Five More Minutes!

Our daughter has become an expert at prolonging her playtime. “Five more minutes!” is a phrase she says to us when it is time to wrap up whatever she is doing – having fun with her toys, playing outside, or making splashes in the bathtub. It is a clever tactic of hers to increase her playtime. If you have a young kid, I am quite sure you can relate to it. Your child might tell you “five more minutes” when you tell them that their playtime is over or almost over.

My daughter would either ask us for one more game of tag, tell us she is almost done, or ask us if she could play a little longer. But we have caught on to her strategy. She tells us, “All I need to finish is ____” (this game or combing her baby doll’s hair), or her famous line, “five more minutes, mama and dada.”

If you are like my husband and me, this phrase usually means you let your kids play for an extra thirty minutes or more, and the kids know that. So, they request five more minutes of playtime whenever we tell them their playtime is over. Even after we let our daughter play for a longer time after her request, she again asks us for—yes, you’ve guessed it—“five more minutes.”

We get it. We were once kids, too.

My husband and I understand that playtime is rewarding to our daughter and that she does not want to quit doing something that she likes. Playtime is a vital part of our child’s development. Our homeschool curriculum for her is based on learning and playing. We just want her to understand the importance of transitioning to other activities.

Making transitions fun.

Since our daughter was unwilling to embrace transition, my husband and I decided to make transitions fun, which would help her to switch tracks with the fun she is engrossed in at the time. For instance, when she attends her playdates to play with her friends and it is time to leave playtime, we start getting her to transition by telling her to race with us to the car. We tell her that whoever gets to the car first can eat their favorite dessert that night. Racing to the car is the fun transition part for her, and her favorite dessert is a bonus. Another way we make transitions fun for her is by acting helpless and telling her that we cannot find the car and that we need her help in finding our car in the parking lot.

When we are at home, and she is struggling to move between activities, we play the eye spy game with her, which has been a game changer for her as she struggles to transition from activities she enjoys. We use this revolutionary game to lead her to the transition we want her to be in. For example, we would first say, “I spy this” or “I spy that,” and she would find it, then the last eye spy would lead her to the transition we want her to participate in. This game works for us most of the time.

A Parent’s Dream.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it needs to be said:  If our daughter’s transitions are fuss-free and tension-free, then that means that we are that much closer to getting what we need done for our home and for ourselves that day. In other words, the more ‘five more minutes” our daughter demands from us, the less time we get to complete our daily tasks and projects for the day. We must be respectful of each other’s time. If our daughter is not following her schedule, then that means that her schedule will overlap with our adult duties. The only way we can all get off to a great start with our day is if the transitions are smoother with our daughter.

 In a perfect world, we would give our toddler an update every minute after she asks us for five more minutes. The beauty of this is that the minutes would go as fast as we like. Think about it, she does not know how time works, so this trick could work in our favor. “Your five minutes are up now” is what we dream of telling our daughter without her asking us for five more minutes. I honestly believe that if we use time props to look at every minute, she will know that we take her “five more minutes” very seriously. Oh, the struggles of parenthood!

India Akua Mendonça

India Akua Mendonça is a stay-at-home mother who loves reading, exploring new places, going to the beach, going to restaurants, and listening to bossa nova music. She received her A.A. in Liberal Arts from Chabot Community College and her B.A. in Black Studies from University of California, Santa Barbara. Before becoming a wife and mother, India worked at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University as a Document Specialist. She and her husband purchased a home in Lake County in 2012 and in 2017 married each other in the living room of their lovely home. She is currently a homeschool teacher to her five-year-old daughter, and she enjoys every minute she spends witnessing and cultivating her daughter’s education. India feels fortunate to have the option and the opportunity to teach her daughter how to read. She lives with her husband, Marco, their daughter, and their three birds in Clearlake Oaks, CA.

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