You know multi-tasking is bullshit, right?
It’s fake. Does. Not. Exist.
I should know, because sometimes I half-ass pay attention to my kids. (Which makes me Dad Of The Year, right?)
Something from work pops up and sucks in my energy and focus. I have to address it right now. I have to sit on the couch and stare at my phone, sending emails and researching numbers while my mind races through possible solutions to a critical problem.
Great news! I solved it before I have to put my phone down to put the kids to bed.
After brushing tangles out of hair, distributing floss, and reading ‘Goodnight Moon’ for the 57th time, I sink into the couch.
Sitting there alone, I wonder how school went. I wonder if my older daughter had a chance to ride her new bike or if my younger daughter gave her drawing of a shark that she was so excited about to her preschool teacher.
The muscles in my face go limp as my shoulders sag. Instead of racing, my mind is now slow and heavy like it’s slogging through mud.
For the last two hours, I had been ignoring those two little girls who continue to get older whether or not I’m paying attention.
Now I want to hug them, to answer their question for the seventh time, and to dance to the latest preschool hit single “I Am A Gummy Bear.”
While working I feel guilty for not spending time with them, and while I’m with them I feel guilty for not addressing that critical work problem.
We need clear boundaries. Rules to follow. Walls we cannot step over when impulses strike.
Enter the phone bed.
The phone bed is exactly what it sounds like—a bed for my phone that my daughter and I crafted out of egg carton lids and tissue paper. Every evening when I get home from work my phone goes to bed, until the girls do. It’s a 2-3 hour window where my phone is in the other room and will not be touched.
Do you know what happens with critical work?
It waits. It gets handled by someone else or after the kids are asleep. And so far, the world hasn’t ended.
In fact, it has opened up! Those critical tasks get completed more efficiently with my undivided attention, and I don’t feel like a total piece of shit for the last hour I’m awake.
Boundaries do not hold you back, they give you freedom. The freedom to be present.
There is a time for everything, but no time is for everything.
Your homework this week: Set up 1 boundary that will give you the freedom to be in the moment.
- Only check your email after 10 am
- Leave your phone at home when you go on a walk
- After-hours work is only allowed after the kids are in bed
Create boundaries that allow you to be free, otherwise you won’t even be there to accept your Dad Of The Year trophy.