Need to be productive! Need to multitask! Don't forget anything! How are we supposed to parent with love and patience under all of this pressure?

Efficiency Wages War on Motherhood

Need to be productive! Need to multitask! Don't forget anything! How are we supposed to parent with love and patience under all of this pressure?

By Sane Mama of The Sanity Plan

My days are ruled by a terrible master. Slave driving and tireless, it never ends and never lessens.

I am not sure where it comes from. Is it left over from being a career woman? Did 15 years in the corporate work force influence me to reevaluate my entire life through the schema of productivity? When did it become so pervasive that it spilled over into my home life?

I see it in our society. I see it all around me. Every other article headline tells how we can be more efficient. How we can push harder. How we can get more done.

This drive conflicts with the biggest thing I’m doing right now.

Raising my kids.

Childrearing and efficiency are like oil and water. They don’t mix, and even if you can get them somewhat combined (shake, shake, shake!), it’s only a matter of time before they are polarized again.

The drive for efficiency leaves me with this aching feeling of never getting enough done. That I should always be multitasking. That any time spent waiting in line or even sitting with my children should also be combined with checking emails and mental preparation for what needs to be done next.

I make endless lists in multiple notebooks, on my phone, or in my mind. I feel compartmentalized to the point of having a fragmented mind at any given time during the day. I struggle to give my 100% attention to any single thing in a single moment.

I am constantly striving to be better at managing it all. But I am never really enjoying anything.

I am barely here.

How can I organize my life so that I can always have the laundry in at just the right time for me to do a certain task before moving it to the dryer? And then another task to fill the space until the drying is done? But I can’t forget it is in there… Can’t forget anything.

How can I fit in playing with and educating the children while managing the household, planning meals, and cooking? Or working? Will I ever be able to manage going back to a full time career?

The children ask if can I play with them, and more and more I respond with, “I have to do this. I have to do that.” So rarely anymore do I feel free enough to prompt play or join in with them while they play on their own. How must they feel watching their mom consumed by a whirlwind of never-ending tasks?

Why are they not more important to me?

Why can’t I just sit and enjoy? Be present. Ignore the feelings that I should be getting something done. This is doing something. This is doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do. Have children. Love them. Play with them. Teach them and share their joys.

I love my children. Why is that not enough to calm the itch of productivity? To ease the drive for efficiency. To erase the beckoning of my to-do list.

Why do I long for them to sleep so that I can get to work? Are they really so hard to handle? Are they the placeholder in my mind between real times of work and productivity?

Why am I so unsettled by the aimless meandering that is their childhood rhythm?

Time does not hold a child captive. I can remember my four-year-old referring to every meal as dinner. I always corrected her, but it never mattered to her. Dinner was just when she ate.

No amount of urgency moves a child. Because seeing that toy you want to play with is way more fascinating than getting dressed. And you really have no concept that someone may be upset with you for being late – because you don’t even really understand what time is.

But Mom does. That clock is ticking. The sound of every second can be deafening under the burden of feeling like nothing gets done. The burden that could potentially be eased if only I could be more efficient during those precious moments of free time and good energy. If I just pushed harder.

And now I must stop. I’m glad that you understand. I thought I was the only one.

I can breathe now.

I think I’ll go see what the kids are up to.

The hell with efficiency.

This post was originally posted on The Sanity Plan.


About the Author

Sane Mama is short for “Barely Sane” Mama, “Wish I Were Saner” Mama, and “I’m Running Away Until I Find Sanity” Mama. Follow her as she attempts to fight the impending chaos of parenting, stepparrenting, wifing, working and otherwise juggling at on Twitter, and @TheSanityPlan on Facebook.