The Art of Juggling
“I can rub & scrub this old house til it’s shinin like a dime.
Feed the baby, grease the car, & powder my face at the same time.
Get all dressed up, go out and swing til 4 a.m. and then…
Lay down at 5, jump up at 6, and start all over again.
‘Cause I’m a woman! W-O-M-A-N” – Smokey Joe’s Cafe
Multitasking. I recently had someone tell me that they don’t believe in multitasking. And there are plenty of studies that back that theory up. Simultaneously working on multiple tasks is taxing to cognitive ability and thus decreasing performance output. Excuses, excuses…
Let me be clear. I am perfectly aware that not all tasks are created equal. For example, I would never suggest that an attorney bake a cake whilst reviewing your will. But there are countless tasks that occur in my everyday life that if completed consecutively instead of simultaneously, would require the day to be significantly longer…like 10 hours longer.
Perhaps some people are more adept at task juggling. In the case of my family, I’m certain that my husband is hardwired to focus on one task at a time. He could set up our audio visual equipment in the middle of Armageddon and be un-phased from his goal of HD excellence and movie theater quality sound. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But recently I was thrilled that he said he’d fold the giant mound of clean laundry we’d accumulated. Then I heard March Madness emanating from our TV and knew that the laundry folding would become a full-day task. And in his defense, the Duke upset to Mercer is way more entertaining than matching up socks…especially when the game is seen in HD and heard in audio perfection.
On the flipside, last week you could have walked into our kitchen to find me still in my work clothes (and high heels!), prepping for dinner, reading emails from my iPad, all while wearing my sleeping baby in a Moby wrap and singing lullabies to keep the little guy calm. Ideal? No. But that’s what it took to get dinner on the table at a decent hour and assure that my little guy got a proper nap when he was fighting off sleep. And I honestly didn’t think much of it until my husband walked in and rushed to help. It’s all in a days work…
Which leads me to the recent flood of articles and books about whether or not the modern woman can have it all. Does Sheryl Sandburg’s advice to “Lean In” really work? Can we really juggle being wives, mothers, and professionals all at the same time? I certainly think so. In fact, I personally find that the busier I am, the more effective I become.
In fact, I think that being a mom makes me a better real estate professional. For example, the desperate need for more space that a family faces at some time in their NYC experience isn’t some foreign concept that I manage to intellectually understand. I really get it. I have more empathy, but have also maintained the edge to do the hard work necessary to help my client actually get that apartment. My clients are very happy with the amount of professionalism and attention that I give them. They don’t feel they compete with my family time.
Alternatively, I think working makes me a better mom. I cherish each and every moment I spend with my baby and really concentrate on making all of our time quality time. The frustrating phone calls or stressful negotiations do not carry into story time at night. And my little guy greets me every day with the most heartwarming, amazing smile on the planet. So…I don’t think he feels he is competing with my work. (And please understand that I don’t think it is necessary to work to be a good mom. My stay-at-home friends are rock stars in the parenting department).
But I think you just have to know your strengths. My husband is not going to try to prepare a multi-course meal that requires the juggling of many timed-tasks over several hours. And I’m not going to sit down and take the time to integrate our entertainment unit with Xbox One so we can have voice activation (seriously…not made up). Between my multi-tasking and the husband’s laser focus, we make a pretty good team. And that’s how we manage to make everything work at home and in our careers. But with that being said…the laundry isn’t going to fold itself, sweetheart. *wink*