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Katy England Katy England
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edge staff writer


Divided attention - (04/08/15)

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Multi-tasking is a buzzword that is tossed around by people who are doing too many things. Studies have shown that it is impossible to focus on more than one thing at any given time no matter how many tabs you have open on your browser or notifications on your phone. This goes for kids too.

When you have more than one kid doesn't matter if they are all the same age or they've been spaced out a pace you can only really focus on one (outside of a pig pile, anyway). But they will try to trick you or at least argue that you should be able to do more than one thing at a time. And maybe, if they try really, really extra hard, they can actually make it happen. Sometimes, I like to think if I try really, really hard I can actually be in three places at once so long as one of them is on a tropical beach.

It's hard enough to try to do things as group things that everyone typically wants to do, like eat. But then there are days when not everyone wants to do the same thing. Two want to stay inside, one wants to go outside. Or we're outside and two want to go for a walk and one wants to stay in the yard. If you're going solo, that isn't a viable option for 3-year-olds. Something about not leaving them home alone and something else about child neglect.

One thing you do learn is how fast you can move from one activity to another sometimes it's faster than you ever thought possible if someone starts doing something dangerous. The noise that your spoon makes against the rim of your coffee cup that you aren't holding. Someone deciding to test the limits of his sister's temper while Mom is changing other sister.

They are getting old enough to be out in the yard without constant supervision which is amazing. I can keep tabs on my little explorer, while one or two of his sisters have decided that being outside is 'the worst thing ever!' (this is not an actual quote, just the impression I get from someone screaming at the mere suggestion of venturing outdoors).

Once, dressed in snow pants and a parka, the boy traversed snowbanks taller than I did waving when he saw me in the window. I asked if he wanted a sandwich and he did, but then he looked at me, sitting atop snow that would probably be up to his neck if he weighed enough to sink into it and said, 'Mum, could you help me?'

So, I tossed on my boots and together we slogged back to the porch and by together I mean, I would hoist him on top of a pile of snow that was over my head, and attempt to climb after him usually sinking up to my butt. While I held him by his armpits and tried not to swear, he looked up at me and said, 'Mum, are you rescuing me?'

It only took a couple of minutes, and everyone else was already seated for lunch. Independence for them and for me.

But when there is that blissful focus, things can be really quite nice. All three cozying up for a story, taking turns while brushing teeth, or even just playing nice with the wooden train set. Having all three calm, kind and quiet is like spinning plates you have to be fast, you have to have good instincts and sometimes, even if you do all of that, the plate can still have a temper tantrum (it's an imperfect metaphor).


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