I was completely flustered. There I was, a brand new mom, with my firstborn baby, who would NOT stop crying! I fed, I rocked, I paced, I bounced. I shushed softly; I shushed loudly. No matter what I did, I couldn’t calm him down.
Everything felt so hard in those moments. Why wouldn’t he stop crying? Why couldn’t I comfort him? I was tense and anxious. My back ached from standing and holding him for so long, and I was sweaty, hot, and flushed from all the moving around.
Then, my sweet mother who was with me said calmly, “Sarah, the only thing you have to do right now is comfort your baby.” Usually, that would make me furious because obviously I was trying to do just that! But somehow, her words really struck me with a gentle relief.
Oh yeah, I thought. All I’m doing is this ONE THING. I’m just working on getting him calm. I have only ONE task.
And somehow, this melted all of my anxiety away! It felt like dropping big weights after a heavy set at the gym. My body relaxed. My mind felt lighter. The tension and frustration ceased. And about thirty seconds later, my baby fell asleep and was calm.
That was almost five years ago, but the concept of “one-task-mothering” has helped me daily ever since. Reminding myself that at any given moment I have only one thing to do, allows me to do that one thing efficiently and with ease.
This strategy helps me especially in the moments when we’re running late for preschool and my son’s shoes are in knots, my daughter is running away from me, I have to take the garbage out, I can’t find my son’s water bottle, and I need to stop for gas! These are the moments when one-task-mothering allows me to keep my cool.
You might be wondering how I do it. Well, here’s my thought-process for handling the above situation (which happens way too often, so I may need to work on my organization!) I think, Okay, we’re going to be late, and that’s ok. I’m going to work on one task only. I’m going to:
- take the trash out first.
- Then, get those shoes on.
- After that, stop that toddler from running around!
- Then, find my son’s water bottle.
- And finally, get in the car and stop for gas.
We still arrive at preschool late — that outcome is the same. But the panic, anxiety, anger, and frustration are gone because my kids aren’t crying from my yelling, and I’m not full of rage, regret, and sadness!
This mindset has made my parenting so much easier, way less frustrating, and ultimately allows me to keep my cool when otherwise I would be a total mess.
Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
And isn’t that the truth? The same also goes for moment-to-moment: If I’m so concerned about getting shoes on, taking the garbage out, finding a water bottle, chasing after my toddler, getting out the door, stopping for gas, and the fact that I’m late … all at once, I feel overwhelmed and frustrated, and will likely start yelling. Angrily. Can you relate at all?
I haven’t met a mom yet who can handle 17 things all at once (not peacefully anyway). Could it be that’s not how we’re meant to mother?
I have learned that for myself, multi-tasking is a dangerous concept. When I try to do all the things at the same time, I’m less productive. It takes double the time, and I’m three times more frustrated and anxious.
Mamas, we don’t have to live this way! We can let go of all the things but one: the task at hand. And that one task suddenly becomes very manageable.
This keep-cool strategy is useful in any mom’s life, at any flustered moment. (Side note: anyone else have half-cleaned rooms all over the house because you keep forgetting what you were working on first?? One-task mothering also applies here!)
The one-task-mothering technique, or the “Matthew 6:34 mindset”, allows me to stay sane and keep an overall positive attitude with my kids throughout the day. I’m not perfect and I do fly off the handle sometimes, but it absolutely helps when I think of mothering in one-task moments.
Sarah Gonzalez is a stay-at-home mom who loves Jesus and caring for her two young children. She loves date nights and walks with her husband, and using creativity and humor through artistic outlets like writing and photography. You can learn more about her photography business at Sarah Gonzalez Photography.