Whoever said that “quality is more important than quantity” when spending time with your family probably had more kids than me. If you don’t know, we are blessed with seven wonderful children ranging from age 15 years to 16 months.
I don’t know about you, but I think the amount of time you spend with your kids is just as important as what you do when you are with them. So the real question becomes: How can you juggle the demands of a busy career, community or church involvement, and your family obligations?
While I don’t have all the answers, here is what I have learned over the past few years:
- Your family should be a top priority. Throughout my career as a lawyer, I have struggled with finding the right balance between work and family. It always seemed to be a competition between which of the two got my attention at any given point in time. It took a long time for me to realize that my family is critical to my success as a lawyer. (Even now, it continues to be a daily struggle … but I am getting better!) Once you realize how important your family is to your overall well-being, you can better plan your days.
- Your work will (or should) appreciate your priorities. I have worked at three separate law firms throughout my career, and I can say, without hesitation, that every one of my employers valued the importance of a healthy family unit for their employees. As an business owner, I expect my assistants and staff to have the same balance and mindset. While not all employers share this ideal, I think it is important that you set proper boundaries going into any new employment so that you can love your job, at the same time as you care for your family. (Again, this continues to be a commitment that I have to remind myself daily!)
- Your family needs both quality and quantity time. There is no secret or magic formula to finding the right balance, as each family has a different make-up. For my wife, who homeschools our children, it means that she still needs to take time to spend with each child separately, even though she spends most of the day … every day … with them. For me, it means that my kids need to see me every day, even though there may be times when I leave to work before they awake and I come home from work long after they have gone to bed. (… Tell me how to figure that one out?…) For example, at least one day a week I try to spend breakfast with the family and go into work late. Late Friday nights and early Saturday mornings are also a must! When I have an errand to run, I’ll take one or two smiling faces with me on what we call “an excursion of a lifetime” … even if it is to Home Depot. Whether or not you have kids, you also have to take the time to invest in your marriage. (This is where I have the most room for growth.)
- You have to meet your kids at the playground. I mean this both literally and figuratively. Kids love the playground and even the 1/2 hour quick stop to the playground will meet your children’s expectations. This also means that you need to get down to their level … and I mean their eye level … so that they feel you are connecting with them. For example, just this morning as I hopped in the shower to prepare for the day, Jackson knocked on the shower door and asked if he could take a shower too. While I could have said no, because I had to get to work, I opened the door, sat down in the shower with him, and we played with buckets of water for ten minutes. The giggles from my three-year old were the perfect assurance that I had made the right decision for this ten-minute interruption to my morning ritual.
If your life is like mine, there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. However, you need to make sure to plan for both quality and quantity time with your family. It’s crucial to your success.
Question: Do you have any tips and suggestions for this juggling father?