How many times have one of my children asked me a question that could have been answered with a yes just as easily as a no? How many times do I simply say ‘no’ because it’s easier, because I’m too tired to actually listen, because a baby is screaming and I cannot listen?

Far too many times.

My oldest has a tremendous ability to find the worst possible time to ask me such questions – as soon as my eyes open in the morning. As soon as will pull into the driveway as I am mentally running through all the people and things that need to be brought into the house. Right before the daily post lunch quiet time when I have already mentally checked out, etc.

I don’t do well when I’m hungry, and I don’t do well when I’m tired. The result is a simple question such as, “Mom, can we watch Dora” and a response that is a grumpy NO. I sin in anger and the questioner usually sins in response to my sin with her own anger and disrespect, thus creating a sinful downward spiral of civility.

So I’ve instituted what I call the “10 minute rule” with my kids — mainly with child #1. When I am asked a question at a time when I will not give it a fair answer, I say, “I need 10 minutes. In 10 minutes I will ask you, ‘okay, what did you need to ask me?’ fair enough?”

This has been so very helpful. It lets he know that I understand she has a request and that I will get to that request, but also lets her know that I need a few minutes to gather myself. If she asks in that moment, she will automatically get a ‘no’ response, so it is in her best interests to wait.

There has been considerably less friction over the past few weeks as I have begun to use this 10-minute rule.

If this is something you struggle with at times, I challenge you to create your own 5-minute rule, or 10-minute rule…or whatever length of time you generally need to regroup.