Posts Tagged ‘ quality time ’

It’s Easy To Take These Moments For Granted

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

3 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

Thursday night, Mommy went out for coffee with her friend Karen for her official “Mommy’s Night Out” for the month. (I get one too, but it’s called “Daddy’s Night Out” instead, obviously.)

I didn’t mind whatsoever, but I admit since that meant I would be putting you to bed, I sort of needed to speed through the process so I could finish up the dishes and catch up on some other work before Mommy got home.

You wanted me to play trains with you, though we already had our play time. Then you wanted me to read an extra story. And you wanted me sing an extra song after I had already sang you two Christmas carols.

I knew that the more time I spent upstairs with you, the less time I’d have to get my work done before Mommy got home. But then I reminded myself:

It’s easy to take these moments for granted.

You’ll be this age and in this stage… for a limited time only.

That’s one of the reasons I always put your age in years and the month at the top of every letter: to remind myself of how fast you’re growing up.

As hectic as our schedules are, we really don’t get to spend as much quality time as a family as we wish; it’s basically limited to the weekend for the most part.

And as far as exclusive father and son time, that’s even more rare. Sure, I take you to and from school every day, but there’s not much physical interaction there.

So I decided to let the work downstairs delay for a little while. You and me had a tickle fight instead.

It’s interesting how you don’t even put up a fight, other than try to shield yourself with your blanket like a turtle trying to hide in his shell.

Sure, it’s easy to take these moments for granted, but I didn’t this time.

And I still got the dishes done by the time Mommy got home.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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American Families Have Dual Incomes, Yet Less Time Than Europeans

Monday, January 28th, 2013

2 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

Two years and two months ago when you were born, we moved away from Nashville where Mommy and I had secure jobs and a great network of friends.

Why? Because life in the big city was too busy for us. We felt so starved for quality time, that we wanted to expose you to a slower pace of life.

So we moved to my hometown in Alabama, where, guess what? We were unemployed for the majority of our 8 months there. Sure, we had plenty of quality time, but it wasn’t really quality time because we weren’t actually making any money to justify our existence.

As your dad, it devastated me, knowing that I brought you into this world, only to not be able to provide for you.

Obviously, we moved back to Nashville, got even better jobs than we had before we left, and now life is wonderful.

Except for that one thing: Finding quality time for our family is still a struggle.

Mommy and I both work full-time, plus I have a part-time job. While your parents are at work, you spend nearly all of your waking hours with paid professionals and your peers at daycare.

Granted, it shows. You’re highly socialized: You know how to eat with proper utensils, you use the potty at school, and you don’t suffer from separation anxiety.

Yet Mommy and I have about 20 quality minutes together with you on weekdays, if we’re not counting getting you ready for school and getting you ready for bed.

We really do have so little time with you. Sure, we’ve got the whole weekend with you…

That’s when we buy groceries, clean the house, take the recycling, catch up with friends, and go to church; all based around your nap schedule.

If we were in Europe, I guess things would be different. I just read this article in The New York Times called What We Have Less Of, by Paul Krugman:

“So what we have is a situation in which American families have more stuff, but they have managed to afford that stuff only by being two-income families, with ever less family time — unlike their European counterparts, who have gained in shorter hours and vacations what they lost in stay-at-home wives.”

It’s a nice thought, to actually have a comfortable amount of quality time, as a family. We tried that and couldn’t afford it.

I know it sounds strange that we don’t have cable TV or smartphones, but aside from the obvious financial savings, we also have a few less distractions in our house.

Quality time is a rare currency. As your American parents, we are always desperate to figure out ways to get more of it with you.

However, working less isn’t an option.

 

Love,

Daddy 

 

Photo credit: Time money quality text on black disk, Shutterstock.

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Every Parent Needs Privacy of Some Kind

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

16 months.

While we parents are proud to share our kids with the world, we are just as eager to keep certain aspects of our children to ourselves.

The way I see it, both my wife and I are introvert/extrovert hybrids. We are both very social people; we get bummed out if we’re not interacting with other human life on a daily basis; with our son thrown in the mix.

On the other hand, we also get bummed out if we don’t have enough time together as a family; just the three of us.

The parent paradox: We love for others to be able to know our son; we also love to be able to know our son with no one else around.

We share him; we keep him all to ourselves. There are certain subconscious boundaries that we as a family unit of three abide by. If nothing else, we highly guard our quality time together.

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out what these unwritten rules are in regards to the boundaries of privacy we have, by default. Maybe it’s possible we don’t socialize with other fellow parents enough because we are so overly aware of our family’s cultural need for quality time.

Maybe I should do a better job of being a more outgoing dad; getting involved in cool networks of dads out there. But ultimately, I’m wired to see even that as a threat to time with my family.

With as little quality time I have left at the end of each work day, I hate the thought of just giving my wife and son my emotional leftovers.

My focus on privacy is obvious to me in another way, too. A few people have expressed to me that they couldn’t do what I do: Write a near daily blog post sharing personal stories including my son’s actual name and pictures of him.

But I don’t feel like I’m selling my soul or my son, because I am carefully choosing what I allow to be publicly seen.

So what am I hiding? Well, notice how I don’t make a habit of “venting” when I am facing a new challenge as a parent. From the personal journey that led me to choose the “cry it out”method, to all the life-experiences from which I wrote my Dadvice series, I wait until after I learn the necessary life lesson before I will write about it.

I sleep better at night being able to view my life as a parent not as a chaotic mess, but as organized chaos. One way I can organize the chaos is by knowing when to hold up the “private” card.

Whether it’s regarding quality time with your family, the content you share about your family on Facebook, or even the pictures you do or do not display on your desk at work, the importance of privacy is in there somewhere.

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The “Disconnect to Reconnect” Father’s Day Challenge

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Six months.

baby and TV remote

As much as I fantasize about being a full time writer, the truth is, I work from 8 AM to 4:30 PM every weekday at “my real job” in a sales office. Writing for Parents.com isn’t all I do for a living, in other words; it’s my part time job.  So it’s only natural for intuitive readers to wonder the question, “How do you have time to write six new posts each week for The Dadabase without neglecting your wife and son?”

It’s easy: I sleep less than most people (usually not more than six hours a night). And I only write when my wife and son are asleep.  From roughly 10 PM to 11:30 PM, then again from 6:00 AM to 7:10 AM everyday, I am always writing.

The Dadabase

That means that when I am at home with Jack and Jill, I literally am at home with Jack and Jill.  My policy is that I don’t turn my laptop on while they are awake. That way, I’m not distracted by the blogosphere where I am an active citizen.  As for me and my house, that’s the only way it could work.

I disconnect (from electronic social media distractions) to reconnect with my family while they are awake.

So when I received a challenge from author and media consultant Phil Cookeasking dads everywhere to disconnect from technology – phones, Facebook, Twitter, email, TV – and spend quality time with their kids for 24 hours this Father’s Day, I knew I could handle it.

My wife and I worship the concept of quality time and giving each other our undivided attention, to the best of our abilities.  We are constantly aware of our need as a married couple with a child to make the most of the little bit of time we have together each day, balancing both family time and time alone as a couple.

So when we do watch TV together, the rule is that it has to be something we both want to watch, like American Idol or The Office.  Or a TV series through Netflix, like Mad Men; which is our current show.  And for the times our son is asleep and we both have a lot of stuff to get caught up on in the Internet world, we do what we have to do but label that time as “personal time.” We fully recognize that time as necessary for us as individuals, but we know full well it is not quality time together; even if we’re sitting next to each other.

Phil CookeThis challenge is inspired by Phil Cooke’s new book Jolt! Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing (April 2011, Thomas Nelson), which lays out 25 “jolts” to help us set the “reset” button on our priorities and boundaries.  I am interested to see how his book fills in all the blanks and connects the dots regarding the importance of “unplugging” in the name of quality time with family.

So here’s the deal for my male readers.  (Do I actually have any?  As long as I’ve been a daddy blogger, I’ve just always assumed at least 97% of my readers are female.) For the first three men who agree to take the challenge with me to unplug for 24 hours on Father’s Day, I will arrange for a free copy of the book mailed to your house.  Just let me know your name and mailing address by leaving a comment on this post. And as long as you are one of the first three to agree to take the challenge, you get a free book.

I will leave my phone and computer alone on Father’s Day! Will you?

The Dadabase
*Thanks and congrats to the first 3 dads who jumped on board and will now be receiving the free book: Mike Mitchell, Marc Theriault, and Mario Sollecchio!

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