There’s been a lot of debate about the value of multitasking in recent years. First, it seemed to be the most desirable trait in a potential employee. The concept then experienced a backlash, with articles littering social media telling us that multitasking is actually not possible; or not as effective anyhow. Focusing on a single project would always be the most productive.
I admit I am a multitasker. It’s a modern affliction, of course. We’re always a tap away from our friends and family, from sharing photos of our dinner while we eat it, or listening to the latest podcast while mopping the floor. I’m actually keeping my eyes on two babies as I type this! Truth be told, I thought I was a pretty effective multitasker, up until I had children. Now I’m black-belt level master. Besides, I no longer have the luxury of focusing on one thing at a time.
To set the scene: I’m breastfeeding one baby, meanwhile, I’m using my foot to soothe a second baby, by bouncing it in its chair. I’m also carefully taking bites of pizza, and carrying on a conversation with my husband, who is busy cleaning up the kitchen and preparing for bath time. Recently, to improve my efficiency I’ve taken up another form of multitasking, which is nursing both babies at once. Oddly enough, the architecture of pillows this requires frees up both hands, so I can now, for example, write this column while doing it. It’s a tricky balance to pull off, but it does immediately stop both babies from crying. That’s a huge win.
And frankly, two babies crying at once is the hardest part of twin parenting. You’re constantly having to choose between the two, each one more desperate than the other to demonstrate their hunger, exhaustion, or discomfort. It’s much easier if my husband and I are both home, because then it’s a true tag-team match-up. But when the spar is two against one, it can be pretty overwhelming.
The goal is to never have them both crying at the same time, but let’s be realistic. It happens. Then you’re forced to make a choice between them, and it’s not an easy decision. Alas, you make it, all the while assuring the other you’ll get to them next. Hands-free forms of soothing become important. My multitasking black-belt has included mastering the art of the shush.
How to choose? I usually go for the child that is crying the loudest or with the most fervour. Since this is usually the same baby, (she’s simply been born with the louder vocal chords) sometimes I mix it up and choose the quieter, most softly pathetic crying baby first. You have to keep things fair.
It is emotionally hard to not be able to cuddle both babies at the same time, but picking up a second floppy, screaming, kicking and bizarrely strong baby while holding securely onto the first one is no small feat, and I rarely attempt it. Simultaneously dropping two babies is not the type of multitasking I’m aiming for.