Distractions take on a whole new meaning when you have two hours to yourself among a 12-hour day with three kids under four. Dilly-dallying can throw off your entire day. It starts when I decide to “sleep in” – meaning, sleep until the kids need to get up for school versus getting up 1/2 hour earlier – and take my shower after I drop them at school. But oh, look, we’re out of milk – guess I have to pick some up on my way home from dropping them off, before the already postponed shower. Oh, and breakfast – milk first, then shower, then breakfast, then laptop. How are we doing? Ah, 45 minutes left until I have to leave for pick-up again. And those 45 minutes fly by. I do have another semi-break after the kids’ lunch. Our twin boys still take an afternoon nap – that is, one of them does, the other one is becoming dangerously sporadic – but our daughter hasn’t napped in over a year. She still does “quiet time” in her room, but that’s a very loose definition. In no time she’s back downstairs with me. That’s where another type of distraction comes in. Today I immersed myself in some work during quiet time, and it was really difficult to tear myself away. I kept delaying the official “end of quiet time” to do one more edit, look-up, read-through, whatever. I knew it was inevitable: I had to leave my grown-up world and immerse myself into toddlerdom. If I don’t make a clean break, I get really irritable, and that’s not a good place to be right before three toddlers emerge from naps.
A few years back, when I was working as managing director of our business while attending graduate school and doing my graduate counseling internship, I mastered the ability to religiously focus on one thing at a time. It was a survival mechanism. If I hadn’t, if I had spent any time thinking of the gazillion other things I had going on at any given time, my head would have exploded. This skill has served me extremely well as a mother of three toddlers. I used it just this morning with the aforementioned shower. The temptation was there to further delay the shower in order to fit in other distractions, or to even multitask in some way during the shower (yes, I would find a way), but no, I said to myself, a shower it will be. I will take the shower, and I will enjoy the shower. I will lovingly accept that the shower will take up 25% of my time to myself while the kids are in school. I will be one with the shower, because showers are important. And so I did.