Can just a snatched window of talking time really make a big difference to your kids? The answer’s yes.
I often wonder which is the most important 10 minutes of the day in my children’s lives:
The 10 minutes after they wake up every day?
The 10 minutes I spend tucking them into bed?
I know the obvious answer is that both of these moments each day are equally important, as are all the bits in between, but I increasingly find that I only manage to navigate one or the other perfectly.
On the days I am getting ready for work and school those 10 minutes after they wake up can be a bit frantic. My hugs are shorter, my kisses less meaningful and my direction a little more abrupt. On days like this I try and make it up to them at night with special moments as I tuck them in, endless hugs, lots of kisses and whispers reminding them of how much I love them.
"I love you more than coffee and less than chocolate," is my running gag to which they answer ,"I love you more than X-Box but less than Playstation" and so on.
On days when we have nowhere to rush, to we spend those first few minutes after they wake up snuggling together on the lounge watching cartoons. I ask them what they want for breakfast and take the time to make it. There is no rushing. Just a blissful, relaxed start to the day.
On days like this we normally run behind on our bedtime schedule. I send them to brush their teeth, throw on their night clothes, tuck them in quickly and threaten to close the door if they talk, get out of bed or giggle too much.
See how I'm not quite getting the balance right?
Now that my children are in school so much, Philip and Giovanni Monday to Friday and Caterina three days a week, I want the start of each day and the end of each day to be better, because we see each other less and less.
I want their first moments each day filled with love and warmth.
I want their last moments each day filled with love and warmth.
I never want to send them off for the day with negative feelings, feeling rushed, neglected...
I never want them to go to sleep feeling upset, sad, unloved...
The good things is that children, through these less-than-perfect parenting moments, learn 'repair'. They learn to bounce back. They learn that even if the start of the day isn't ideal or the end of the day, it can be be fixed by an extra special moment when they get home. The learn that if bedtime was rushed it can be repaired the next morning or at bedtime the next night.
There's nothing that can't be fixed.
Kenneth Barish, a psychologist and author, puts it best:
I therefore recommend that parents set aside some time, every day (perhaps 10 minutes at bedtime), for kids and parents to have a chance to talk and to use this time to repair moments of conflict and misunderstanding. This may be the most important ten minutes of a child's day. Huffington Post
The lesson? It doesn't matter when you have your special 10 minutes as long as they happen, once a day, every day.
What is your favourite time of the day with your children?