You have been there a thousand and one times.
At dawn you begin the daily struggle of getting your kids out of bed, clothed, fed and ideally teeth brushed before bringing them to school. You ask your kids to jump in the car, and tell yourself, “There is no shame in arriving to school in my pjs.”
The kids make it on time, with lunches and water bottles in tow. Victorious!
You rush back home to meet the electrician, whom you soon learn, will not arrive for three more hours.
As you take care of your home, you try to steal a sliver of precious time to work on your own projects before the kids get out of school. These moments are few and far between.
You meet your children at the school gates, to find them hungry and unresponsive to your question, “How was your day?”
Instead, they beg for playdates with children that live in separate directions across town. You taxi your children to and fro, until it is nearly dinner time.
When you finally return home, it is late and you’re dog tired.
Your partner’s day began differently. He awoke before dawn and kissed the kids goodbye as they slept.
Traffic to the office was so erratic that his blood pressure was through the roof before he even started work.
Not atypical, what he set out to accomplish that day was destroyed by endless interruptions and other people’s “emergencies.” He ate a sandwich over his keyboard at lunch with the hopes of returning home in time to eat dinner with the family.
He fought a pounding headache and traffic on his way home.
Just as he opens the door, the kids pounce on him like a lion in the bush.
Your eyes meet as you pass in the hallway, both feeling frazzled.
Does this sound familiar?
Both of you have been going non-stop. Both are exhausted. No one has had five minutes to him or herself.
One wrong comment and the whole evening could go down in flames.
Have a bad evening, and you ruin the only chance you have to connect that day.
Miss these evenings enough, distance and resentment are bound to build.
Do this one thing, and you can avoid relationship problems: Create a ten minute buffer between the end of a busy day and the beginning of the evening as a couple or family.
Think about it:
- How would you feel differently if you took back control of ten minutes of your day?
- What impact would it make if you gave yourself ten minutes to unwind before heading into the final phase of your day?
Mindfully creating a space of just ten minutes after a busy day and before you reconnect as a couple or family can be just what you need to enjoy your time together.
One couple created this buffer quite simply:
- She scheduled her children’s ipad time during the ten minutes she journaled quietly.
- He left a pair of jogging shoes in his car so he could take a brisk ten-minute walk before entering the house.
What could you do to create this buffer?
Brainstorm this with your partner, and make a plan to stick with it for a week. Then discuss:
- What worked? What was challenging?
- What impact did these ten minutes have on your evening?
Investing even a little time to create a buffer that helps you relax and reunite with your partner can set the tone for the rest of the evening.
The scenario above will be familiar to many but there are so many wonderful and diverse ways to do family, be in relationship, or manage a household. Considering your unique context, how can you apply these tips to your life and landscape?
No matter whom you love, it’s time to stop smashing into each other after a long day. With this one tip, you can welcome each other home.
These could be the most important ten minutes of your relationship.
Author: Sundae Schneider Bean
Sundae Schneider-Bean is on a mission to help globally mobile individuals adapt as quickly (and painlessly!) as possible, expedite success, create meaningful connections (abroad and at home), and cherish the experience. She is a solution-oriented coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations. American by birth, Swiss by marriage, and expat in South Africa by choice.
Her clients range from European multi-national organizations to international NGOs, from West and East African country directors to new and seasoned expat spouses, representing over 60 countries across 6 continents. Find out more at www.sundaebean.com.