Connecting with your kids: Why the first 5 minutes matter, mama

Five to 15 minutes of undivided attention can transform you and your child's lives.


The million-dollar parenting question is: How much time do kids need to feel loved and secure? In my research, I've uncovered some hopeful news.

It turns out that children don't need large chunks of time delivered occasionally; they need short bursts of attention delivered consistently.

A little focused time goes a long way with kids. Many experts say that the attention span of a child is about one minute for each year of their life. In other words, a 1-year-old child can focus for about one minute, a 5-year-old for five, and a 15-year-old for about 15 minutes.

Interviews with children reveal that they are satisfied in less time than parents realize; they just want to be able to rely on that time, and for their parent to be truly focused—not multitasking or phoning it in.


Five to 15 minutes of undivided attention can transform you and your child's lives.

Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president of community and family engagement at Sesame Workshop, emphasized that relating time starts with the everyday caretaking moments that do not require any extra time. Brushing hair, getting dressed, eating meals, tucking kids into bed at night all provide a wonderful platform to relate to your child.

If you view the cutting of your kid's nails as an opportunity to connect, instead of a chore, it becomes fun. If you view the drive to and from activities as a chance to communicate, rather than just transportation, it becomes relating time.

Once parents realize they are doing these things already, Jeanette says, the next question is how to make the most of these moments, talk a little more, invite questions, or give a hug for the sake of a hug.

The first five minutes pack a punch. Annie Pleshette Murphy, parenting expert, family therapist, and former editor in chief of Parents magazine, calls the first few minutes of every reconnection point with your child "the relationship savers." These are moments such as the first thing in the morning, the first few minutes you reconnect with your children after school and before dinner, and when you get home from work.

The goal is to light up when you see your child.

A warm and nurturing response will set the tone for the time together and actually stretch the time—buying you loads of peaceful time where kids feel satisfied so that the moments you do have together feel full. (According to Annie, that focus on the first five minutes works well for marriages, too.)

Kids need alone time, too. Moments when you are in the same space as your kids, but each involved in your own activities—like when you are getting a meal on the table, while your kid is nearby doing their homework—are healthy.

Children of all ages—from babies to teenagers—benefit from doing their own independent activities, yet are secure and supported knowing you are nearby and available.

Here's the condition: together-but-apart time only works if you are accessible to your children and available to engage in chat with them from time to time. You should avoid doing any "flow" tasks or work that requires your undivided attention.

Consider household chores.

Every expert I spoke to warned against a parent's tendency to think of household chores as something you need to rush through to make space for quality time with your kids. Instead, let kids be involved with what you're doing. Relating over the little things—making dinner, washing the car, folding laundry, sweeping the kitchen floor—is one way to make sure you get in some good connecting time with your kids, even if you have a mile-long to-do list at home.

Don't shun them, engage them.

Those tiny moments of connection over seemingly mundane domestic tasks are often the most memorable for kids anyway.

Make the most of daily routines.

Streamline routines such as waking up, getting dressed, eating meals, traveling to and from school or other activities. The more predictable and less rushed routines are, the easier it is to use them as moments for calm, focused quality time.

Schedule dedicated one-on-one time.

A little bit of predictable special time every day to connect to your children can become the building blocks of connection over the years. Whether it's 20 minutes of reading every night or half an hour to shoot hoops, create a tradition of reliable daily moments your kids can count on to talk to you.

Once a week or even once a month, dedicate a longer block of time to spend one-on-one, diving into a project together, going on an adventure, or pursuing one of your child's interests.

Relating-time is a basic daily need that can be integrated into any encounter and interaction with your child. The goal is small doses, frequently and consistently delivered. That foundation will allow for the inevitable imperfect moments and overly busy times. Remember that, for the most part, your kids don't really pay attention to what the activity is—as long as it's with you.

Excerpted from TIME TO PARENT: Organizing Your Life to Bring Out the Best in Your Child and You by Julie Morgenstern. Published by Henry Holt and Company. Copyright © 2018 by Julie Morgenstern. All rights reserved.

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By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.


Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.


Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌


Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.


Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.


Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.


Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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