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Time is the Currency of Parenthood

Why is it that time is so elusive when you’re raising kids and running a family? There is never enough time it seems, except maybe when your three-month-old starts crying in the middle of the night and you can’t get her back to sleep no matter what you try, from feeding to changing diapers to singing to her, and it seems to take forever before she finally closes her eyes. That is when time crawls. But for the most part, for those of us who have come out the other side of raising kids, those eighteen years fly by, way too fast.

There are three areas of life where your currency of time is spent while raising a family: on your kids, on your spouse or partner, and on yourself. Oh yeah and on work, so I guess that makes four areas. These all shift and change in order of importance from day to day, year to year, and depending on kids’ ages, state of the marriage, employed or unemployed, etc.

Starting with time for yourself. Imagine your neighbor, who has kids the same ages as your own kids, telling you that she will give you two hours of time during which she will watch your kids so that you can go and spend two hours doing whatever you want. Giving you two hours of time currency for some ‘me’ time for yourself. How valuable is that?! And sometime, you’ll pay her back.

Next, imagine your parents offering to take the kids for the weekend so that you and your spouse can head to the Vineyard for two whole days. Now that’s hitting the Mass Millions jackpot! How much currency is two whole days? A lot.

These are all important areas of spending your currency. But I believe that the time you spend with your kids, is the most important and therefore the best investment you can make. Every bit of time you spend with your child, especially the quality time, is money in the bank  – in their future. Of all things you can buy or give to your children, time is, by far, the most valuable.

Recently I moved my mother into a higher level of care assisted living place. She had to downsize from a spacious two -bedroom apartment to one room. That meant that most of her belongings had to go. She had twelve years of accumulation in this apartment which wasn’t so bad – it could have been thirty years. Some of it had sentimental value. But the amount of stuff we took to Savers thrift store, and the items we threw in the dumpster was ridiculous – over thirty large black garbage-bagsful alone went into the dumpster. Three carloads filled to the brim went to Savers. And we still have a large storage container to empty out through donations and selling. Much of the stuff in her apartment was meaningless. It didn’t come close to matching the memories of time spent with her and my Dad and my siblings.

Why do we spend so much energy and money on material stuff? We give gifts as a way to show a person we care about them. It can be because we don’t want to show up at their house empty handed. It can be because we really think the person will enjoy the thing we picked out specifically for them. There are a number of reasons why we give material items. And for kids?  Yikes! They are always asking for the latest and greatest. Your daughter wants what Susie has, and your son wants the same cool model that Johnny has. And then there is Christmas. Of course, we don’t want to disappoint at Christmas time – that is a holiday commercially built just for kids.

But no material item can hold the value and importance of time. Kids are not likely to ask for time with you over receiving a toy or a gift, but they do feel the value of time with you and your undivided attention. The attention they give to that new toy and the joy they receive from it, lasts maybe a week? But the value they receive from time with a parent lasts a life time. Think back on all the childhood memories you have. Most of them probably had to do with your family and the people in your life, not the toys and things in your life.

We don’t give ourselves or our kids the gift of enough time. Time together brings connection. Once this time, this moment, this opportunity for connection is gone, it’s gone forever. We are always running around, late for an appointment, speeding our mini-van to soccer practice, eating on the go. We race through our days like we are competing in a combination of “American Ninja Warrior” and “Survivor.” And all this to what end? Try spending some of your time currency on your kids. Give them some extra time with just you, no distractions. Whether it is for five minutes, or five hours doesn’t matter as much as simply taking the time. Spend some time with your child, make that deposit in their future.

Article by Julie Hatch Parenting Coach / Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Website: www.juliephillipshatch.com
Email: julie@juliephillipshatch.com
Phone: 401-323-4623