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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Finding Time To Spend With Your Children

At one time, when three of my children were young, I attended college full time, worked at the college in between classes, and provided daycare before and after school and in between work and classes.

 My workload was heavy and I barely had time to breathe. I remember explaining to people that I was tackling some kind of Neptunian Algebra in addition to English, Western Civilization, and Biology, the latter two of which I hated.

As a conscientious student, I followed the advice of my counselors and diligently spent two hours of homework for every hour of time spent in class.

What happened as a result of spending 36 hours with school work each week, added to the 20 hours I spent at the school working and the 20 hours of daycare I provided – oh, and the time I spent grocery shopping, cleaning, doing laundry and attending the kids' activities, was that I had no time left for anything.

One day my daughter, Lindsey, who was probably around 7 at the time, said, "Mommy, you never spend time with us anymore." She was right. I was so focused on school, homework, work, and daycare, that I spent absolutely no one-on-one time with any of my kids, nor did I spent any time with all of them. Except for our hour and a half drive north every week to see their father and our hour and a half drive north to visit our allergist every month, when we spent time together in the car, we rarely spent time with each other.

How would I find time to spend with them, when I knew that in the back of my head I'd be worrying about a test coming up?

So here's what I did. When I knew I had homework to do, I cleared the table. I created homework for my youngest daughter, Brittney, who wasn't in school yet, and we all did our homework together. When it came time to eat, I threw a blanket on the floor and we all had a picnic together. I carved out time from my busy schedule to play games with them and let them know that when the game was over I had to return to my homework.

We even made up our own games. And we told stories. The time I spent with them was precious and memorable and I was so glad that Lindsey brought to my attention the importance of spending time with my children. While I valued my education, and my conscientiousness required me to spend an inordinate amount of time studying, what I valued even more was family.

Finding time to spend with loved ones isn't a chore. Spending time with family is a joy. And a necessary one at that.

Children are wise. We need to listen to them. Lindsey may have been wanting my attention, but her request was important and I'm glad I listened to her.

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