"Your body is the first thing any child of man ever wanted. Therefore dispose yourself to be loved, to be wanted, to be available. Be there for them with a vengeance. Be a gracious, bending woman. Incline your ear, your heart, your hands to them.... To be a Mother is to be the sacrament - the effective symbol - of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home." from Bed and Board, Robert Farrar Capon

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Quote for the Day: "The 20 Minute Rule"

I tried this method the other day and it actually helped me get calmly through an episode involving three or four simultaneous "catastrophes" in my kitchen which could have easily sent me into an emotionally packed reactive outburst, but, this time it didn't. 

It's from Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches, by Rachel Jankovic -

"In that early and intense phase with the twins, I developed the 20 minute rule. 
If things started seeming really out-of-control, I would look at the clock and note the time. 
Then I would tell myself that in 20 minutes this would be over.

If I just kept my head down and did the work, 20 minutes was all I needed. 
And actually, it was true. 20 minutes is enough time (if you are moving quickly and not moping) 
to change three diapers and one complete outfit, spank one disobeyer, tuck two people into naps,
 and sit down to nurse the other two. The storm would have passed in 20 minutes if I was 
cheerfully getting things done. But that moment when you first discovered the blowout, and then 
the two-year-old hit the one-year-old (who is now having a naptime meltdown with a dirty diaper),
 and both of the babies were mad because we were in the car when they decided it was lunchtime, 
and now, thirty minutes later, you still haven't nursed them, but first you've got to change 
the whole outfit and maybe can't find the clothes...     well, that moment.  
What was it? A moment.  It passes.  But when it passes, you will be very 
glad if all you did was work right through it.  No self pity, no tears, no getting worked into a dither.

Look at the clock, look at the work you must do, and bear down. 
That super intensity will almost always be over in twenty minutes."

John Philip Falter
Mother’s Little Helpers (1953)


  1. So nice to read this two minutes after wiping a gallon of juice of the floor and carpet. I love the picture!

  2. Very good advice.
    I too love the picture. :-)

  3. That is exactly what happens when I go out to bring in dried laundry--doesn't matter how fast I work.

  4. Thank you for this! I've been struggling lately with reactive outbursts, as you call them, and this will really help. Love the pic, too!

  5. I have thought back to this post countless times in the last few days. Even at times when I just look at my disaster of a living room with three young ones playing in it - I apply the 20 minute idea as in " once I put them for a nap I'll be able to restore relative order throughout the house in 20 minutes :-)

  6. oooh, trying this one. Constant struggle here. Thanks for the encouragement.

  7. Fantastic! I've been wondering what to do about my temper tantrums.