15-15 is a simple time management technique that can make all the difference in the world to your sanity and that of your partner.
If you are home with your baby all day chances are you haven’t taken a shower, you’ve eaten a few bites here and there to add up a meal, you have been unable to complete a single phone call, the laundry is unfolded, the dishes are in the sink, and you arrived 25 minutes late for your one outing: an attempt to be social and “do something for you” which was your post-natal exercise class, but the last minute nursing, changing and spit up on outfit-number-four for him and outfit-number-three for you derailed your departure.
When your husband walks in the door from work, you want him to say, “Oh my dearest wife, I love the color of your eyes, the fall of your hair, and my, your body definitely bounced back. I am eternally grateful for the love and care you show for our baby. Here, hand him to me. You, go, take a bath, read a book, in fact, leave the house. I’ve booked you a massage and the baby will be absolutely fine with me.”
Now, your husband, has been at work all day where he had to deal with a condescending boss, do damage control for a co-worker’s error, manage timelines, budget constraints, legal issues and a congested drive. He is exhausted and is facing follow up work expected of him by tomorrow morning and a long week ahead.
When he walks in the door, he would love to hear: “My dearest, most beloved husband, I welcome you home. Thank you for being out in the world and working so hard to provide for our family. Sit down, please, and let me serve you a cold drink. Our home is clean, the baby is content, I have prepared your favorite meal, and my god, are you handsome!”
If you are both working and each tending to your child(ren) aspects of each story apply to each of you and the bottom line remains the same, which is, you both need:
1. to be seen and appreciated in all your efforts
2. a moment to reset internally before being inundated with the continuous needs presented by the family
Once you are both home and sharing the responsibilities that present themselves, I recommend a simple L.O.V.E. Parenting transition technique called 15-15.
We’ll use the original story to illustrate the technique.
Your husband is slated to return home at 6pm. Tell yourself that he returns at 6:15. When he walks in the door, after a quick greeting with love, give him this 15 minutes of re-entry without any emotional, mental or physical requests. Inside, let him attend to his own needs; he may want to grab a quick shower, checks his email or simply sit down on the couch and do nothing.
Then, at 6:15, or after 15 minutes has gone by on the kitchen timer which you SET the moment he walks in the door, he is fully on duty. At this point, you hand him the child(ren) and you completely disengage. You go into another room and run a bath, check your email, talk on the phone, write in your journal, meditate, stretch, or take a walk around the block.
This 15 minutes of intentionally restorative time will have a cumulative effect in the week for both of you.
After 15-15, come together consciously, appreciatively, and begin the collective process of parenting in partnership.
Of course, if your child(ren) is older, don’t forget to set the stage for a successful 15-15 by simply stating the objective and expectations ahead of time: we are going to give Daddy 15 minutes when he comes home to gently join us, which means giving him some space when he gets back, and then, Mommy is going to take a moment for herself while you have Daddy’s full attention. Then we all all be together. You will know when each 15 minute time frame is up by the bell of the kitchen timer.