These NINE minutes are the most important of your child's entire day
One of the most important lessons you will come to realise when it comes to parenting is this: There is no such thing as a perfect parent.
Because much as we would all like to always have time to hear all about Minecraft, always be available to play, never lose our patience and just, in general, be Super-Mum around the clock, the reality is that sometimes you actually need to fold laundry, or get the dinner ready or – gasp – steal some me-time for yourself.
However, if you ever suffer from mum-guilt, you might find this a little bit comforting: When it comes to giving our children our most undivided attention and really make it the greatest, most meaningful moments for them, you don't need to focus on them 100 percent of the time, all day, every day.
Nope, there are certain times that are more crucial than others, and if you get these moments right, experts now say, you are doing your child's emotional health a major favour. Guiding them and giving them your undivided attention in these key moments will largely impact their wellbeing and, later in, how they view their childhood.
According to Affective Neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp, these moments are split up as follows:
- the first three minutes of their day - right after they wake up
- the three minutes after they come home from daycare or school
- the last three minutes of the day–right before they go to bed.
Nine minutes, guys, nine minutes that will make a huge difference – and when you think about the timing of them, this actually starts to make a lot of sense. Taking time to bond and chat and snuggle at the very start of the day, well that just fills up both your kids' and your emotional "bank accounts" before you have to head out and face the world.
Those next three minutes, after school or daycare – of course, they are vital. They have been away from you for hours, and being reunited again means they are back in their very most comforting and safe space. Cuddle them, chat about their day and generally just forget about everything for a few minutes just to enjoy being back together again – and you might even experience better and calmer afternoons, as your children, instead of having to whine for your attention as you cook dinner or clean up, have now gotten their snuggles in beforehand and feel reassured and as if they have been seen and heard.
The last few minutes, right before bed, I'd like to think we are doing already, as we always pile onto one bed and read two stories – every night, before snuggling and going to sleep (them, not me – not on purpose, anyway). These sleepy nighttime moments are vital, to me and them, they are our chance to calm down after our days, to feel connected, to just be. What this means too, is that no matter how our day has been, how tricky the bedtime battle was, how many fights I had to break up between them, come bedtime, we all get in and snuggle and it is all forgotten about.
And that's it – the nine most precious, important minutes in your child's day. Minutes that might not sound like a lot of time to get parenting right, might actually turn out to make the biggest difference to your life and your kids' lives.