Have you ever heard of the ‘ten-minute rule’?
When I was working full-time and my first child was a toddler, there were nights when I would try to remember an interaction that I, alone, had with my child. Yes, we would be in the car together to and from work/daycare. Yes, we would all be at the dinner table, but typically my husband and I would be venting about our days. Yes, I would read his two stories and put him to bed, but my mind was often racing about the hundred things I still needed to do before I went to bed. None of those moments felt special or meaningful.
The guilt was overwhelming. I began to think things like, “This is my child, but I’m letting my agenda overtake everything.” “This is the child I’ve been dreaming of having, yet I’m more concerned with ironing my clothes for the next day.” “All this little person wants is time with me, and I put him second to mundane tasks that mean nothing.”
I read something on a blog or in a parenting magazine that offered advice regarding ‘the ten-minute rule’. The basic premise is that at some point during the day, we moms need to spend ten or more minutes of intentional and meaningful time with each of our children. This doesn’t include family time or time when Mom is with all of her children. This is one-on-one time with each child.
Does it seem absolutely impossible for you to do this? Here are a few suggestions that have helped me.
1). Put the housework aside: Does it really matter if every dish is washed or that the hamper is empty? Who cares? You’re not hosting a party every night. Rinse the gook off the dishes and let them sit.
2). Get up earlier or go to bed later: I get up at 5:00 am every day to blog, do the budget, or otherwise get online. This gives me at least an hour every morning to myself to get some things done so I don’t have to ignore my children later to do them. For you, it may be staying up late. I’m just a morning person, so I choose to wake up early.
3). Establish a bedtime routine: If reading stories and snuggling becomes a routine, it will happen every night, but if bedtime is chaotic, the stress and anxiety of forcing your children to bed will overtake any relaxing, quiet time together. I am kind of selfish with being the one who reads the stories. I read to my toddler alone then a little later I read with my five-year old alone. I love this time so much.
4). Keep reminding yourself they grow up too quickly: Just telling myself this makes me put down whatever I’m doing and spend time with my boys. I don’t want them to all of a sudden be in high school and for me to say, “Well, I sure had a clean house.” or “I hold the record for the amount of time spent on social media every day.” I want to say, “I miss playing Legos with Brooks on the floor every afternoon” or “I remember chasing Case around the living room and him cackling like a banshee.”
5). Work with their schedules: My two-year old wakes up first on most days, so for about 20 minutes, he has my undivided attention. We get his juice or milk together. He helps me pour his dry cereal, then we sit on the couch and snuggle, sing, or watch a little show. Once my older child wakes up, my toddler is happy and I can spend a little time with the big boy. I work out of the home until 1:00, then work from home in the morning and after the boys go to bed. Because of this schedule, I am fortunate to spend some quality time with my five-year old during my toddler’s nap and at night because he’s allowed to say up a tad bit later.
6). Forgive yourself: On the days that it just doesn’t happen, when life’s to-do list is obnoxiously long, just breathe, forgive yourself, and promise to do better the next day.
Robin (Masshole Mommy) says
I’ve heard of it, but honestly, it doesn’t happen in our house as much as I would like. I try to do family dinners every night and to me, that is our quality time and if I get that in – I am happy!
Lindsey @ Redhead Baby Mama says
I had to take Red to rehearsal with me yesterday to drop off some costume props, and as soon as we pulled back into the garage, he said, “walk, please!” There was still enough daylight left for a full walk around the block, sticks, planes and watching a basketball match. Bath was 15 minutes late, but I wouldn’t trade that outside time for anything!!
I love this 10 minute rule! I know that our lives can get so hectic that we don’t spend quality time with our children.
My grandmother always made special time for me every single time I visited her. I still remember how wonderfully special that was today, and she’s been gone for quite awhile now.
I really love this idea, I need to institute a 10 minute rule for my teenager! We chat a lot, but it’s usually with distractions!
Melissa @ This Girl's Life Blog says
If nothing else we have our bedtime reading routine. Now that my daughter is reading more and more I enjoy it even more because she can read to me and I get to see how much she is learning. 🙂
I’ve never heard of this rule before. Right now I’m a stay at home mom so we get a lot of minutes together! This will be useful as she gets older though.
mickey coutts (@ahelicoptermom) says
That sounds like a great idea. Many days I do have that time, but I’d love to make it a routine plan for each day.
Lisa Thompson (@LisaJoyThompson) says
I have found that this is harder to do as your kids get older. My oldest daughter is 18 and she often works til 10 or later which is past my ideal bed time. My hubby and I are usually in bed when she gets home, but I love that she comes and knocks on our door and sits on the bed and tells us about her day and her night. These little bits of uninterrupted time are so important!
I still have to do that believe it or not even though my kids are grown. I sometimes am focused so much on what I am doing with blogging, housework and other matters that I don’t spend uninterrupted time talking and really listening and engaging with my family. I figured that out a couple of months back and now make a concentrated effort to just stop what I am doing and spend 10 or more minutes of “quality time” with each one of them.
April @ My Real Food Family says
I haven’t heard of this before (probably because my kids are older), but I love the focused, child centered attention. I think the quality time where you are truly engaged makes them feel loved, valued, and important.
Brett Martin (@brettbmartin) says
I would give this a try. Not sure how feasible it is with two in school full time plus activities. We will see
Oh my gosh, this post really hit home. I am going to try this, especially with my 6 year old.
Totally doable. Especially right now when I only have one child. I try hard each day to spend quality time with him so he doesn’t growing up thinking I’m constantly distracted.
The Harried Mom says
What a great idea! I try to have some meaningful time with my kids before they go to bed. As they are getting ready for bed I ask them questions and get them to interact with me about their day. Then they snuggle up with mom to read books and go to bed.
Chasing Joy says
I like this rule. I’m not a mom but I could use it with other areas in my life. 10 minutes of intentional prayer, 10 min to really focus on a friend, 10 min of international play with my pets.
I think its an excellent idea and I try to every evening. With six kids it can be a challenge. I like to stagger my one on one kiddo time through out the day or three one day and three the next. Its 10 to 20 minutes of cuddling, reading, chatting…
Liz Mays says
I think everyone can carve out a solid 10 minutes for each child a day. Life is busy, but our kids want and need us!
Tiffany (Fabulous Mom Blog) says
I really like this rule. When I get overwhelmed with work and I know my kids are annoying me just because they want and need my attention I stop what I’m doing and we just hang. I either read with them, we play with toys, or go on a walk. Great post. It’s so hard being a work from home mom sometimes.
Loved this blog! (Just like all the others!!!) But this was a nice reminder of what’s important. THANK YOU.
Fortunately I work from home with our 13 month old twins so I get tons of just us moments during the day. My older, I worked days and often times two jobs so I was gone nights. I missed those moments with them and wish I had slowed down when I was at home.
Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? says
Most of the time, it’s my kids that remind me. As long as I remind myself to say yes to them sometimes, I feel like I get my 10 in:) I hope they feel the same.
Dina Demarest (@dinade) says
I agree so much. I should chuck my phone so I can spend time with them. Guilt!
I love the 10 minute rule idea! My teen daughter spends the majority of her day cooped up in her room, so I end up demanding for her to come down to spend time with us as a family quite often. She will be in college in 3 years, so I want as much time with her as possible!
Rachée Fagg (@sayitrahshay) says
My daughter is a teen and some of your ideas still apply. I try to spend time offline when I am with her so that she doesn’t always have to compete with a screen for my attention. The ten minute rule is great.
What a great thing to do. I need to do the 10 minute rule.
Classic Mommy says
These are great suggestions! Ten minutes is totally doable, and so worth it!
Lauren (Lolo) says
Having a 3 month old, we definitely have to work with her schedule.
Kathryn Clontz says
Love the tips, Susanna! I’m definitely good at postponing housework but the intentional time with each of my sons individually often doesn’t happen. Part of it is that they play so well together-most of the time. I find that if I end up having just one of them with me, even running an errand, we really have some great conversations. I need to do this more often when possible.
I play video games with my son as a “bonding time” thing. My husband works on his car and the boy farts around in the dirt with his cars as bonding time with him. 🙂 These are great tips to being with your kids though. Great ideas!