Both of my parents worked full time. Growing up, I never questioned their career choices. There were times that they had to miss a sporting event or a parent meeting, but for the most part, they were there. They were there when they needed to be. My sister and I never felt that we were without their love and affection.
Naturally, I always assumed I would follow in their footsteps. I guess they made it look easy. Now that I am raising a son in a household with two working parents, I worry constantly. Are we bringing too much of our work days home with us? Does my son feel supported? Are we missing out on the important things?
In all of my pondering, I have figured out that it isn’t the amount of time that I spend with my family that matters. Rather, the quality of time we spend together is what really counts. I work hard to keep our family time protected and valuable.
One way I try to improve the quality of our time is by not bringing up my work problems. I believe that there is a certain amount of venting that can be helpful in some situations. I also know that voicing my work frustrations at the dinner table during family time can bring everyone’s mood down. Instead, I try to share the high points of my day. This allows me to exemplify for my son how to show gratitude for the positive things we have in our lives. My husband and I save sharing our struggles for after bedtime when we can work things out with adult conversation.
Sometimes, I come home from work, emotionally worn out, and scroll mindlessly through my social media feeds while my son plays alone at my feet. While there is nothing wrong with my son being independent, I know I will eventually have to leave him alone when I cook dinner. Therefore, if I have the free time to sit around, I try to give it to him. There is always plenty of time for mindlessly scrolling, if it’s even necessary, after he is in bed.
In fact, I try to keep technology to a minimum overall. We turn the TV off, or at the very least, pick a movie the whole family can enjoy. We leave phones away from the dinner table and keep them on silent. My son doesn’t have a device of his own (he’s only three), but I want to create a culture in my home that the people in our family are more important than that work email that just beeped through in the middle of dinner. It isn’t fair to my family if I am splitting my attention between them and technology.
I am far from a perfect parent. There are days that being present is very difficult, especially when I’ve had a tough day at work. I know, though, that making the intentional decision to pay attention to my family is the best way to show them that they are my whole world.
Photo by Pixabay
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