As the dawn broke on another year, I awoke in dry(ish) January 2018 with not only my traditional fuzzy head, oh no! Like every year I awoke with the determination and positivity to make change in all aspects of my life.
Armed with my list of resolutions I planned on embracing the new year and putting them into practice with immediate effect, oh alright maybe after a couple of paracetamol and a bit more sleep!
Every year the chaos of Christmas ensues and I find myself being pulled in opposite directions. Whilst work life home life balance gets lost in sea of plays, parties, shopping, work, gatherings and winter bugs. Feelings of inadequacy and guilt creep in and before I know it I find myself making endless mental lists of new years resolutions as a coping mechanism.
Note to self (as I send yet another belated birthday card)….. ‘be more organised next year as winging it and the lastminute.com approach doesn’t seem to be cutting it these days’.
‘Become a domestic goddess like Delia and make delicious home-made food without the need for take away or convenience’ I listed as I collected our family sized takeaway.
‘Clear out the room of doom’, I mentally scribbled as I shoved more junk in to hide it away from our Christmas guests.
In between the madness I found myself watching endless episodes of Ben Foggle’s Escape to the Wilderness. As tempting as disappearing to a dessert Island with the family may seem my day dreams of solitary and self sufficiency just really highlight how I’m craving a simpler life than the one I’m living as a modern day working parent. The mental notes continued…..
‘Spend more time with the people I love’ I printed in capital letters and underlined several times as I dropped my poorly daughter off to recover with my Mum whilst I worked (the same week I missed my little ones school play).
Before Christmas I attended some training based on a book that I had been reading called ‘The Great Behavioural Breakdown’ by Bryan Post. Bryan writes books about parenting traumatised and Adopted children and makes suggestions you can put into practice to improve relationships. This extract from his book got me thinking:
Affection Prescription 10-20-10
‘This is a prescription that I give to most to all of the parents I work with. It consists of the following:
10 minutes of parent/child quality time in the morning
20 minutes of parent /child quality time in the afternoon
10 minutes of parent/child quality time in the evening.
When you follow the 10-20-10 prescription, it quadruples the national average for parent child interaction. That’s how little time most parents spend with their children in the U.S! This prescription alone can have a significant impact on your child’s window of tolerance and regulation abilities. You are creating containment on a regular basis and having proactive time in with your child. Put these ideas into action. Be powerful. Shine your light. Don’t walk in the darkness. Really make a change in your life, and it will create a change in your family’s life and the life of your child.
Turning to Google for a quick search I was initially shocked when it revealed ‘allegedly’ on average parents in the UK spend just 34 minutes a day with their child. Now at the weekend I know that I would smash this statistic out of the park but it got me thinking about how much individual time I spend with my children on a weekly basis around school, work, clubs and homework.
After deciding that spending ten minutes in the morning hunting for the rogue shoe did not quantify ‘quality time’ I was actually quite shocked with the answer I came up with and too ashamed to put it in writing!! Now I know I can’t be alone on this one as this is a difficult task for parents with multiple children as its focussing on one on one time with individual children as opposed to the time you all spend together as a unit.
So when I finally awoke in 2018 to a house which resembled a crime scene after our NYE party I set myself the 10 20 10 challenge to see just how tough it really is when working part time and full time hours.
My 10 20 10 Diary
When Sunday night arrived I ironed the uniforms in preparation, lined up the shoes, packed the school bags and restricted my intake of Peeky Blinders to guarantee a good nights sleep. Synchronising my alarm clock with my daughter’s (who currently leaves the house whilst I’m getting ready for work) I was all set.
Monday (around part time hours)
6.20 am I met my surprised looking daughter in the kitchen for breakfast. Ten seconds later despite being quiet as mice my youngest came flying down the stairs like a sniffer dog wanting his breakfast. 6.33am I managed to persuade my hangry son to go and watch telly for ten minutes whilst I had a chat with his sister. I got the update of who’s going out with who and who’s dumping who at school……BOOM mission complete with child number one.
6.50 am whilst my eldest son is still snoring and daughter is getting ready to leave the house I make breakfast for my early riser and immerse myself in the cultural delights of Tiny Pop Pop. After a couple of minutes my daughter walks in waving a chocolate reindeer asking if she can take it to school for break. We finally manage a full uninterrupted ten minutes together and I made a mental note that Cbeebies is far more educational than the junk I had just been subjected to!
7.40 am and I’m running out of time as my eldest son snores on. With failure not and option on the first day of my challenge I wake him up. Now I’m not sure whether making your son breakfast in bed whilst you blow dry your hair in the same room constitutes ‘quality time’ but nether the less it would have to do as ten minutes (surprisingly uninterrupted) time together.
4.30pm Twenty minutes of uninterrupted reading with my eldest son whilst the other two played together…..# legend!
5.00pm Mummy turns into Mario’s side kick for twenty minutes as my youngest shows me how to play the Wii whilst screaming ‘press A’ at me continually. Eldest son keeps walking in and being asked to leave…..apparently reading is boring in comparison (note to self to make it more fun)
5.30pm and some multi tasking is required as my daughter has revision she needs to complete. We hide in the bathroom where we put on face masks as I test her on her science. Eldest son bangs on the door asking why he didn’t get to do a face mask. Note to self NEVER use black seaweed masks again as it stains the bathroom!
6.30pm the bedtime routine starts and I easily allocate ten minutes to each child before bed whoop whoop!
40 minutes per child task achieved
Tuesday (part time hours)
I feel like I’m winning with three lots of 10 minute uninterrupted quality time in the bag before leaving for work….give myself a high five.
One manicure, a few games of domino’s and another level completed on Mario…..
10 minutes each before bed…..#winning
40 minutes per child achieved…….chores are slipping!
Wednesday (Full Time hours Paint a very different picture indeed!!)
6.50 am Arghhhhhhhh I hit snooze on my alarm clock one too many times. Managed to meet my daughter in the kitchen for her ten minutes, sat in her PJ’s she declares she has no uniform…eek!
7pm The boys tell me they would prefer to play with each other rather than play with me
7.10 Manage to persuade my youngest to spend ten minutes with me under duress as we eat breakfast, knowing full well today is going to be a challenge as I won’t get back from work until 6pm.
7.20 Battle with ODD and the shower lasting 30 minutes….deep breaths required!
7.50 After the worst morning on record for a long time I manage 10 minutes playing Domino’s and complete the full set.
6.30pm Manage thirty minutes of playing games and reading with the youngest who is the only one in the house (making up for my impossible twenty minutes in the afternoon)
Both the eldest children are at clubs and do not return until 8pm by which time I’m way to tired and need some time for me #sinking
Eldest 10 minutes (shared)
Middle 10 minutes (but he did spend one on one time with his Dad)
Youngest 40 minutes
Fresh Start Thursday…thinking outside the box
6.30 am both my youngest and my eldest meet me in the kitchen for breakfast and I’m fed up of asking my littlest to go off and entertain himself for ten minutes so we all enjoy breakfast together…#breaking the rules
7.00 am I manage an uninterrupted breakfast with my eldest son …..back on track whoop whoop!
3.30pm I think outside the box and Face-time my family at work. Whilst this was a really lovely two minutes of interaction I t consisted of two children telling me they hadn’t had the best day at school. Interestingly enough my daughter narrowly missed a behavioural point for sneaking out of class to check her phone in the loo, momentarily shrinking in my chair I felt like a hypocrite when I told her it wasn’t acceptable to be using her phone in school time!
I was not home until 6pm making twenty minutes in the afternoon physically impossible again.
Meltdown from eldest son meant despite being offered he did not want his quality time.
Twenty minutes with youngest before bed
Time out with Mummy has resulted in a backlog of homework for my daughter so its agreed we need to give it a miss tonight but not before she tells me it’s the second night running…Epic fail!
10 20 10 Experiment Conclusion
Whilst I spend a lot of time with my children as a group this experiment opened my eyes to how little time I am able to allocate to one on one quality time during the week (better half not included). Whilst I knew this task was going to be difficult I wasn’t quite prepared for just how challenging it would be and after starting the week on a high I’m approaching the weekend still dry, a little less organised and not even slightly resembling Delia!
My advice to anyone wanting to put this in to practice is make quality time about fun and not about something your child finds difficult and I say this from my own mistakes.
A word of caution for any parents reading this who have children who struggle with transition and change. Whilst you are making positive change you are also completely changing a routine which helps your child to feel safe and secure. In hindsight I should have prepared my children and considered gradual as opposed to radical change which effected one of my children immensely.
Lastly, making positive change takes time and dedication and results can only be seen over time and so with this final thought In mind I pick myself up dust myself down and continue on my 10, 20, 10 quest. I’m particularly interested to see if there is any truth behind the theory that this will help children with their window of tolerance and self regulation…..needless to say only time will tell!
To Be continued…