Mom Monday: Juggling Act

But first…

I became a parent of three on February 9th, 2018!!!

All things considered, it’s been a BLAST! My latest little one is a sweet, calm, sleepy ball of adorableness and we couldn’t be happier. She eats well. She’s happy all the time. She can hang in her crib and look around forever. She even lets me sleep… and code!

(Photo credit: Xilo Photography)

If you’re annoyed, you’re not alone. After my first two kids, I was convinced that anyone claiming to have an “easy baby” was either exaggerating or so laid back themselves that they were incapable of being phased. Turns out I was wrong.

What makes a baby “easy” or “difficult”? I’m NO EXPERT, but having had 3 kids, I feel like it was partially due to our experience as parents and partially due to her personality. The book Cherish the First Six Weeks definitely helped! (I’ve tried other sleep training books before – this one worked best for us.)

After having a miscarriage in January of 2017, having a healthy baby girl a little over a year later was a dream come true. This pregnancy was by far the hardest (hence the lack of posts!), but experiencing a loss really helped me enjoy every moment. I feel incredibly fortunate. In the coming weeks, I’ll share more, and would love to hear your stories!!!

On to the topic of today’s post – the juggling act.

Who loves multitasking??

No one. There’s a ton of research that tells us that multitasking actually hinders productivity – that our brains aren’t wired to manage that well.

When you’re a working parent, however, you’re multitasking ALL THE TIME, which can wreak havoc on work productivity. In her book All Joy and No Fun, Jennifer Senior writes about the topic of flow in parenting:

“The early years of family life don’t offer up many activities that lend themselves to what psychologists call “flow.” Simply put, flow is a state of being in which we are so engrossed in the task at hand – so fortified by our own sense of agency, of mastery– that we lose all sense of our surroundings, as though time has stopped… In order to experience this kind of magical engagement, though, circumstances have to align… Most flow experiences occur, for example, during situations that are “goal-oriented and bounded by rules.” In theory, young children like rules. But they’re pretty spotty observers of them. Most of life with young children does not have a script, and if a parent attempts to write one, children may not be inclined to follow it. That’s what it means to look after people with immature prefrontal cortexes. Their neurocircuitry conspires against focus.”

So, what’s a working parent to do? I’m no expert, but these tips have helped me:

      1. Accept that you can’t do it all. This has been difficult for me, but in his book Essentialism, Greg McKeown describes how many of our daily tasks aren’t actually the best use of our time. He recommends that we only do what is “essential” to make the largest impact possible. He also helps you develop criteria for determining whether a task is “essential” or not. (Super helpful!)
      2. Quick No, Slow Yes– This is another tip from Essentialism. This is especially helpful for any of you who, like me, can be a “yes man person.” Use “no” (or something like “I’ll get back to you”) as a default, and only offer “yes” after you’ve assessed your interest or capacity.
      3. Create a “living” schedule. Since we know that a tantrum or shorter/longer nap or a sudden mess can throw your schedule off :-), having an inflexible schedule can feel overwhelming and frustrating. What I like to do is create an “ideal” schedule first, then I determine the wiggle room. (For example, I’d ideally complete my coding and blog stuff from 12-2 Monday through Thursday, but if the baby’s schedule is off one day, I’ll move it to after 9PM or to Friday, which is my catch-up day. It’s not a perfect system, but it allows for two “make-up” opportunities.) I call it a “living” schedule because it’s likely to change throughout the day and over time (depending on what we have going on). Important note: In order to ensure that I am successful, I follow the 1-3-5 Rule. It limits my tasks to 1 big thing, 3 medium things, and 5 little things. My list of daily tasks includes both home and work-based items (because I’m not crazy).
      4. Be compassionate with yourself and others.It may sound simple, but there’s lots of research backing self-compassion as a springboard for productivity. Brene Brown has a number of books and YouTube videos on self-compassion that are AMAZING!

These are just a few things that help me survive on the daily. I’d love to hear your experiences with these and other tools! Have a tip or tool that gets you through the day? Do share!

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