One thing at a time is helpful for lots of reasons, mostly because our brains don’t actually multi-task as well as we’d like to think. Kids too can learn to focus their minds on the task at hand, without worrying about multiple outcomes.
I’m a huge believer in the idea that practicing mindfulness makes me a better, calmer parent.
Among other things, being mindful reminds me to slow down.The paradox of life is simple – if you want to get more work done please, please, please SLOW DOWN!
Sometimes, slowing down is really the best thing—the only thing—I remember to do as a parent when what I really want to do is throttle someone (as I have 3 monsters at home).
For example, I’ve noticed that on the days when I practice sitting in meditation in the morning I am more balanced and able to really listen to my kids when they start to lose it. Today, for example, they wanted to go out for dinner and were heading for a huge, hungry fit. On my less skillful days, I end up trying to reason with them which really never goes well for either of us.
Instead, today I listened, gave them some space to be fussy and then changed the subject. That was the end of it. I’m not always this lucky but things seem to go better when I am able to think about how I want to respond to my trio rather than just emotionally reacting. Along with slowing down, my most favorite parenting practice is doing one thing at a time. Recently I asked my daughter what she thought the most important thing was, in my opinion, and she said, “One thing at a time. That’s what you always say.”
One thing at a time is helpful for lots of reasons, mostly because our brains don’t actually multi-task as well as we’d like to think. And I model one thing at a time for my kids to mirror so that they too can learn to focus their minds on the task at hand, without worrying about multiple outcomes. Personally, I just find life to be way more enjoyable when I’m not trying to do a million things at once such as set up an art project and look for a lost toy while I’m trying to prep dinner. I look for good stopping points and then switch my attention.
My daughter is used to hearing me ask, “What am I doing right now?” She knows that after she says “Making dinner”, I’m going to respond with the fact that I can only do one thing at a time and that I will help her as soon as I can.
I like to tell myself that this also teaches her patience. The beauty of the one thing at a time practice is that it lets me off the hook from trying to get everything done all at once.
I used to think that I was great at multi-tasking but then I had a kid and realized that I really wanted to be as present as possible with her and that I don’t want to be a multi-tasking mama. One thing at a time might not be for everyone, but I’d love to hear if it’s something that you do too or if you decide to give it a try.