“Give your kids fewer things and more you” is among the pearls of wisdom that everyone agrees with intellectually—and too few people make serious efforts to implement. Everyday “things to do” lists, even busywork, are clearly defined and thus feel more crucial than nurturing family relationships. If we don’t learn to plan and prioritize quality time with our children, we’ll keep rationalizing that we’ll have time for that after “everything else” is finished—and more “everythings” will keep showing up to fill all available time.
Toss out the “I’ll find time by default” mentality. It’s entirely possible to make time with your children a workable priority.
Make a Habit of Fully “Being There” During the Dailies
Even the busiest parents have some time each day to give their kids meaningful attention: twenty spare minutes over breakfast, thirty spare minutes after work, a spare hour before bedtime. If you “just don’t have” a spare minute available, it’s probably because you’re throwing all your minutes to less essential items: reconsider how much time you “need” for screen hours and for “picking up” around the house. CNN and LinkedIn don’t care how much of your attention they get, but there’s only one you to hear your kids’ personal news reports and tuck them into bed.
Schedule Regular Family Time
At least one evening a week and two Saturdays a month, your kids deserve a few unbroken hours of your time: playing games, going for walks, watching the sky change from sunset to starlit. Togetherness is not a matter of “provided I finish all the work I ‘should’ do”: make regular family time as nonnegotiable as a major business appointment.
Attend Their Events
The “Dad is always too busy to watch me play basketball” problem has been around for a while, but the hurt it inflicts is as keen as ever. Especially if Dad just doesn’t want to miss his own favorite sport on television. Whether or not your kids’ activities are high on your own personal-interests list, your presence (without working on your laptop throughout the game) shows the kids that they matter to you.
There are some legitimate excuses for not always showing up every time; but even if a program is scheduled during your daily office hours, you can make it your first priority afterwards to hear the recap directly from your child (and/or watch the video clip together).
Invite Children Into Your Adult World
Arrange for your children to occasionally shadow you at your job (and let them take a turn at the computer). Take them along when you bowl or play golf (and invite them to try a few shots themselves). Let them help you with the chores (even if they aren’t the most efficient workers at first). Ask them for further suggestions on practicing regular togetherness!
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!