Multi-Tasking Moms; Taming the Chaos

Are you a Multi-Tasker or do you tackle tasks one at a time? Whatever our preference, motherhood often requires a bit of both.

I came across two fascinating perspectives on multitasking from the Harvard Business Review. Both are a year old–quite dated in blogosphere terms–but I think them worth sharing with my fellow chaos tamers. First, I stumbled upon Peter Bregman’s How (and Why) to Stop Multitasking. He makes some excellent points that particularly resonate with my own one-track mind. Don’t stop with just the one article, for David Silverman offers a worthy rebuttal; In Defense of Multitasking. (In truth, Silverman’s article seems not to debate the points of Bregman’s but rather clarifies exceptions.)

It reminded me of a Chaos Column I’d written here on the Front Porch in 2006. (Which is positively ancient in blog-time.) If you are interested, jump back in time and read about Simple Sally and Multi-Task Maxine.

Would you be more effective by multi-tasking more or less than you do now? Share in the comments! I’ve shared that I’m a Simple Sally, but lately either 5 children or my age have given me a shorter attention span and I find myself bopping between unfinished tasks. Right now, I’d do better to reestablish my habit of focus.

(This article was posted on the Homeschool Blogger Front Porch in my Taming the Chaos column today.)

~Domestic Chaos tamer and homeschool mom of 5, Dell writes about home, heart and hearth.~


4 thoughts on “Multi-Tasking Moms; Taming the Chaos

  1. For me, it depends on the task. For day to day stuff, I am most definitely a multi-tasker. I’ll get up, pull out something for dinner, and start a load of laundry. Then, while that’s cooking, I’ll water plants, fold other clothes, and make my bed. Then, it’s time to take a shower, so I’ll go in the bathroom, strip, and scrub the bathroom. Once it’s clean, I’ll clean myself too. Get dressed, and leave. This works great for me, because otherwise I tend to ruin good clothes with bleach. I don’t like that.

    Once out, I’ll be checking things online while helping a beginning math student add two and seven. As the other kids do their work, bringing questions to me now and then, I’ll write and check my message boards. While driving, mopping the floor, or whatever, I can do math, spelling, or Bible drills with the kids.

    But if I’m going to give a phonics/reading lesson, I can’t be doing my own thing at the same time. I need to concentrate completely on the task. If I don’t, I will certainly miss it when my child guesses at words or gets sloppy.

    When sewing, I tend to “watch” (more like listen to as if it were an audio book) a movie and sometimes I sew and help with school too.

    I can’t multi-task while grocery shopping, exercising, or cleaning out the fridge. I can pray while doing all of that, so TECHNICALLY, one could say I’m technically multi-tasking, but that’s pushing things, eh?

    Anyway, my guess is that most people are a lot like me– particularly women.

  2. Yes, there are things I multi-task at better than others. I can’t imagine just sitting while the laundry’s in the dryer or while soup is simmering away on the stove; yet like you trying to help a child with phonics while focusing elsewhere would result in missing the teaching moments… Well differentiated, Chautona.

  3. I have an interesting situation. I was adopted as an infant and was found by my birth mother in 2001. So I have the benefit of having learned which of my habits are nature and which are nurture. My mom and my birth mother are similar in that both are extremely hard workers. My mom was raised on a farm in ND – my birth mother saw her hard working father lose several jobs due to no fault of his own, then go on to open his own business. My mom was content to be a stay-at-home mom until my dad got cancer and it was decided that she get back into the work world when I was in 8th grade. My mom is a Simple Sally extraordinaire. She was known in her office as the post it note queen. She had a To Do list and checked them off one by one until everything was accomplished in it’s own time and on time. She was the same way at home – with every task having a set time and method. My birth mother is a Mulit-task Maxine to the max! She worked her way up in the company she began working for shortly after having me. She worked there 33 years before taking early “retirement” to work for herself. She now runs two businesses and works part time at her chiropractor’s office. She is always running just a bit late because she has so many kettles on the fire that she gets lost in all she has to do. But, it all gets done. I waffle between the two extremes. I am able to multi-task because I have no choice as a homeschooling mom of four. However, I do not do it well and many things remain undone. I would love to be more like my mom and have a routine, but I have children that just do not seem to be able to function with a routine. Therefore, they pull me off of my routine and then I just get frustrated that I’m off task again. But it is rather fascinating learning what is learned behavior and what is inherited behavior.

  4. That is fascinating, Teacher Mom! Long ago, I did a college term paper on nature vs. nurture and it’s a fascinating subject. You’ve had an intriguing first hand opportunity to see the balance in your own life. It also sounds like your life is an example of our adaptability. It’s amazing how you’ve been able to step outside your own preferences to do what needs doing to train and teach your children! I have many things that remain undone and I don’t have the added challenge of being a single mom–it sounds like you are making it work and doing a great job! Thanks for sharing your nature/nurture experience. Especially with your Mom and Birth Mom being such opposites on this it’s fun to see the ways heredity and environment shaped your life! (PS: I hoppped over to your blog and love your TOG posts… I’m bookmarking, especially since you are a unit ahead of us! Your girls are beautiful too. What a great job you are doing!)

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