If you have kids, you know how busy every day can be. It probably seems like there are more things you’re supposed to do than there are hours in the day. Because you have so much on your plate, you may multitask to try to get everything done—listening to spelling words while you make dinner, checking email on your phone while getting the laundry in the washer, thinking about the next day’s meeting while tucking in the kids.
While it might seem like multitasking is the only way you can get everything done, a number of different studies have found that not only is that incorrect, but trying to multitask all the time significantly increases your stress level and can lead to burnout. It can also make your children feel like they don’t ever have the chance to have your full attention.
These four simple tips can help you balance work, home, and all your other responsibilities without having to rely on multitasking all the time:
- Remember that you don’t have to be perfect. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to do it all—being a model employee, a great partner, a perfect parent. But take a minute to look at your to-do list, and you’re sure to find some things that you can skip (at least on occasion) or some that you can do differently. For example, nothing bad will happen if the beds don’t get made now and then and bringing store-bought cookies to school when you’re snack parent is no big deal.
- Don’t be shy. Ask for help. Many parents think they should be able to handle everything on their own, but that just makes life more stressful for the whole family. Ask your partner to lend a hand and split your chore list. If you’re a single parent, you may be able to get help from relatives or friends who understand how tough it is to keep all the balls in the air on your own.
- When you need to multitask, get the kids involved. If you’re trying to empty the dishwasher, set the table, and make the salad for dinner, enlist your children to handle any and all kid-friendly tasks. The knife and the fork may not end up on the “correct” side of the plate, but a team effort will help you get the work done quicker and help encourage responsibility and independence in your kids.
- Try to be in the moment. Most of us spend a great deal of time thinking about the next thing we have to do. Not only can that make you feel a bit overwhelmed and anxious (especially when you have a seemingly endless list of things that you must accomplish), it also means you miss out on what’s going on around you. Make a conscious effort to focus on the task at hand and the people you’re with. You might be surprised at how much more enjoyable your daily tasks can be and the stronger connection you’ll feel with your family.