“The job requires a lot of multi-tasking. Do you have experience in multi-tasking?”
I was just asked this at a job interview recently. I did not snort. I did not smirk. I did not sing, “I can bring home the bacon / fry it up in a pan / and never ever forget the woman I am.”
I simply said yes. Of course.
Employers all want multi-taskers. I have yet to meet an employer who is not looking for a great multi-tasker.
You’d think employers would be slavering over parents who have been out of the work force for a time, raising their kids. But most of us parents who have taken time out to stay home with the kids hesitate to mention our superior multi-tasking skills. I don’t know a parent who can’t multi-task. The minute you bring home the squalling infant and realize that you won’t be peeing for three years without simultaneously jiggling the creature on your lap, you learn the meaning of “multi-tasking.” The first time you are lean out of the shower, dripping, to find your shrieking offspring’s dropped pacifier under the bouncy seat, you realize you are multi-tasking for life. Faxing while using the credit card machine and answering a client’s irritated query? Ho, ho, ho. That’s Multi-tasking, Jr.
My multi-taking “aha!” moment: Try hammering nails into a wall for photographs while nursing an infant in a Baby Bjorn. Oh, yesssss. “I think I’ve got the hang of this,” I remember thinking. Now that I’m a single parent, I go back to that moment in time, for psychic strength, to remind myself that I can do this on my own. That I am stronger than I know.
What was it called before it was called “multi-tasking”? Caroline Ingalls, my hero, was the original multi-tasker. Girlfriend Caroline, she done done it all! Cooking, cleaning, taking care of the farm, homeschooling, building barns and houses, plowing the fields, sewing, mending, slaughtering chickens—yeah, Caroline definitely could have managed a credit-card machine while faxing an insurance form and handling a difficult client. I’d put my money on her, any day.
I ask you: What was your biggest “man, I’m good” multi-tasking moment, as a parent? Has your confidence grown or waned as a multi-tasker, upon becoming a single parent?
And: Do you find it a challenge to translate your multi-tasking life as a parent into skills that the working world recognizes?