Making time for the kids

My husband and I work very hard to provide for our family but this oftentimes leaves us very tired when we get home. It's tough to give our children the attention they need. What can we do?

It’s not uncommon to come home from work tired. You see these kids ready to play and have fun and get attention, and we’re just out of gas.

And when we don’t show them that attention, after a while they realize, “Well, that attention isn’t coming.” So, it’s easy for them to turn into themselves, to get angry at each other, and take it out on us.

No, they are not going to appreciate a good home, they are not going to appreciate a great environment, if it’s not filled with the kind of love and attention they need to feel significant.

You know, my wife and I have four children, and I travel a lot for a living, and I remember one time I had been on the road, and we just had at this time one child—she was a little girl, still in her highchair—and I was able to catch an early flight home. And I came home, and I was so excited to be able to come home, because I wanted to go to bed. I actually wanted to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon.

When Darcy saw me come in, she said, “Oh, this is great! Because Karris”—that’s our daughter—“Karris has been missing you!”

I thought, “She can’t even talk. How do you even know she has been missing me?”

Regardless, she said, “Let’s take her out for ice cream.”

I said, “Oh, look. I’m whipped. I’m tired. I don’t want to go out for ice cream.”

Meanwhile, she was getting her coat on, she was taking her out, putting her in the car—so I knew I didn’t have a vote in this—and we took her down to a Dairy Queen. And she’s sitting there in her highchair, and we ordered her some ice cream, and everything’s going fine, but I’m just exhausted.

Next thing you know, she took this ice cream, put it all over the table, she smeared it all over her face, and then she flipped some over and got it on my sleeve.

And that was it for me. I got up, and I took a napkin and said, “C’mon, Darcy. Let’s get out of here. I’m not having any fun.”

She looked right up at me and said, “Tough. This isn’t about you. This isn’t about me. This is about her. And we’ve got to suck it up.”

That’s just what I want to say: parenting is tough. It’s hard work. It’s demanding. But what you need to be doing when you come home from work, whether it’s Mom or Dad, is rolling up your sleeves and getting ready to move into the rhythm of those kids and spend great time with them.

Look, they are going to be gone sooner than you think, and you will have plenty of time to rest after they are gone. But right now, you need to do that extra effort, put that sweat labor in, and give them that attention they need.

And you know what? Once you get into it, you will actually find that it is worth it all.

And here’s another good reason. This is a selfish reason, but there’s something in it for you. You see, if we don’t have time for our children when they are little, they are not going to have any time for us when we are old.

No, no, no. Let’s give it to them now. Everybody is going to win.

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