Multitasking

I’m trying to decide if it’s a good or a bad thing.

On the one hand today I got A LOT done. Cooking, cleaning, washing, errands, soccer for V1 and a couple of hours of work.

On the other hand, by the time I got to soccer, I realised I had forgotten to change V2’s nappy (it was changed when she first got up but I like to do it at least every 2 hours). I had remembered V1 needed to go to the toilet however he, like most toddlers his age, was convinced that since I had asked him to and provided the perfect opportunity for him to do so, he in fact did not need to go (he hadn’t gone since getting up).

We got home and changed V2’s nappy, prepped lunch and headed to the laundry. V1 then sprinted inside crying because he’d had an accident outside while playing with Horus. I was so focussed on V2’s nappy, prepping lunch and getting the third load of washing onto the line to capitalise on the sunny day, I had forgotten to remind him to go.

While contemplating putting V1 into the shower to clean up, I rembered I actually hadn’t had a shower despite going out to do the groceries and to soccer, on separate trips and I was still wearing the clothes I had worn for my 16 minute weights session in the morning (at least I had rembered to go to the bathroom before being too uncomfortable!).

Amongst numerous pearls, in her book, Thrive, by Ariana Huffington, Huffington talks extremely highly of her mother. Her mother states “I abhor multitasking”. This is raised in the context of reading email while talking to kids (which if I’m truly honest, I’ve done on numerous occasions), and noting that our constant electronic connectivity is leading us to be more disconnected in life.

Today I wasn’t entirely distracted by my phone however I did respond to some urgent emails from work before soccer (during which V2 took her first independent steps, which I very nearly missed and only by sheer luck managed to catch it on camera. I then forgot to change her nappy, and ultimately ran out of time to do so).

SO multitasking today didn’t entirely pay off. Most of my distraction on my home days with the kids is in the form of housework and errands, but this multitasking still leads to a disconnection. This is something I’m guilty of nearly every day.  But it’s not something I can change instantly. It’s only something I can try to work on.

Since I can’t change in a day, when the kids woke after very short naps, we rearranged my shoes (I’d finally decided the high heels gathering dust and potential spiders, had to be removed and room made for the growing collection of trendy flats – I’m a mum now and practicality matters!)

I know the kids probably didn’t want to help me to do this, however when I feel I might be spiralling, into either guilt over missing things with the kids, or discontent at not getting enough things done, finding something I can physically take hold of and organise actually does wonders for me (and throwing things out or packing away to create space is always therapeutic!) I’m finally starting to realise it’s important to take the time for me, even when the kids are awake.

I found some space and order, V1 enjoyed trying on my shoes for fun and V2 enjoyed taking the shoes out of the box faster than I put them back in, while playing an intense game of peekaboo with my scarves ! Everyone was happy!

Friday Musings and Highlights

I forgot my book on the train today so here are some bits and pieces to ponder for the day!

– V1’s favourite teacher at school is…….. “fire truck”.

– When asking someone if I was on the right train (I was trying a new train hop to get home earlier this week), I explained I wanted to get home for baths and dinner, they responded ‘I would have thought you’d be going slower to ensure you miss it’.

– I went through the whole day of work yesterday before getting changed into my PJs at home when I realised my skirt was on sideways. Not backwards at least. Not inside out, but still – sideways. (I’m a repeat offender in this regard. At the grocery shop recently I wondered why those annoying coat hanger hangy bits in my top were constantly coming out. I got two comments at the shops that I looked nice – we go the same time every Sunday so have made friends with the deli and checkout ladies – and didn’t realise til arriving home  (after having gone out for breakfast) that my top was on inside out).

– I’m having days at the moment where I’m convinced that going to the bathroom is a necessary interruption to force a break, however I’d get so much more done if I didn’t have to.

– I’ve decided that since I have so little time to eat on home days (mostly kids leftovers) I should make up for this on workdays in the form of croissants, donuts and lunches out (not sure why I’m worrying about the detrimental health impact of the 3rd (or, let’s be honest – the 4th) coffee).

– V2 is in the stage of being comfortable with the concept of going to daycare.  V1 felt the need to compensate by attaching himself to my legs and screaming ‘don’t leave me’ to ensure my heart strings were sufficiently pulled.

Happy Friday ! I’m celebrating by making the early train, having another coffee and going out for Italian for lunch (and taking the time to check that all my clothes are on the right way!)

 

Honesty

I recently had dinner with a very good friend of mine who reminded me that it was OK to be honest. She liked reading this Blog but as she knows me, and all of the complicated intracacies of my often anxious, emotional and unpredictable mind, she knew there was more I wasn’t saying about being a working Mum.

She was right.

It’s time to be honest and say it’s really, really….. really hard.

I’m not sure how I can emphasise how hard it is. For me the return to work has been, and is still, an enormous juggling act with two prongs.

Firstwardly and outwardly, I struggle to balance the actual management of my physical time including the tangible mothering and wifeing responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, washing, playing with the kids, heading to playdates and since we are being honest – having a shower !

Secondly and inwardly, the struggle to balance the emotions and my general wellbeing as I’m pulled in so many directions with constant time pressures – the clock simply will not stop ticking.

What does this mean ?

1. I get angry. A lot.

2. When I get tired of being angry, I get distant and removed (it’s mostly me feigning nonchalance).

3. When I can’t hide the emotion under a mask of distance and nonchalance, I get sad and cry.

Since I’m always exhausted from the act of running from point to point, I tend to move through options 1, 2 and 3 in the space of about 2 minutes. Meaning around 2 out 3 nights when I get home from work, I am blissfully happy to see the kids and my better half. We dance to the current favourite songs (Moana soundtrack, and joyfully V1 likes jazz so it’s La La Land too!) and we run, and jump and play around the house like crazy people.

Then, inevitably something snaps. Whether V1 simply can’t wait for the microwave to finish before pulling his milk out, or whether he won’t get out of the bath even though the water has been drained for 3 minutes and he’s getting colder and colder, I quickly lose my patience and move through phases 1 and 2 and straight into phase 3 – The snapped carrot. The lost skittles. The tears.

Now V1 is such an emotional being that he immediately comes to my aid with a very thoughtful “I’m sorry mumma, I didn’t mean it”, even though to all adult minds, it is so clearly not his fault. Any mother who has heard their toddler say that in response to an emotional overreaction knows the effect. I burst into a fit of uncontrollable sobbing as I realise simply how lucky I am to have an amazing family, well behaved kids and a hugely supportive husband and this is just the struggle life is challenging me with for now.

I know I’m not the first or only Mother to be prone to these bouts of emotional disarray, particularly when returning to work after Parental Leave, however i have found that thinking about and being told by others that there are lots of mothers who make the same sacrifices in pursuit of balance, doesn’t actually help.

Rather it reminds me that for perhaps one of the very few times in my life I am trying to do something that, for all initial appearances, I am simply not good at. Yet.

Perhaps if I keep it up and ‘practice’ I’ll get better.  Perhaps if I develop a few techniques to manage the emotional rollercoaster, I’ll be better at balancing and curbing my overreactions.  (I find the books I read in search of these techniques help while I am reading them but they can’t undo the years of emotional blueprints in my body. The epiphanies I experience while reading are unfortunately soon forgotten as I struggle to override years and years of habits.)

Perhaps the first place to start is to remind myself that I actually WANT to be good at balancing both (rather than ‘have’ to) and I CAN be good at both being a Mum and a professional (rather than ‘must’). Instead of fleeing in the face of danger (failure), I can fight (thrive and find the balance).

I anticipate many more nights of irrational tears of desperation following a day in which I judge myself to have ‘failed’ at either being a Mum or at work.

Luckily, a recent post I read from readingmummasister “What do my kids really think of me” reminded me that my kids love me unconditionally and they don’t look at my mothering for the day and judge me as a fail. Only I do that.

My team at the office doesn’t look at what I do and see that I can’t manage the volume that I used to manage (it’s physically impossible to squeeze 5 days of work into 3.5!) and judge it as a fail. I do that. Even though I know logically its not possible. My team are grateful I work as hard as I do.

I will try to be more kind to myself, accept that I can’t be everything to everyone and that some days will be less of a win than others. But that’s OK.

Best Intentions

While I was prepping dinner and listening to some music, V2 was enjoying her sausage rolls in her high chair, V1 came flying inside yelling ‘I want to show you the bug, Mummy’ in a hugely excited tone.  Ordinarily I would have just said ‘I’ll come outside later’ but his tone was just so excited, I washed dinner off my hands, checked V2 could reach her water and food and sprinted outside.

‘Where is the bug?” I asked. ‘It’s up there’ he responded. Meaning up the two separate mini sets of stairs in our triple level concrete backyard. Meaning he needed assistance to avoid a stair stumble as it was getting dark. Meaning I couldn’t leave V2 eating by herself for that long.

“Hang on a second buddy, I need to get V2 so she isn’t alone in the chair”. (She’s a little Houdini and can get her legs out of her straps so no unsupervised high chairing!) I ran back inside, scooped her up and in no time heard a loud bang followed by a pained wail.

It turns out, that in the time it took me to sprint inside and get V2, V1 got bored, searched his options and found a ‘suitable’ way to fill the time. The loose brick on the brick wall near the garden was the perfect subject. The choice of entertainment was in the form of testing gravity as the brick fell on his foot.

I had a very Matrix moment similar to the knocking over of the vase where I thought to myself if I had just gone with him in the first place and chanced V2 in the chair, it would have been different. The chance of V2 climbing out were slim (she was only 1/3 through her sausage roll and when she eats, she eats as if she’s on a mission – we are very lucky!), and V1 wouldn’t have needed to entertain himself thus we would have avoided injury. My best intentions to avoid an accident allowed a different one to occur.

Bottom line, when we just had V1, I had huge difficulties accepting his cuts, scrapes, bumps and other injuries that just seem to come out of the most bizarre situations. Now that we have V1 and V2 I am trying to be comfortable with the concept that I can do my absolute best to watch and do everything in my power to prevent serious injury, but having a near 3 year old boy and 1 year old girl means that bizarre accidents abound, irrespective of my best intentions. I only hope they continue to be minor injuries and I know they are all an important part of the learning curve, particularly for V1, the headstrong toddler. I certainly hope he is a fast learner and V2 learns by observation. It will save us all many tears.

And in summary, I didn’t get to see the bug.

Fire Station Open Day

I was very excited to hear it was fire station open day from a friend. V1 loves all big machines so given we were expecting hideous amount of rain, it was a perfect outing.

My better half was working so I took a few deep breaths, packed the bags and readied myself for what would no doubt be a rewarding, yet tiring and potentially anxiety inducing experience.

I was pretty nearly right on all counts. After listening to V1 call the man beeping at us while we were trying to park a ‘silly person’ (thankfully I remember to be G rated for roadrage!) and then listening to the advice of the random stranger walking down the footpath tell me ‘you can’t fit in there, love’, I did a painfully slow left turn, U turn and right turn to a new park, saying a silent prayer it wouldn’t be gone by the time we got there. We came. We saw. We parked.

We were regrettably a little ways away from the Station but V1 very considerately held my hand the whole walk (thereby assisting to curb a little of the anxiety about him darting onto the very busy road we were walking next to). I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was peaking too soon and was saving something special for the station.

Instincts are usually right in motherhood, even though it takes me a lot of convincing to listen to them on occasion, but thankfully I only had to pay in the form of lining up to get inside the truck, twice. One 15 minute wait saw V1 suddenly develop a fear of trucks (Seriously – this from the kid who has no less than 30 trucks at home; who loves nothing more than truck spotting on road trips; and who has his own personal version of ABCD but it’s ABCD trucks).

Sure enough, when it came time to leave after he inhaled his sausage sandwich, he decided he was, in fact, the big brave boy we have been telling him he is and he wanted to go inside the truck before we left.

20 minutes later we were at the front of the line once more, and in he climbed. And got stuck between the steering wheel and driver seat (not really stuck in the literal sense, but rather stuck in the toddler sense of being no longer able to move forward or back or from side to side and ears no longer work to listen to basic instruction). So V2 was promptly handed over to a random stranger in the line behind me who was so lovely to offer to take the photos and hold V2 !

So lovely in fact that when V1 again found himself ‘stuck’ in the passenger section of the truck he promptly yelled ‘give her to [V2]’ – he doesn’t know his subjects and objects yet but the messaging was clear – he wanted V2 back in the arms of the kind stranger.

Logic ultimately prevailed when I convinced him:

– if he climbed up the stairs he could climb down them;

– that the other child’s feet who were near his, did not mean he couldn’t move his;

– and ultimately that as I could carry both he and his sister at home and the shops I could do it here too.

They were both carried out happy, and we provided a little entertainment for the firies.

Our outing was all the more successful due to the kindness of a fellow toddler mum (she left her 18mth old at home – wise lady!), the kindness of the firies, the reminder about the open day from a friend, and the kindness of the dad’s in line who continually picked up everything that V2 dropped while we waited in line. It does take a village! Dad can hopefully join us next time which will make it definitely easier, more enjoyable, and would mean I wouldn’t have to face the challenge of reverse parallel parking !

 

 

Can We Actually Stop Rushing Around and do “Nothing”?

I’ve come across a few books lately about the importance of slowing down, not using busyness as a measure of popularity and coolness and being comfortable with taking some time to simply do nothing.

This all seems sound advice.  Can’t argue with how much better you feel when you’ve had a quiet, relaxing day doing pretty much nothing.

So with my better half ridiculously sick and still getting dressed for work, and two kids with runny noses and coughs (with V1 actually saying “I’m sick mumma” followed by a sniffle), I suggested maybe we should all take the day and have a nice family day. To which my better half responded “I have too much to do” and, more importantly, “We won’t get to do nothing, it won’t be relaxing”. While the latter sentiment might sound sad, he is right (I know I know, sometimes I can admit he is right- I hope he doesn’t fall off his chair reading this!) It doesn’t mean the days are bad, actually far from it! We have fun wih the kids at the park, in the garden, building train tracks, lego towers or going out for morning tea, amongst other things.

All of these activities require a large amount of our guidance and involvement which means in fact we can’t just take a day to do “nothing”.

It’s a lovely idea in theory. In practical terms, we need to reevaluate what “doing nothing” and “relaxing” means when you have a 1 and a 3 year old.  If the only downtime is sitting on the ground and building a super awesome car transporter out of duplo then I’ll take it. If it’s in the form of throwing the ball around the yard and watching V1 and the dog chase after it (yes our toddler enjoys the game just as much as the dog!) then let’s enjoy that kind of downtime.

Ultimately I’m now on the way to work, ridiculously late after somehow losing 20 minutes just in getting shoes, socks, jumpers, shoes and socks on (yes shoes and socks usually go on at least twice – that’s a good day – in reality most of this time was lost for a code brown for V1 at 7.25am which takes at least 10 minutes since he insists on not having any assistance). Kids are at school and my better half, probably to his detriment and at the sacrifice of his weekend wellness, is at work.

Perhaps we will try to do “nothing” and stop rushing around, on another day. It’s nice to have goals after all!

Dr Seuss Was Brilliant

Dr Seuss was right about so many things but this, in particular, seems to resonate since returning back to work. Each year, month, week and day are going quicker than the next !

“How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”.

But he was right about so many things:

  • “a person’s a person, no matter how small” (Horton Hears a Who)
  • “it’s fun to have fun but you have to know how” (The Cat in the Hat)
  • “You’re off to great places. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting so get on your way” (Oh, the Places you’ll Go)

They may be kids books, but each time we read them, I learn something new !