I did something yesterday afternoon that I haven’t done in a while. I sat down with my daughter and we played together, uninterrupted for about half an hour. Sadly, this rarely happens anymore. When I play with her, she usually doesn’t receive my full attention. The other portion is given to her baby brother, cleaning and chores, school work, and the one that I feel most guilty about: my phone or laptop.
We enjoyed our time together. We played with her Calico Critters toys out on the backyard deck of the family’s home away from home in the Truckee Tahoe area. We were surrounded by nature, peaceful weather, and quiet. I forced myself to not think about anything else. I lived in the moment (ish) and let go of all of the surrounding thoughts that I usually can’t turn off. I snapped some pictures, and tried to get right back to what we were doing, since my phone can easily take over during these times If I let it.
The next day, I was able to enjoy some rare quality time with my own mom. It was just us. I realized it had been so long since we had done this. It was brief, only a few hours. We went to the gym together and then to the grocery store. We caught up on the latest updates of family and friends. We did some people watching, debriefed about it, and laughed. She does so much as the primary caregiver for my kids while I’m at work, and we are so blessed to have her. I see her everyday, but the times that we just get to hang out anymore are few and far between. The gym and grocery store just turned into amazing memories for my paperless mental scrapbook.
Spending exclusive time with my daughter and my mom individually reminded me again about how important it is to value people rather than things. Sometimes things do need to be a part of it. I can’t play Calico Critters without the actual Calico Critters. However, I can give up the other items that aren’t as important at the moment. Time to set aside the phone, papers, and the Swiffer for a bit.
So here I go with a very risky new habit shift. I used to be proud of how well I can multitask. Things get done so efficiently when Jenn is in the house. Or classroom. I realize now that it comes with a small cost that can add up over time. My brain gets strained a bit each time I try to do more than 2 things at once. Maybe that’s why I feel less focused and more disorganized lately. The people who really need my undivided attention such as my kids, my husband, and my students may also feel the effects in the long run.
I think it is time for me to outgrow my multi-tasking mentality, because soon, my daughter will outgrow her toys and her tolerance for her mom.
We will see if my home and classroom completely fall apart if I try not to multitask for at least some part of the day. I have a feeling life will go either way.
■ Elementary Educator for Equity & Cultural Responsibility
■ Collector of Small Moments & Thrifty Finds
■ Wife & Mother
■ Bay Area, CA