Do Children Make Us Lose Our Minds?


by Karolyn Benger

I am not an idiot.  I think.  Or at least, I am almost certain that I am not an idiot.

Yet, frequently, I find myself doing things or caught in situations that make me question this assumption.

For example, the numerous times I forget my keys.  I have been locked out of my own home at least four times in the past six weeks.  But I can justify this because I have three different bags depending on which role I am playing in that moment.

Three bags!!!

I have a purse for herding the children to school, going grocery shopping, and running errands.

I have a bag for work where I can fit all of my papers, books, a water bottle, as well as my wallet and phone.

Finally, I have a backpack for when I am taking the kids to a playground or park.

Somewhere between these three bags something like keys are bound to get lost.

This past week I forgot shredded cheese in the trunk of the car.  I had been running errands and was thinking of all the other things that needed doing and completely forgot about the grocery bag in the trunk.  I remembered it six hours later.

I am sure I am not alone in these mishaps.  At least, I selfishly hope I am not alone because, if I am alone in this, then I am, in fact, an idiot.

I see everyone running around, chasing our tails, trying to get the kids to school, be at work on time, get the groceries, cook dinner, maybe exercise, and still have time to be together as a family.  I think that multitasking is failing us but I see no alternative.  I find more people are multitasking just to get by— not to be highly effective.  We’ve become so stressed and tense in trying to keep up that now we talk about ‘being in the moment’.  We need to stop multitasking and focus on what’s in front of us.  Sometimes we need that.

Last week I decided to stop and take a break.  I treated myself to coffee and my son to a vanilla milk.  I parked the car in front of Starbucks and sat nicely with him for 20 minutes enjoying the sun.  It was calm and restful.

When I put him back in the seat I couldn’t find my keys.  I knew I had them — I had just driven the car– but I searched my running errands’ purse and they were nowhere to be found.

“Mommy,” my little one said, “your keys are right there.”

He was right, they were still in the ignition!

Perhaps the problem isn’t exclusively the multitasking.  I suspect that having children with you makes you less aware of your surroundings and diffuses your focus.  The constant chatter and need to keep up with the kids while attempting to accomplish any task can wear you down mentally.

When you are with children multitasking isn’t optional — it is essential.  I can drive the car, converse with my five year old, and open a yogurt tube at the same time!  Maybe I am not an idiot after all.  And I suspect most full time caretakers can do the same.

Maybe it’s not me but them!  The children are making me do it! Somehow having kids with me results in these little mishaps.
The other day I got a call from the babysitter who had the kids at a playground while I was at work.  Could I come get them?  She dropped the keys down the grate.