Until recently, I worked outside of the home three days per week, and on those days, I left the house by 7 a.m. Often, at that time, my five-year-old daughter wasn't awake yet. When I didn't get to say goodbye to her on those mornings, I usually left her a “Good morning” love note. But sometimes, the mornings in which she was awake at departure time were harder because I was rushing to get out the door and couldn't give her the full attention that she was wanting.
A while back, I noticed that the separations after such mornings were causing some disconnection in our relationship. My evenings with her after my long days at work — when, needless to say, I was tired — began to feel bumpy. So, I consulted my Parenting by Connection toolbox and ramped up our Special Time.
Special Time in the evening became more consistent, and I committed to scheduling at least 15 to 30 minutes into every weeknight. But what seemed to make the most difference in our connection was the “mini” Special Time sessions that I did for five minutes — just five minutes! — before heading out the door for work, on the mornings she was awake before 7 a.m. No matter how late I was running, I could make time for five minutes of Special Time.
I would say, “I'm going to set the Special Time timer for five minutes!” And then, I would follow her lead, pouring all of my enthusiasm and attention into the activity of her choosing.
My daughter was happy to do this first thing in the morning. Once, she asked for a pillow fight. Another time, she wanted to do a puzzle together (which she continued on her own after the timer went off). Another time, she wanted a back massage.
With these healthy little dollops of Special Time in our morning routine, our goodbyes became easier and sweeter. Not only did my daughter start to seem more connected to me despite the long separations, I also felt more connected to her, having invested some of the best kind of quality time with her — and on her terms — while starting out the day.
You can learn to make Special Time your own with this short (free) video series.