We always mean well for our children. However, we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that priority should be set on their material needs. You might have heard your own parents or other parents say something along the lines of, “do you know how hard I work so you could eat?” Perhaps you’re also guilty of taking on more work at the office and wearing yourself out so you can afford better things for your children.
I was once like that. When my kids were little, I wanted them to have all the comfort I never had growing up. As a result, I worked long hours and spent less time with them. I thought that having more cash would eliminate our problems. It didn’t take long to learn how wrong I was.
Within a few months, I discovered that I would never have any work-life balance if I stayed on the same path. Even worse, my relationship with my wife and kids took a hit. Finally, after racking my brain and going through several parenting resources, it hit me that the problem was that my parenting priorities were askew.
Figuring Out What’s Important
In the quest to meet our families’ material needs, most of us lose sight of what’s important. Once I realized this, I knew that I had to make tough choices to get my priorities straight. Here’s how I figured it out:
More family time
Be more present and engaged
Essential tasks, such as taking kids to school or making dinner was done without exception. These tasks typically took up most of the day. Additionally, you need to increase your efficiency at these essential tasks, in order to free up more time for other things.
Writing down what I wanted to achieve helped me remain focused and motivated. It’s easy to get distracted if you have nothing, in particular, to work towards so take time to think about your goals and put them in writing.
After a lot of introspection, it hit me that I have to find ways to spend more time bonding with my children. I decided that no matter what, we would have breakfast together daily before I drove them to school. Furthermore, I make weekly calendar appointments to have one-on-one time with each of my kids, doing whatever they want.
Whenever I hang out with my children, I make an effort to remove all distractions so I could immerse myself in the moment. This meant no checking my phone for emails, messages or notifications. My relationship with them greatly improved as a result.
Most of all, I learned that if I wanted a happy family, I had to set my priorities straight. In the rush to provide for my family, I’d forgotten that instead of more material items, my kids just needed me to be actively present in their lives. That way, I could give them all the love, support and guidance they needed to shore their self-esteem and help them become resilient, self-reliant adults. In the process, I would be an integral part of their lives and wouldn’t miss any precious moments.