Finding 15 Minutes: The Art of the Busy Parent Mini-Date

What if that thing you keep telling yourself you can’t do, that means so much to you yet has been languishing undone, could be done in only 15 minutes? Would you keep putting it off… or would you find 15 minutes and DO IT?

Image by Louise Docker, Create Commons License.

Image by Louise Docker, Creative Commons License.

If the answer is that you would keep putting it off, that’s actually fantastic. It means you don’t truly want to do it. Yay for you for noticing! Celebrate your increased awareness of that choice and stop beating yourself up with should’s. You don’t have to do that thing at all.

But if the answer is that you would love to give 15 minutes to something, here’s how to do it.

First, create 15 minutes. I call 15-minute chunks mini-dates… they are dates with myself, with others or with projects. Here are some techniques for finding your 15 minutes.

  • Do less of something. Choose something that you do to fill time or distract yourself, and choose to do less of it. Decide that it’s okay for certain chores to wait longer or go undone.
  • Ask for help. Ask your partner to focus on your kiddos for those 15 minutes at a set time of day. Then use that small but magical chunk of time mindfully.
  • Parallel play. While your child is doing something absorbing that they can do independantly or semi-independantly, take 15 minutes to do something that truly matters to you.

Once you’ve found or created your 15 minutes, put it on your calendar. You can do this once, or create a daily 15-minute appointment for moving forward the things that matter to you.

Here are some things that you could do for yourself in 15-minutes… either once in a satisfying but sweet mini-version, or over time in daily 15-minute chunks.

  • Relax. 15 minutes is enough time to lie down on your bed or the floor with dim lights and mellow music, taking slow deep breaths.
  • Invigorate. 15 minutes is enough time to dance wildly to some fun music in your bedroom and get your blood moving. Or go for a brisk walk around the block.
  • Pamper. 15 minutes is enough time to do a bit of extra goodness for your body if you enjoy that sort of thing. Take an extra long shower and deep-condition your hair, give yourself a foot rub with some scented lotion before bedtime, or whatever little extra act makes you feel happier in your body.
  • Connect. 15 minutes is enough time for a short phone call with someone you love. It could be someone who lives far away, or even your spouse or partner. If you use this time to chat with your spouse, logistics, household chores and complaints are all forbidden topics of conversation; talk about something you’ve read, something you dreamed, something small but interesting that you saw or heard.
  • Nest. 15 minutes is enough to make headway on a cluttered space, dirty job or home repair project that is bugging you. Break the project down into tiny 15-minute work chunks and you will make headway on it faster than you think.
  • Beautify. 15 minutes is also enough to do some small thing to liven up your living space… hang up a picture, pick some flowers and put them in a vase, whatever makes your heart life when you enter a room.
  • Stimulate. 15 minutes is enough time to read an article that teaches you something you didn’t know about the world.
  • Create. 15 minutes is enough time to write, draw, craft or journal. Whether you are experimenting, playing or doing a craft you’re expert in, take a bit of time to open yourself to creative flow.
  • Manifest. Choose a project that you want to bring fully into being. What is one small thing you can do to move it forward? What next? Keep working for 15 minutes per day and you can make even big projects happen over time.
  • Breathe. 15 minutes is enough time to do nothing. Center yourself in your own breathing, let thoughts drift lightly across your mind, smile softly at the beauty of being here, present, in this world this very moment.

15 minutes might not seem like much, but sometimes it’s amazing how little time it takes to fill up our souls, move projects forward and reconnect to lost parts of your life or yourself. Tiny shifts can change your entire balance for the better.

What will you do with your 15 minutes? When will you claim that time?

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