Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bureau of integrated activities

Having a newborn has really redefined "multitasking" for me. It's no longer about being efficient - it's now about meeting basic needs. Nothing is less conducive to efficiency than an infant. Walt doesn't like me to set him down unless he is really truly asleep. (Pete can set him down and get him to go to sleep because Pete is The Baby Whisperer, while I am Lunch.) So I'm learning how to do two things at once at all times. Usually one of those things is Baby Holding, but sometimes it's eating, drinking or basic personal hygiene. I have learned that I can load the dishwasher while holding a baby, but I can't empty it - too many dishes require two hands to put away. I can sort laundry while holding a baby, but I can't get it in or out of the washing machine or dryer, and I can't fold it. I can make up a bottle, text, send brief emails, check the news, change channels, apply face lotion (kind of - that one is much harder than expected) and eat fruit leather while holding a baby (though not all at the same time).

There are some things that require two hands, though, and I try to double those up now too. Pretty much anything and eating, although evenings when we have a real meal and I'm able to sit down and do nothing but eat with a fork and knife feel pretty decadent. I'm trying to get smarter about things like laundry - folding it directly into drawers rather than into the basket and then moving it to the bedroom. But most of my multitasking consists of doing one two-handed job very quickly while mentally planning what task to poorly execute next. Things I have not figured out how to accomplish include vacuuming, playing piano, really putting things away rather than just dusting the piles of crap, cooking (nothing makes Walt desperately hungry quite like the sound of me chopping and sauteing), ironing and thinking substantively about work. Some of those tasks are noisy and I fear they will wake the baby, thus ending my two-handing time. Some of them take brain power, and I just don't have any. (I have so little I can't even think of something clever or pithy to illustrate the point.) But the rest aren't happening because I have become utterly obsessed with showering.

If you are reading this and you don't have an infant, please really take the time to enjoy your next shower. Are you taking it when you want to, not when you manage to convince a baby to nap for ten minutes somewhere other than your arms? Is it the duration you prefer because there's no potentially hungry baby screaming at you from the next room? Do you remember to do all the different parts of showering - shampoo, conditioner, body wash, rinsing? Seriously: take a deep breath, close your eyes, and just really appreciate how great showering is. I have showered every other day enough times now that I take any opportunity, unless I'm so tired I can't keep my eyes open, or so hungry I can't think about anything else. I find myself day dreaming about showering while rocking Walt to sleep. Every time I step out of the shower and into clean clothes, I feel human again.

The real killer of multitasking is exhaustion. If I know I don't have enough time for a nap or a shower, but I'm too tired to effectively complete a given task, I just give up and watch more crappy daytime or late night TV. This is self preservation. Eventually I'm going to climb into the shower with a hot pocket and I know I don't have the strength of will to keep that story to myself. In order that I should not become the Hot Pocket Shower Lady, I will watch yet another episode of Perry Mason, Law and Order Criminal Intent or NCIS. If Walt grows up to be a lawyer, policeman or writer for a police procedural, I won't be the least surprised. Speaking of, the baby stirs, so I must fulfill my primary function: lunch.

1 comment:

  1. Becoming a mother (& father, Hi Pete!) will make you better at your job. What's better than having an unruly dictator telling you what to do all the time for experience at the prioritizing and multitasking?

    I totally get the showering. I still look forward to the weekends where I can take more than 3 minutes to shower. Bliss I tell you!