Carving Out Time for Doing the Things That Are Most Important
by Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (more parenting articles are available)
As parents our days can easily be filled to overflowing with all the tasks that are required to keep our families running: making meals, doing dishes, driving kids to activities, washing clothes and working. These are certainly not the most important things in our lives but they can quickly take over our most of our time.
It’s easy to say things like:
- “I’ll play a game with the kids tomorrow.”
- “We’ll go fishing together soon.”
- “I’ll volunteer when I have more time.”
The things that are the most important to us are also often the ones that are the easiest to postpone. The problem is that sometimes we delay so long that we miss the opportunity. Our children will not want to have a tea party or play catch with us forever. They quickly grow up. If we want to share special times with our children, we must intentionally carve out the time to do these things.
What Do You Remember From Growing Up?
During a parenting seminar, parents were asked to think back to our own childhoods and remember someone who really loved us. The leader then asked us what we remembered about how that person showed us their love.
We reported many fond memories including:
- Spent one-on-one time with me
- Played card games together
- Cooked my favorite meal
- Face lit up when I arrived
- Asked questions about how things were going for me
- Sat together and talked
- Baked special cookies with me
- Went on walks in the park together
- Taught me how to knit
She pointed out that not a single one of our responses involved material gifts like iPods, Legos, scooters or televisions. What will our children remember when they look back at their childhood? Probably the same type of things we remember ... the special times spent together.
We communicate our love to our children when we choose to spend time with them. It's the things we do together with our children that they will remember the rest of their lives. Long after they've forgotten the very cool toy we bought for their birthday, they will remember the afternoons we spent playing catch in the backyard or baking cookies together.
Carving Out Time for Your Kids
Challenge yourself to carve out time to do something special with your children. You may want to talk to them about what they would really like to do or you could surprise them. Consider writing this activity on the calendar so that everyone remembers it and something else doesn't accidentally get scheduled. Remember the gifts that will last the longest are the ones where you spend special time together.
Everyone’s life will come to an end and we don’t know when that will be. At the end of your life, what do you want your children to remember about you? Certainly I don’t want my kids’ strongest memory to be “Mom always kept the bathrooms really clean!” However, if I want my kids to remember special times we shared together, then I need to take time today to play with them, listen to them and be there for them.
Carving out time for the truly important things isn’t easy but it’s worth the effort. Let the bathroom stay dirty one more day and enjoy having fun with your children today!