Today I was catching up with a client I only see about once a year. Since our last meeting she has given birth to her third child and my oldest child has recently become engaged. After all the news was shared she asked me, “You seem to have done well with your kids. Any parenting advice you would share with me?” Having heard this often over the years, I always stop and really question whether they sincerely want to know my thoughts or if it is simply a nice way to segway the conversation. This time I stopped and took a moment to honestly answer her.
“The power of 25!” I answered.
You see in between my appointment with her and the previous one I had stopped at a local ice cream parlor for a treat. It was $1 cone Thursday and I was surprised to not see a line out the door. As I walked up to the counter I noticed a group of moms enter herding their broods. They weren’t together and the children were of all ages. Each of these moms were taking time to share a short moment with their children for the small cost of a dollar, yet the rewards would be worth millions if they did it right. As I purchased my ice cream and received my $4 in change I looked back at the mom behind me with the toddler on her hip, who was trying to help her other two children decide on their order. I turned back to the cashier, put my change back on the counter and told her, “The next 4 are on me.” And I walked out the door.
Cheers for Jennifer? No, not really. You see, that mom was taking advantage of the “Power of 25” and I just had to get in on it. I base the “Power of 25” on the first 25 minutes after you pick your children up from school, daycare, soccer or work. It is during that magical time that your child is a sieve. Everything in them from their day comes out in unbridled passion. You will hear about their best friend, their worst enemy, what was for lunch and how their day was good, bad or amazing. Within those 25 minutes you have the chance to peek into the window of their world and show them that they matter to you… essentially it is a memory and an honor all rolled into one.
In this madcap world of busyness that consists of sports, dance classes, science fairs, and extra-curricular activities it is easy to be non-stop from morning until night 350 days a year, and the other 15 days are holidays that are caught up with family. So next time you roll to the curb and your kids pile in, take a moment. Do you really have to rattle off the next items on the schedule? Is it truly all that important that they hit the door and make for the shower, the gym clothes, the dance bag or computer? Can you take a drive around the block and stop at the local yogurt shop and talk while in line? Can you not rush them to the car with their snacks, but rather sit at the table and laugh at the silly antics that are the makeup of your children’s interaction? Can you really harness the “power of the 25?”
I am happy to say that my mom did this with me and I followed suit. I reaped the benefits too. My kids all continued to share their days with me through high school and college, even my sons. To this day, they will all pick up the phone and tell me about the goings-on in their world. They know I want to know, because I have been listening since they began to talk. My daughter, who just became engaged, moved back home with us a few years ago. Now that our lives are changing as she heads toward matrimony, I wonder if she will still call and tell me about her day. I hope she does… because she matters and I would love to listen.