A ‘Mindful Minute’ with Your Kids at Night Can Change Your Whole Day

“Will you do a mindful minute with me tonight?”

The question from my 10-year-old came out of the blue. I was sitting at my laptop, trying as usual to cram in just a few more minutes of work before packing it in for the night. Now that she was a mature, self-sufficient fifth-grader, I had grown accustomed to bedtime being much less hands-on than it had been in her younger years.

As an only child in a two-parent household, she’s had our full attention for much of her life—even if it is sometimes competing with work and household responsibilities. But for a while now, I had been savoring the joy of being able to say, “Go upstairs and get ready for bed” and having her just… do it. It’s so different from when she was younger, and we were all locked into a lengthy, multi-step routine that took up much of the evening.

So here she was, asking me to join her in the playroom for a “mindful minute”—something we hadn’t done for a few years. It had started during the height of the pandemic, when, like many of us, my extroverted little girl became isolated and anxious. Her worries seemed to grow to fill up the empty space in our lives that had once been occupied by play dates, martial arts lessons, trips to the library, and, of course, school. And at bedtime, those worries often became so large that there wasn’t space left for anything else.

I’m a worrier, too, so I tried all the tools in my toolbox, including bringing her to a therapist, who met with us a few times to help us all better understand what was going on. But it was my daughter who, after our last therapy appointment, said, “I think we should do a mindful minute so I can get calmed down before bed.” So we did.

Related: 20+ Calming Phrases That’ll Help an Anxious Child

I’m not saying the mindful minute fixed everything, but it did help for a while. We listened with our ears and paid attention to what our bodies were feeling, and we talked about it. We did this for a while, and then—I can’t remember when or why—we stopped. It was probably around the time we started going back to libraries, play dates, and, finally, school. I thought, “Maybe she doesn’t need it anymore.”

But now it was back, quite unexpectedly, and I’ll admit, my first reaction was one of frustration. Didn’t she know I had a lot of stuff to get done tonight? But I know well enough that we are approaching the age when my kid may not ask me to do so many things with her anymore, so I said, “Sure,” and climbed the stairs with her to spend 60 seconds in the dark, being mindful together.

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