Picture the scene:
The dishes are dirty, LEGO is scattered all over the floor, one child is pulling at your leg asking for a cookie, the other is dumping out his drawer looking for a missing superhero cape.
Are you still with me, or have you gone to your happy place?
In some parenting circles (not in mine, ha! ) it may seem shocking that I am trying to get my kids to leave me alone. However, when I’ve heard the words, “Mom, I need….. ” 378 times in 72 seconds (yes, that is an accurate count, thankyouforasking) my head begins to spin.
Today I’m going to let you in on my secret tip. It’s how, in the midst of total chaos, I can get my kids to leave me alone for 10 minutes.
But before I tell you, I issue two warnings.
One. Do NOT over use this tactic.
Two. For heaven’s sake, don’t waste your precious 10 minutes to wash the dishes, fold the laundry, clean the toilet, or any other onerous household task. To complete tasks with children underfoot, you should use my (brilliant) storytelling tip.
Use this tip only when you want to sit down, put your feet up and engage in the relaxing activity of your choice. I choose tea and a book, but who knows, you may choose knitting.
Right now you are thinking one of the following:
1. Get to the point already!; or
2: This is the cheesiest article I have ever read.
Okay. Okay. Here it is. Drum roll, please. (Just kidding. Now, that is cheesy.)
Step 1. Look your children square in the eyes.
Step 2. Make the following announcement. “I am setting this timer for 10 minutes. Until you hear the beeping/buzzing/ringing you may not ask me for a single thing.”
Step 3. Set the timer. Ignore your children for 10 minutes.
That’s it. You may be skeptical. I hear you. However, it works. Provided you don’t use it every hour of every day. Remember my first warning? Don’t overuse it. Wait until your head is spinning.
Now let’s go over some qualifications since someone is bound to point out the obvious and miss the somewhat tongue-in-cheek attitude of this post. It’s true, you should exercise common sense. It’s true, you don’t do this with babies or toddlers. It’s true, you don’t ignore your children if they are engaged in dangerous behavior. It’s true, you don’t ignore your children in the case of an emergency.
Your main takeaway should be that as a parent you CAN ask your children to leave you alone. You CAN ask for them to give you a break from making demands on your person. You DON’T have to serve them every minute they are in your presence. You CAN teach them that they can provide for their own needs for the short duration of 10 minutes. Everyone will survive, and perhaps be just a teeny bit more relaxed because of it.
Extra tip: Your child(red) may sit and stare at the timer. Who cares! Or, if they try and talk to you, do not speak back! At the end of 10 minutes you can speak back to them, and even address anything they said. The important part is to be consistent. They will get the idea.
Good luck out there!
I bet now that you’ve had your 10 minutes you are ready for more self-care!!
I would like to point you in the direction of a super helpful printable that will help you remember to take more than just the occasional 10 minutes: Mama’s Self-Care: 31 Tips. Print it out and tack it up somewhere so you never forget that you deserve 10 minutes!