(3min 30sec read)
The average parent looks into their child’s eyes less than two minutes per day. Do you find yourself having more stuff to do each day than you have time to do it? Welcome to life. There is nothing wrong with you. Having a sense of overwhelm or feeling like you're under-performing can actually be a good thing if you have a healthy perspective. Every time I hear the phrase 'time management', I cringe. Maybe it's because I'm not good at it or because it’s almost always used in a high pressure context of getting more stuff done. Here are 5 tips to help you enjoy the time you have been given and connect with your children.
#1 Expect the unexpected. Life is mainly a string of unexpected happenings getting in the way of our plans. If you really want to make God laugh, make detailed plans. The point here is that when you believe you can control what happens you have set yourself up for failure. When you look at each day like an adventure and have the expectation that the unknown will happen, you become free to enjoy the moments you didn't plan. Balance doesn't exist and chasing it will leave you tired, disappointed and unbalanced. Peace and contentment come when you let go of trying to be ‘balanced’ and don’t let the unexpected knock you around.
#2 Plan. Most people spend 10x the effort planning a 1 week vacation than they spend planning how they will raise their children. We make plans not because we expect all to go as planned, but so that we can have a 'true north', a direction we are moving in that expresses what matters to us- what is really important. Funny thing about vacations is that we tend to remember the things that we didn't plan, like a flat tire or missed train or getting lost. A plan is like policy in that it’s the rules we follow with our time. But it is the principles behind the policies that are most important. I had this time right now carved out to write this article but my four year old barged into my office and asked, “Dad, will you go for a bike ride with me?” How do I turn down that offer?! Article vs. bike ride with 4 year old? Article lost. I chose to break my policy (plan to write at this time) so I could uphold my principle of building relationships with my children through affirming their ideas (4 year olds are only 4 for one year and bike ride requests to the park don’t come often).
#3 Invest time, don't spend it. The fool works and works and then spends their money on things that stack up in the closet or garage but have no real meaning. The wise man invests his money in things that grow and impact lives in a meaningful way. Your time is even more precious than money as you can always get more money, but your time is limited. It's been said that the average parent looks into their child’s eyes less than two minutes per day. If you’re lucky enough to evaluate your life at your end, you will value relationships and memories more than any accomplishment. Find the people you value, sit close to them and look into their eyes today. It is a great way to invest your time and a great way to take the temperature of that relationship. Do either of you smile, laugh, divert your eyes or something else? While having this awkward staring contest, first try to not talk and just be. Then ask something simple like, “How are you doing?” or “What have you been thinking about lately?” You’ll be amazed at how much more you’ll understand the other person’s answer simply by having this connection through your eyes.
#4 You are a human being more than you are a human doing. No one cares about your to-do list. Most of us live in fear of what will happen if we don't get our to-do list done. Have you ever noticed that when you get sick or go on vacation, your 'to do' list just sits there, waiting for you to come back. The only life that list has in it, is the air you breathe into it. Ask yourself why you are doing each thing and really contemplate each answer before you go back and do that thing again. You are more a person when you focus on who you are being than what you are doing. You will leave a million things undone in your life, and no one is going to care. When you realize that you don’t have to do anything besides breathe, sleep and eat you have found the power of choice. Everything you do, no matter how much you want to blame someone else for it, you have chosen to do. You don’t have to do anything.
#5 Live each day like it's your last, cause one day you're gonna be right. The famous theologian Martin Luther was asked, "What would you do today if you knew you would die tonight?" He answered by listing the things he had already planned to do that day such as go for a walk with his wife, play with his children outside, teach his children, study, write, work, household chores, etc. His point was that he was content in the choices he had already made about how he was going to spend his day. Each activity had a specific purpose and was in alignment with his values. How and why you do things matters more than what you are doing.
I hope when you feel overwhelmed or like you’re falling behind, you can be grateful instead of panicked. Chances are you have a full life with many good things to choose from. The things you have to do mean far less than the person you can choose to be each day. Please comment and if you want more content like this subscribe here. Thanks!