‘Presence’ - A No Cost Gift for Children
Is there a 'right' amount of time to spend with children? You will be shocked to know.
The Gift of 'Presence'
In its simplicity, it can also be difficult to define. Considered ageless, precious, and a gift yet rarely given generously enough, or sadly, in some cases not at all. While some would propose never-ending, others would argue it can be quite scarce. Always surrounding us, yet frequently hard to find. Free but often with a hefty emotional price tag.
TIME. Appreciating, cherishing, making and sharing time with your children is a gift. What you are doing could matter less than just the gift of being present, the undivided attention and focus on them for a period of time.
Of course, lives are busy. There are fundamental time responsibilities that come with work, activities and raising a family.
- It’s time to go to work.
- It’s time to get in the car so we can make it to piano, chess, or dance lessons; maybe its football, basketball, or soccer practice on time.
- It’s time to figure out what we have time to make for dinner so we can fit in homework time before bed
For many, working from home during the pandemic blurred the lines between professional responsibilities and being off the clock when the work day ends. I know I am guilty of saying, “I’m sorry kids. Not tonight. I have to finish this report before tomorrow morning.” Juggling our responsibilities to work and family demands not only our attention but flexibility with regards to time management.
I want to be the best
If you are like me, guilt sets in. I truly want to be best father I can be. I also take pride in my career and work ethic. I often contemplate how I can I navigate both without sacrificing either.
I have come to appreciate that the gift of time doesn’t only include play time. Let’s take the time to dig a little deeper and broaden our definition of time with our children. Time includes morning and bedtimes routines, driving to practice, planning, preparing and having dinner together, assisting with homework, and, of course, play time and/or down time. Think about how you spend time and then diversify how you define it.
Is there the ‘right’ amount of time to spend with children? According to Our World in Data, the average amount of time parents spends with children (under the age of 13) is between 50 to 120 minutes a day. According to the same study, dads spend less time with their children than moms across many countries. (FinancialSamurai)
Hopefully, the benchmark average of less than one to two hours of time surprised you, does not feel overwhelming, and reduced some personal guilt. If you fall below the ‘average’, the good news is that hopefully it won’t feel like too big of a time commitment to spend additional time with your children. According to Roudabush (2019), here are a few simple get started ideas:
- cook a meal and eat together,
- tell a joke, or
- start and end each day with saying I love you.
The reality is that is takes a concerted effort to balance between time used for providing for your family and time used for family togetherness. If you are a dad that is not finding this equilibrium, please continue reading to further understand the importance and as well as benefits.
According to South Dakota State University Extension, the benefits of spending time with your children decreases their likelihood to engage in risky behaviors. You are their most important role model and children look up to you for appropriate behaviors.
If you are a dad that currently does none of the above are you expecting anything in return? For the betterment of your family, reconsider how you are spending your time, get up from the couch, invite your child to join you in a work-out, talk on the car ride to practice, and make the commitment to your family to invest your time. In the end, you will get the time back exponentially from your adult children. This just gave me an idea – in time, I can blog about how adult children should spend time with their aging parents.
I felt it is an important to add a disclaimer regarding that I do not believe there is a minimum or maximum standard of time spent with your children. I was hesitant to include data that could be used to justify minimum time spent but felt that it may helpful for dads to either reduce guilt and aspire to an attainable goal. According to Roudabush (2019), parents do in fact spend a lot of time with their children, but it’s truly about the quality of time being spent. So ask yourself, where can I find more QUALITY time to spend with my children that provide them the undivided attention they seek. But if that is a challenge, know that any time is better than no time.
While family TIME was my family value, add a comment what might have been your family value? Describe it with your family and place it on your Family Values Roadmap worksheet, downloadable as a free PDF on my site for free when you sign-up.
Share my story with a friend and ask them what would be their family value connection!
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