Home Challenge! How I Became A Better Mom & Friend In 10 Minutes

How I Became A Better Mom & Friend In 10 Minutes

by Erika Nicole Kendall

The “Take 10 More Minutes” challenge is important to me. I’m a believer in the concept of learning how to take time for myself, because it teaches me to value my needs just as much as I value the needs of the people who depend on me.

I know that in the beginning, I was always told that old – and by old, I mean caveman-esque – line of “How can you take time away from your family for you? How could you be so selfish?”

Um, the same way I’d take time away if I had to make money. No one would complain about that, right? Because that would be better for the house, right?

The notion that I shouldn’t take time away from everything simply to make sure that I’m OK, to me, basically implies that I’m a robot – no feelings, no emotions, no needs that need tending to. It says that my purpose is being filled elsewhere – my purpose is being filled by handling everyone else’s needs – and that there’s no reason for me to do anything else.

I don’t buy that.

I spent some time looking at how I care for my daughter. As a single parent, I’m always aware of the fact that I am who my daughter depends on all day, every day. To some, that looks like justification to pour all of themselves into their child, but to me – especially as the Mother of a young girl – it’s all the more reason for me to take extra special care of myself. How can a broken woman teach a girl to be a whole woman?

I know my shortcomings. If I am emotionally worn down, my patience is limited. If I am stressed, my tolerance is low. If I am frustrated, the last thing I want to do is educate or enlighten someone (and risk becoming that much more frustrated.) She is a child – she demands my patience, my wisdom and my tolerance. If I bring my shortcomings to our doorstep, I’m denying her that which she needs to grow. By denying myself the care I need, I’m neglecting my family’s needs.

I believe in ten minutes. I’ve even learned to take several bouts of ten minutes throughout the day. In the morning, I take ten minutes to practice yoga to help me stretch and wake up in preparation for my workout. Around 8, I take ten minutes to decompress and organize what I’ll be doing for the day. Around noon, I take ten minutes and pace up and down the stairs to help me zone out and relax while getting a little exercise in. After naptime, we take a ten minute jog around the neighborhood to help the little one wake up (because I’m not tolerating grouchy toddler attitude by any means). I take ten minutes during cooking dinner to decompress and read/count/dance with my daughter.

I keep a jam-packed schedule, but I know full well that if I don’t tend to and take proper care of me, I am no good to anyone. I can’t justify taking a ten minute jog with my heathen daughter if I don’t take ten minutes in the morning to properly organize my day. I can’t enjoy dancing with or reading to her if I am so frustrated with how my day went. I can’t remember all the ways I need to care for her, if I fail to care for me. It’s literally like running your car 4,000 miles past the point where you should’ve gotten an oil change. Something’s gonna blow pretty soon.

I mean, I get it. I’m a “strong Black woman.” I can have everything, be anything, do everything and anything. Yeah, I get it. But with all that “everything,” shouldn’t that include being able to take ten minutes out to tend to myself and make sure that I’m around in optimal enough condition to “have everything, be anything, do everything and anything?” Seriously, here.

So to me, taking ten minutes is a representation of my desire to tend to myself. Not using it to sleep, but to sort out my life and how I can include all the things I need – fitness, food, love, enjoyment, achievement – in order to be a more agreeable and productive person. I use my ten minutes to show myself some love. Tell me – how do you use your ten minutes?

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Rita July 9, 2010 - 4:12 PM

I used my 10 minutes a different way each day…10 minutes to slow down and make a complete breakfast…10 minutes to stop, pray and breathe…10 minutes to take all 10 flights of stairs at my office building…10 minutes of yoga before work..ten minutes to actually prep my veggies for the rest of the week…during each activity I allowed my thoughts to slow down and relaxation to enter my life, it was awesome and made each day that much better.

April July 11, 2010 - 9:27 PM

I enjoyed this post very much. It is critical to take those 10 minutes whether you’re a single parent or in a dual-parent household. My husband and I work as a team to raise our 6 year old son and its difficult for me to give both 100% of the attention they require if I don’t take that time for myself. Thank you for the reinforcement. 🙂

Talethia November 11, 2010 - 2:32 PM

This post brought tears to my eyes. I am a mother of five children under the age of 6. Although I am married I have very little time for myself. that time where I can slow my thoughts and think of nothing but myself. Many times i miss breakfast because I am trying to get housework done before the kids wake up or they wake me up and they have all my attention. I needed to read this I need to know that it is okay to take time for me. thanks!

Erika November 11, 2010 - 2:37 PM

Girl… ten minutes. The babies – and the hubby – can give you that much. Just ask for it. 🙂

Jay R. Wren November 27, 2010 - 1:40 PM

The first paragraph you wrote opened my eyes so much to something I’ve been struggling with. Thank you.

“How can you take time away from your family for you? How could you be so selfish?”

Um, the same way I’d take time away if I had to make money. No one would complain about that, right? Because that would be better for the house, right?

I never considered this. Its rather life altering to me right now. I’ve been depressed because I’ve been not taking time which I know I need, but felt selfish for taking it.

I mean, after work is done my only other “need” in life should be to come home and spend time with the family, right? I should feel guilty any time I don’t do those things, right? Even though when I do those things I feel guilty for being grumpy and unhappy?

No, I think you are right. I need to take my time so that I’m a happier more complete person when I’m spending my time with my loved ones.

Keelah January 18, 2011 - 10:52 AM

Thank you! I love love LOVE this post!!! Its not new information, but the way you wrote it really spoke to something deep within me. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

Stefanie August 11, 2011 - 11:17 AM

Ok yes, I’m at my quiet work desk CRUNK!!! Erika, this is a struggle I have had. I adore my son more than any other human being on this earth. But, because I know he depends on me more than anyone and NEEDS me, sometimes it’s hard to take on that challenge. I’ve come to realize that I am impatient. I get impatient in teaching him things. I get fidgety when I have to sit down and listen to his emotional problems (he’s 10). Shoot, I have problems of my own! But, I do not want to be a selfish parent. That’s not cool in my book. Because I know God gave my son to me and I’m very grateful for that. However, I do have a responsibility to my son to give him all that I have so that he may grown up to be a decent, responsible and loving man.
So, with that said, I do have to take better care of myself. Some days its good. I’m on the ‘right’ track. Other days, I’m tired and I can be snippy. But I will work on those 10 minutes. 10 minutes of prayer. 10 minutes of exercise. 10 minutes of quiet time. 10 minutes of cooking without rushing (I did that yesterday and it was a beautiful moment for me). 10 minutes of positive conversation with my son.
Because at the end of the day, I want to know I have done all that I can for myself and for my child. Love thy neighbor as yourself. Such a true command. Glory to God!

Thank you for your open and honest post, Erika.

MsMelissa August 13, 2011 - 10:31 PM

“How can a broken woman teach a girl to be a whole woman?

Truer words have never been spoken. Looking back on the last 2 years of my life and how burnt out I feel. I think about some of the people who I KNOW love me, but just dont understand. I am definately in a space where I am needing to “take care of myself”. I too suffer from the “Black Super Woman Syndrome”. It really is important that we take time for ourselves. This post alone is making me subscribe to your blog.

EmpressDoms January 26, 2013 - 5:16 AM

I like to think about it like being on an airplane. They say you have to make sure YOU are secure before you’re able to help anyone else in case of an emergency. You’re unable to help others (including the ones dearest to you) if you don’t take care of yourself first.

People make it seem as if putting yourself first is a sin. Have you ever seen that Katt Williams skit? You gotta please your STAR PLAYER!

shirley February 7, 2013 - 8:09 PM

In a word: Revolutionary. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

kathy March 5, 2013 - 11:20 AM

this post just reminded of how I don’t take time for myself in a quiet way. i do exercise efc, but afterwards I have to jump back to motherhood and get very frustrated with the children because they want to talk to me or need something. I will take a 10minute break for myself to be a better Mom for my little ones

Liz April 7, 2013 - 11:45 PM

During my weight loss I would use 10min to paint mynails or bead a bracelet as goal incentives.

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