Carving Out Time for the Most Important Things
by Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (sign up for monthly parenting newsletter and receive 20+ printable charts for kids and parents)
(listen to article read by the author)
Being a parent means your days are filled to overflowing with all the tasks that are required to keep your family running: making meals, doing dishes, driving kids to activities, washing clothes and working. These daily duties can leave you with little time for doing fun things with your kids.
It’s easy to say things like:
- “I’ll play a game with the kids tomorrow.”
- “We’ll go fishing together soon.”
- “I’ll bake cookies with the kids next week.”
The things that are the most important are also often the ones that are the easiest to postpone. The problem is that sometimes the delay is so long that you miss the opportunity. Your children will not want to have a tea party or play catch with you forever. They quickly grow up. If you want to share special times with your children, you must intentionally carve out the time to do these things.
Remembering the Good Times
Parents attending a seminar were asked to think back to their own childhoods and remember someone who loved them. They were asked how that person showed their love.
Many fond memories were reported including:
- Spending one-on-one time with me
- Playing card games together
- Cooking my favorite meal
- Being happy to see me
- Asking questions about how things were going for me
- Showing me how to plant a garden
- Walking together in the park
- Teaching me how to knit
She pointed out that not one response involved material gifts. What will your children remember when they look back at their childhood? Probably the same type of things you remember ... the special times spent together.
You communicate your love when you choose to spend time with your kids. It's the things you do together that they will remember the rest of their lives. Long after they've forgotten the awesome toy you bought for their birthday, they will remember playing catch in the backyard or baking cookies together.
Making Lasting Memories
The book, To A Child Love is Spelled T-I-M-E
, begins with a touching story about a dad with grown children. He is looking back at old journals and this is what he finds:
“As he opened his journal, the old man’s eyes fell upon an inscription that stood out because it was so brief in comparison to other days. In his own neat handwriting were these words:
Wasted the whole day fishing with Jimmy. Didn’t catch a thing.
With a deep sigh and a shaking hand, he took Jimmy’s journal and found the boy’s entry for the same day, June 4. Large scrawling letters, pressed deeply into the paper, read:
Went fishing with my dad. Best day of my life.
I found this story especially stirring since my parents took my two brothers and I out fishing regularly. I remember loving being in the boat together. It was most fun when we were keeping my dad busy taking fish off the hook and putting bait back on.
Soon after reading this story, my husband, kids and I traveled from Seattle to Minnesota to attend my mother-in-law’s memorial service. My parents were in Minneapolis and we were able to have lunch with them. I shared this story and reflected on how much fun I had going fishing as a kid. My dad unexpectedly died a week later. I’m so glad I was able to tell him how much the time spent fishing together meant to me.
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 like to do or you could surprise them. Consider writing this activity on the calendar so something else doesn't accidentally get scheduled. Remember the gifts that will last the longest are the ones where you spend special time together.
At the end of your life, what do you want your children to remember about you? I certainly don’t want my kids’ strongest memory to be “Mom always kept the bathrooms really clean!” 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!