I want to talk about a comment made on this blog a while back that talked about the most important nine minutes of the day.

But first let’s think about this: you know when your baby sleeps through the night for the very first time? You think through all the things you did the night before: what lotion you used after bath time, the timing of the last feeding, the temperature of the room, how tight you swaddled.

And you work your darnedest to duplicate that exact scenario.

Because oh! how you are craving that precious sleep.

I feel like I’m in that stage with Lucy right now: trying to examine what is working. Because we are in a good spot right now.

Oh please help her stay here where hope lives.

But what made this change? Was it random? A new step in maturity? Someone extending some extra friendliness at school?

The power of the “Welcoming Response”

Well, maybe I’m reading into this too much, but I honestly think the “Welcoming response” I’m trying to beef up around here for 2024 is at least part of the explanation. It’s a theory I learned in an online developmental psychology class a couple years ago. It’s all about the way we greet our children and the difference it makes in a child’s development when they are noticed and welcomed. It resonated with me more than anything else in that whole course. I think lighting up like the sun when your child (or friend, or husband) come into a room makes an incredible difference.

I’m not claiming this will change everything in a snap.

But there is something about feeling cherished that has all kinds of power in it. We have all felt it at some point in our lives, right?

The power of being noticed.

To know that we matter.

That we belong.

This gives us power on the inside to cherish ourselves. And also power on the outside because when we feel cherished, we are better able to reach out and cherish others (like Father Gregory Boyle explained in his podcast I linked and loved).

The most important nine minutes of the day

Ok so back to the important nine minutes. In the comments of the Welcoming Response post Madeleine shared this thought:

“I read somewhere that the most important nine minutes of a child’s day are (a) the first three minutes they are greeted when they wake up in the morning, (b) the first three minutes they are greeted when they come home from school, and (c) the last three minutes they are held before going to sleep. It’s one of my favourite pieces of mothering advice I’ve heard so far in my short mothering career. Thought it would resonate with you. Xo”

Yes, it did resonate with me. (Thank you so much for sharing, Madeleine!) It makes sense that even nine minutes of being fully present can be that powerful. Because it’s all about connecting. And when we make an effort to connect and “be there” for even nine minutes a day, trajectories change.

“Let your face speak what’s in your heart”

I love that another reader named Jan added her own thoughts in that comment section with a quote from Toni Morrison when she was on the Oprah Winfrey show. She said:

“When a child walks in the room, your child or anybody else’s child, do your eyes light up? That’s what they’re looking for.”

She went on to say, “When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. What’s wrong now?”

“Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see?”

I love that Oprah follows up with this:

“That is how you learn what your value is. Not by what that person is saying to you, but by what you feel.”

Truth right there.

Again, I know there’s no magic way to snap your fingers and change the synapses of your child’s brain in an instant.

But I’m convinced there is a way to change that child’s heart, (AND yours), bit by bit, when they walk into a room and there is rejoicing that they are there. Whether they have combed hair or good grades or a messy room or they said a bad word to their sister, whether they are a surly teenager or a mischievous toddler, they matter.

And they are cherished.

Always.

Here’s to making those “most important” nine minutes each day count.

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