15 minutes & Making After Work Time Work

While surfing Pinterest the other day, I saw a pin that included a list of ideas to make sure each of your children felt special and loved, and one suggested that you spend 15 dedicated minutes with each kid, where you’re not doing anything else. Just playing, focusing on the kid.

Well, we’re a one kid household at this point so that sounds super easy. But as I got to thinking about it, I wasn’t sure I could say I *did* in fact spend 15 minutes without my phone, not picking up or folding laundry… just playing and focusing. Big, fat whoops.

So, I started being deliberate about it. Nights when I pick up Margo from daycare and come home, things can go really well or it can be a constant back and forth of her whining/yelling for me to pay attention to her and me throwing fishsticks in the oven or unloading the dishwasher and yelling back “Just a minute, sweetie!” Know what the determining factor is in our evenings? 15 minutes of focus.

I come home and bring all our crap in from the car (honestly, we look like we live in the car between the daycare bag, gym bag, sometimes the produce box, my purse…) and I just leave it. I fight the urge to take my sweaty running clothes upstairs & put them in the hamper and fight the urge to thumb through the mail. And we do whatever she wants to do (that’s not TV, that’s the babysitter that will come in handy during the second successful phase of the evening: dinner prep.) We often do a puzzle or read a book. We color (SO relaxing for me…) We pet the cat, sit on the porch if the heat isn’t brutal. We go outside if it’s possible, but frankly, indoor cuddling and mind games allow us more bonding.

Snuggles for all!! Exhibit A.

Then, after 15ish minutes (I don’t set a timer), I peel away and start dinner prep. Note: I don’t MAKE dinner, I generally warm some leftovers up or we eat something frozen. She can continue to play independently, or more often, she’ll ask to watch Curious George and I’ll say yes.

For so, so long I resisted TV. WHY did you do this, Jamie? For 23 minutes, she sits there and I can actually get shit done. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing and I have begun to be okay with this daily. Not like it’s all day, I tell myself, it’s 23 minutes when I sorely need it.

On a good night, I have all our stuff ready and the two of us eat together. Family dinners are something that’s still a work in progress for us. It’s complicated, frankly… Scott and I generally aren’t eating the same things, and Margo has some overlap now, but she’s also got a unique plate. I work on the two of us, Scott does his. It’s working for us, for now. I do wish the three of us could eat together more, but right now given our schedules and diets, just not happening and I’m letting us off the hook for that. So.

What makes your nightly routine work or not work? Do YOU spend 15 minutes focused on your kid?



6 thoughts on “15 minutes & Making After Work Time Work

  1. I am the same. I feel like we walk in the door going, “wait just a few minutes while I XYZ”. Though I will say our trouble lately is drawing/coloring. He wants to do that but it just turns into him requesting us to draw things…which has to come to an end at some point and he loses his ever loving shit about it. Shouting “WE DO IT TOGETHER” which is bullshit. We are trying to work on this. I draw the ice cream cone and he has to decorate it. Sometimes it works and sometimes no.

    we don’t do TV before dinner because it would be more meltdown. TV is the treat/incentive after dinner before bed. Helps him wind down and we can take it away if he is an ass at the table. But I also have the luxury of Kevin being home. So he will play with L while I cook or vice versa. Our matching schedules are SUCH a huge benefit to us.

    And I think I am liking the 15 minute thing. Though technically I spend that time or a little more with bedtime. There is nothing else going on. I read stories, sing, encourage him to breakdance naked, etc. Once I am not sporting this belly, I hope to make sure I spend alone time with him at least 15 minutes in the evening. Like you said, we can eat fish sticks…this is more important.

    • The 15 min commitment is actually good for both of us, a good transition to being home, not at work, not in the car etc.

      I so WANT her to just play alone while I make dinner, but we’re not there yet. I wish we were tho, every now and then she’ll play independently for like 5 minutes and I am SOO SOO HAPPY but then she’s all like “Mommy come do it with me.” It’s sweet, but I also need to do other stuff sometimes. Kids.

      Breakdancing naked is also really important. Something I’ve been ignoring completely, but thanks for the reminder.

  2. I like this idea a lot! I mean, I have three…so 15 minutes could quickly turn into 45, but I could do one a night while the other two play together. Or swat at the cat. Whatever.
    Operation Down Time shall be attempted at my house, thanks for the suggestion Jamie/Pinterest:)

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