the nine minutes that have the greatest impact

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.

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22 thoughts on “the nine minutes that have the greatest impact

  1. Julia Tomiak

    I love this! And yes, those are the 9 HARDEST minutes of the day. I’m usually half dead at bedtime. (I tell the kids I’m turning into a pumpkin; they joke about sprouts on my head.) But you have, once again, inspired me. For the next few days, I will TRY.
    But it’s hard, ’cause I pick them all up, and with four children in the van…
    I’ll TRY!

    Reply
    1. maisymak Post author

      Thanks, Julia…yes, with 4, that’s 12 minutes x 3 times a day haha. I will try too 🙂 One of the best things about a blog is the accountability it forces on me!

      Reply
  2. Julia Tomiak

    Hey, and when you figure out the blog roll, let me know. I’ve been missing having one on my site. And, can you ask your sister in law how she got the cute “m” to show up in the tab on my browser when I’m at your site.
    Thanks! Stay warm!

    Reply
    1. Cassandra

      Hi Julia, I just noticed your question. The “m” you see in Amy’s browser’s address bar & tab, etc. is called a favicon. It’s just a little image you create at about 16x16px and then import it into a favicon generator for the .ico file that you’ll place in the root directory of your site. favicon.cc is a good site to use. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Julia Tomiak

        Ok Cassandra. Thanks for answering so quickly. Unfortunately, you lost me at .ico file. 🙂 The words “root directory” scared me a little, too. Guess I’ll need to get a techie to help with this issue! But thanks for sharing.

        Reply
  3. Velva

    This is so true! I have found that those few moments each day can really make a difference. For me, it also forces me to stop and think about what is really important. Loved this post. Thanks for sharing it.

    Velva

    Reply
  4. Jess Lawson

    This is wonderful~ just spent a little time talking about this post with my husband. I always do “Lawson ladies” cuddle time first thing in the morning and it’s fairly easy because we all just pile in my bed and snuggle. But it’s easy because I’m a stay-at-home mom, and they don’t have anywhere to go first thing in the morning. My 5YO starts kindergarten this Fall, so we’ll see how the routine changes. I need to get better with bedtimes on certain days. Thanks so much for posting this~ off to tweet it!

    Reply
  5. Heidi Unger

    Amy, Jane shared a post of yours today. I love your blog! Wasn’t aware of it until today. The timing of my finding your Love post is perfect. I only have one child, feel like I’m always on the go and forgot the positive impact of being “in the moment” with him has. I will start again! Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Lindsey

    This is great. Thanks for the reminder, Amy. Bedtimes are sooo tough with a baby in the mix – especially on nights that Scott’s not home. I always feel like I couldn’t give enough attention to everyone. I’m sure a year or two from now things will be a little easier, but always a great reminder to slow down and snuggle these little ones!

    Reply
  7. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

    Just clicked over here from your guest post at Eli’s today and I’m so glad I did.
    You could not be more right about this…it’s so easy to be miserable, impatient, and harsh in those three times of the day. I hate to admit it, but I know that I have been. More often than I like to acknowledge. But I have noticed that when those times of the day are as you describe – a gentle wakeup rather than throwing the lights on, three minutes of just re-connecting and not snapping about the e-mail you already got from the teacher that afternoon, and lingering rather than rushing out the door at bedtime – go a long way toward changing a child’s perspective and attitude. Thanks for the reminder – a great post here and over at Eli’s!

    Reply
  8. Tamara

    It kind of struck me… as foster parents you need to meet all those requirements PLUS taking classes, whereas biological parents just have kids and try and do their best.
    Thank you and your friend for sharing! A little “conscious human touch” sure goes a long way!

    Reply

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