Just fifteen minutes

Just fifteen minutes. Balancing self-care and presence.

Just fifteen minutes. Balancing self-care and presence.

Just fifteen minutes. Balancing self-care and presence.

Just fifteen minutes. Balancing self-care and presence.

Lunch was finished, the dishes were done.

I had sent the kids outside to burn off their copious energy in the snow.

I poured myself some tea and settled in to a little undisturbed knitting time. A rare treat.


A few rows in the door opened.

"Mama, will you come outside and play with me?"


I sat, silent, mulling over her request.


Because I was relishing my "me time". My selfish time. My tea and my yarn.


A small part of me wanted to be there. For her.

For me.

While she still wanted to play with her mama in the snow.

That part of me that was content to put down my needles and go out to play with her.

Right now.

While she is still small, for one more day.

But then there was the selfish me that wanted to stay right where I was.

Cozy, inside, and alone.


I really wanted that.

Shamefully so.

And it was a dirty truth, like somehow taking care of me is less acceptable than caring for her.

The martyrdom of motherhood.


I was torn between two truths, two selfs.

The loving, giving, mother-self and the dark and greedy "me-first" self.

(The one who cooks their favorite meals and the one who hides the chocolate.)


But that's rubbish, I decided. Neither was bad; both were authentic.

Both were vital.


So first I would knit. Just a few more rows.

She could wait.

Then I'd give her fifteen minutes.

Because even if I wasn't feeling it I could play for fifteen minutes.


I would finish my tea and then go outside.

For just fifteen minutes.

After that I could come back in and knit.

If I wanted to. Which I was certain I would.


Just fifteen minutes. An easy commitment.

Surely I could muster that.


And so I savored my tea and when it was done I knitted up an extra row, stalling just a little.

The door opened.

"Are you coming, mama? Are you done with your tea?"

Her eyes were bright. She was waiting.


Just fifteen minutes.  I could do this.


I was on my way.


Out, into the snow. The fresh air. The togetherness.


We cooked pine needles and bittersweet in her play kitchen.

I pushed her on the swing "all the way up to the sky".

We raced with the dog and then wandered down to the marsh and the creek.

We laughed. Held hands. Pushed each other down in the snow.


At first I was going through the motions, thinking about my knitting and all the work that awaited me back inside. But soon I had lost track of time and lost myself in this pink sky and these blue eyes.


As I found joy in our play I never wondered if the fifteen minutes had passed so that I could go back inside.

Not once.

Immersed in the moment, I forgot completely about knitting, and tea, and time.

How long did we spend? An hour, maybe two. Even now I'm not sure.

We watched a coyote, an eagle pair, the sunset.

I watched her.

Growing taller before my eyes.

We crossed the creek at dusk, heading into the hills as the light faded.

And I marveled at how I had bought the best part of my day through a bargain with myself to give her fifteen minutes.


Do you have fifteen minutes to spare?

For a story, a walk, a game, a conversation – for connecting deeply with those you love.


What would you find in that sliver of time?








This child.

This day.

Just for choosing to be present, completely, with these precious ones we love.


Just fifteen minutes.


See where it takes you.

I'm certain you won't regret it.


And with that I'm off. I have a cup of tea and some knitting to attend to.

Because, yes. Caring for myself? That matters, too.



16 thoughts on “Just fifteen minutes

  1. Michelle says:

    I was sure you were going to say “so I dropped my knitting and let the tea go cold…” and was VERY pleasantly surprised that indeed, you didn’t.
    Very nice.

  2. Kathryn Styer says:

    Thank you for making me more aware of that opportunity that I may be missing. I can do anything for 15 minuets. A small sacrifice for me could possibly be a special moment we need to connect and find peace and fun together. =)

  3. Tara says:

    This was beautiful, thank you! I find strength in the fact that you first gave a little bit of time to yourself. In my humble opinion from reading what you wrote, that probably gave you the ability to then really enjoy the rest of the afternoon with your daughter. Kudos to you and thanks for sharing.

  4. Meg says:

    You always have such timely posts. I have been struggling with this so. I have four kids pulling me in every direction. I feel like I have turned into the no mom. The not now mom. So annoying. I am going to try to remember this 15 minute idea. Thanks Rachel.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Gorgeous Rachel! Thank you for sharing this. I do the same thing sometimes. But I have been slipping lately – I always do in the winter. It’s so hard for me to leave my couch and blankets when it is cold and grey out! But now you are right – I’m off for 15 with my 4 year old. He is pulling out a math ‘game’ that he doesn’t even know is learning of course. 🙂

  6. Yanic says:

    Just a beautiful post… and so true. I’ve caught myself in similar internal dilemmas. I refer to them as my “self-inflicted-conundrums”. I do find it important to ask them to let me just finish what I’m doing. It is a good exercise in patience : a row of knitting, an email I’m writing, a task I’m doing… but I agree with you, o surrender often leads to the most amazing moments.

  7. Knitting Mole says:

    I had a moment yesterday just like this. I must admit, you handled it MUCH better than I. I lost my temper (seriously, can’t I just go to the bathroom by myself (read: surf IG time)?). Next time. Next time I’ll do better 🙂 I’ll choose us both.

  8. Laura says:

    Beautiful and important words, Rachel! Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share such a personal struggle with us. You are a great mom!

  9. Darcel says:

    Caring for you completely matters. I’m glad you realized that.
    If we don’t take time for ourselves then we can’t take proper care of our children.
    Glad you were both able to enjoy the 15mins. Gorgeous photos, too.

  10. Karen C says:

    Thank you for sharing, Rachel. It’s a beautiful example of meeting everyone’s needs. We think it is so difficult in family life, but you just proved it is possible. Thank you!

  11. m moon says:

    Thank you this is so true. I frequently practice this. I feel to be the in a minute mom the after I Finnish this mom. I hope it is enough sometimes it does not feel like it. It does feel enough in this moment. Thanks and thanks for pizza.

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