A Day In The Life Of A Distracted Mom

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Recent episodes of “Distraction” have explored the issues parents have managing their kids’ excessive use of technology and their screen time. In the spirit of those episodes, here’s a first-person, action-packed account from one of our copywriters at CRN and Collisions, Melissa Sandler, a single mom whose crazy-busy life will perhaps seem familiar to some:

Beep, Beep, Beeeeeep! Alarm clock. Wake up. A million things to do and just two hours to do it all. Buzz. Text message. Get on the treadmill. Run three miles. Woosh. Two new FB notifications. Shower. Get dressed. Woosh! A tweet. Get the kid up and dressed. Brush teeth. Brush kid’s teeth. Buzz. Group text. Make lunch. Pack bags. Don’t forget to scoop the kitty litter. Head for the door. Ding. Four new emails in the inbox. Wait! Grab your hat. Run! Don’t miss the bus—again. Race through traffic; can’t be late to work. Should I get a coffee? Ping. New email. New text. Rush into the meeting. Just made it! Gotta get back to my desk. Phone pings again. So many messages. Seven hours until I pick up the kid. Twelve hours until I can climb into bed. How is it that the day’s only just started? Ping!

Meet Mom 2.0. She works and raises a child. She cleans, commutes, and carpools. She exercises, has an herb garden, and makes homemade soap. She takes conference calls from her car. She’s on the go, but she never misses a thing on Facebook. She’s a mash-up of all the mothers throughout history. She’s the next generation of mom. She’s me!

No disrespect to all the moms that came before us. I’m sure even “Neander-mom” had her challenges. Picture it: 10,000 B.C. and the cave’s a mess. No one picks up the dinner bones, the kids are writing all over the cave walls, we’re low on berries just when another Ice Age is imminent, and where’s the hubby? Probably out celebrating with the guys after a long day of mammoth hunting.

Today’s working moms have figured out how to warp the space-time continuum in order to get more done in a day than ever before. They’re meeting the demands and deadlines of a modern workplace while managing family and home during their “second shift” and even adding a “split shift” to work after the children go to bed. We may be armed with the latest technology, but some of us feel like we’re about to short circuit.

Dr. Hallowell, host of “Distraction,” our weekly podcast series, believes there’s one thing all of us modern moms have in common. We’re juggling a lot more than ever before.

So when the marketing director stopped me in the hall and asked if I’d like to do a blog post on the subject from my own point of view, I wasn’t surprised. By point of view, I knew right away that he meant from my single working mother perspective. “Exactly. Just write about your crazy-busy life. Write from the heart.”

Open can of worms.

Life as a single mom is often a lot like you’d imagine it to be: an obstacle course, a marathon, a rollercoaster, or a game of Jenga. Now add to that an enormous amount of emails, text messages, voice mails, and notifications.

I’ve adopted this crazy-busy lifestyle centered around a pocket-sized super computer that’s hard to escape. How did my dependence on it become a 24/7 thing? My first cell phone was for emergencies. I got my first smart phone to help me stay organized and connected. I purchased an iPad to keep my child excited, learning, and engaged. Why do I have three email accounts? How did I get 2,924 photos and 90 videos on my phone?

When my son was a newborn, he used to cry a lot. As a first-time mom, I realized I had only two options: (1) Immediately respond and pick up my son to soothe him or (2) wait it out and see if he stops crying. My pediatrician seemed to prefer the nurturing response, but my mom always warned me not to pick him up immediately, or I’d “spoil” him. It might be a strange analogy, but I feel the same trigger response when it comes to my cell phone. Not only is it not an infant, it’s not even a living thing! It won’t become withdrawn if I don’t pick it up the minute I hear a ping, tweet, buzz, cry, toot, or burp. But I do pick it up whenever it makes a noise.

True story: Last weekend, my son and I decided to go for a bike ride. We grabbed our helmets, his elbow pads, and a water bottle. I reminded him for the millionth time that under no circumstances was he to wear sneakers with shoelaces because they could get tangled up in the pedals and cause an accident. And then I grabbed my phone. Partly because of the internal safety mechanism which comes standard in Mom 2.0. Because you never know what awaits you on the suburban streets of Connecticut. The phone is a safety net because—let’s face it—emergencies happen, and I’m not equipped to fight off a pack of local wolves by myself. Ok, that’s not realistic, more like a pack of squirrels.

Then, for some reason, I stopped and put my phone down. I realized that not five minutes into the ride, I’d have a ping and then another and another. And just knowing that a text or email has arrived would completely demand my attention and distract me from the moment—the kind of meaningful moment that matters the most when your child is young! So we biked off without the phone, and we had a great ride. When we returned home and put down the kickstands in the driveway, I didn’t even think about my phone. Okay, in all honesty I did think about a funny tweet I was going to post about making it back safely, but then we found the old red wagon crammed into the corner of the garage and we decided to ride it down the hill in the backyard. My son sat up front, and I squeezed into the back with my eyes crushed tightly closed. We just kept walking the wagon up the hill and then riding it back down over the bumpy ground. So, yeah. I was busy. Epiphany.

PS: Listen to a special parenting episode of “Distraction” on iTunes.

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