I’m guilty. Not long ago, I was able to care for three babies younger than two years old and chase after their active big brother who was seven. Crazy times meant that I learned to multi-task. The simplest outing required some pre-planning using imagery techniques to help prepare the sequence of events necessary to pull off a trip to the lake, a visit to the doctor or a dash into the grocery store. I worked full time out of the house. ran a bed and breakfast with my husband, and cooked, cleaned and chased kids. My feat rivaled super-human possibilities. Multi-tasking became a required survival strategy.
As the children grew older and more independent, multi-tasking allowed me to still do more in less time. I often misplaced my keys, non-food items ended up in the deep freeze and frantic, desperate phone calls were regularly made to my mother. Fortunately, she was well trained in soothing stress. anxiety and cooed gently, “Some days are like that.” This implied that she too had her moments, but I was never really sure her life was ever as crazy as mine was at the time.
Now that I am older and maybe a little wiser, I fall victim to multi-tasking. At times, I forget that I have finished eating and look for the last few forkfuls on my plate. My keys still regularly disappear and are often found in a pocket that I have checked numerous times. I am a well-practiced multi-tasker who finds it hard to break out of it. You see I catch myself racing, thinking about dinner when I am reading a book or remembering I have to pick up one of my kids for an appointment while I am at Hannaford shopping for dinner. I race here and I race there. Luckily, I never forget to use polite words, although I don’t always take the time to make eye contact and smile. Fumbling with the receipt and credit card as I fight for a order in my overflowing purse, I am out the sliding doors ready for the next few moments. I’m already in the car and racing to my next event.
Anyone else forget to breathe? Yes, I am embarrassed and yes I am guilty. Practicing mindfulness and moving about in this world with intention is what may save us all. It takes only a minute to connect with another human through eye contact and a genuine smile. Our urgency for getting it all in is doing all of us a disservice. The benefits of multi-tasking are over-rated.