Work-life balance is all the buzz in the business and professional worlds. As moms and dads increasingly try to design their work schedules to accommodate their family lives, employers are struggling to come up with ever-more innovative office hours, job-sharing arrangements, and child-care options. That is all fantastic news for parents who work outside the home and crave more quality time with their kids.
However, with all the creative strategies that have emerged, there is still one often- overlooked strategy to making the most of the precious few minutes we may have with our kids every day. Hence, the premise of No Regrets Parenting. The goal of No Regrets Parenting is to teach parents to better use the time they do have with their kids each day, to turn minutes of mayhem into moments and memories. This is a simple premise, really. We don’t realize how much time we actually spend near our kids, but not with them.
Everyone’s in the car driving somewhere, but no one is with each other because we and our kids are all plugged into some digital distraction. We’re separated not by distance but by bandwidth. We all eat dinner every night, but often it’s on the run, not with each other; or the phone interrupts the meal just as we’ve all settled in. Dinner prep and clean-up happen every night, but the kids may be off watching TV or doing homework – that makes cooking and cleaning more efficient, but it’s time you’ll never have back with your kids. Lunches have to be made for tomorrow; why are you making them for your kids instead of making them with your kids? The tire is flat, the furnace filter needs changing, there’s a leak in the bathroom. You do the fix-ups while your kids are doing something else under the same roof.
Do the things you have to do, and get them done. But do them with your kids. Yes, you may be a little less efficient, but add up all the hours you’ll capture each week towards better work-life balance. Start with this eye-opener. If you’re driving your kids somewhere 30 minutes each day (most of us spend an hour or more a day in the car with kids), that gives you three and a half hours a week of quality time with your kids that are otherwise lost to iPads, iPods, text-messaging, and car video screens. If it’s an hour a day, you’ve just recovered 7 hours a week with your kids. Unplug everyone in the car – no devices. Car time is with time.
You are spending so much effort to balance your work and life at your workplace to give you more time with your kids. Spend at least as much effort creatively restructuring the time with your kids when you’re already with them!
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