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:
- 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 just 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? 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.
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I feel like those are the hardest 9 minutes of most moms days, which is probably why it’s important to be so aware of them. I know that I feel better if I am having positive interactions with my kids. I especially need to work on the bedtime minutes. Maybe that will be my goal this week! Happy bedtimes!
Oh I love this! I listened to that podcast too and really try to make those 3 min (although sometimes it is 45 seconds) but I try to make them count. Thanks for the great article!
Melody Harrison Bergman says
I love this! So easy to incorporate–not just for moms either. I’m am SO sending this article to my husband. We can both do this at the times we are home! You rock, Amy. Thanks for the awesomely PRACTICAL advice!
Amy Mak says
Thank you, moms – I appreciate it! It’s amazing how much of a difference this has made in our home, for the parents and the kids 🙂
This is so wonderful! Those do tend to be tough times for me, especially having five little ones under the age of six that need my help AND attention! I can do three minutes.
Love this. I started a new morning routine with my three boys this school year where go in and turn on my laptop and play some music, just letting the light from the screen wake them up. Then when they are ready we sing a song together and say a prayer. Then I help my kindergartener get dressed, which he could definitely do himself but I know it gives him a chance to really connect with me before he has to leave me. I takes more time to do this but on days when I let everyone sleep a little longer and skip it, everyone is grumpier, including me.
Kaila Gordon says
This was powerful! I especially relate to the child who is older and more independent, but still depends on our love and affection.
I love this article. I usually spend 10 minutes with my daughter at bedtime anyways. My only problem is that she would not let me leave after the 10 minutes. I did notice the difference in my daughter’s temperament in the morning if I spend a little time with her before I rush her out of bed.
I think this principle extends to marriage as well. My mom told me of a talk she heard (sorry, I don’t remember who it was) that emphasized that, in the first four minutes of interaction with your spouse after being apart (or sleeping), you should say only positive things. After that first four minutes, then you can address other issues. We all want to be deliberate mothers, and I think we want to be deliberate wives as well. Any relationship can be strengthened this way.
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This is so encouraging for mom’s who have to go to work throughout the day! Some of my favorite times of the day with my kids are bath time and right before bed. And I am fortunate enough to get to pick my children up from school everyday at 3 in the afternoon so I’m glad that I now know this time can be important to my children as well. I’ll try to make the most of it. Because Lord knows not every time is going to be ideal! lol And some times I’m sure I’ll be more rushed than others. And tempers and moods will interfere. But I like knowing there is another opportunity right around the corner, on the same day, to try again. My kids are still young so I try with all the patience I can withstand in a day to appreciate it. And again, when one attempt is failed because of my sleep deprivation or the distractions of life, I can try again. I really appreciate this post!!