Therapy Blog

The “Time Trap”

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Time time time, they say it’s everything. It can be the trap, and it can be the key to getting you out of the trap.

You come home from a long day at work, and immediately you are showered with questions, “When’s dinner?” “When are we going to plan that holiday?” “Can you help me with my homework?”

All you can think is, “If I only had 15 minutes to slow down and settle in. . .” And there it is, the time trap. It’s that time that most of us need to transition into home life, but we avoid it because that’s just how it’s supposed to go. Right?

No. That’s not right at all. To avoid the time trap all you need is mindfulness and effective communication skills. Once you realize that there is no rule that says you’re not allowed to settle in before having demands thrust upon you, you can avoid this time trap by setting some boundaries.

Give your spouse and family the gift of your down time

Now how is it that you being able to have a little free time after work a gift for them? Think about it: When you’re already burned out from work, just how effective can you be helping your kids with homework? How often does that seemingly simple task turn into an outright fight about the condition of their desk? When you take care of yourself and recharge, there is more of you to go around. Unless the house is burning down, most of those needs can probably wait for you to power-up.

Great. So how do I set that boundary nicely?

I cannot tell you how many times I get asked this: “If I’m already stressed out from work and rush hour traffic, how do I nicely ask for that buffer time?” You leave out the stressed out part. You can imagine the perplexed looks that present themselves at this point in a session.

If you’ll just wait for better timing, it’ll go better. Look for a more relaxed time, and explain the need for a recharge period of 10, 15, 20, etc. minutes. Let them know how it will benefit them. Then create a little backup plan for when they forget: A reminder buzz-word or phrase: “Need my time, guys. I’ll be with you shortly.” “15-minutes starts now.” Whatever is easy to remember.

It’s ok to remind them

You’ll probably have to use this phrase for several days as everybody gets used to this new way of doing things. Stay calm. Breathe. Meditate daily. And try to understand that one day when you son or daughter comes home after a long week at college and they say, “Mom, Dad? Can y’all give me a few minutes?” You’ll know that you modeled a wonderful gift that your kids will pass on to their kids one day.

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