Back in high school, I had one of those friends that all the other kids envied. He had the newest game system and what seemed like EVERY game, a bedroom full of musical equipment, computers, and a German luxury car at 16. We all figured he had to be the happiest kid ever. We didn’t realize the trade-off was that all that stuff was paid for by a Dad who was always on the road and not around much.
My wife once told me, “It’s not the things you give him, but how much of your time you share together”. If you’re new here, she’s the brains of our house.
He loves his toys, but just last night he gathered a basket full, grabbed my hand, and said, “Daddy, come pway wif me!” We spent the next half hour on the landing of the stairs playing trains and whatever other creative games he came up with. One of the most impactful things I’ve heard that shapes my approach to parenting is, “In the end, you’ll never say, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at work’, so spend your time wisely”.
My son will grow up knowing that I enjoy spending my time with him. I tend to feel like I’m not doing “enough” for my kid. Sound familiar? I work hard at balancing time with him, my wife, and time to myself, but it’s not always easy. As dad’s it’s normal to feel that we should be spending more time with our kids when doing things for ourselves, but that time is important, too. (Equally important is making sure your spouse / partner gets time to themselves as well.)
Thinking back on my childhood, I only remember a few of my toys. What I recall more is my Dad teaching me to change the starter, alternator, oil, and brakes on my car. I remember my Mom taking us to do all kinds of fun things during the summer. It didn’t seem like much at the time, but I have fond memories of my Dad coming home from work and letting me go with him to run errands (most likely to give Mom a break, in retrospect). And I remember him teaching me little things like how it’s faster to do it right the first time than have to redo it later.
It’s not the things you give them,
but how much of your time you share together.”
This is the reason I get down on the floor with him and play, or go to the park, or take him with me to the grocery store. It also gets me bonus points for giving my wife a break and some time to herself, just like Dad did!
When it’s his turn to have kids, I want his best memories to be of the time we spent playing games, washing the car, going places, and teaching him all those things that he’ll want to pass down someday.
It doesn’t matter how much or how little money you make, how big your house is, or how many things you buy. The most valuable thing you can give your family is your time and attention.
Do you ever suffer from the guilt of feeling like you don’t spend enough time with your children?