It’s kind of a funny thing: time. We all have an unknown, limited amount of it in our lives, but every day is the same set twenty-four hours. In that twenty-four hours we need to work, entertain, eat, clean, tidy, pay bills, take care of the garden, go to the gym, etc., etc., etc…….. and don’t forget to sleep! I’m lucky in that work as a tutor is seasonal and that I get very little work during the summer (though, that’s not so good for my pocket book) because it means that I have plenty of time to rest and recuperate after the crazy we call the spring semester.
It’s really amazing the amount of stuff I can get done in an hour, and the effect that hour can have. In an hour I can clean my apartment. I can make a gourmet meal. I can have a meeting that sets in motion a marketing plan for the whole next year. One hour a day of undivided attention to your child fulfills their need for attention and creates a strong, open relationship that will keep the child out of trouble in their future. We allot so much time of our day to work and school and chores that we forget that sometimes forget that we need to make time for our children, our families, and even ourselves.
My ninth grade science teacher was quite the hard ass, but he said something at the beginning of the school year that has never left me. He said that he would be seeing us for one hour, five days a week, and that was more time than most of us spent with our parents. Now that I’m an adult, I noticed that when I’m spending one hour, twice a week with my students I’m still giving my students more undivided attention than their parents. My mom gave me an hour every day where I would come home from school, eat a snack with her, talk about my day, and maybe play with her a little bit before she had to go do her own chores, and to this day we still have a great relationship. I have just as good a relationship with my father because, although our time together wasn’t so structured, I spent just as much time with him as with her. Even today, when I’m thirty, married, and moved away I still see my parents at least once a week. Furthermore, I’ve never been in major trouble in my life, nor have I felt the need for a rebellious stage.
Now imagine how much time those parents devote to themselves if they can’t find time to devote undivided attention to their kids. I know there is a concept of “work hard/play hard” but the people I know who ascribe to that philosophy seem to live with more stress and have more emotional breakdowns than people who pace themselves. There is a saying that panic attacks aren’t a sign of weakness; they are a sign that someone has been too strong for too long. In reality, panic attacks aren’t a sign of strength or weakness; they are a sign that someone hasn’t been dealing with their stress effectively.
In this blog written by the World of Psychology, Suzanne Kane writes about seven reasons why you need quiet time. Quiet time doesn’t mean that you sit and do nothing – its a time where you can sit and think, listen to music, read a book, go for a walk with your family, or even meditate or do yoga. Just because it’s quiet time doesn’t mean you have to do it by yourself, but the goal is to feel fresh and restored at the end. Furthermore, making sure there is time in your day to devote to the at-home things that are important, especially your spouse and your kids, will help prevent burnout, and will help keep your marriage healthy and happy. I am a major believer in work-life balance.
But how do you make sure you have time for everything when there are only twenty-four hours in a day? Well, you prioritize! Do you have to bring that work home? If you do it this time, it will be expected that you do it next time, and before you know it you are working fourteen hour days and you’re missing soccer games and ballet recitals. Its better to make realistic deadlines at work than to always be bringing it home. Also, your spouse is supposed to be your partner. If you find yourself working all day and then doing all the household chores, then it is time to start delegating responsibility. Children can do chores and learn to look after themselves from a young age (here is a list from WebMD that can help put that into place) and your significant other is, presumably, an adult and can help out. You aren’t as alone as you think.
So, no more excuses. You are an important person who gives a lot, but as the old adage goes, you can’t give what you don’t have. So make time for it. You’re worth it!