As parents, some of us feel a little lost from day one. You are sent home from the hospital with a fragile newborn baby in your arms, clueless of your ability to keep it alive. The nurse handed you a 2-page instruction sheet that talks mostly about how to clean the baby’s belly-button, and she sends you off with a mere “good luck”.
For others, like me, the baby stage seemed to make sense. Of course it was challenging in it’s own way, but it was full of simple routines, plenty of cuddling, and no back-talk. It felt natural.
It wasn’t until my three kids got a little older that this deer-in-the-headlights look became my baseline expression. I sometimes describe it as feeling “numb”.
There is so much on my “plate”, that I just drop that stupid plate and blankly stare. There are activities, homework assignments, and bums to be wiped.
Although my primary goal each morning is to emotionally be there for my kids, when I constantly have an overflowing bucket of demands, I feel more like a robot than a mother.
If you feel this way, it turns out that you may be closer than you think to bringing joy and stability to your family.
Not Enough Time in the Day
For me, a lot of my stress originated from my ridiculously long to-do list standing in the way of me being the parent that I wanted to be. I wanted my children to feel special and feel loved, but finding the time to devote to this was becoming a challenge.
I would love to sit and read with my 8 year old son for an hour, and then play Barbies with my 6 year old daughter for the entire evening. I wish I could top off that evening by playing superhero’s with my 3 year old son until bedtime.
However, there is just not enough time to do it all, so I often give up. My mind turns to cotton, while everyone is shouting demands at me.
The fact that I could so easily relate to that mother doe who is so overwhelmed by the incoming truck that she can’t move, was mainly due to two things.
First, I was so overwhelmed that I wasn’t fulfilling my most important duty, which was spending quality moments with my kids.
Secondly, my standards were too high. My kids didn’t need me to play with them for an hour each. In fact, they didn’t even want that.
Since most of us do not have hours upon hours a day for focused 1:1 time, would short bursts of attention do the trick?
Are Short Bursts of Focused Family Time Beneficial?
Research shows that even short bursts of focused time can help you strengthen relationships, feel more at peace, and bring joy to your family. It has been proven that:
Snuggling and cuddling can releases “feel good” chemicals that decrease
stress hormones in parents and improve cognition and development in
Relaxing, agenda-free, can help prevent burnout.
Having conversations with your kids, especially at bedtime, gives kids time to process their emotions and deepen your relationship.
How do we make sure that we fit in these quick moments of quality time, and prevent them from getting sucked up in the whirlwind of modern life?
Just 9 Minutes a Day
To ensure that this quality time becomes habitual, it must be realistic. Experts also recommend multiple touch points in the day with your children.
Luckily, specialists suggest that there are nine minutes during the day that can have the greatest impact on a child.
- the first three minutes (right after they wake up)
- the three minutes after they come home from school or daycare
- the last three minutes of the day (before they go to bed)
Challenge yourself to focus on your children for these 9 minutes a day:
First three minutes of the day
These are often the most chaotic moments of the day. If your house is anything like mine, we are tossing the covers off of our kids, shoving a Pop-tart in their mouths and rushing to the school bus.
Instead, spend those first three, quick minutes cuddling and taking about the day to come.
Three minutes after school or work
When you see each other after a day of school or work, make a point to put down what you are doing and greet your children.
Spend three minutes engaging with them about their day before the after-school rush of homework, dinner, and activities sweep you away.
Last three minutes before bed
This is an incredibly important time for family relationships. Talk to your child as they decompress after a long day. Often, these moments are when their real stories and emotions are released; instead of simply “my day was fine”.
This is also a great time to read a book together, which also produces incredible results in the development of children.
You may sometimes feel like you don’t know what you are doing as a parent, but by changing only 9 minutes a day, you can improve your relationship with your kids, keep you centered, and reduce your parental stress.
Once you start to incorporate these quick bursts of quality time into your family life, you will start to feel less like a deer in the headlights, and more like a rock-star parent.
So, are you going to take the 9-minute a day challenge?
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