Paying Attention – 10 Minutes or Tiny Bits

On a parenting email discussion list that I moderate, a parent recently suggested the “10-20-10” method of attention giving. You spend 10 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes in the afternoon, and 10 minutes in the evening paying 1-on-1 attention to your child.That sounded like a great idea to me and easy enough for anyone to implement, right? I figured I was already doing 1-on-1 with Dylan at least that much, but that having the guideline in mind would be helpful going forward.

Right off the bat, I got a swift kick in the butt reminding me that what sounds easy to me doesn’t apply to everyone else’s situation. One parent on the list said there was no way she could do that. She had 5 kids. 40 minutes a day in 1-on-1 time with each of them would be over 3 hours a day. Not going to happen! She was an at-home mom, but still! 3 hours is a lot of time! And what would the other 4 kids be doing during the over 2 hours a day she was busy with another child?

I started paying attention to the time I spend truly focused on Dylan. I was really surprised to discover that we can go through entire days where we are never 1-on-1. I’m an at-home mom and so of course we have a lot of time together, but various tasks large and small fill up that time. There’s animal care, meal prep, eating, cleaning, the time I spend working, errands, and naps. Joshua works from home, too, so he and I interact a lot through the day.

Dylan still nurses several times a day, so I know he’s not starved for mama time. I really value that time together, as well as our sleeping time, but it isn’t what I think of as time where I’m focused on him. I’m not really paying attention to him during those times, even though we are literally connected.

Thinking about this has reminded me of the importance of routine activities. When our day is busy and distracted, it’s even more clear to me how important it is to enjoy the tiny moments, like during diaper changes. Normally, you might think of a diaper change as something to hurry through. A little shift in perspective, though, and a diaper change is 2 minutes all to yourselves, 1-on-1. It’s time for a song, some smiles, some touching, some eye-contact, and a moment to “get away from it all”.

The time it takes to get from one place to another is also a great moment to connect. Whether it’s walking from room to room hand in hand or it’s driving somewhere and singing or talking together along the way, these are great times to catch a little connection.

In this way, I might not always spend 10 or 20 minutes fully focused on Dylan, but we have an entire day of being connected even when it seems like we’re really busy.