By Jay Tucker
So, what did you do today? If your schedule is anything like mine you probably woke the kids up, made their breakfasts, nagged them to brush their teeth, got them dressed, and rushed them out the door in a NASCAR type effort to beat the late school bell. I feel a lot like an Army soldier because I do more before 7am than most people do all day!
But the day isn’t done, not by a long shot. I’m also a stay-at-home dad. The rest of my day is consumed by making sure my son and I make the most of it. We have stuff to learn, things to see, lunches to make, and then thankfully, naps to take. Most of the time, the nap is just for him. I typically use that time to answer e-mails, write, clean up, plan dinner, or make a few phone calls. At least the house is quieter, for a little while.
Nap time is short-lived. Immediately after nap time it’s out the door again to pick up my daughter from school. Then it’s time for homework help, dinner prep, and making sure the dog is taken care of. That leads us into the evening. We have activities to attend, engagements to keep, friends to try and meet up with, and the inevitable “boo boo” to mend. When it’s time to put the kids to bed, my wife and I are ready to go into a temporary coma! Remember when you used to wonder why your parents were so cranky?
Well, I have a few ideas that came out of necessity in our house. I can’t honestly say that life isn’t still at break-neck speed, but it’s a little more doable.
Examine your children’s bed time routine. We have it down to almost military precision at our house. Turn off the television during this time so that every one can concentrate on the tasks at hand. We made a picture chart and laminated it so that each night our kids can check off the tasks like taking their vitamins, brushing their teeth, going to the potty, etc.
At least one night a week is a “stay-at-home” night. No one and I mean NO ONE gets to leave for any activity. We spend a quiet night at home playing foosball, board games, or reading. Yes, sometimes we watch a little television too.
My wife and I give each other breaks. Sometimes one of us just doesn’t have the energy to be super parent. When those times occur, we encourage each other to take a little nap or whatever is necessary to get the other one recharged.
We analyze every new evening activity– When our daughter brings home the brochure for the next “I must be involved” activity, we sit down with her and ask her which one of the current things she is willing to eliminate. I firmly believe that no one member of the family should dominate the majority of the family’s time. I have witnessed marriages that have been ruined because they have allowed all of their time to be taken by driving their children to countless activities during the week.
Be firm, and let your “no” mean “no”- That doesn’t just apply to the kids. If an activity isn’t flexible and tries to cut into family stay at home night or another activity, make sure the coach or leader of that activity knows that it isn’t acceptable. Bill Gates doesn’t make it to all of IBM’s meetings so I’m sure the 4-5 year old soccer team isn’t going to fall apart if your child doesn’t have perfect attendance. Piece of mind and family unity is much more important.
The time has come to reclaim our precious family time. Just remember, being busy doesn’t necessarily make a life better. I think there is a lot to be gained from a few boring moments in each of our weeks. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and make dinner.
About The Author
Jay Tucker is fulltime Youth Minister and dad in Florida and author of “The Whole Youth Worker: Advice on Professional, Personal, and Physical Wellness from the Trenches” from Loving Healing Press. You can read more articles by Jay at his website www.BetterYouthMinistry.com·