As a working parent, you only get so much focused time with your kids each day. However, you are the only Mom or Dad your children will ever have. They need you, they need your undivided attention, and certain moments are more significant in their day than others.
Determine the three most important moments for you, as their parent, to give your attention to your kids each day. Prioritize these three moments, and then fight for them viciously against all other time-grabbers and attention-stealers (I’m looking at you, TV and social media!). Do whatever you can to severely limit (or even completely eliminate) regular appointments and interruptions during these times, as much as possible. Also, be prepared to adjust these times as your kids grow into new stages of life, or as your family enters new or different seasons of life.
Below are some descriptives to help you know how to select and rank your top three moments with your kids each day. After each, I will share the most important times for me, as a working Dad, to be with my kids each day at this current season in our family’s life (with kids ages 9, 8, and 5):
Moment #1 – The Teacher / Leader Moment. This moment should be untouchable by EVERYthing else, period. If you could only interact with your children once per day, this would be it. This is when you will be parenting your kids with intentionality – purposefully, strategically, shepherding their hearts and lives as Mom or Dad. This is a moment of proactive parenting (versus the normal reactive parenting). During this highest-priority moment, I am primarily speaking to, teaching, training, and leading my kids. Keep this moment totally off-limits for anything else that would vie for this time.
Reasons to miss this time? NONE. Endeavor to never miss this critical, top-priority time slot in your kids’ day. For me, Moment #1 is Family Dinner.
Moment #2 – The Listener / Responder Moment. This second most important moment should be guarded jealously, only surrendered to the most exceptional of interruptions. This is a key moment of responsive parenting. It is still very intentional and strategic, but I invite my kids to lead the talking in this Moment #2. Whatever they want to talk about, share, ask about, etc. – no topic is off-limits. I have no pre-arranged agenda for this daily time, except to just connect with whatever is on my kids’ hearts and minds.
Reasons to miss this time? Only the most significant appointments or critical interruptions. Missing this time would be the exception, not the rule. I try to only miss this time slot once or occasionally twice per week. For me, Moment #2 is Bedtime.
Moment #3 – The Helper / Supporter Moment. This is a daily time where you are choosing to give your kids time away from what you want (or need) to do in order to support them with something they want or need to do. You may help them with their homework, help them complete their chores, help them build a fort, help them complete a puzzle… You are engaging in some meaningful (albeit “everyday” type) activity with your children. Many parents have both the joy and exasperation of experiencing dozens of these helper-type moments each day. Make sure you have at least one good, focused time of supporting your kids with one of their tasks, interests, or needs each day.
Reasons to miss this time? If there is some important weekly meeting, work shift, or appointment that only pulls you away from this time once or twice per week on a regular basis, then that’s okay. Work to be there for Moment #3 the majority of days. For me, Moment #3 is The Morning Routine (wake up, breakfast, getting ready for school, etc.). As a working Dad, I have arranged my schedule such that I am able to engage in my kids’ Morning Routine at least 5 days each week.
How about you and your kids? What are their three most important moments to have you, as their Mom or Dad, present and attentive to them each day? What are you doing to protect those moments for them? Or what will you now do to reclaim those times from other things in order to give it to your kids?