It’s party day in your child’s classroom and you just-don’t-have-two-hours for that. You have laundry, dishes and maybe even a paid job. Pssssttttt…. What if I told you that you get credit for 10 minutes?
A good friend of mine is a successful executive. She’s never been the classroom parent. She doesn’t bake holiday-specific cupcakes for events or serve on the PTO board. But she shows up for her kids’ class parties. She mingles with the other parents. And she spends time with her kids.
At a recent class party, the rest of us marveled aloud about her magical powers. Working full time. Traveling. And able to make it to most of her kids’ school events, sports and other activities?
That’s when she let a few of us in on a secret: She frequently only shows up for 10 minutes.
What? How did we not know? Did her kids know? How could such a huge thing fly under the radar?
She laughed and told us that she simply couldn’t spare hours for every class party and event, but she could show up. She could give her kids a warm hug, visit with a few parents and the teacher, jump into a few photos.
Photo evidence. Brilliant!
As her kids browse through their yearbooks (and we browse through ours), there she is, year after year — bright smile, beaming kids. And the thing is, she’s not even cheating because when she is there, she is there. She’s not checking her phone or looking at the clock. She is entirely engaged.
For 10 minutes.
While I suspect she’d love to do everything, she has done a better job than many of us in figuring out that she can’t. So, she does what she can, when she can.
A few weeks ago, she took a day off work for an all-day field trip. She does that, sometimes.
This week, she is traveling for work. When she returns, she will feel a tiny bit guilty about missing time. But she won’t feel the need to “make it up” to her kids. Instead, she’ll simply carve out 10 minutes to roughhouse with them, then make dinner and catch up on their news.
Sometimes, that’s all we need. A few minutes to feel seen and appreciated.
How Can the Rest of Us Do It?
Everyone has different circumstances.
Some moms have the flexibility to make their kids’ activities top priority. Lucky kids. Lucky moms. For various reasons, others can’t do that. But even if you don’t have much time to spare, here are a few ways you might still be able to be involved:
- Have infants or toddlers? Take them to the older kids’ parties. Everyone expects it.
- Have an employer that pays you for a certain number of volunteer hours each year? Use them at your kids’ school. It’s likely a nonprofit and qualifies for those hours.
- Work full time? Use your lunch break for a day to pop over to your child’s school recital.
- Zero flexibility to sneak out during the work day? Ask your kiddo’s teacher if you can assemble packets or help with other prep work from home.
- Sign up to bring something in for class parties and other events. You don’t need to arrange veggies in the shape of a heart, if you don’t have time for that. Bring the plates and napkins. Boom. Done.
Sometimes, 10 minutes is enough.