Another previously published post I’m afraid – life keeps getting in the way of new writing this week! This originally featured on another fab parenting site – The Blog Up North. Garry (aka him up north) can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
Back when DorkySon was just a few months old, I had a moment. I was walking down the street, and for the first time I felt like I’d really made it as a parent. Why? Because for the first time I was managing to push a pram and drink coffee out of a cardboard cup at the same time.
I must have been watching too many Richard Curtis films, or reading too many chick lit novels, because in my hormone-addled head the definition of a Mummy Who Had Got Her Shit Together was exactly that – someone who could steer her baby while simultaneously sipping a hot beverage.
On reflection though, my pride doesn’t seem so misplaced. The two years since then have taught me that multitasking is one of the most essential parenting skills. “Stop running around” DorkyDad often says to me. But if I wasn’t running around – unloading the dishwasher, while also spooning mouthfuls of cereal into DorkySon’s mouth and squeezing the phone between my ear and my shoulder as I wait for someone at the doctor’s office to pick up – I wouldn’t get everything done. There are only so many hours in the day, and in order to get every item ticked off the to-do list, I often have to do three of them at once.
I can’t remember the last time I had a conversation without also peering over my shoulder to make sure that DorkySon wasn’t launching himself off something. Sorry, friends, for not giving you my full attention, but it’s just the way I am these days. Even when I’m asleep, I’m not really sleeping. Every parent will know that you always have at least one ear on alert all night, listening for coughs, snuffles or cries on the baby monitor.
Sometimes, though, it’s good to get out of the multitasking mindset. Usually when I find I’m getting ratty with DorkySon it’s because I’m trying to do to many things at once, and not giving him my full attention. Sure, I might want to check my emails, or fold some laundry, or look up a recipe. But recently I’ve tried to ask myself more often whether those things can wait until DorkySon is in bed.
I want him to be an independent little person, who is able to play by himself for a decent amount of time. But I also want him to feel loved, and not be wondering whether his Mummy is always looking over his shoulder too. So I’ve been turning off my computer, in favour of half an hour with a jigsaw. I’ve been leaving the plates stacked in the dishwasher, and instead sitting with DorkySon and a big pile of books. If we go to the park, then I leave my phone at home and give him my full attention.
It’s satisfying to have a tidy house, and a to-do list that has been entirely crossed out by the end of the day… but nowhere near as satisfying as it is to spend time with my son, giving him my undivided attention and love. This multitasking Mummy has started to slack off, and it has made me a whole lot happier.