Talking on the phone to a client while preparing a spreadsheet, intervening in an argument between young children while cooking dinner, looking for that precious lost blanket while cleaning house — all are everyday examples of multitasking.

Of course, doing simultaneous jobs is not a new concept for moms and dads. What parent can get along without it?

Previous research has pointed out that performing — or attempting to perform — more than one activity at a time delivers less ideal results than concentrating fully on one task. In 2001, a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggested that lost efficiency resulted when workers were expected to perform multiple tasks on the job. Part of this loss of efficiency was due to the time it took to switch among tasks.

Now, new research suggests that our brains are wired for multitasking — to a point. Apparently, the brain can handle two tasks, but not three: a hard thing to imagine with all the jobs that pull the brain in different directions.

Waiters and waitresses handle several tables and tasks every hour on the job. Cooks prepare many different meals at the same time. Teachers are responsible for teaching educational content, while also making sure students are behaving. Secretaries, administrative assistants, and office managers perform a multitude of tasks on an hourly basis.

And for parents? The very nature of our responsibility usually demands that we keep our minds on more than one child at a time, as well as the responsibilities we have while we are caring for them.

For most parents, I suspect, the multitasking never ends. But we do have to be careful with it.

Texting while driving, cooking with little ones in the kitchen, working on the computer while you’re toddler figures out how the lock works on the front door. Multitasking can get us — and our children — into trouble. It’s best to know how much we can handle, as the researchers of the 2001 study suggested.

I can multitask with certain things, but I’ve discovered that, generally speaking, it’s better if I concentrate on one thing at a time, doing as much as I can until each job is finished — or as finished as possible. Regardless of what I’m doing, my mind needs to be on my children. Whether it’s folding laundry, cooking dinner, or watering the garden, it’s my responsibility to make sure my children are staying safe, learning, and behaving. Of course, that’s three things at once.

Perhaps I should cut down to two.