Recently, I've noticed that my kids and I have been more irritable than normal. We're jumpy and on edge, and just fight more. Knowing that my kids may just need a little more TLC, I took it upon myself to conduct an experiment. My husband and I would each spend 10 minutes alone with one of our two children every single day. The next day, we'd flip-flop kids. And I have to tell you, it's already worked magic in our home.
After my husband and I chatted about it, we conducted a brief family meeting with the kids to inform them of the plan. Their eyes grew with wonder and excitement. I could see their minds turning and ideas forming. The trick? We gave the power to the kids. They had the opportunity to choose whatever they wanted to do with one of their parents — every single day. (Well, most days. We understandably miss some days!)
The first day, I had my 8-year-old son and my husband had our 6-year-old daughter. My son and I played soccer in the backyard and my husband gave my daughter a mani/pedi. My son and I set up goals in the backyard and played one v one. The first to five won the game. Mom won by one goal. (Don't worry, I do let him win sometimes.) It took us a little longer than the 10 minutes, of course, but that was fine by me. As we walked back into the house to grab some water, I saw my daughter sitting on the couch with her dad waiting for her rainbow-colored nails to dry while watching a cartoon. Her smile reached her ears.
Now, just because we chose only 10 minutes doesn't mean that we stick to that. We rarely do, honestly. But we gave that short parameter because some days are busier than others and we wanted to guarantee that we made time for our one-on-one time, even if it was just for 10 minutes. And every day, my kids choose from different ideas. Sometimes it's sports, other times board games, and sometimes we even opt to play something as a family. My kids, for example, love playing a quirky made-up game where we play hockey in the basement with long sticks and a little ball. Whatever works!
Most importantly, since our little experiment, our family has bonded again. We feel more in-sync and much less irritable. Not only am I grateful with the added time with my children but I'm so happy that I have fewer battles to fight with them. Before, it seemed like every little thing drove me nuts, and that I had to remind them to do a million tasks. Now, I'm in a better mood from our bonding and cutting them some slack . . . and they're being much more compliant.
Sometimes it's tough to give our kids the undivided attention they need. Sometimes we're just too tired, too busy, too worried about other things. This is why when our family chose to dedicate 10 short, undivided minutes to our children each day, it seemed much more feasible. Sure, there are days I really just don't want to because parenting is just hard. But all in all, after we spend that time together, I feel much more fulfilled as a human being. It turns out, those 10 minutes per day are not just for our kids, but they're for us parents, too.