Remember weekends before having babies? When you actually got a couple of days off, designed for you to rest before going back to work?
Brunch with your girlfriends at that spot that has the amazing eggs? Or a 90-minute yoga class with the teacher who does life-changing adjustments? Or date nights that didn’t cost a fortune in babysitter fees?
No matter what you did, before kids, Saturday and Sunday meant doing something different. Usually something restorative, fun, relaxing. But in motherhood, it’s the same. “READY FOR THE WEEKE… oh, wait, that’s right. I’m a mom.” There are no days off.
How do we get a break from busy mom life, if we no longer have weekends to rest?
There’s one self-care strategy that can help you take a break anytime — weekend, weekday, whenever — and it works instantly.
Especially if your weekend looks anything like ours:
- The party in our house starts at 7 am or, lately, 5:30 am (because, #whydotoddlerswakeupsofreakingearly).
- We do diaper changes, negotiate teeth-brushing, breakfast and breakfast cleanup, more diaper changes, potty training, snack packing for the playground, and the hurricane of zippered coats and missing socks and “put. on. your. shoes.” to leave the house (because, children).
- I sneak in replies to emails that are dying slowly in my inbox (because, WAHM mom).
- We cook a full-on lunch for our family of 7 (because, blended family).
- I add in a few extra loads of laundry (because, every family).
- If my husband and I are on point, we rope in one of the teens to babysite while we have a coffee date during naptime (because, marriage) and pick up a couple things we need on the way (because, errands).
- We head to the activity, the playdate, the birthday party, before starting the dinner and bedtime dance.
Families have full lives and frantic schedules on weekends. We try to cram it all in. We want to do something fun with the kids, not let emails run wild, make sure the house is clean, bond with our loved ones, nurture our marriages.
Even when you’re doing a lot, there’s a way to slow down in the middle of this fast-paced, information-soaked world.
What is this mythical, unicorn strategy? Monotasking.
You read that right: monotasking. As in, the opposite of multitasking. As in, doing just one thing at a time. I know. CRAZY.
If you’re knee-deep in doing 18 things at once (including reading this post right now), and can’t imagine what this looks like, imagine:
- holding your newborn and looking at him as he looks back at you…without trying to take a picture of them (you’ve already got 50 photos from this morning).
- listening to an audiobook…without doing anything else (that’s right! Just sitting there! Not even walking!).
- watching a show, without doing anything else (not even folding laundry). Just this morning, I sat with Sage and watched something. I held her, watched her little face respond to the screen, talked about what we learned.
Monotasking gives you the chance to really be in your life. It helps you pay attention, and slow down your body’s stress response. It can even help you get more done, because when you’re focused, you can do better, faster work.
If you can get it right, you can be more present and even more productive.
That’s right: monotasking teaches you to be present.
Doing one thing at a time might sound inefficient. Unproductive. Boring. It’s the opposite of what you always do: run around and trying to get it all done. But that’s its superpower: because it’s the exact opposite of what you normally do, monotasking helps you finally get some of that “balance” that your heart is aching for.
It also increases your efficiency and can help you produce more, not less. That’s because when you’re focused on one thing — I’m talking to you, mama-with-28-browser tabs-open — you finish the task faster. You make less mistakes.
You finally start checking things off of your to-do list. Less to-dos = more confidence = more energy = more done.
Practice monotasking by first thinking about your list of things to do for the day, and choosing one thing. ONE. Then, do the One Thing, without letting any the others get in the way. (Literally. It’s just you, and the One, and breathing.) Then, finish the One Thing, even if it’s “just” eating a muffin after breakfast cleanup, or reading a story to your child before he naps. Finish by marveling in your self-caring superstardom.
Every time you take care of yourself, you make a deposit in your emotional resilience account. Start monotasking regularly, the results add up like magic.