Whether you’re married or a single parent, whether both parents work out of the home or one of you stays home with the kids, finding time to truly connect with your young ones can be terribly difficult at times.
When children are younger they need your attention, even if it’s just five or ten minutes here and there. Some may just want you in the same room, coming to you for spurts of contact: a quick hug, telling you something funny, reading a short book. Others can be more demanding of your time: if it were possible they’d put you on a leash and drag you everywhere they go.
Giving time to your children isn’t as difficult for stay-at-home moms and dads. But what of those who are required to work outside of the home?
My own husband works two jobs. He leaves the house before 4:30 in the morning and will typically not get home until after 6:30 at night. Every Wednesday night he has church meetings, and makes it home only long enough to take a bath and go. Sundays are also filled with his High Council calling. Because he has been placed over another ward we typically don’t see him until after 4:00. In other words, every minute my kids get with their dad is considered precious.
To help him connect with his kids more, we’ve had to prioritize certain things in our lives, as well as become creative in our attempts to help them all get together.
Saturday is our “Family Day.” My husband is lucky enough to have that day off, and our kids are young enough that they’d rather spend the day with us than with friends. Yes – we are all too aware of just how quickly this will pass. We try to find fun things to do as a family: take a walk along a trail, go up into the mountains, visit grandparents, go out to lunch, play at the park, work in the yard, or watch a movie. It doesn’t really matter, so long as you’re together.
Being together as a family unit is crucial. It’s also important to find one-on-one time with your children. If one of us is cleaning the church, we’ll take one of the kids with us. If I have to run an errand I couldn’t do during the week, I’ll let one of them come with me. Just the other night my husband took our daughter to a Stake Young Womens activity he needed to attend. If he’s doing a work project at a house, he’ll often take our boys.
Being together in a physical sense isn’t always possible. Many parents have jobs that require them to frequently be out of town. It is still possible to connect with your kids, even if you’re not there in person. Back when I was pregnant with our first child, my husband began to call every day around eleven o’clock a.m. As the years went by, and more children joined the household, this particular habit never left.
Now my kids, when they’re not at school, practically race each other to the phone when it rings around that time of day. Talking with Daddy is just as important to them as seeing him in person.
My point in all this is, Kids are kids for too short a time. We don’t have to break the bank to give them what they need. We just have to show them how important they are to us.