Do Mother’s Enjoy Multitasking?
Just how many times have we seen a mom get a toddler into the car, pass out instructions to the house help and have an office call, all at the same time?
Any woman who has ever experienced the ‘mommy brain’ knows that she simply cannot afford to have lessened cognitive function! There’s grocery shopping to be done, daycare schedules to memorized, work and a baby to look after.
But really, how many of us enjoy multitasking? Do mothers really want to do so many things at once, or is it that they have very little choice?
No One Enjoys Multitasking, Mothers Included
Seems like the case for having no choice is stronger, because no mother ever reported enjoying having to do it all at once. In research conducted on new parents, it was found that women put in about ten more hours of multitasking than their male counterparts. Not surprisingly perhaps, they did get a lot done, but at the cost of heavy stress and even depression in some cases. Another research study suggests that women have to compensate for this with an additional 20 minutes shut-eye, which often doesn’t happen. So NO! we know the word sounds cool, but a multitasker is probably also burning out at the same rate as they are working.
Multitasking Is Harder When There’s No Support System
In her bestselling book ‘The Mommy Brain’, Katherine Ellison talks about the time she spent working in Brazil (where a nanny is neither expensive nor uncommon), and the time spent being a working mom in the United States with no support system.
The stark difference we notice between the two experiences, is just the sheer amount of extra work that switching between tasks takes. Say you’re working on multiple projects at work which is stressful in itself, yet you are still doing a similar set of tasks with minimal distractions. When working with kids, you have to think about tonight’s dinner, tomorrow’s lunch, the pee on the potty seat, the general state of disrepair, and also work.
Not only do you have to think about these things, you have to act on them, find solutions before all hell breaks loose. And this is why multitasking is that much harder for moms who want to, or have to do it all by themselves.
Is It Worth The Hassle?
This is a very personal question and it is hard even for the same person to have the same answer at different points in their lives. I think as independent individuals, we might still be able to pull off several tasks at once and enjoy doing it. The minute you add kids to the mix, there is so much else to deal with
- a sense of responsibility for everyone’s life
- feelings of guilt at not being able to give kids the time we think they deserve
- feeling inadequate at work because we have to wind up and walk away at some point
- never being ‘on top’ of anything, ever!
See where this is going? Doing too many things is just not satisfying enough. Instead, a better idea would be to optimize your time into each of your priorities, ‘chuck out’ whatever else doesn’t make it to that list and find a way to be happy with whoever you are.
Why Mothers Continue To Multitask Anyway
Call it social pressure, compulsion or anything else, women feel more responsible for a household and children than their male counterparts. This is just the way it is, conditioned by several generations’ worth of social norms and unsolicited advice.
Come to think of it, how many men in the world feel guilty about not cooking or helping with household chores every day? As a woman, it is impossible to imagine a situation in which we just come home from work and plonk ourselves down, children and dinner begone to hell.
We as mothers are wired to multitask anyway- whatever reasons we attribute to it. Maybe we don’t want the condescending look the neighbor’s face when we leave our kids with a nanny or maybe face judgment from other moms themselves for ‘not having enough time for the family’. All of these reasons hardwire us to accept the burden of chores as our reality and modify ourselves to get more done.
The only way to get around multitasking, especially if you don’t enjoy it as much as society says you should, is to simply make the choice not to do too many things at once. Having a priority list, segregating tasks into ‘high – medium – low priority’ categories and sticking to them is one of the best things you can do for your mental health as a mother.