Even when we aren’t actively playing with, feeding or caring for our children, our attention is divided. Even when they’re sleeping, they’re occupying some of our brain space.
Multi-tasking is constant for parents, and this has only been exacerbated during COVID-19. Even when there wasn’t a worldwide pandemic, our society had an obsession with multi-tasking. The assumption is that the more you’re doing the more productive you are. However, no doubt as many pandemic parents know, this is often the opposite of the truth.
Humans are bad at multi-tasking - the research tells us so, it’s one of the most established findings in neuroscience. There are many reasons why, but one of them is that it’s the price we pay for being so clever and mentally adaptable as a species. Humans are uniquely capable of setting a goal and then planning and executing the actions needed to perform it, even if we’ve never done that task before.
COVID has been an utter disaster for many working parents. We are torn between home schooling, work demands and the day-to-day caring for our children. Sure, working from home has it’s benefits. But working from home with children in the house? Standards drop quickly. Because they have to. Sure, we chose to be parents, we didn’t choose a pandemic.
Most importantly of all, be kind to yourself. Keep in mind that it can all go out the window when we try to multi-task with kids around. It will take longer to do our work and compromise is essential. Try to remember: It’s not your fault. You are a COVID-19 parent.
References: Badre & Nee 2018; Ablow & Measelle 2019