By: Julie Gamberg

on the phone while with kid


I know another single mom who, after feeling very disconnected from her tween son, embarked on a project of spending just fifteen minutes a day where she is totally present with him, and then journaling about it. I was privileged to hear some of her journal entries and it’s clear that both her relationship with her son, and also her own feelings about herself are improving.

Inspired by this project, I set out to do this same thing this week. Spend fifteen fully present minutes with my 16 month-old, and then journal about it. And let me tell you folks, it’s a lot harder than it looks. Here was the score at the end of the week:


Fifteen consecutive fully present minutes: 1 point, me. 6 points, scattered days

Journaling about it: 0 points. me. 7 points, way too much to do


If I had had time to journal about it, I might have written about how as soon as I sit down to read, and cuddle, and then follow my daughter around the apartment where she’s jumping on things, playing ball, driving her little car, asking for crayons, and getting into the child-proofed drawers … mere minutes after starting out to focus just on her, my mind is a’flitter with everything that needs to be done around the house, on the computer, on my phone, as well as everything that we have coming up that day, or that night, and how I will have to pace things so that my daughter eats, and sleeps, and has time for transitions. Before I know it, she is engrossed in an activity, and I’ve slunk off to wash some dishes, or eat for the first time, or return a quick phone call. Through this exercise, I’ve realized that my undivided attention to my daughter tends to come in very short spurts. As soon as she turns away to do something else, so, often, do I.

As a working, single mom, my time is especially limited, but I’m seeing that this is why it’s even more important that I carve out time just to connect with my child. A friend of mine talks about parenting as a spiritual or meditative practice. When I think about it that way, making time to be present seems even more important. This week I’m going to try double journaling (two chances to increase my score!). A few minutes of journaling before our fifteen minutes, to clear some of the clutter from my mind, and to concretely set my intention. And then, after our deeply connected time, and after finishing dinner, and the dishes, and putting her to bed, and finishing my work, I’ll remember that there was also supposed to be a post-fifteen-minutes journal, and I will fall asleep dreaming of the stories my friend used to tell me about when she would sit Zazen and be hit with a stick while meditating to keep on task. I’m looking forward to trying to connect with my child with greater awareness. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. And I’m glad there are no baby monks to make sure I stay with it.



  1. says

    Maybe start slower with only 5 minutes and build up. In the old days when my kids were young (almost 40 years ago) we had just TV and land line phones. Much easier not to watch TV or answer the phone. Today with all the distractions it would be much harder. Good luck. Can’t wait to follow along.

  2. V says

    I end up taking my daughter out to the patio if she can’t sit still during a gathering and it’s quite fun. I don’t journal about it afterward (straight to daycare, then work) but today it was -run around the tree in the opposite direction from Mom, then the reverse. Do somersaults with Mom’s help. Ask ‘up please’ with prompting to climb up on a patio chair four times. Toddle to French door and watch Mr. Magic, the custodian, push a large TV into another room. Wave to Mr. Magic as he vacuums. Play with the long icicle Christmas lights. Look into the dry waterspout to see if there is water, as there was when it rained. Peer into the trashcan. Look up when an airplane passes above and wave and make noises. Look at the bugs and ants on the patio. Try to touch the flowers in the planter. Ask ‘up please’ as Mom walks you around the planter.

  3. says

    Wake up, internet for way more than 15 minutes, take a shower, brush teeth, apply makeup, get dressed, dry my hair and style the curls with product, take my pills for the morning and then back on computer and then out the door to the gym. Okay so that was 2 hours and 22 minutes:) See what you started. And this is just me, myself and I.

  4. says

    I’ve been working on spending focused time with my son, lately. We had been travelling together for a year, so pretty constant with each other, then we settled briefly so I could work a little and he do school. And we slipped right back into those old working mom, school son thing. It’s an important exercise to do, I think. And one I’ll take with me as we begin travelling again.

  5. Sheana Ochoa says

    15 minutes is a long time. Why not start with 5 minutes and build up. Also, why not try a night where you don’t plan out dinner, transitions, etc, and see if it all falls into place the way a play does on opening night with everything against it. But I’m there with you, chica, especially when I’m feeling unproductive. When I’m in the right place, its easier to focus on Noah, but if I haven’t written, that’s another story.

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