We homeschool our children, so we spend most of our days together. To some parents, this sounds like a nightmare. To others, it is the greatest thing ever imaginable. When I worked 50 hour work weeks and traveled three to four times out of the year, I would have been in the latter category. I constantly beat myself up about being a career mom. After all, I missed a lot of first-times.
I missed my son taking his first steps.
I missed birthdays and wedding anniversaries.
I missed dinners and Friday night get togethers.
Even when I was home, I was so busy playing ‘catch-up’ on life that I still missed out on some precious moments.
I missed relaxing on the couch with my best friend and husband because I needed to check one last email.
I missed coffee dates with my girlfriends because I needed to wash laundry.
I missed out on playing dolls with my daughter because there were dinners to cook.
We live in a busy world that holds us prisoner to the clock. I get it. When I left my career to come home full time, people thought I was crazy. In the weeks and months to follow, I wondered that myself. Yet being home, I realized that I still had the potential of missing out on quality moments in my family’s life.
I had thought for the longest that me working outside of the home was the culprit and though it played a role, I see things slightly different now that I am home. If I am not careful, I can still miss out on my family. The distractions are there. They are just presented differently.
My computer still beckons for me to spend hours locked in my room. I justify it because I am home working and not in an office or on an airplane anymore.
The dings and rings of my cell phone can easily keep me from having real conversations with my children because I am too focused on the conversation I am having on my device.
My lack of scheduling and preparing for the day ahead (especially lessons) can leave me frustrated and so exhausted that when my husband gets home, I cannot even manage time for him.
Now that I have been on both sides of the spectrum as a career mom and a stay-at-home mom, I understand that quality time without effort is simply an illusion.
How do we combat the pulls and distractions in life?
Here are three things we can do to ensure we protect the time we are given with our family:
- Silence the devices
We live in a world connected 24/7. We post every thought, every frustration and every moment of our lives yet we seldom actually partake in it. Take time away from your smart phone. Turn it off. Put it on silent. Give your attention to your family. It is better to make memories than post them.
- Learn to say no
Busy is my kryptonite. I have to constantly remind my brain that a busy schedule does not make for good quality time. There will always be something vying for our attention. Balance your schedule. Choose 1 to 2 nights a week where you do not schedule anything outside the home. Everyone will be better for it.
You have to learn what must be dealt with now and what can be pushed aside. If I am not careful, I will sacrifice my sanity for things I should have prioritized. I value sleep and sometimes I will cut our schedule close just to have five more minutes in my bed. We need to figure out what is a priority and then make sure it gets done. I have learned that the five extra minutes isn’t worth the thirty minutes of arguments that will take place because we are behind schedule.
All of our lives look drastically different from day to day, so we should not beat ourselves up when our quality times looks different as well. The point is to have it, enjoy it and make time for it.