Sunday, June 9, 2013

One thing at a time, please.

One of the things that I figured on my sabbatical was about my tendency - like many of us - to do too many things at one time.

So it wouldn't be unnatural for me, at one point, to be trying to hold a conversation with my husband while flipping between work emails on my phone and a chat on google-talk, with various other windows open and trying to keep an ear out for the children fighting in the other room.

However, it is much clearer that this was burning me out - it wasn't just trying to manage a whole lot of things, it was trying to do them all at the same time. I'm still fighting this tendency, but of late I've realized that you can actually focus on one thing at a time while actually achieving multiple objectives.

So for example - when I'm helping my daughter with her piano lessons, I'm also getting to spend more solo time with her than ever before.

When I'm reinforcing her lessons and helping her read music, I'm also in a way revising what my own excellent guitar teacher tried to drill into my head last year.

It may be unusual to have two little boys climbing all over you when you're doing Yoga - so I just switch it to a little weight-lifting and voila - the twins get to laugh and play Superman while I strengthen my arms.

That rare early morning walk with Vijay means that the two of us get in some much-needed exercise and fresh air while having a quiet conversation.

Conversation over evening tea with my father-in-law engages him and always teaches me something new.

The pro bono Zumba class I have started taking for the kids here in my community gives me my third workout of the week.

You get the picture, right?

But today, I was proud of myself.

It was one of those days where all the to-do lists in my head were making me listless. Some work to finish, an idea to work on, some thoughts on a couple of writing projects, attempts to learn cooking, getting my daughter to practise for her piano class, home-related repairs, and so on. I was especially annoyed about discovering that there was a whole lot more of Peanut's holiday homework left than I had imagined, with half the holidays down.

Served me right for ignoring that email from her teacher till now. Still, I just couldn't bring myself to actually play some math-related guessing game with her. I had successfully procrastinated it till the evening, and while I felt bad about it, I was still resisting actually doing it.

My eye fell upon a pile of socks on my bed and this depressed me further. A whole bunch of socks that needed matching, sorting and putting away. This little task was another of the things that I had been putting off. Every cell in my body was rebelling against getting down to it.

Peanut wandered into the room, humming to herself brightly. I saw her, glanced at her homework email and then at the unappealing pile of socks on the bed. When I turned back to her, I had a glint in my eye.


'Yes, Mama?'

'Shall we have a game?'

Ten minutes later, when Vijay walked in, he saw me sitting smugly at my desk. My expression was indulgent as I watched little Peanut assiduously sorting our socks, making pairs and then guessing the number of socks in the pile, and additionally, learning a little math by further dividing them into Mama's socks and Daddy's socks and guessing the numbers in those piles, and so on.

I glanced up at Vijay and saw that various emotions were flitting across his face - he settled on one that I found familiar and satisfactory - grudging admiration.

Of course, theoretically, this wasn't actually doing one thing to achieve two objectives - it was doing nothing and yet achieving two objectives. But it wasn't as if I wasn't involved - after all, when Peanut said Thirty plus Four equals Fourteen, I had to step in, right?

Still. This kind of thing could save me a whole lot of time and energy.For now, I turn my attention back to making my presentation for work tomorrow.

Cackling at the thought that soon, it will be time for Peanut to learn some serious computer skills.

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