The truth is that I have partial attention all day and it’s exhausting. Working while homeschooling means constant interruptions all day long. Almost everyone who I have ever coached has had to pause for a minute while I did something for a kid.
Sometimes I pause for a fight, and hopefully I remember to mute myself. Sometimes I don’t know it’s going to be a fight and by the time I realize the person on the other end of the phone has heard everything. Then I just have to hope they are not planning to ask me advice about parenting.
When the boys were little I would put five boxes of cereal on the floor and let them destroy the whole kitchen so I could get some quiet. Now I do the big-kid version of that: give them my credit card and say, Come back in an hour.
With partial focus on everything all day long the optimal type of work is small, not very important tasks, which explains why my inbox was always at almost zero when my kids were both at home.
Once we were at the Aspen Art Museum when I realized I had a phone call for work. I told the boys there was a good exhibit on the ground floor. Go find it. I took that picture because I wanted to always remember that I sent my kids scrambling all over an art museum so I could have time for a phone call.
At one point I attempted to get something done that required more in-depth thinking than opening and closing an email. I had someone come for two hours a day to keep the kids from talking to me — it was on the farm. It’s not like I could go to a coffee shop. But I found I didn’t get much more done because it took a lot of focus for me to get out of partial-attention mode and then go back into it two hours later. But more than that, I had anxiety over what I should do if I have two hours a day of focus. I kept thinking it should be something really good, but I could never come up with something that seemed good enough. Except sleep.
I think I actually liked partial attention a little too much. Zoning out all day is a lot easier than putting huge pressure on myself to do one of them exceptionally well. Maybe my sweet spot is doing homeschool while I work and telling myself that this is so incredibly hard to do so if I just get through the day, I’m doing great. I think the question we should really be asking ourselves is how can I homeschool really well. That’s a scary question because the answer probably doesn’t include zoning out and still getting a gold medal for trying.