After bouncing back from losing everything, this father realized he sacrificed too much time away from his kids during the climb.
Since the day my daughter was born, I promised myself that I would create a business that would change my family’s life. I wanted to make enough money so I could sit back and let the business run itself. I would then have all the time in the world to spend with my family.
I was a teenager when my daughter was born so I took the first job I could get which was laboring for a carpet installer. I worked around the clock for a year earning $6.50 an hour. After that first year, I had enough knowledge to start installing carpet on my own. I purchased some tools and a van, and started my own business.
I continued to work around the clock, but now I was earning a respectable income. Since I experienced some success, I decided to dive into other business ventures with the money I earned from my carpet business. With my lack of experience, and economic problems from 9/11, I ended up losing everything. It was painful to see my family struggle as a result of my poor decisions.
I brushed myself off, read countless books, and worked harder than ever. I figured out how to bounce back in life and in business. My family had everything they needed but me.
Recently I woke up and noticed I’m busier than ever, my baby daughter is now 15, and I have three other children that I spend very little quality time with. With three years left until my oldest goes to college, I had to make some huge changes in my life to make these years count.
I had to make up for so much missed time.
When I actually made it to my kids sporting events, dads would ask me what teachers my kids had in school. I was unable to answer because I had no clue! I would take my daughter to the doctor and she would have to tell the doctor what allergies she had. I wasn’t around so I didn’t know. My wife handled everything with our kids because I was always working.
Here are the three steps I took to have quality time with my kids and what overworked fathers need to do before it’s too late.
1. Schedule one on one time with your kids with zero interruptions
If you are a busy professional, your phone rings off the hook with trouble shooting situations that it seems “only you can solve”. It’s in our nature to take the calls and solve the problem. This means that if you want to have quality time with your kids, leave the phone in the car. If the call comes in during family time, you will lose focus on what is right in front of you. I was very guilty of this. This only cheats you and your kids out of the valuable quality time that you’ll never get back.
2. Do what your kids love to do, not what you want to do
I have four children, all with different personalities, so here’s how I spend time with each of them.
- My 15-year-old daughter just got her temps so we practice driving together. This is focused one on one time — as I fear for my life — and I give her 110% of my attention while she is behind the wheel! We tell lots of jokes together and it’s been a great time!
- My 12-year-old son loves video games. I do not, but we play them together. I can tell how happy he is when we do this together. We also go to sporting events together. We sit in the nosebleed section, eating nachos and just chillin out.
- My 5-year-old is a busy little guy. He likes dancing to anything with a beat, and running, so this is what we do together. If my neighbors could see me break dancing in my living room with him, they would have an entertaining day as well.
- My 3-year-old is a sassy mama. She likes to start trouble and be chased around because of it. She also likes taking care of the pets. So this is what I do when I spend time with her.
You have to figure out what activities your kids will enjoy. Start by talking to them.
3. Make the time count
I’m far from perfect, and having a hand in on a few small businesses, my head is full of distractions. I still struggle but I know that work can wait. When I spend time with my kids, I delegate everything that needs to be done and then silence my phone.
Whether they show it or not, your kids will always remember all the quality one on one time you gave them and not miss any financial rewards you could have bought them from always working.
These small steps have been a great start. I really feel closer to my children because of this. I get a lot of extra hugs and silly conversations before I begin my day. I get the texts from my older children midday and I’m greeted at the door with big hugs when I get home. I know it sounds like a commercial but money cannot buy those feelings. Dads, choose that time with your kinds over work and money, you only get once chance to raise your kids.
How do you spend quality time with your children?
Photo: Flickr/ Ed Yourdon