Today we have a guest post from Arabah Joy. Arabah Joy is a wife, adoptive and bio mom to 4, and missionary. She loves hiking, reading, early quiet times, and sharing Jesus with others. Her first eBook "Energy Explosion: A 7 Day Guide to Jump Start Your Energy" releases this week! You can visit her online at Arabah. Arabah writes: Photo credit My multi-tasking abilities emerged when I became a mother.
One of the first multi-tasking assignments I remember is nursing my infant daughter while lying in the dentist's chair getting my teeth cleaned...(like anyone involved in that experience could ever forget it?) From that point on, multi-tasking just became a way of life. It was necessary. It was do-able. It was normal.
Women, and mommas especially, are urged to fill every little time crevice juggling several things at once (think of those glute squeezes you're supposed to do while driving.) We are told to make the most of every minute and believe we actually need to in order to get everything done.
The unfortunate thing is, we often "multi-task" our children.
Take, for example, a recent evening in my home. The younger children were in bed, my husband was out, and my oldest was at a friend's house. I sat down at the computer to work on our taxes. I was right in the middle of things when my son returned home. I greeted him and asked a couple of questions but I wanted to get back to my work. I knew my "quiet" time was limited.
My son, being a talker, kept sharing about silly things and I found myself growing impatient with the interuption. So I tried to do both. I tried to talk to my son while filling out our taxes.
I know better than that, but once again, I had fallen prey to the idea that I must multi-task to get everything done.
The more honest truth is that multi-tasking camoflauged my skewed priorities.
By giving half attention to two things, I was trying to convince myself that I was doing right by my son. In reality, I was "half-tasking" my son!
Mark 5 shows us how Jesus dealt with multi-tasking. He was on His way to heal Jairus' daughter when a woman crept up and touched the hem of His garment. He didn't continue on His journey and fit a conversation in on the way (like me, my son, and the tax return).
Instead, He stopped.
He turned. He looked. He gave the woman His time, even taking precious moments to locate her and deeply connect with her spirit. Jesus gave this *interuption* His full, undivided attention.
Which raises another simple truth: half-tasking my children is not the Jesus way.
So what's a multi-tasking mom to do? Here are some things that are helping me:
1. Prayerfully commit to learn from Jesus.
Jesus is not only our example, but is also the One who changes our hearts...and our priorities. We need not go this alone, He is in the yoke with us to change us from the inside out. Thank You, Jesus!
2. Make Ecclesiastes 3:1 your motto: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens."
When faced with a child and a project, I'm training myself to say, "There is a time for the project and there is a time for my child; right now is the time for my child." This little mental exercise helps tremendously in evaluating my priorities and re-aligning them with Jesus' (although I obviously don't always get it right!)
This one verse serves as a buffer for my heart and emotions when those interuptions come fast and furious.
3. Try the cold turkey challenge.
Go five days without multi-tasking. Keep a note pad handy and record your findings. If you're like me, you will discover what your priorities are and what you need to do to get them back on track. This exercise will also help you better organize your time and uncover hidden motives behind your multi-tasking. I highly recommend it!
4. Learn the effects of multi-tasking.
Just a practical tip for the analyzers amongst us! Much research has been done on multi-tasking. This research shows that the mental switching required during multi-tasking actually causes mental exhaustion and lowers performance efficiency. Additionally, there are physical effects such as severe stress, anger, and learning problems. Pretty persuasive stuff!
5. Minimize the "multi-tasking family" syndrome
When every member is doing their own thing and there is no central purpose, you've got a multi-tasking family. I am learning to minimize family multi-tasking by having us be of one heart, mind, and activity whenever possible.
For example, everyone can have reading time at the same time, in the same room. Likewise, dinner prep can be a family affair instead of having the younger kids play outside while older brother is on the computer and mom in the kitchen. Start with the large daily activities and sync them. Then, try to sync the smaller ones as much as possible. This changes the tone of the home from a chaotic one to a calm one.
6. Develop a Family Mission Statement
Ultimately, multi-tasking is about priorities. God's priorities are worthy of our full, undivided attention. Prayerfully decide as a family what God's purposes are for your family and pursue them together.
A family mission statement helps guide your decisions and activities by setting clear priorities. The result is that instead of each individual pursuing what makes them more personally fulfilled, you are accomplishing God's purposes as a family.
And there is no better task than that.
Blessings, Arabah Joy