Down came the plates: Confessions from a multi-tasking flunkie

Is it just me? When I wake up in the morning, I immediately start this wonky plate-spinning circus act. Remember, before the gymnasts that balance their entire body weight on one finger became vogue in the circus world — it was just fun to watch that guy spin a dozen plates on thin sticks racing to make sure each one stayed perfectly balanced.  But one missed step, one plate goes too long without attention, and they all come crashing down.

We all have so many THINGS to worry about and STUFF to do. Things and stuff rule my life. Well, this is a story about how THINGS got all messed up when I let too much STUFF get in the way:

I was already on red-alert for recent multi-tasking failures. Our children’s Halloween performance (the one they’d been practicing for the entire month of October) was at 10:00am on the 31st. I showed up at 11:30 with video camera in hand. I wrote it down wrong. I didn’t read one of the 20 emails with the correct time. So there was me: camera charged and confused. And there were my kids, both tearful because the performance I promised I would be there for — I missed. For no other reason than I had a busy day at work and I entered the wrong time in my calendar. My heart is still broken remembering their disappointed tearful faces saying, “Mommy, you missed it.” Mommy guilt is a bitch.

I vowed to become the Calendar Queen. Yep, that’s me! No more missed performances! I and going to keep all the THINGS and STUFF organized.

Then, just yesterday, the plates I had spinning started to wobble. I was up early, as usual, to pack lunches, snacks, sign homework sheets, send a few work emails, try to convince a 4 year old to brush his teeth, and the other 97 things one does in the morning. Lola’s cheeks were flushed, she had a fever and needed to stay home.

I juggled my work schedule to be able to manage tasks from my kitchen table while keeping an eye on my baby girl. I then made a quick dash to Target for some ibuprofen. People were looking at me. “That’s weird,” I thought. It crossed my mind, “Well, maybe they recognized me from our silly videos. I wish I had worn makeup. Wow… why are all these people staring?”

I got home and Lola started giggling.

Nope, the people at Target didn’t recognize me from YouTube. This is what they were staring at:

Those pockets? Those are supposed to be in the back. And that tag? Supposed to be on the inside. My pants were on backwards and my shirt was on inside-out.  Well, I hadn’t missed anything technically — so those plates, though wobbling,  kept on spinning.

I monitored Lola, participated in conference calls, wrote scripts for clients, checked on Lola, checked email, sent email, wrote a proposal,  and heck, I even made a service appointment to check out that “thud, thud, thud” sound I hear when I drive my car. PLATES! SPINNING! THINGS! STUFF! I WAS DOING IT ALL!

At the end of the day I started packing for our trip to Florida (HSN is crazy enough for letting us appear on live television on November 7th). We were supposed to be flying in today. Right now. Well, here’s where the plates came crashing down.

I went to check in online, I saw our reservation and thought, “That’s weird Delta doesn’t have record of a trip to Florida. Why are they asking me to check-in for a flight to New York? THEY must have something wrong.”

DELTAOOPS

The plates started to really wobble. I started sweating. A frantic phone call to the Delta revealed I had, indeed, booked FOUR tickets for our family to New York City. I booked tickets to the WRONG STATE. FOUR of them. Wha? Why? NO! NO! I had THINGS to do and STUFF happening. We all needed to be in Florida early the next morning. Instantly, dinner started to burn triggering the smoke detector, Penn Charles was screaming for me to wipe his butt, and Lola started crying thinking we weren’t going to be able to make the trip.

That crashing sound you hear? That’s the sound of all my plates hitting the ground.

Penn, my darling husband poured me a (large) glass of wine. I started emotionally sweeping up the mess of all that dishware that tumbled to the floor. For a hefty fee, we are re-booked to the correct city. I’m embarrassed but world keeps spinning.  We will arrive just in time for our HSN pre-production meetings.

No one is hurt by my multi-tasking mishap.  So I’m going to give myself a break just one more time.

Everything is going to be fine. Well, except for my car. That “thud, thud, thud” sound I was hearing apparently will NOT wait for my scheduled appointment next week. After being towed to the repair shop,  I’m writing this from the waiting room.

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Here’s to more things and more stuff!

How do you guys keep the plates from crashing to the ground? And don’t say wine. Because I’m doing that and it’s not working.  I’ll take any hints and help I can get.

44 thoughts on “Down came the plates: Confessions from a multi-tasking flunkie

  1. Girl, just go your best and move on. It happens… We all make mistake and things fall apart, 😉 you’ll laugh one day about it. Love watching your videos. They are awesome. 🙂 I recommend getting a planner for the new year. I just recently ditched the phone calendar for a real one. I do better with things on paper. :))

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  2. Ha Ha! The only suggestion I have is to embrace the insanity. It got to the point with my daughter (now 7) where I was seriously impressed with my ability to accessorize the cheerios stuck to my rear with the sock hanging out from the bottom of my pants. The mashed banana with raisins on my shoulder was more of a challenge, however.
    Love your family’s videos and blogs. Keep on!

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  3. I’ve had the plates shatter for sure. Maybe not to the extent of the plane tickets-that’s a great story and I’m happy to read it ended well. My suggestion centers around PROCESS. The planner isn’t working? Burn that process and start with a completely different approach. Don’t be afraid of drastically over-simplifying, either. Example: if I need to remember to take something with me when I leave in the morning, I make it physically impossible for me to leave without it-i attach it to my car keys. Stuff like that. Trust me, you’ll see a difference and it will feel SO refreshing. PS-we all make mistakes! No one is perfect. -Dan

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  4. I did the same thing with Delta! And I had to pay the lovely $250 fee to switch my flight. And coincidentally, it was a flight from NY to NC. I think we have all been there, done that. It’s part of being in the “hood”, motherhood!!!

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  5. True fan of you all! Just started reading your blog. I hear ya on the “plates”. Every year seems to get even more packed with stuff. Living the same craziness: 3 kids, work, husband, activities… As long as no mistake is injurious or fatal, you’re good. Those are my new standards. No calendar in the world will keep it all together all of the time. You’re doing a fine job, even inside out and backwards!

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  6. My kids are now technical adults and the plates still need spinning. Mommy guilt is the gift that keeps on giving but in good news, A-You are not alone. Not one of us is getting it all done perfectly no matter what Pinterest tells you and B-That outfit MAY just start a new look.
    Let hubby keep pouring you wine and hug your babies. They will absolutely bring up that time you missed their performance but they will also (eventually) remember all the things you magically accomplished for them.
    Good luck and watch out for falling plates.

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  7. Put the kids to bed early and switch to liquor. And take help from anyone you can – husband, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles or that funny ‘valley girl’ lady in your videos. Seriously, she’s hysterical.

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  8. I’m in the same boat! Last week I went to a photography class that I’d been eagerly awaiting for weeks. After finishing a freelance job, and cleaning the kitchen, and getting my husband off to work with his coffee, his lunch, his wallet, his phone, and his glasses, then my son off to school with his homework, his lunch, his snack, his water thermos, his Ninja Turtle keychains, his rain jacket, his rain boots, and his sneakers to change into, I showered and got dressed and arrived ten minutes early for my class with my advance assignment in hand, filled with confidence that I was bringing good work . . . only to realize that I’d arrived nearly two hours LATE for a two-hour class. It was almost OVER. I blamed it on a faulty calendar entry, but that wasn’t it either–it was a faulty memory that I hadn’t bothered to confirm by looking at the calendar. This week I almost pulled the same stunt, but just in the nick of time, I thought to check my calendar in advance.

    So, that’s going to be one way I’ll try to keep the plates from falling: I won’t depend on my memory, which is shot these days from trying to hold on to too many looseleaf details. I’ll look at the calendar. Lots, if necessary. Good luck to you, and don’t forget (above all!) to be easy on yourself. You got a lotta plates going on up there.

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  9. Just. Breathe. You know that feeling when you’re trying to beat a timer to get something done? You end up rushing and make more mistakes and it ultimately takes more time than if you just didn’t rush in the first place. Just. Breathe. Work will always be there. Kids will always be there. Husbands will… well, they’ll usually be there too. :). It is important to slow down. Be deliberate. Think an extra second. We all try to be super women much to our own downfall. Our kryptonite? It’s ourselves! We force ourselves to cram too much in. We INSIST on keeping every plate spinning. At some point you have to tell the plates to shove off. Perfection is not expected by anyone but ourselves. So to end my lengthy ramble…. Just. Breathe. Diffuse lavender. Listen to spa music. Slow down. And enjoy the crazy ride of being a working mom and wife and all the f’ing hats we wear. 🙂

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  10. One day, you and I will become besties because we are living similar and parallel lives. I will then tell you the story of being 33 weeks pregnant and getting a spray tan (seriously, it was necessary based on circumstances) and sneezing a mere second before the spray began……………

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  11. Gdad says, “another day in Paradise”. Mema says, slow down please! The world will wait for you. We love you!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  12. Man…it feels like this is my life every. day. It can be so overwhelming. I keep on trying to make lists and then lose the lists and everything gets all eff’d up. And, interestingly, my husband’s name is Penn :). That had nothing to do with my story, just a funny fact.

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  13. The plates never stop spinning. … but we do the best we can! And our amazing husbands keep pouring wine. .. and are nice enough to clean up the broken plates. I have yet to find a organizing solution. .. but a family that supports and love you helps!

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  14. Devil’s advocate – are you beating yourself up more than you should? One of my struggles is the perfectionism. I tend to want to do everything to my standard regardless. Do you tend to like things “just so”?

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      • My wife and I struggle with perfectionism too but in different ways. I tend to be a workaholic because I like things “just so” in my professional life. My wife is a dynamo who is a SAHM. She’s the one that nails the Pinterest cupcakes with ease and makes it seem like it was the easiest task in the world (adding to the mommy guilt of other moms in town)… 🙂
        One unanticipated outcome of this is that our kids also have forms of perfectionism too. In some ways its great because they are really trying to “nail” everything they do academically and/or athletically but they too are hard on themselves when they fail. I don’t know the answer(s) but I have to think that blogging about this is a form of catharsis to building a bridge for you.

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  15. Putting a positive ‘spin’ on it, it shows you are not only able to multi-task but also cope well with chaos. These are fantastic attributes to have! So what if your wardrobe malfunction was observed by everyone at Target, and you booked flights to the wrong city, you went right back to juggling those plates and GOT IT DONE. We women CAN have it all (or so we are told!), we just have to cut ourselves some slack when those darn plates start wobbling!

    And on a practical note, the big PAPER week over two pages family diary (kept in full view on the kitchen bench) is a marriage saver in our house. “Did you put in the diary?” is a catchphrase in our house full of teenagers. Cos if it ain’t in the diary…!

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  16. I put appointments on the calendar as soon as I make them. But the best thing to do (took me a few years to learn) is use the magic-multitasking-mommy word!
    NO!
    It wil help you get rid of some plates 😉

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  17. We all need to learn to say NO more – and we all need to stop feeling like we have to do it all in order to feel like we have achieved something! We have lost sight of what is important and instead of going back to the basics we keep searching and searching for the answers we already know yet we all hope there is a better way to do it all and there just isn’t. Not without a plate or two crashing and breaking…we all have to decide for ourselves what we take off our plates.

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  18. I use the Cozi calendar app and website. It can be accessed by all members of the family. And also sends text alerts to your phone… Plates are gonna fall. That’s all part of being a full time working Mom and Wife!!

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  19. Mommy Guilt lasts a long time–it goes from the womb to the tomb–get used to it. We all suffer from it. Your children will be okay and if they do one day end up in therapy it won’t be because of this missed performance(it might make the list but will be near the bottom). I admire you for your multi-tasking skills. I struggle everyday with keeping those plates spinning too and I only have one child and am currently not working outside the home. Some days I wonder how I did it all when I was working full-time and then it dawns on me–I didn’t do it then either! I had sitters, friends, neighbors and hubby helping me get her to appointments, lessons, games, etc. I had the mommy guilt worse then. Now at least I am the one there for her, a little haggard crazy sometimes but I am there. But here is what I have learned: Comparison is the root of all evil, not money or greed but comparing ourselves to others. Pintrest and FaceBook(or FakeBook as I have started calling it) don’t help either. They only add to and fuel that inner voice we converse with, debate with and mostly beat ourselves up with daily. Truth: no one has it all together all the time. If they say they do, they are lying to you and to themselves, or they are so uptight, rigid and serious you probably wouldn’t want to be friends with them anyway. I too struggle with this Pintrest Perfect Lifestyle I have in my mind but can’t quite seem to get it to work in the real world I live in daily. I often(daily to be honest) find myself wondering and pondering how “she” does it?? There’s that evil comparison thing going on again! Truth is, “she” doesn’t do it all either–not all the time anyway. I have to remind myself of this a lot because part of me(that little annoying inner voice) hasn’t grasped/believes it yet, even as I am coming to the end of my forties! I am not at all saying we should strive for mediocrity or not try to do our best at everything we do, but perhaps we should cut ourselves some slack and not beat ourselves up too much when one or all of those proverbial plates fall. Also, learn to say NO more. Its a vicious cycle: the guilt and comparing compels us to say yes too often and thus we get over scheduled. Not preaching–actually realizing this as I type. Now that I have vented and babbled way too much. Here’s some things I find helpful. 1. Get one large family calendar or diary and put everything on that. Make the kids and husband put their things and stuff on it too and it stays in the same spot all the time. 2. We also put reminders in our phones. So, the day before and then about an hour or two before the event we get a text or pop-up message reminding us of where to be. A little extra work but has saved me some mommy guilt more than once. 3. Hug and kiss your kids everyday and tell them you love them. They’re going to be fine–because you are doing a great job. 4. Repeat #3 but do it to your husband and thank him for pouring that much needed glass if wine. 5. Hug yourself and tell yourself you did the best you could “today” and tomorrow you will try to do it again. 6. Give thanks for all that did go right today. Oh yeah…7. Go to Walmart–no one would have given that outfit a second glance there!!

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  20. Contrary to popular belief….no one multitasks well. I fight this constantly and have to admit that if I get in too deep I do many things badly. Breathe, focus, be present (this last one is realty hard to do, let alone define).

    Also, have Penn learn how to make your favorite cocktail…

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  21. Oh, one of THOSE days! Lol. I’ve had a few….hundred! I recently booked a round trip flight for myself and our 5 kids. Accidentally PAYING for the baby. The one that just sits in my lap anyways. UGH. It’s literally only through the grace of God I can keep going. Literally. My relationship with Jesus and His continued grace and mercy. 🙂

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  22. I have a wonderful husband who takes on just as much as me. He didn’t start out that way though…years of persuasion to gent to this point.

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