Who needs it? Well, I do for one. And my kids? Perhaps the most important thing I can give them. Perhaps the thing that will make the most difference.
Given the ultimate choice of getting gifts or time with me, would my children choose the latter? Hopefully!
Once I was not so good at giving my children proper quality time. I would try and multi-task when I could have been more with them. I appreciate the value of focused time more now whenever I am 100% with them. I get more out of it as a dad and my kids do too.
They teach me to be in the moment; they’re so in the moment, they are practically zen masters. Especially when they are meant to be doing something else!
They teach me to have fun, whether that involves them putting 10 different flavours of lip balm all over my face or pulling crazy faces at each other.
Being right there to listen closely when they have something to say builds trust. Hearing some random fact from their 100th encounter with a garden slug for example could appear trivial on the surface. But to them, it is everything. So I’d better listen.
One day, if I have listened well, I hope they will feel enough trust to open up about something even more important and personal.
It’s not just about the quality of time spent though. It’s the quantity.
Sometimes, I have to work long hours in my job as a teacher. Often 12 hours a day. That can be hard on the family.
It’s common for many parents to face a dilemma: how many hours should I work? Do I need to work more hours to provide even more for my family? Do I want to?
After all, it’s good to be ambitious, work hard and aspire to do well in a career. These are all good values to model for children.
The trouble is, if all we do is work, we never have time for our kids.
And if we want to have the best possible relationship, we need to build in that time for them.
I try to remember something heard in a talk by Steve Biddulph, a well-known author of many parenting books among other things… There were hundreds of parents in the room at the talk, all eager to learn the answer to one question: “What is the most important thing you can give your child as a parent?”
He paused and said…
It was a realisation too far for some and some fathers could be heard holding back the tears.
I want to make a difference to my kids. So I need to make time for them. By modelling this, my kids will hopefully follow to make time for others and in turn make a difference.
I will do my best to find time for my children. It’s all any of us can do.
What ideas do you have to do this?
Here are six I have been trying:
1). Going to work extra early so I can come back in time to see the kids before bed.
2). Not looking at my phone when I am around my kids.
3). Getting down on the floor with them to engage in quality time at their level.
4). Looking them in the eye and saying meaningful and lovely things to them just before they close their eyes at bed time.
5). Planning in weekends which are focused family weekends.
6). Active listening when they want to be heard.