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What if you simply took 10 minutes a day and focused that time solely on your child? Everyone can find 10 minutes, but it’s what we do with those minutes that matter.
The Rush Of Life
As a newly single mom with a four-year-old and a five-year-old, most of my days revolved around “doing.” Every day felt like rush-filled to-dos, yet every day felt the same.
After getting two kids ready for school in the morning, followed by drop-offs and then eight-plus hours at work, I’d pick the kids up and head home to make dinner.
But often, when we were at home after school and work, being home was less relaxing than being at work. First, I’d have to make dinner while ensuring the kids did homework or played safely. Then, while the kids ate dinner, I’d eat standing up while I cleaned up after dinner and ran the dishwasher. Immediately following would be baths and bedtime routine, then I’d crash in bed and start it all over again the following day.
While this sounds like most families during the work week, what I was missing was connecting with my kids. Of course, I didn’t think about connecting because we had hours together each night. But I was just going through the motions to get to the finish line – bedtime.
And on to this, I was a single parent, so extra time for connecting wasn’t on my radar.
My son began to act out around this time, and his behavior became a major stressor in my life. Full-blown tantrums began to rule our household.
I didn’t understand why he was so difficult. Why did he hate me, as he verbalized often, he was five?! He wasn’t supposed to hate his mother. So there must be something wrong with him.
I took him to a counselor to be evaluated. I was sure there was something to diagnose, but I was repeatedly told he was “normal.”
After years of challenging behavior and at a loss of what to do, I began to do the one thing I didn’t want to do – spend more time with him. So I set aside 10 minutes every day where I would do whatever he wanted me to do as long as it didn’t involve electronics.
As anyone in therapy can tell you, we can’t change others (even our kids), but we can change our response to others, which in turn changes us.
I began showing him I wanted to connect with him. There were days I’d just sit in his room and stay silent because he said he didn’t want to do anything with me. Then, when the alarm would sound after 10 minutes, I’d get up and repeat the process with my daughter. (She loved the time spent with me.)
After a while, my son started asking me to play with him during his 10 minutes, and we would have a few minutes of happiness shared. Of course, it didn’t solve the tantrums, but I began to see my little boy in spurts, and it brought me a little joy. Enough to continue.
Eventually, both of my kids began requesting more time with me. As a single mom, I didn’t have more than 10 minutes to give them separately. I had no one in the house to watch the other child, and our days were packed. So I kept it at 10 minutes, but the upside was that they didn’t tire of our time together, making it more sacred.
As time went on, my son’s tantrums lessened considerably. So much so that I forgot to spend 10 minutes with my kids individually some days, and then ultimately, we weren’t doing it all.
With no connection time, my son began noticeably acting up again. So I tried the 10-minute connection time, and sure enough, his behavior improved. I was able to ask him to do something, and he would do it. No back talk, no yelling, no debating the purpose of the action.
During the upheaval in his life after my divorce, he needed extra attention to feel safe and loved. It may sound obvious from an outsider’s point of view, but sometimes you can’t see the core issues when you’re in the thick of it.
10 minutes a day With Your Child
Through simple activities and snuggles, you can build an unbreakable bond with your child that will stay with them for years to come. Some effective 10-minute strategies include reading a bedtime story, playing a game together, having a heart-to-heart talk, or simply cuddling up on the sofa.
By dedicating just 10 minutes of your day to connecting with your child, you can strengthen the emotional connection between the two of you and help to lay the foundation for a lifelong relationship.
Whether it’s playing together, having a heart-to-heart conversation, or simply taking the time to listen to your child’s concerns, these small moments can significantly impact how close you feel to each other.
What Kids need most of all
What he needed from me was the one thing I didn’t have – time. But to say I didn’t have 10 minutes would be fooling myself. Indeed I spent 10 minutes each evening on social media. But if not, then the dishes could wait. He couldn’t wait.
How About You?
If you’re at your wit’s end with your child’s behavior, what would it look like to spend one-on-one quality time with them?
What can you give up to spend this time? Some ideas are scrolling social media or a Netflix show. Or you may need to replace this time with something else. For example, can you move your child’s bedtime back 10 minutes? Maybe skip a bath or leave dishes in the sink overnight.
We all have 10 minutes to give our children our undivided attention. But what we often don’t realize is how valuable that time can be.
Challenge yourself to go one month giving your child one-on-one time and see if it makes a difference. Is your child asking for the time each day? After a month, do you notice any improvement? Then come back and let me know if this worked for you and if you made any tweaks along the way.