Hi! I’m Caitlin from Caitlin’s Happy Heart. My little blogging corner of the internet is where I blog about things that make my heart joyful. Which incidentally many of my posts often include the insecure, messy and painful moments because the combination of living through those moments and successfully navigating through the trials and triumphs of life brings true and deep happiness.
From the moment you realise you need to feed those little mouths and you haven’t grown an extra boob for the occasion to the times you deal with three screaming newborns and two needy big brothers, multi-tasking is the only way to make it through the day. It is so vital with to multi-task with multiples that even the Dads become skilled multi-taskers! (But of course never to the proficiency of Mummy!)
When I had two children I thought I had reached the pinnacle of multi-tasking when I wiped my eldest’s bottom while breastfeeding the baby. Little did I know that when that baby was a toddler I would have newborn triplets and there would be a day when I was at the loo potty training the toddler, while triplet 1 was trying to finish his feed, triplet 2 was on the floor in a rocker outside the toilet door where I could occasionally rock him with my feet and triplet 3 was screaming in the automatic rocker because she had a dirty nappy!
Most of the time multi-tasking isn’t so dramatic. Most of the time multi-tasking is just doing the little things as economically as possible. It’s washing up a few dishes while the milk is heating in the microwave and talking with the husband about the day. It’s breastfeeding a baby and reading your blog list or book club book at the same time. It’s cooking dinner while supervising homework, while letting a baby (or two or three) play at your feet and unload the Tupperware cupboard. (Anything to keep them gainful occupied!)
Often times we are multitasking without even realising. That’s just the way it is when raising children. We think that we are only doing a puzzle with our child. But in fact at the same time, we are teaching our child that we love them, and thereby giving them a level of comfort and security. We are also teaching problem-solving, spatial awareness, persistence and patience, and there may even be a few more lessons involved if we thought hard enough! Sometimes it’s good to stop and consider the lessons we are teaching while we are doing an activity. If you become more conscious of the teaching opportunities that each activity presents, the increased awareness changes your language and ensures that the learning is even more powerful.
For instance, your child can learn all the above skills I mentioned while doing puzzles, but they are a lot more aware of the lessons they are learning when you see they are getting frustrated and you say, “Oh, I love the way you are not giving up just because it is starting to get tricky!” All of a sudden, their little shoulders straighten and they get a little bit more determined. When their smile beams at the competition of the puzzle, it only gets wider when you say, “I loved how patient you were to solve that with only a little bit of help from Mummy!”
As parents, we need to be aware that this form of subliminal multi-tasking can have a less desirable outcome if we aren’t careful. Being a busy mother can often mean it is easier for my short temper to be unleashed. Which is unfortunate because when I do this, my child is learning that deep down, I am more interested in my own agenda then their feelings. They can learn that when you are tired and cranky, it’s OK to lash out and not consider the feelings of others. There’s nothing more inspirational to being motivated to improve yourself then when you see your own child react badly to an incident in the identical way you have responded poorly to on a previous occasion! There’s no doubt that children keep us humble and that being a parent can help us to become better people.
Finally, the last thing I would say about multi-tasking is that sometimes you need to deliberately avoid multi-tasking. Sometimes as mothers and wives we can be so consumed with getting as much done as quickly as possible that it is possible that we are never really present for our children and significant other. Sometimes we need to slow down and just live in the moment and be present. Play a board game with the kids, ignore the housework and snuggle up on the couch and read a story, lie down on the grass and see pictures in the clouds. Take the kids to the park and ignore the temptation to use the phone. (A major trap for the modern day Mum.) Look deep in your child’s eyes, study their expressions, listen to the way they laugh, watch as they try new experiences and celebrate their achievements.
In a flash these days will be over. One day we’re going to look back and be amazed at all the multi-tasking we had to do to get through these days. We will congratulate ourselves for raising our children to be productive adults, but it will all feel meaningless if we didn’t take the time to enjoy ourselves and make everlasting connections during that journey.