9 Minutes

A friend recently posted an image on Facebook about how to be a better parent and it included the tip that there are nine minutes of the day that have the most impact on children: the three minutes after waking up, the three minutes when they return home from school, and the last three minutes before they go to sleep. I can’t find any articles that support this from a science or psychology perspective (just other blog posts), but I think it is sage advice that not only applies to parenting but relationships as well.

Have you ever answered your partner’s phone call with a perfunctory “what” or “yes”? Or as soon as your partner walks in the door asked them to immediately take care of a chore, like take out the trash, empty the cat’s litter box, or deal with the kids, instead of simply saying hello? Me. I am guilty of this.

When I saw that Facebook post about those nine important minutes, I decided to implement this not only with my children, but with my husband, and my co-workers as well. At work this translates to saying hi before launching into a rant, being deliberately pleasant at the beginning and end of the work day, and ending the week with positive words. At home this means I don’t disappear as soon as my husband gets home even though my inclination is to let him deal with the kids, who are inevitably cranky in the witching hour that is 5-7 p.m. This means saying goodnight, even if he’s working late and I’m feeling too lazy to leave our bed to climb a single flight of stairs to give him a kiss. In other words, I’m just trying to be a better human.

And with the kids, I’m trying to be more present, especially at bedtime. I’m trying not to rush through stories and songs and snuggles even though there are dishes and laundry and thoughtless reality TV shows calling my name. I’m not usually home when they wake up, or when Future President gets home from school, so I’m focusing my efforts on bedtime. I think it’s making a difference.

Happy Friday, friends.

 

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2 thoughts on “9 Minutes

  1. In our marital counseling, we have been learning a lot about exactly what you are discussing here, and there is research to support it! Dr. John Gottman shares in his book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” what research has shown makes the most effective rituals. He specifically emphasizes “partings” and “reunions,” the times you are mentioning here. Spending a few minutes on each of these rituals can help to move your marriage from autopilot to intentionality. Of course, this book focuses on research to do with marriage but I think it could easily be applied to all familial relationships.

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