Five within Five

I’m writing this more for me than for you.

Five within five is a phrase that means ‘five minutes within five feet.’ I cannot remember where I heard it first. I can’t actually remember anywhere that I’ve heard it, but I know it’s not original to me.

Five within five means to spend five dedicated, alone minutes within five feet of someone, sharing the day, having a focused, no phone conversation.

The intention of spending five within five is to make sure that the bluster of everyday activities and craziness doesn’t result in completely forgetting to catch up with the important people in our lives.

I’m sure the married couples out there will agree that you can easily look up on Sunday afternoon and realize you haven’t had a serious, intimate, focused conversation with your spouse all week. The demands of suburban life these days makes it difficult to pump the brakes and slow down long enough to do so.

Same thing with your kids. You can possibly be carting them hither and thither but never sit down and spend quality time with them. Sometimes five within five means just being with them but not chatting a whole lot – depending on your kiddo’s disposition. It might take a bit of cajoling for a full five minutes of conversation.

As I’m writing this, we’re in the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 and you’d think we would have plenty of time to spend many more than five within five. You’d think it’d be like 60 minutes within five feet easily and on the regular.

But a varied application of Parkinson’s Law seems to always been in effect. The law states that “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

Well, right now, Parkinson’s Law could read: “Phone use and screen time can also expand to fill the time available to it.”

Now that there is extra time, the easiest thing to do is to let the easiest thing to do become the thing you do (you might need to read that sentence again slowly). It’s easy to massage the phone and play the games and binge on the Netflix.

It’s harder to create moments where you take time to spend with each member of your family where you’re face to face or side to side doing nothing but being together, catching up, playing a game, etc.

We can easily waste away our time without being intentional in our relationships. We can easily get lazy and not force ourselves to do things we don’t love (I’m not a big board game guy) even if it’s simply a relationship delivery system – a means to an end. Kind of like Tostitos are often a guacamole delivery system, playing Monopoly is an excuse to be face to face.

Whether you’re reading this during the Pandemic (as noted above – when I’m writing it) or some time in the future. Don’t neglect five within five. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you do it, you’ll realize just how much and how valuable it really is.

Bonus – A few suggestions on how to manufacture five within five. It can be awkward to just go into your kid’s bedroom while they’re knee deep into a video game and stare at them for five minutes…..

  • Play a game. As mentioned above. If you force a game of Sorry or similar, you’ll easily hit five within five.
  • Do a chore together. When I get my sons out for yard work, conversation usually erupts after 3-4 minutes.
  • Cook together. Bonus – You can have some chocolate chip cookies if you play your cards right.
  • Review schoolwork. Especially now during the pandemic, there are all kinds of crazy online instructions flowing through email. Use those as an excuse to sit down with your kiddos and spend a little time.

Got any suggestions? Put them in the comments.

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