I was talking yesterday about how we interact with our children when they come with a request.
In the past, I’ve said “just a minute,” usually so I can finish what I’m doing before I respond. I’m very distractible, and not just with things I want to avoid. Just this week, twice I’ve left coffee half-way made and wondered all day why I was walking around in a fog.
Then I noticed that “just a minute” meant nothing to my children. They know how long a minute is, and they noticed that there was no correlation between actual time and my stated time. So they nagged. After a few seconds, they asked again. They were afraid I’d forget, and I was annoyed because the way they ensured that I didn’t forget was to ask every 30 seconds until I payed attention.
Yes, I could tell them not to ask again, but really, my “just a minute” was misleading at worst and meaningless at best. So I have been attempting to instead give a specific reference point instead: ask me again when mommy is done with the dishes. Let me put this away, and then you can ask me. If I say just a minute, I want it to have meaning. I really don’t want my children to tune out what I say because I am speaking thoughtlessly.
I still have a ways to go. Let mommy finish her email can mean 5-30 minutes, depending on the email. It’s a meaningless statement. So is I’m getting up soon (something I’ve said to my children this morning, since I started this post when they were still sleeping, and they woke up before I had finished. Is the problem with these statements the ambiguity, or that I’m on the computer longer than I should be? I’ll be thinking on this.
Because my children are so small and thier needs seem to be nonstop, I don’t allow myslef to be on the computer infront of them. I only use it when they are napping or asleep for the night. Besides, I am always cooking or cleaning anyway, so I really wouldn’t have time to check online stuff. But I do want my children to know that mommy can do stuff aside from them in thier presence, whether that be folding laundry or washing dishes. My problem seems to be adding to the statement unnecessarrily, like “I’ll give you that when I’m done with the dishes… I only have two hands.” Not really helpful or meaningful at all 😛
Fun to see how our challenges are different, and yet similar. It’s an interesting balance– to be with them but not smother them. 🙂
I have been dealing with this very same thing. My youngest (6) just said the other day “when mommy says just a second it means in an hour”. That pretty much hit home that I need to more precise as well. Sometimes if they are awake and I am checking e-mail I will tell them to set the timer for 15 minutes so I know how long it’s been and they will know there is an end in sight…or at least when the hear the beep. It seems time moves faster when I am “enjoying” other adults….even if it is electronically. 🙂