I remember reading an article a few years back that talked about the nine most important minutes in your child’s day. The idea was simple, and made sense to me. It has been permanently pinned to the “parenting pinboard” inside my head ever since. Some days, I’m aware and active at putting this practice into play. Other days, I’m tired and lose focus. Now that school is back in session, and I have less time with my kids, this thought about “the nine most important minutes” has again been on my mind.
The Nine Most Important Minutes in Your Child’s Day
Research has found that there are nine minutes in every day that most influence your child, and that they need connection with their caregiver the most. Those are, first thing in the morning, first thing when they get home for the day, and last thing at night. Focusing your attention towards your child for as little as three minutes during these three times of the day can have an incredibly positive impact.
How you start the morning influences the whole day. Children need to be seen, heard, and loved. What better timing than first thing in the morning? Checking in with your child first thing in the morning is a good way to let them know that you see them, care about them, and are there for them. It doesn’t have to be long. Maybe it’s a simple kiss on the forehead, or nudging their shoulder to get them to wake-up. Be creative and find what works for your family. This year, my husband has taken on the task of waking each child up individually and spending a couple minutes with them before moving to the next one. He heads off to work and the kids then usually all end up in my room snuggling for a few minutes before we decide we actually need to start getting ready. They get to wake up feeling seen by both parents, and connected to each other.
Children need to reconnect with their parents at the end of a long day at school. Home is the place where a child needs to feel a sense of love and belonging. Greeting your child with a hug, a snack, or a simple “how was your day” can go a long way. Remember that for children, school can be full of following directions, trying to find their place socially, and the pressure of learning. I remember as a child, each afternoon my sisters and I would walk in our front door and immediately start calling for our mom. She would usually be in her room tending to a task that needed to be done. I will always remember the way it felt to see her smile, give us a hug, and ask if we wanted a snack. I felt important and special. I knew that I mattered to her, and that she was there for me.
I will be the first to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with the bedtime routine. I absolutely love singing my children to sleep, listening to their night-time prayers, and that last reach for connection as we talk about something important to them or that has been on their mind. I do not love the prolonged bedtime routine… and can lose patience when it goes on “too long”. What is important to remember however is that how a child falls asleep influences not only how well they sleep, but also how they feel about themselves as they fall asleep. Even on those nights when it seems like none of the children will ever go to sleep, I have to take a deep breath and try to remember what I am trying to accomplish. My ultimate goal is for each of my children to fall asleep feeling seen, heard, and valued. I can often be found whispering words of encouragement, singing one last song, and snuggling with each of my children as they fall asleep. Find a routine that works for you, and ends the night with happiness and connection.