As a Barrister, and mother to three…opps sorry, should I have written: as a mother of three and a Barrister? You’ll have to forgive me, I was doing three things at once, whilst drafting this article! Of course, I am joking… it’s just two.
So do I multitask? Yes, I do. Of course if I didn’t, would the world be any worse off? No, in fact there would be a job created for a full time nanny, someone who could iron, a cleaner, a cook, and a household administrator. Sadly, I do not earn a wage that could pay for all of this, and so I multitask. Yes I did say I, as opposed to anyone else.
Multitasking in my world means early starts, you know the type, when you wake up confused and wondering why you fell asleep in the clothes you wore the day before. You do this, apparently, so you can get a head start on the day. I do it so I can finish working on what I fell asleep at the desk doing the night before, prepare breakfast, make sure school bags contain everything school bags should, make sure all the school forms I should have signed were signed and are in the right bags, to make sure I’ve prepped for whatever I am cooking for the evening meal and so on and so on. Oh and I forgot: to get ready for work and then spend the day pretending that I don’t have children and that I can easily make Zoom quizzes with work or give an online lecture from 6.30pm onwards.
Before you ask, yes I do get help. I have a husband and we live in an extended family, but if you asked me the question, whose phone would the school ring if something was awry; or who books the dentists appointments; or has to remember the children’s after school diary and weekend social events calendar…I think we know the answer. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a thing and you will learn to adopt whatever fits for you and your family.
The Office for National Statistics recently reported that during lockdown 2020 women carried out more childcare duties overall than men, some two thirds more per day. Further, that the younger the children were, the higher the differential rose….remembering these are figures pertaining to working parents as opposed to those on parental leave or where one is not working. When you then take into account that the same research informs us that the time spent caring for children was “extra time” to the working day, then as women, we know this means finding a way to multitask in order to just get through the day, be you Assistant, Barrister, Carpenter or Zoo Keeper.
COVID has brought significant pressure to family life previously never envisaged. Add to this the stress of trying to keep a job whilst rearing an emotionally resilient child was certainly never part of my multi-tasking repertoire, but we’ve had to dig deep and find the answers, sometimes from places that we never thought we would need to look before.
However, I think society is learning that, as a parent, you don’t have to be a natural multitasker, nor do you have to behave as if you can have and do it all. On the contrary, recognising when you are not feeling your best, that you are not coping, and that you should seek help during such moments, is not only normal, but completely understandable and something you should not be judged for.
So yes, there are some days when I am the multitasking queen and no diary clash can put me off my stride. However, on the days when I am not…….cake anyone?