Many parents are concerned that they do not spend enough time with their children, fearing that this may result in developmental and bonding problems. Some parents, especially mothers, often feel bad about working full-time, even though providing for their children is in their best interest. The dilemma is faced by many working parents because they have to juggle between doing their best at work while caregiving their kids at home. While making money is crucial for financial security, maintaining close connections with the family should be a priority too.
Celebrating Universal Children’s Day, here are some tips for working parents to spend quality time with their children.
Understanding Work-Life Balance for Parents
There are stark differences between work-life balance for unmarried people and for parents. For a single individual, work-life balance can be obtained from taking a few days off to go on a short vacation, jogging before work, or simply watching Netflix undisturbed with work-related matters. Things can be different for working parents. For them, work-life balance often means spending as much time as possible with the children when they are not occupied with work that they barely have time for themselves. Some parents may even feel guilty for going to the gym after work instead of rushing to get home and meet their children. It is hard to find quality time for their children, let alone for their spouse or even themselves.
BUT, if you know the right way to spend quality time with the children, it can actually make you happy as an individual too, more than as a mom or a dad. Here are some tips for you:
1 . Make, Not Find
There is a difference between ‘finding time’ and ‘making time’. If you want to have a quality time that is actually fulfilling, you need to start with the right mindset in perceiving time. There are times where you probably forget that you have power over your professional life, even if you are an employee. If you only focus on finding time amidst your busy weekday and your weekend side hustle, there is probably little to no chance to spend quality time with your children.
It will be different when you actually make time to spend quality time with them. For example, you promise yourself to take one day out of your total annual leave every month and dedicate this for your children. This can be something as simple as spending one whole day with them instead of taking them to a daycare. Remember that you have control over your job and not the opposite. Making time means you do something about your busy schedule instead of waiting for a void time to be available. Money can be sought for anytime other than now, but your children’s childhood is irreversible, so make it count.
Read Also: Why Paternity Leave is Worth Considering
2 . Prioritize Their Happiness
Reflect on this question: as a parent, what makes you proud of your children? There is no right or wrong answer for this, but your answer speaks one same thing: the best for your children is what you want them to have. Happiness suits your children best, so figure out what makes them happy. If they feel unhappy playing the piano, would you still force them to take piano lessons? Even if you think that driving your children to their piano lesson is a form of quality time, it may not be significant on their part since they are unhappy doing it. Instead of guessing on what makes them happy or trying to force your idea of happiness, prioritize their happiness above all.
Do they want a day out to the zoo? Do they want to explore a theme park with you? Or do they simply want to build Gundam together with you at home? If your children can already talk this out, usually when they are 4 years old or older, you can ask them what they truly want. Even if what makes them happy may not be interesting for you, such as you are never too fond of baking, but your children want to do it with you, sacrifice your ego a bit. If they are too young to communicate clearly, discuss with your spouse about arranging a day out with your children. Parents will surely be happy if their children are, so try to prioritize what makes them happy first.
3 . Set Clear Boundaries
Imagine already promising the children that you will take them to eat gelato on one of your days off, but then your boss calls you and demands an urgent meeting with a client. You can actually afford doing a video call in the cafe while your children finish their ice cream, but is it really a quality time you give them? Just because you can afford doing a duty on your day off, it does not mean you should or are entitled to. Start setting clear boundaries with your work matters when you are around your children. Put your phone on a don’t disturb mode to let your boss or coworkers know that you are not to be bothered. Do not give them the impression that your presence around them is always accompanied with work, as it can leave a negative memory about you when they get older.
Quality of time, not amount of time, is important for relationships. Keep it natural, and engage with your children in ways that suit your lifestyle and connection. Each connection has a long-term influence and gives your kid the support and comfort they deserve.