“Give me a minute”

“Just a second. Let me finish this first.”

“I’ll help you in a bit.”

I don’t know if you are anything like me, but I find myself using these phrases quite often when I am in the middle of something and one of my kids is tugging on my arm. Sometimes they need me to grab something that is out of reach. Sometimes they want me to play a game. Sometimes they just want me to come check out their latest LEGO creation or watch their cars zoom down the hall. But in my desire to finish whatever I am doing, I brush them off with these simple phrases, hoping to buy myself a little more time. It can’t hurt, right? I will get to their needs eventually. But what message am I sending when I routinely do this? Perhaps one I am not intending to—that whatever Mommy is currently doing is way important to me than they are.

This motherhood thing? It’s hard. It’s hard putting someone else’s needs, wants, and desires in front of your own, day after day after day. It can be frustrating to get interrupted when you are trying to get something accomplished, especially as your to-do list runs through your head on a continuous loop. In our current lives, where instant gratification has taken a stronghold, I honestly don’t think it’s a bad thing for kids to have to wait. In fact, I think it’s good for them. We all need opportunities to develop and practice patience. And I don’t think we should feel like we have to be at our kids’ beck and call 24/7. But when I find myself falling into a pattern where my go-to response is to tell my kids “let me finish this first” whenever I’m currently wrapped up in something else, I have to wonder about the message I might be sending their little hearts.

There are 60 seconds in a minute. 60 minutes in an hour. 1,440 minutes in a day. 525,600 minutes in a year. Multiply that by 18, and that is a whole lot of minutes we are given to spend with our children before they leave the nest. But as any experienced mama can tell you, these minutes fly by in the blink of an eye. And the reality is, we are not guaranteed a single one of them. Not a single one!

The next time your child tugs on your arm, resist the urge to buy yourself more time. If whatever you are doing can wait, take advantage of this minute they are asking to spend with you. See it as an opportunity, not an interruption. It’s a chance to send them a message that you never want them to question—that they are the most important thing in your world. Sometimes our kids just need to be reminded of that. Not in a minute. Not in a bit. Not in a few seconds, but right now.

Mary Ann Blair

Mary Ann Blair is a stay-at-home mom living in the Pacific Northwest with her two little gentlemen and hubs. She loves connecting with other parents who like to keep it real! Her work has been published on Her View From Home, Motherly, A Fine Parent, Perfection Pending, That’s Inappropriate, Pregnant Chicken, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Red Tricycle and in Chicken Soup For the Soul. She can be found at maryannblair.com or on Facebook at Mary Ann Blair, Writer.