Embracing the Inevitable and Unexpected Interruptions

Recently, between working at home, volunteer work, and family responsibilities, I had one of those days with a to-do list that would take a week. I’m sure you’ve had those days too. I knew my time was precious because my husband was going to be travelling for work, my backup childcare (Nana and Auntie B) were out the country, and my other babysitting options were dealing with their own major issues. Of course, on top of that, our babysitter had a family emergency and had to be away.

I had two choices.  First, there was my usual strategy, if I couldn’t get someone else to watch the kids.  I would get them started on a craft or game that would keep them busy without much help from me. I would then try to get as much work done between interruptions.  I would hope that everyone would take a long nap, and then “let” them watch a DVD so I could get a little more work done before my husband got home. I’d pass of the kids and spend the evening hiding out in my office. By the end of the day, I’d be tired, frustrated and still have lots to do.

But, after a lot of recent exposure to self-help, inspirational talks about embracing the moment and living in the present, I decided to try a different way.  I put my laptop away, got down on the floor with the kids and spend the morning building trains and playing with babies.  I set the work aside – really, I wouldn’t get that much done anyway – and embraced the chance to spend an unexpected day with my kids. I looked at the time as an opportunity to do things I wouldn’t usually make time to do. So, we made a rice cake faces for lunch. The kids loved the fun lunches and the undivided attention from mom.  I admit I did still work frantically through naptime and in the evening, but during the day, we enjoyed our time together.

Rice cake Faces for lunch

Rice cake Faces for lunch - Yes, you can do this to. I'll post the instructions if you'd like.

I’ll admit that this approach worked well the first day of without childcare. Quite a few planned and unplanned days without childcare later, I have not really improved my ability to put my work aside and embrace the moment. In some ways, instead of getting easier with practice, it is getting more challenging as the work piles up. In other ways, I realize the work will be there when I get to it, and I’ll get more done in one hour focused on work during nap time than I will in a whole morning of trying to work between dressing baby-dolls, finding missing train pieces, and wiping noses. The most important lesson for me is that when I’m focused on one thing, I am much better at.  I feel more productive, I feel less frustrated and I enjoy it more, whether it is playing with my kids and impressing them with my artistic lunches, or working online and supporting my students in their learning.

How do you deal with the inevitable and unexpected interruptions to your plans?

5 thoughts on “Embracing the Inevitable and Unexpected Interruptions

  1. This has become a problem for me recently. I used to do my work as much as I could during the day with the boys playing around me and then finish anything I couldn’t get done at night after they go to bed. This worked great when my husband was in school and/or working late nights, but now that he is home in the evenings, I’ve found that I want to hang out with him or go work out or meet friends and I’m not getting much work done during the day or after bedtime. I need to figure something out, because I’m about to start missing deadlines!

    Love the face for lunch! I’m totally going to make that with whole wheat english muffins. What did you use for hair?

  2. Thanks for the post! Goodluck with the work. I’ve realised that taking care of the children while I am trying to read or write something on the laptop is useless on both ends. I end up getting frustrated with myself and them. Recently I have been trying to either focus on them, get down and play, deal with the fights calmly, distract them, etc , or on my stuff. It has also ended up being late nights for it.

  3. I hear you. I am mostly a stay-at-home mom, but my family has a business that I do projects and ‘fight fires’ (unexpected urgent items that need to be taken care of) for.
    Sometimes it can get really difficult when the stars align and there is no way to get it all done. I was constantly putting in movies, and finding techniques to ‘keep the kids busy’ without playing with them myself. And I realized they deserved better. Now this is no great solution to the problem, but I realized that I needed to be more discerning with what I took on and match it better to the availability of babysitting help expecting those ‘blips’ so to speak.
    On the days that there is a crisis so-to-speak, I do still put in the movies and get out the stickers, but I try to rotate that with good interaction time with me – even if it’s short!

  4. If you have a teenage girl in the area or a young family friend you could have her come over on those days the work is calling your name louder than the children are and that will keep them entertained for a while and you could slip out to the library or coffee shop to get aome additional worktime. I dont employthis methode myself but i often think i will.

  5. If you have a teenage girl in the area or a young family friend you could have her come over on those days the work is calling your name louder than the children are and that will keep them entertained for a while and you could slip out to the library or coffee shop to get some additional worktime. I dont employ this method myself but i often think i will.

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