Life With Ladybug: On multitasking

By Shannon Magsam

John calls from work and I’m editing a story on my computer. He asks after me and I tell him I’m fine, fine.  He asks, “What was that noise?” Oh, I just smashed down the trash so I could fit more in – that was an old squeaky toy of the dog’s that I threw away, I explain.

He asks another question and I distractedly answer. Now I’m unloading the dryer. It seems like he wants to keep talking, but instead says he’ll talk to me later and we hang up. We forget to say I love you. We rarely forget.

Later, after my daughter is home from school and doing her homework at the kitchen table, I sit across from her doing my own homework on the laptop. She asks about medians in math. I get up, read the instructions with her, wind her back up again and go sit back down.

Two minutes later she mentions something that happened in the lunchroom. Her friends called her food yucky. I can see part of her head over the computer and I look across at her. “Well, if you like it, just tell them everybody likes different kinds of food,” I say, then continue typing.

When I look up next, she’s gone to play in her room. I’m left with the feeling that maybe she had more to say about the lunchroom episode, but I didn’t bother to ask any questions.

My sister calls that evening and we start to chat. I’m folding the laundry that I never got around to this morning and the phone is in the crook of my neck again. I’m unloading the dishwasher when she says she’s having a problem with her daughter, who’s the same age as Ladybug. She wants my opinion.

The t.v. is loud and Ladybug is calling out to me from her bathwater. I feel frazzled. I have to ask my sister to repeat what she just said, not because of the noise, but because I was concentrating on whether the silverware was really clean or not.

I tell my sister to hang on, I take Ladybug the shampoo, tell my husband to listen for her, and get back on the phone. I try to be a person who learns from lessons, especially those that are so fresh.

I take the phone into the bedroom and close the door. I sit on the bed and hold it to my ear with my hand. I don’t do anything, except listen. Really listen.

In bed that night, I think about how women are so “good” at multitasking. How we feel more productive when we’re accomplishing more than two things at once. And how that good feeling can turn bad when we realize the people in our lives are rarely receiving our complete focus. And they deserve it.

My 10th anniversary weekend is coming up and I’ve vowed: no computer, no phones, no distractions. Oh, and no multitasking.

7452.JPGShannon Magsam is mom to 8-year-old Ladybug, married to Ladybug’s dad, John, and co-creator of To read previously published installments of Life With Ladybug, click here. Oh, and leave a comment if you’re in the mood. 


  1. You know this, but I’ll say it anyway. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! 🙂 Happy early anniversary… have a great weekend!

  2. Wow… this is one of your best pieces yet. I can totally identify & have been struggling with this very issue lately. I’ve always been proud of being a great multi-tasker; now, I’m not so sure it’s a blessing. :\
    Thank you for being real.

  3. Thank you, Summer. Yes, just because we’re blessed with the ability to do it (because sometimes it’s just necessary) doesn’t mean it should become the norm.


  4. This is one of the hardest things I am having to come to terms with as a new mommy…well sort of new right? Before kids, multitasking is effective. But after kids, it is a huge guilt trip at times! A friend told me the other day “kristy I dont know how you do it? when do you do laundry or cook? When do you …?”… My answer, after thinking for a bit was “I guess I dont”. The last 7 months have been eye opening. Amazing how our children teach us what is really important…..

    I still HAVE to multitask at times….and I think as a woman, that is just what keeps our lives together to a point. Who else would have a baby on her hip as she reminds her husband to take the trash out (even though it runs every monday ), while returning an email and finding elmo on youtube on her iphone. sigh……

  5. Kristy,

    Yes, we really do HAVE to multitask at times. It often feels really awesome to get so much done at once. I’m a whirlwind! Look at me go! But getting “just a few more things done” at the expense of my family is not ok with me. But it sure is hard to be in the moment sometimes. I have to be very conscious of it…

  6. So true. I think we’re fed the line “you can have it all” but the truth is, I don’t want it all! There’s only so much of me to go around, and when I get stretched thin, nobody can stand to be around me. 🙂 The less I take on, the happier I am. I’m trying to choose my projects wisely this year. If it takes me away from my husband and baby, it’d better be good!

  7. Yeah, nobody can stand to be around me when I get too overwhelmed, either! 🙂

    Great personal policy, Julie!

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