A Recovering Multi-Tasking Mom

Cynthia Dermody

Dana Wood
Courtesy of Dana Wood

I love that word.

I want that word to be part of my life again.

But I don't know how not to give my daughter her cereal without also checking my email, or how not to fold laundry while I lean over my first-grader's shoulder to make sure he's writing his name neatly.

Dana Wood, former Cookie editor and author of the new parenting book Momover (on sale now,) loves this word, too, but she's a lot closer to this elusive idea than I am.

The over-40 mom and blogger of Momover reveals more about that in the fun interview below, in addition to her five biggest priorities in life, her thoughts on young moms in skinny jeans, the part of her body she hates most.

If we only have time to read one chapter of your book (you know, the whole busy thing) which one should it be?

For brand-new, first-time moms, definitely the first section, Getting It Together Mentally. That part really spells out a) what's happening with you hormonally, and what to do about it and b) why you need to establish FROM DAY ONE that your own self-care is a huge priority. Or, as I say in the book: Mom Matters.

For ALL moms (and all women, for that matter), I highly recommend Chapter Thirteen: Watch Your Mouth: The Importance of Positive Self-Talk. I can't express to you how vital I think a constructive inner dialogue is. If we can master that -- and I provide a solid gameplan for doing so in the book -- our days will be infinitely more joyful. It can take some work, especially if you're hard-wired to be tough on yourself, but it's incredibly worth it.

Now about that multi-tasking. Why is it such a bad thing?

Focus is so important. More and more research is surfacing about the inefficiency of multi-tasking. Sure, you can do 10 things at once, but you're almost guaranteed to do none of them very well. Once you get the hang of it, mono-tasking feels FANTASTIC. You lose that frenzied, freaked-out feeling that you can never slice through your To-Do list.

But beyond that, let's put a more personal, mommy-fied spin on this: I feel awful when I half-pretend to play dolls with my daughter and secretly check my email at the same time. I've found that for me, just saying "this is Parker's time, and this is Mommy's time" has made a world of difference in how I feel about myself as a mother. Much less guilt when I "do what I'm doing."

Your book gives some great advice on how to get it together physically. What part of your body do you hate the most?

Without question, my stomach is my least attractive body part at the moment! I somehow managed to escape stretch marks, but the skin is still crepey. And viewed from the side, my kangaroo pouch is sizeable. Too bad I'm not a fan of shapewear; I have drawers full of it that I only break out on very, very special occasions. But I say this in the book, and I need to repeat it here: I detest doing ab work. I could have a much better belly situation going on if I put the work into it.

You had your first and only child at 43. Is there anything that bugs you about younger mommies? 

What bugs me about the younger mommy thing isn't anything they do to me, but rather the way I internalize their youth, energy and the way they look in their skinny jeans! In other words, I guess I just feel a little jealous and inadequate around them. Believe me, I know how crazy that is, and I'm working on it. But I think my "backstory" may have something to do with this. My own mother was "older" and I remember being very aware of that as a child. Today, it's a little easier. There are lots of us "Way Older First-Time Moms" out there.

Not including your daughter, what are your Top 5 priorities in life?

1. Work (just being honest here; I'm lucky enough to love what I do for a living, but it can get a little out of control sometimes)

2. Hanging with my insanely amazing gal pals

3. Traveling, basically anywhere with Hubby and the Diapered Darling

4. Reading a great mix of stodgy classics and sassy chick-lit

5. Meditating -- I'm a newbie, but utterly addicted to my Andrew Weil and ocean meditation CDs.


Are you guilty of checking email while playing with your child? How do you find focus?

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