Do What You’re Doing thumbnail

Do What You’re Doing

3 Things by KJ Dell'Antonia, New York Times Motherlode

3 Things by KJ Dell’Antonia, New York Times Motherlode


My friend Hanna Rosin wrote a great book called “The End of Men,” but what I want to write is “The End of Multitasking.” Away with this scourge! No more half responding to work emails while half talking to a kid. No more alternating cooking dinner with playing “Settlers of Catan.”

Work when you work. Play when you play. Read when you read. Ok, fine, knit while you watch television (I don’t actually knit, but that seems reasonable to me).

But as for the rest of it, don’t do it. Tell yourself you will work, and do nothing but, for the first two hours of that snow day (this is what Disney Playhouse is for) and then emerge from your office and be with the kids. Take another hour in the afternoon. By the end of the day, you (and have we figured out yet that when I say “you” I really mean me) will be a thousand times happier than if you had spent an entire day with your head half in the office and half at home. Same goes for the day you wanted to spend organizing, or pulling together your parents’ anniversary party. Do the work with all your might, then… stop.

I find this terribly hard advice to follow, but my life is dramatically better when I bring it off.


Every child needs a shelf.

I finally resolved, sort of, the question of all the art and paperwork that comes home with my four children, but what stymied me were the three-dimensional projects: the tea pots, the volcanoes, the disturbing clay Golums.

Each child has an Elfa drawer for the flat stuff, but they needed display space, and they needed it somewhere besides my kitchen shelves. So I cleared shelf space above the desks that belong to my two older children, and hauled out and emptied two full bookshelves for the youngest ones — and I didn’t put anything on them until the next art projects began to appear.

Now, only the most recent stuff goes on public display, but there is a place for everything else.


If you have a child who loathes shots, or for medical reasons needs a lot of them, Buzzy 4 Shots can help.

I met Dr. Amy Baxter, a pediatrician and pain researcher, while she was in Washington advocating for global vaccination through the Shot@Life campaign, and she showed me Buzzy. He’s a small vibrating bee with an ice pack, and he amounts to natural pain relief (for a variety of reasons, cold and vibration change the way our body perceives the pain of the needle).


I have a child who has had to be restrained for shots, and I know she’s going to be thrilled to gain some control over the experience. I can’t wait to try Buzzy — people who have say he’s a game changer.

(Ok, actually I can wait to try him — but I’m very happy to have him in my back pocket for the next round of vaccinations or flu shots.)


Contributor: KJ from New York Times Motherlode
Enjoy her blog.
Follow her on Twitter.
Get behind the scenes Motherlode scoop on her personal blog, Raising Devils.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Madeleine February 14, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Completely agree with your truth, like the idea of your tip..need some further organising in our home but that sounds like a plan, and hope that the buzzy bee works for the next round of shots.

  • Bernadette Noll February 14, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Yes, multi-tasking is a myth.
    Love the shelf idea – we just built a new closet with that same idea. Not for display items but for storage of the detritus of daily life.
    I’ve seen buzzy’s photo on FB. Didn’t know what he was for!

  • Jackie February 16, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Your truth reminds me of a Zen saying, “when drinking tea, just drink tea.” It can be so hard to pull myself from an exciting moment at work into the world of hide-and-seek and Dora the Explorer, and vice versa – but it’s worth it, as you say. I got so much pleasure just yesterday evening from just watching my daughter climb around the playground. Just watching, no phone, no dreaming up my next post or publication, just watching and enjoying. I’ll hang onto your excellent tip for a time with more kids and larger scale art projects (my daughter’s almost 3). We’ve got a shelf in disarray… I manage some of the clutter by farming off select works of art to grandparents as well.