When was the last time you really spent time with your children? Did you know that many older parents miss taking care of their children? Are you aware of how much time is left for you to do just that?
The answers to these questions can provide a new perspective in balancing your life. Let me highlight this with a personal story. Recently, I took my youngest son, Adam, for a haircut.
He is nine years old and dislikes going to a barber as he prefers his mother to do it. I persuaded him to join me for the trip by saying that he is now a big boy and besides, a professional haircut would make look him more handsome.
He reluctantly agreed but went through the process without any problem. After the cut, I was impressed at how neat and nice he looked. So I gave him a spontaneous compliment, “Wow Adam. You look so cute!”
His response was not what I expected. He wasn’t very happy with that comment. I asked him, “Why? Are you not cute anymore?” His candid reply was unexpected: “I know I’m still cute, but please don’t call me that anymore! I’m a big boy now.”
That comment left me smiling. But it also reminded me of how fast he has grown up. Being the youngest, he has always been “a baby” in our family. Apparently he has begun to feel uncomfortable with that status and is trying to move on to another phase of life.
It is quite common for kids at this age to start being independent. They may also begin to feel uncomfortable when treated like a little person.
Parents may find them reluctant to be hugged and kissed especially in public. However, this does not mean that they love us less than before. It just means that they want to be treated like an older boy or girl.
This is a great reminder to all of us working parents. First of all, it is normal to wish that our kids will never grow older. Many parents want their little angels to stay cute forever.
This is because their little ones provide an endless source of entertainment. They gave us lots of funny and memorable moments during their growing years. They never resisted us when we wanted to give that quick hug or a peck on the cheek.
Because of this, parents can sometimes feel that they have all the time in the world. They postpone spending time with the kids because they will do it some other time. Many spend a disproportionate amount of time at work thinking that there will be a break coming soon.
But guess what! The days turn into weeks and months, but the break never comes. On the contrary, we are getting busier than ever as our careers or businesses flourish and grow.
In the meantime, our children at home are also growing at a faster rate. They no longer like to be hugged, cuddled or called “cute”.
When that happens, parents lose a significant amount of parenting joy. There’s no amount of money that can buy back the lost time.
Let’s not become one of those parents. Looking back, there really isn’t that much time. Try to look back at your children’s photo albums, and you will know what I mean.
Once our young ones go to school, we will be missing the days when they fell asleep on our chest. We will wish that we had just one more night to bathe them, dress them up and read them a bedtime story.
Now that they are busy with their school work and activities, we will be wishing for some quiet time just to have a decent meal together.
Talk to any parents with grown up kids; they will tell you a thousand more memorable stories. Chances are, they would no longer complain about the hardship; in fact, many would not want to do it any other way.
This hindsight forms the valuable learning we can fast forward to our situation today. Stop complaining about our children’s antics because it will be for only a short time.
Never miss another dinner together because many necessary distractions will be coming soon. Stop pondering about whether to take that holiday; just pack and go instead.
Time is shorter than we think. We only have about five years to hold and cuddle them before they politely push us away. The next seven years will be spent in primary schools. The teenage years will be even worse. Many teenagers would prefer to spend time on their own or with friends instead.
As it is, time does fly indeed. One of the best measures of how much our kids have grown is to see how easy it is now to hug and kiss them, as their height is catching up fast!
Now that you are aware of the limited time, let’s start doing more things together as a family. Stop holding back on life and love because things will never be the same once today is gone. Take that break and go on that vacation. Read that book and play that game with them. Laugh at their jokes and feel the stresses melting away while the bond is renewing.
Don’t worry about putting work on hold once in a while because time with the family is much more limited. It will be time well spent because we don’t really have much of it.