Hey everyone. For those of you that have been reading the blog consistently or even off and on, you may have noticed several days, almost a week went by without a post. One thing that I have learned through the years is NOT to wing it when I have a chance to spend time with my kids.
As I have mentioned many times, my wife and I just became empty-nesters. Our youngest child has now been out of the house for a year. This, however, does not mean that you are finished being a parent. It is a different role in many ways, but still a parent. The biggest difference that I have noticed is that besides an inquiry as to how they are doing, they come to you more. You become a kind of a checkpoint for ideas or solutions for their obstacles.
Regardless of if your kids are little or grown-up, it is important to plan your time when possible. While they are living at home, I’m not talking about day to day activities, but those moments that you stop what you are doing and focus on them. This may be attending a dance recital, soccer game, going to the zoo, taking a family vacation, etc.
These moments are never guaranteed to repeat. Make sure that they are a priority on your calendar.
During my short writing hiatus, I was hosting my oldest son on a visit. He is in the Navy and flew home to see me for a few days. Here is where it may seem weird. He is 28 years old at the time of this post, but it is still important to prioritize these moments and not let the lessor tasks interfere. Now, he is an adult. He understands that my blog is still young and needs constant tending to in order to be successful. I could very easily told him that I need to do this or that. He would not have complained. However, I still want to convey the message of how important he is to me.
I can’t urge dads enough to schedule special times for your kids. I have found that using a family calendar when my kids were at home did a few things for our relationship. It helped the family communicate, not only a schedule but what was important. If you are a young dad, believe me when I say that it will not only keeps things on track but will also cut down on the family arguments. These normally occur through a lack of communication. Write it down. Have it in the kitchen or somewhere public. Refer to it if other issues pop up. Lastly, have a color or use a symbol next to those events that are super-priority.
Today, everything is becoming digital. However, when it comes to events that concern family, I strongly suggest going old school. It is just a great way to communicate your priorities, and your kids love to see that they rank at the top. When they get older, encourage them to do the same. Whether they are away at college, military, or starting a family of their own, it is a great tool.
Finally, you need to make a commitment to the calendar … actually your family. Your time is the most precious thing that you have to give to your crew. Don’t put it on the calendar as super important, unless you plan on following through except for a natural disaster. This builds trust. Sometimes, due to work and life, schedules don’t sync up the way we wish. Be very careful about making promises. If you can’t make it, say so. If there is a possibility that you may not be able to commit to an event, state that upfront.
Review your schedule with your family every week. Does this mean a weekly family meeting? For some people, the answer is yes. You know how your family operates and communicates. Everyone will have their own style. The point is to make sure that you follow through with the things that you mark as important.
When you prioritize your family in your schedule and on a calendar, it is like putting gold stars next to their names at school. Actually it will be more important. They need to see their importance to you. It is another way of saying I love you. It is another way of making yourself the best dad possible.