Multitasking Life’s Precious Moments Away

Do you ever feel like you spend too much time multitasking when you're with your child? Get tips from real working moms who have dealt with this issue.

Because I work full-time outside the home, my limited time with our daughter is extremely precious to me. I figure on an average weekday, I get about two waking hours with her. That’s it. On the weekends, it’s more like eight hours.

But even during those few hours, I find myself multitasking just to get basic tasks accomplished. Folding laundry while making funny faces at her in the Exersaucer. Cooking dinner while keeping an eye on her in the highchair snacking on Cheerios. Checking work email while bouncing her on my knee.


Sometimes, I feel like I’m missing out on truly enjoying and appreciating Cassie. She’s 8 months old, and I know she’ll grow up so fast. Her gummy grin will soon be filled with gnashing teeth, and her sweet, cooing baby babble will turn into a teenaged, hormone-fueled “I hate you, Mom!” before I know it.

Do other working moms feel like this? How do you deal with it?I hate that I can’t just plop down on the floor with her and soak up every moment to its fullest, rather than water it down with multitasking. But from a practical standpoint, I have to multitask or my house/life will become a disaster. Option B is to get even less sleep and do everything while she’s in bed. Believe me, I’ve tried it, and it’s not a sustainable model.

13 thoughts on “Multitasking Life’s Precious Moments Away

  1. Anonymous says:

    Most times I feel great because of all that I was able to get accomplished in a day. I got Gracie to daycare, to work on time, finished my important work project, home early, ate dinner and even washed the dishes and with luck Gracie is in bed by 8:00, leaving a couple of hours with my sweet husband. But then I figure out, much like you, that I have only spend about 2 waking hours with my 18 month old daughter. And then I am not as proud of my stellar accomplishments. No guilt though, right? One day Gracie will be proud of her strong and passionate Mom, not resentful for the lack of time with her mom – right?

  2. Oh, this is one of the hardest parts of being a working mom. Some of those multitasking things, like making dinner and folding laundry, are actually things that I think it’s good for our kids to see us do. It’s all part of creating a well-rounded home, and I think it helps build a sense of security. I have wonderful memories of my mom coming home from work and making a sit-down dinner for the family each night. I would chat with her while she cooked and enjoy the wonderful smells that filled the house. I knew that we would always have that, even though she worked. Perhaps as Cassie gets older, she can “help” you cook. Another fun thing to do is let her bang pots and pans on the floor while you do kitchen stuff.

    The other stuff – checking work email, etc. – is more insidious. I try to limit the amount of time that my daughter sees me on the computer. It’s really difficult, but I don’t want her to think she has to compete with email. Some days, she *does*, though, that’s just reality.

    Lastly, I know this isn’t feasible for everybody, but we hired a housecleaning service. It definitely bites into our budget, but it leaves more time for us to spend with Little One.

  3. I feel you on this one. The only suggestions I can offer is related to a study I did for a social research class that indicated (based on my own research and other resources) that it is not the quantity but QUALITY of time we spend with our children that is most important. That is why I’m grateful to have a job close to home that allows me to start laundry or clean up the kitchen on my lunch hour. Then I can spend what few hours during the week that I get playing with my daughter who will be 15 months old in February. Granted, my house is not always immaculate and there are constantly things that need to be done – but I would rather set that aside until later.

  4. Selfmademom says:

    Susan- first of all, HILARIOUS photo. Second, I think you seriously read my mind. I have a back-blog about this topic!! being a working mom means that every moment and waking hour of your day is FILLED. No time for rest, play. And, this blogging thing makes me feel like I have two jobs. I can totally relate. But all I can say is that my son doesn’t look any worse for the wear.

  5. Anonymous says:

    When my son was little and had an early bedtime (usually asleep about 7 or 7:30), I convinced my office to allow me to flex my schedule a bit. I’d leave the office at 4, spend some quality time with the family, then when my son was asleep do an hour more of work. We’d also try to make errands like grocery shopping a fun family outing. And now that I’ve got a second one on the way, I’ve finally given up on the notion that I can keep the house clean and hired a cleaning service. They start next month and I can’t wait!

  6. I’ve been guilty of spending too much time on the computer at home. I guess since I’m out of the office two days a week, I feel like I always need to be connected. Jonah came up to me the other day and said, “Mom, it’s not ‘puter time. It’s puzzle time.”

    Because I’m always in that multitasking mode, I’ll be doing a puzzle with my kids and picking up crap on the ground at the same time. It’s the curse of the mom! Dad’s got away easy on this one. (at least, the Dad in my house – he has a one track mind so to speak.)

  7. I too work outside the home and have limited amount of awake time with my kids.

    One thing that is totally a splurge and helps me out – I have a cleaning lady. She rocks and doesn’t charge a lot and saves me from cleaning bathrooms.

  8. I’m seeing a common theme here … cleaning service! I might just need to look into that.

  9. When I was in college I had a female professor who told us the following: she used to have to give her daughter a pb&j sandwich to eat in the car on the way to daycare in the morning because she never had enough time to feed her at home. She always felt really guilty about not having the time to give her daughter a sit down breakfast at home. But when she got older, her daughter said she always loved the “picnics” they had in the car in the morning. I think that illustrates that even though we see some things we have to do when we multitask as a “chore” or maybe we feel guilty because it doesn’t fit our ideal of what spending time with our kids is, as long as we involve them as much as we can, they might actually enjoy it.

  10. I love the PB&J story. That helps, Marla. But I still want a housekeeper.

  11. just4ofus says:

    I work part time and I feel like that, guilty for doing laundry and cleaning, grocery….
    I can’t imagine if I worked full time. Sometimes you just have to ask yourself what to give up. Jason and I hired a lawn service to take care of our lawn. Something had to give. It was cheaper than a house keeper and well worth the $ b/c it gives us more time to spend with the kids.
    Consider hiring out… it is worth it.

  12. I’m not a mother (will be any day now!), but wanted to chime in and say that my mother, who always worked full time, still feels guilty about the amount of time she was able to spend with me when I was little and how she had to put me in day care at a really young age. But you know what? I don’t even remember any of that. I do remember my mother coming home from work and sitting down to dinner as a family every night. Like Marla with the PB&J story, I think it’s important to remember that kids don’t have preset expectations of how much time you should be spending with them — but they do know whether they feel loved and cared for and listened to. You don’t need to be around constantly to give them that.

  13. A professor I had once gave the advice to do as much of what touches your kid directly and for as much as you can afford, hire someone else to do the other stuff.
    We have someone come do the “big clean” once a month – about the cost of a nice dinner out, and totally worth it.
    As for the multitasking – it’s amazing how many things Noah likes to do with us now (he’s 20 months) – he LOVES to help with the laundry (he says “big help mama, big help!” very proudly) and with other stuff. Also for cooking it’s always fun to give him a plastic bowl and wooden spoon – add some small toys/blocks to stir – presto, cooking with mama! He also loves to vacuum and sweep (okay, I know that part is a little strange). The point is that I think it is good for him to see us doing the things that keep our family running – I want him to learn to clean up after himself and to see how easy it is when you don’t let things build into big messes – and you can even make them pretty fun to do together (at least at this age – probably not going to exited to vacuum in about 10 years!) At the same time, I agree that minimizing computer/work related work is important.

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