Skip to main content

Productive or Present

This is part of my on-going series on Practicing Pauses - finding the little moments of rest that are scattered throughout our busy days, and making the most of them. Last week I wrote about redefining prayer - this week, let's examine the advantages and disadvantages of multi-tasking.

Whenever he can, Adam offers me the chance to have some alone-time to recharge - whether that's by taking Brooklyn on an adventure and letting me stay home, or by staying with Brooklyn and Tobin while I go savor a coffee shop or the opportunity to run errands quickly and efficiently.

I usually only go somewhere when I have something that needs to be done - a post I'd like to write undistracted, yarn to pick up for a commissioned project, grocery items that it's easier for me to get myself (rather than fill half a list trying to explain where or what it is).

But when I stay home, I'm faced with a difficult dilemma - the list of Things That Need To Be Done competing with the list of Things I'd Like To Do, and the knowledge that I won't be able to complete either list, whichever one I choose. Adam often tries to circumvent that by leaving me with the injunction to leave the dishes/laundry/untidy living room alone, with the promise that he'll take care of it later - but I still quander.

There are so many things that have to be done - things that require me to tell Brooklyn that we'll have to read that book later, to let Tobin cry for a few minutes while I finish helping her with her snack, that pull my focus away from Adam when he's home. And in the time that remains between tasks, I'd like to be as present as possible - making sure that I'm not frustrated with Brooklyn for babbling loudly over the podcast I'm trying to listen to or for attempting to make off with my ball of yarn while I'm knitting, and trying to make eye contact with and hold Tobin, so that he sees my face instead of the back of my phone, and feels the warmth of my arms when my hands aren't busy instead of only the coldness of his bouncy saucer. Because when I divide my attention, the pieces that remain get progressively smaller - and some people (and tasks) deserve the most of me that I can give.

When it comes to rest and recharging, there are some things that we can do together... time outside is possible, even if it means juggling two Tinies downstairs and then using both the stroller and the Moby wrap in order to walk at the park. I can read my Bible aloud, and monologue my thoughts as I jot them down and Brooklyn listens. Prayer can happen any time. She Reads Truth makes wonderful lock screens and wall papers of their weekly memory verses (available through their app, or their emails), so you can be reminded of God's Truth every time you respond to a text or other notification. And taking a nap while holding Tobin helps him sleep longer and keeps me from wanting to turn the heat up. But I still need to back away from everything sometimes - and so my inner list of longings grows.

One thing I deeply miss at this point on the circle is social interaction. There's a moms group that meets at our church every other week, which I've been going to, but in some ways we have too much in common (I realize that's probably a weird-sounding complaint - hear me out). I love to be around passionate people, even if their area of focus is different than mine, because their spark lights my own. I think it's healthy to spend time engaging with people I disagree with, and people who are different than me (be it in age, gender, socio-economics, race, religion, politics, preferred pastimes, or just on a different point of the circle).

Monday night knitting may be out (for now), but something that I can do while holding a sleeping Tobin or over lunch with Brooklyn is listen to podcasts (this one I hold loosely, because sometimes it has to be paused while other things are dealt with). It's a little more one-sided than I'd prefer, but it's at least a way to discover new ideas (whether I agree with them or not - and when I disagree, I can talk through that with Brooklyn, to make sure that she understands that just because someone says it doesn't make it true), to get the cogs moving in my own mind, and to spark conversations with Adam that go deeper than the trash that needs to be taken out or how to repair the book that Brooklyn disassembled that afternoon.

I can also read (and sometimes knit, depending on where I'm sitting and if he'll be comfortable nestled in my lap) when Tobin's in an "I'm not hungry or in pain and my diaper doesn't need to be changed, but I am going to cry unless you're holding me" mood - he usually falls asleep within minutes, so I don't have any qualms about shifting my attention to something else.

Multi-tasking when I can helps me to not feel a panic of urgency when I get a little uninterrupted time, since my list is a little shorter and I'm not so starved for renewal - because it's also important to Be Still. A nap may be more beneficial than the completion of a chapter, a row, or a podcast. Snuggling Tobin while he sleeps may be better than anything I could get done with my hands free. And sometimes I need to cease my striving and simply rest at His feet - because I cannot hope to love and serve my family well, or find peace and rest for myself, if I'm too busy chasing amusements to muse on His Word, to pour out my heart and then pause to listen, and to simply revel in the knowledge that He is good, and He is God.

Being present while also making the most of every minute - how do you find balance?


Kayla said…
Excellent post. Ah, the age old strife between What Needs to Be Done and What I Would Like to Do... Glad to hear I am not the only one who struggles with such inner turmoil. Podcasts (or audio books) as well as books do keep our mind sharp! I find that even when I cannot have an in-depth conversation with Pilot about what I'm chewing on (mentally), at least I have *something deeper to contemplate in the midst of washing dishes or folding laundry...Or holding a restless, refusing-sleep child. I am learning how to journal one-handedly as well. Not the most legible I've ever written, but it does help me develop those thoughts more efficiently.

Popular posts from this blog

31 Days of Unraveling Designs

It's that time of year again... the 31 Days writing challenge starts today! Bloggers from all over will be writing every day of the month of October on the topic of their choosing. This will be my fourth year participating - the first year I did 7 for 31, and spent a month going through Jen Hatmaker's book 7. The second year I did 31 Days of Sustainable Dwelling, and wrote about local and fair trade living. Last year I was busy but still wanted to participate, so I went the easy route with 31 Days of Everyday Beautiful.

This year I'm diving into my greatest passion: knitting! I'll spend this month looking at past designs and talking about the inspiration behind them, so there will be plenty of regular life mixed in with the stitching - and there may be discount codes for the patterns that I write about. You'll just have to read and see!

Pattern index:

Pageturner Mitts
Hogwarts House Tie
Urban Artemis
Graffiti for Humanity
Love Out Loud
Strange Jacket


In order to change your knitting, you must first change yourself. I've lost track of how many times I've said that, or how many people I've said it to. Frustrated new knitters wondering why their work is loose or tight or uneven or really anything less than perfect. But something I love about knitting is that it's a record of your inner dialogue. That swatch knit at the yarn store table with a cozy cup of coffee and a helpful (and more experienced) knitter nearby is going to be a lot more relaxed than the sweater begun a week later while sitting next to a hospital bed - just like the knitter.

Unfortunately, this also applies to my own knitting. For years, I was apparently unaffected by the shifts and turmoils in my own life, so I assumed that I was exempt from the rule - when the reality was, in fact, that I wasn't really experiencing any of those on anything deeper than a surface level because everything was deadened by depression. When I finally started to really…


A few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of replacing the traditional list of resolutions with a single word. It appealed to me - I am not a big list person, but I love language and words and meanings and etymology and metaphor and... ahem. Ennyhoo. I liked the idea.
I've never chosen the word. It's always presented itself to me - and last year was no different. Pacific was very insistent, even though I tried to argue with it. Pacific? What does that even mean? What am I supposed to do with that?
But I accepted it, and I'm glad I did. I learned about depth and calm, about storm and nurture, about faith and adventure - and about the unstoppable ocean of God's grace, that overwhelms to fill and cleanse and bring blessings unasked.
So I'm bidding pacific a very fond farewell, and welcoming spark and whatever lessons it would like to bring. I invited it in with a copper wire punctuated with tiny lights and wrapped around my mood board, and I've got an empt…