Having traveled for the last eight years around America (47 states, in fact) and up and down from Scotland to Cornwall, one of the many consistent questions I get asked from parents on my travels is “how much time should I be spending with my kids? How do I truly find the balance?”
So I want to address this concern today. I think life is about constantly finding balance and balance is being able to find ourselves in a place that we are happy living with. This means that not everything is on par all of the time. For most of us parents who work, and work long hours, we also have to live with this feeling of ‘how do I give my family more time?’
I really think it is a matter of looking at the time we do have, accepting it and working within those means. Let me put it this way: sometimes parents get the chance to do a double shift and earn extra money. For that one week it may have meant that you didn’t get much time with the kids. That doesn’t mean it will be detrimental to them in the long run.
All children need is time and our focused attention; it allows us to teach our children life skills and to have healthy interesting conversations with them. It allows us all to bond and bring us emotionally closer as well as mentally. We as parents need to be the ones with our eyes open to see those opportunities in front of us and make the most of them. We as parents need to identify when that is not happening. We become the carpenters who carve time into our family’s schedules.
If you are looking for balance I truly believe it is not something we will “find.” True balance comes from us creating it as parents. This creation is what ultimately gives us time. It is true that our teenagers need to spend time with their own peers and others that influence their lives in a positive way. We want to encourage them to do so and watch them feel exhilarated at the choices they make. We want our tweens and toddlers to grow up and recognize that time with their families created real, true imprints on their memory. Children then have those times to look back on as adults.
The more time as parents we spend committed to enjoying the time we do have with our children, instead of feeling guilty for the time we don’t, the more meaningful it will become. We can all wish for more time but, truly and profoundly enjoying the time we do have is what makes the difference. Take it from me; I live with that every day.
So if you are a parent looking for a DIY answer for this question, I am afraid I cannot give you that. If you are a parent who is feeling that you need to do more, then now would be the time to be proactive. If you are a parent who feels constantly like your child’s buddy and playmate, then now will be the time to create some healthy separation (so that not all play is structured by you), and they have the opportunity to socialize with others and enjoy the experiences that socialization will bring. Remember, it’s not about looking for balance, but creating it.
Copywritten by Jo Frost