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"I'll be there in a minute; I've just got to do this...."

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

One thing I’ve been thinking about recently is, that whenever our children ask us to do something, we generally respond with one of the following:

  • “In just a minute, I’ve just got to do this…..”

  • “I’ll be there in a moment; I’ll just finish this….”

  • “Give me a sec, I’m just doing something….”

However, when we ask them to do something, we often will expect them to stop with they are doing, and to get about the business of doing whatever it is we want them to do.

If they were to say, “Just a minute, Mummy, I'm just finishing my Lego house”, or “I just want to finish my puzzle,” we'd be like, “No, it’s dinner time now, come to the table now.” Or “No, I need the toys cleaned up now.”

Have you noticed that there is a bit of a disconnect there? We see it as perfectly acceptable for them to have to wait for us, but we do not allow them the same courtesy.

It's not fair. It’s a double standard.

So, I invite you to start thinking about things that you say to your children, that you would not necessarily allow them to say to you. I’m not talking about swear words, or cuss words, but rather day-to-day moments, where you are ‘allowed’ to say something, and they are not.

Now, obviously, we can’t always stop what we are doing at the drop of a hat and read The Very Hungry Caterpillar (for the 1000th time) and similarly, they shouldn’t always have to stop what they are doing to go and brush their teeth (for the 1000th time).

It’s important to remember, that our child’s main ‘job’ is to play and explore. The puzzle that they are finishing, the Lego they are building, the ‘schools’ they are playing, is so important to them (even though we think it’s ‘just a game’ – it is actually such an important part of what makes them children!)

So how do we manage this?

Well, I have two approaches that you can use - and I recommend you use both!

Approach One - when they are asking for you

Reduce the number of times you say, ‘in a minute’.

If you realise that you have been saying this A LOT, I invite you, next time your child asks you to do something, to be ready and willing to stop whatever it is you are doing and give your child a good 10 minutes of connection time, before going back to task at hand. Just ten minutes. Once the ten minutes is up, you can give your child a hug, let them know how much you have enjoyed hanging out with them, and invite them to continue what they are doing, or to come and join in with what you were doing before.

Approach Two - when you are asking for them

Give them grace – allow them to finish what they are doing.

If you see that your child is really engrossed in playing schools, but you reaaaally need them to get dressed, instead of requesting they do it immediately, you can say “Once you’ve finished your game, it’s time to get dressed’.

Similarly, if you’ve simply asked them to come and get dressed, and they respond with ‘I just wanna finish playing schools” then your response can be ‘okey, doke, no worries, I’ll see you when you’ve schools finished.”

Role modelling

I love the expression, “Live the way you want them to learn”.

By this I mean, that by every once in a while, stopping what we are doing, and immediately doing what they ask of us, we are showing them connection, letting them know how important they are to us.

By showing them grace and allowing them to finish what they are doing, we are teaching them the act of patience, and respect…. they will become more accepting of us completing our tasks before responding immediately to them.

Balancing Act

It’s a balancing act between these two approaches, however being aware of the double standard that can exist in some households, is the first step in breaking this cycle. Knowing these two approaches and choosing whichever is most appropriate in the moment, can only foster a more positive home environment and more patience, understanding and respect between family members.

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