on how this issue plays out in the business world.

Interestingly, Simple Mom posted the mother’s analysis of the same topic yesterday:

A Mama’s Challenge
Here’s the irony. With children at home, it often feels impossible for us to focus on anything more than two minutes at a time, because we’re constantly interrupted. As soon as I sit down to update our bank accounts, my daughter wants me to sharpen her colored pencils, or my son has dropped his toy for the umpteenth time and needs help retrieving it.

It’s the stage of life, and it is what it is. Small children require a lot of hands-on, interactive parenting, and while it’s a short-lived job, it leaves you utterly exhausted come bedtime, doesn’t it?

Even though I’d love to single-task most of my day jobs, it just isn’t going to happen. What mom doesn’t multi-task all day long? You’ve got to change the diaper and answer the phone. You oftentimes need to read to your older one while you nurse your younger.

For Simple Mom, the bottom line is that “There are more important things in life than getting things done.”

While multi-tasking is often our only shot at snippets of creativity and seeming productivity, each of us has to determine our own threshold here. I happened to find my own personal limit yesterday. I share this publicly only in the hope that my story will serve as a cautionary tale to other mothers attempting the Superwoman thing.

At noon, I was finishing up the week’s menu plan, trying to make the grocery list, fixing an issue with the blog, answering e-mail, greeting my mother who’d just arrived at my house, nursing the baby, and trying to make sure my 3-year-old didn’t run off by himself for an opportunity to poop privately in his Pull-Up (we’re still toilet training). My daughter called from a friend’s house, asking for a ride home. She was in our neighborhood, within walking distance, but the timing was convenient so I said, “Sure — I’m running out to the grocery store with Grandma. We’ll pick you up on the way, in 15 minutes.”

What happened? I forgot to pick her up.

As in, I went to the grocery store without picking her up as planned. When she called me on my cell phone to ask where I was, I slipped into a heart-stopping abyss of guilt. Thankfully, since my own mother was in the car, she helped me strategize how to explain the situation to my daughter (as we drove at top speed to retrieve her) in an attempt to save her from a life on the therapist’s couch. My daughter (12 years old) gave me a good-natured ribbing, but even though she was gracious about the situation, I knew it had to have hurt. What is more painful to a mother than causing her own child pain?

I have never actually “forgotten” any of my children before, and I desperately hope never to do it again. I’d like to use sleep deprivation, an infant, a tally of five kids, pressing client work, and having my house on the market as some kind of defense. But sadly, there is no defense, and I know that. Perhaps, if I slow down just a little — and stop trying to do 34 things at one time — my brain will function a bit more efficiently. Until then, I have a lot of making up to do with my one and only daughter.

[Photo courtesy Foxtongue.]

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