Today I learned about the nine minutes during day that can have the biggest impact on a child. This article and podcast is good stuff.
I am often struck by how life with children changes so quickly. We used to be joined by the hip, the shoulder, and every other body part. I remember wondering if I’d ever shower alone.
But now, all of my children can get up, get dressed, leave the house, come back into the house, and go to bed without a touch from their mother. They don’t need me to get them out of a crib (dare I say I miss this?). We’re done with diapers (can I get a hallelujah?). They don’t need me to dress them. I can barely carry any of them. We’d probably break a rocking chair. Sniff.
How did this happen?
I am comforted by the fact that secretly, I’m still useful.
These are the nine minutes during the day that can have the most impact on a child (according to the post linked above):
- the first three minutes–right after they wake up
- the three minutes after they come home from school
- the last three minutes of the day–before they go to bed
A word to mothers who feel guilty that they can’t be home to serve an after-school snack or had a less-than stellar bedtime conversation last night: Don’t. We all just need to do our best with the time we are allotted.
Ironically, these are the hardest nine minutes of my day. It can be darn inconvenient to be so impacting at breakfast, after school, and a bedtime.
You know what? As I thought about how inconvenient this can be, my brain just said, get over yourself.
I had a life pause.
So I began to play with those nine minutes.
The morning show: instead of flipping on the light in a hurry, pulling off covers, and grabbing a certain girl’s foot to get out of bed, I lingered.
I sat on her bed, pulled her up and kissed her face until she smiled, giggled, and said, “Ew, Mom!”
Of course, if you have multiple children this could take awhile, but our little kiss-kiss-bite session lasted about a minute. This I-want-to-be-laying-in-bed-reading-Harry-Potter-forever child was completely transformed at breakfast. I think she even smiled.
That same day I met the children at the door as I always do, but instead of getting busy with other things, I hugged each one, asked how their day was. Three minutes ain’t so hard!
I also discovered that a little more focus and presence early on, pays off. Children don’t actually need a ton of one-on-one time, but they do need a little. Children are happier and feel more secure with three minutes of undivided attention, and thus, aren’t so annoying later on. See? Win-win!
The dreaded bedtime: last night I went into my son’s room. He’s 12, very independent and can go to sleep without any tucking in. And though I always say good-night and give him a hug and a kiss, I’m tucking younger children in. I’m fast and impatient because I’m so dang tired.
But last night I crept into his room and sat on his bed in the dark. I lingered, wondering if I could sit there for three whole minutes.
“Back scratch?” he asked drowsily.
I sat and scratched his back. I didn’t look at the clock. Instead of my usual foot twitching, my feelings of impatience and relief that bedtime was finally done, I watched my son’s beautiful face. When I kissed him good-night, he smiled in the dark, his eyes closed, a child content.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” -Mother Theresa
This is just to say, motherhood doesn’t have to be so complicated.
QUESTION: Have you noticed which times of the day your interactions with your children seem to have the most impact? How do you make sure those interactions are positive?
CHALLENGE: Using Amy’s example as a template, spend three minutes at wake up, when school ends, and at bedtime giving your children a little extra love and attention.
This post was orginally published at powerofmoms.com in February 2014.
Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net