Sunday, March 01, 2009

Master Multitask

Sounds like a superhero, doesn't it? Or maybe a villain…yeah, like somebody the Avengers might fight. "Cap, Thor and Iron Man in a battle supreme with Kang the Conqueror and Master Multitask!" That reads just about right as the cover-splash for a Bronze-Age comic.


So, what I'm finding about parenting - or at least my personal take on parenting - is that I've become a ruthlessly efficient multitasker. I noticed this as I was getting dinner ready late Friday afternoon. It went something like this:

Read recipe from Cooking Light, decide that peppers need to be roasted first. Get peppers out of the 'fridge, as well as a jug of apple juice. Get cutting board from (clean) dishwasher, grab two other things that need putting away in the same vicinity as the countertop where I'll work. Open cupboard door with right hand and put said items away while with left hand reach for knife to cut peppers with. Turn broiler on, cut peppers in half, get pan from under stove and line with foil, peppers on foil, pan in oven, timer set for 10 minutes. Read recipe, decide I need to boil water for the pasta next. Return to dishwasher, retrieve 5-6 items for putting away (as well as the colander I'll need for the pasta), put those items away and get pasta pan. While filling pan with water, retrieve Rozzle juice cup from drainboard, fill with apple juice and put both cup and jug in 'fridge: juice is for tomorrow morning, but have eliminated that task from morning routine. Pasta pan is full, place on stove, little oil in the water, turn burner on. Put upper rack of dishes away, saving out glasses for the evening meal. Take plastic bag with pepper tops and seeds, grab coffee filter on the way by and dump both into trash. Rinse coffee filter, replace, grab stack of recyclable papers from kitchen stool, go into back room, dump papers into recycle bin, grab coffee can. Fill filter with coffee, take back to back room, go into 'fridge for water, cheese, and milk. Water goes into coffee tank, milk goes into 1) Mom's glass and 2) Rozzle's cup, cheese gets sliced and put onto plate (from dishwasher, while putting 5-6 more things away). Water, milk & cheese go back into 'fridge, glass, cup & cheese plate go to table. Inquire as to general happiness of Rozzle, receive positive reply from Mom, back to kitchen. Sausage comes out of 'fridge, timer goes off, blackened peppers come out of oven and into Ziploc. Put remaining items from dishwasher away, grab skillet from same cupboard and heat with oil on stove. Slice sausage, dump into skillet, throw away sausage wrapper and top of newly-opened cheese package. Dump today's (cold) coffee from carafe into sink, rinse carafe, back onto hotplate: now coffee is ready for the morning as well. Water boils, pasta goes in, timer goes on, peppers get peeled & added to sausage in pan. While everything cooks merrily, I fill jug with water, grab a handful of clean hanging clothes & head upstairs: clothes get hung, water goes into humidifiers in our & Rozzle's rooms. Rearrange stuffed companions in Roz's bed in preparation for night-night. Back downstairs I stir the pasta, stir the peppers & sausage, and open a bottle of wine for dinner. With two minutes left until pasta is done I decide to make 3/5ths of non-perishable lunch for Monday. Pasta is finally done: strain, add to skillet with tomato paste, stir & heat through, cut Roz's dinner into bite-size nuggets and serve everything at the table.


Sorry that was so obsessively detailed, but I needed to get the full idea across. THAT'S what I'm talkin' about when I multitask. In a half-hour of dinner-making, I accomplished something like 6 other chores that, while miniscule at the individual level, still account for a lot of doing. Used to be I'd do all those things as separate actions: 1) put dishes away; 2) make dinner, wait around while things cook; 3) make Monday's lunch on Sunday night, and etc. Now, all those things were done, and I'd be able to enjoy the rest of the evening (and parts of the next day) without those tiny but somehow onerous tasks hanging over my head. All that was left to do after dinner was to load the now-empty dishwasher and relax! And so it goes as a multitasker, right on down the line: things that I formerly did as individual actions now get compiled, not as "time-savers" (having already concluded that it's impossible to "save time") but instead to allow me to spend my time as wisely - and as relaxedly! - as I can.

In all of this, of course, Miss Tessmacher and I are so fantastically, unbelievably luckly to have family nearby. While I was doing all of the above - and Tess was at work - my mother was over for her weekly Rozzle visit, and she was entertaining Roz in the living room, allowing me to work. I don't mind the work of household chores, as long as they don't become TOO stacked up on one another. And our combined parental units really help ease time constraints by gladly spending time with their granddaughter while Tess and I can keep working, albeit at a slightly more leisurely pace.

This was driven home to me in a big way just yesterday and today, several days after I began the draft of this post. We dropped Roz off at daycare Monday in a fine mood, and so I was shocked when E. called to say "Roz has a fever & is really miserable, can someone come get her?" Actually I was pissed, is what I was, because we had just FINISHED a mother-lovin' round of antibiotics, dammit, and how the fuck can she be sick AGAIN?!? I hope it goes without saying that I didn't vent that opinion to E., who was mostly concerned that Roz felt so crummy. We could have left then, both of us, and had lots of stuff to make up after spring break, but a call to Tess' dad was all it took: he dropped whatever HE was doing and split to not only pick Roz up, but then to spend the rest of the afternoon with her…something like another 4 hours! That Papa! And today, when we kept Roz home from daycare just to be safe, Tess' mom came over for an additional day (normally Wednesday is "G. Day"), dropping whatever SHE would have done in the meantime. Like I said: we're so lucky. I have a hard time imagining what kind of a time a couple has raising kids together, but separated by hours from easy family relations. Don't even get me STARTED on single parents…!

So, now I need to figure out what I can multitask here on my desk at work, before heading home to make dinner while I start a load of whites, make the coffee for tomorrow and set out tomorrow's clothes…


Blogger Strangeite said...

Thanks. My wife read your blog and told me that I need to take lessons in multi-tasking.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Suze said...

We have neither family nearby NOR a dishwasher, alas.

4:40 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home