Take the 5 minute challenge!
Let go of the mum or dad guilt! Research has shown that it is quality rather than quantity of time with our children which matters.
Take out a timer and set it for five minutes.
The task is to give your child your undivided attention AND they get to decide what you do together during that time (as long as it’s within your boundaries – you might not feel like being used as a climbing frame in that moment for example).
Put away or switch off any electrical devices, resist the temptation to tidy or make a cup of tea (usually my downfall!).
If you have more than one child it is lovely if you can set this time aside for each of them. It can work with any age child, with older ones you may want to agree on an amount of time together.
Activities can range from finger games and knee bouncing with younger children to listening to heavy metal with older ones. The most important thing is that you are giving them your undivided, positive, engaged, attention.
Reflect on how the experience was afterwards.
Did you find it easy, the time flew by and you wanted to carry on after the timer? Lots of parents find this exercise difficult in the beginning, we are often busy with multiple tasks. I can fall prey to being a productivity-aholic – this is how many of us were taught to value ourselves as children. It can take a shift of perspective to recognise that actually the simple act of presence with our children might be the most valuable thing we could be doing in that moment.
Prioritising little bits of time for connection can take a change in mindset, however, it has so many benefits such as:
- Your child is more likely to cooperate with you.
- They will feel known and loved by you – this has life long benefits and is the foundation of good mental health.
- Fun and connection
- You get to practise presence – you can regard this as a kind of mindfulness practice.
The rewards accumulate with daily practice and ripple out into the rest of life. Often when we think our child is misbehaving they are actually simply longing for our attention. Offering them this before they start shouting or complaining often means that we see less of this behaviour.
If you can increase the length of time you offer to them to 10 or 20 minutes you will be really offering something valuable to yourself and your children.
Pain can get in the way
If you find it difficult to simply be with your child it’s not your fault. When we stop and bring ourselves into the present, sometimes painful thoughts and feelings can rise to the surface. These can have deep roots, sometimes stretching back as far as our own childhood. If this is the case for you, you may benefit from working with a coach. I can support you to find a state of relaxed presence with our children. You are most welcome to get in touch with me via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07507523163