I know, I know. The title sounds like a sure fire recipe for ending up with a little Honey Boo Boo of your own. Stick with me because that’s obviously not the point. What I’m actually talking about here is saying yes to your kids when they ask for your time.
A True Gift
Think back in your own life to some of your best memories. You might or might not remember receiving your first bike as a gift, but what you most likely remember is your mother or father teaching you how to ride that bike. As you got better and better you probably even remember riding bikes with them. It’s amazing how things are forgotten, but experiences give us happiness well into the future.
I think about a recent time when I asked my daughter to ride her bike to the store with me. About 5 minutes into the trip she looked at me and yelled “this is the best day ever!” She probably won’t remember saying that, but it’s burned in my memory forever and I’m so thankful that I asked her to come with me. I wouldn’t even have that memory if I had gone to the store on my own, bought her some candy and took it home as a surprise. There would have been about 5 seconds of saying thank you + a hug and then she’d walk off to enjoy it.
The fact is that if you want to give a gift that brings happiness, then give an experience, give your time. There have actually been recent scientific studies to back up the fact that experiential gifts are better than things.
It’s In Our DNA
It’s not a new idea that spending time with your kids is important. Throughout history, knowledge has been shared from generation to generation, allowing the children of today to thrive in the world of tomorrow. For the last several thousand years it has been a matter of survival. A parent had to teach his children which plants were poisonous, how to catch a fish, hunt a wild boar or protect itself from predators.
It’s only recently that we’ve had the “luxury” to assume that schools will educate our children with what they need to know to succeed. When in fact, one of the best ways to have a confident and happy child is for the parent to spend time with them, passing down their wisdom. Or in my case, convincing my kids not to make the same ridiculous mistakes I did!
Not Right Now = I Don’t Want To
It started off slowly but I somehow fell into the habit of saying “not right now” a lot to my kids. I didn’t think it was a big deal. But there were a couple of times when I thought to myself, “I will never, I mean never, get that moment back.” That was a pretty harsh reality when you think about it.
We’re all guilty of it. You’re sending emails during your kid’s soccer practice or finishing a presentation while your child is asking you to draw with them. It’s unfortunate that the most hectic times of most adult’s careers happen do be the same time that their children are young. Many of those precious moments can be lost if you’re not careful.
At the end of the day there will always be another email to send or a presentation to give, but who really gives a shit. In 10 years time I’m assuming people at your company won’t still be talking about that amazing presentation you gave during the meeting that nobody was listening in. But what you will remember in 10 years are the missed opportunities to be with your kids. You’ll miss every single one of them.
This reminds me of the hospice nurse from Australia that worked with patients who were nearing the end. She listed the Top 5 regrets people told her about their lives. I’m sure there’s an amazing sense of clarity when you’re nearing the end. I’ve listed those regrets below just to confirm that nobody said they wished they had worked harder. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true.
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I didn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
- I wish I had let myself be happier
At the end of the day, what you prioritize and what you focus on is what is most important to you. Remember each and every time that your child asks you to color, to play or to read, that it’s an amazing moment for both of you. It’s a chance for you to share your wisdom and experience with your legacy. That’s right, they are the most monumental thing that you’ll leave behind. Your memory will live on through them. Make sure you remember that that time is important too…even if it’s not in your calendar.