Often, dads believe they are doing their best as a parent by working to put food on the table and buying clothes and other necessities for their kids, maintaining the house their kids live in, cutting the yard for the kids to play in, etc. But, what about actually being with your family? A good balance must be created as early as possible in your relationship with your kids (and wife, but that’s a different article). A simple suggestion to add some quality time with your kids is to take advantage of the little times; reading a story to them just before bedtime, playing with them in the morning in the few spare minutes before leaving for work, or just simply talking and singing with them while driving them to school or daycare. You can also take advantage of the tough times and find a way to “play through.” We all know kids are learning to cope and, as parents, so are we. Don’t get me wrong. There are definite times for discipline, but many times, your kids just don’t know how to react to new or changing situations and we, by example, are teaching them how to cope.
This morning, my daughter was crying for what most parents will consider no good reason. She wanted to ride in the “big go”, which she calls our SUV, instead of the “little go”, which she calls the sedan and is what I usually take her to daycare in. She cried through half the drive and I wanted to yell so bad, but I know better and I know that my daughter will just cry louder. What was my solution as a dad, you ask? I started asking my daughter questions about school. I asked her what she’d like to do at school, what games she likes to play with her friends, who’s her best friend or teacher? This calmed her down by thinking of the answers and created a bit of a conversation which lead to a better ride. My daughter is two and a half at this time and her answers are short and sometimes limited to her growing vocabulary, but it truly helps take the edge off and sometimes gives me a good laugh.
When I got home from work, again, grumpy moody daughter wanted to watch cartoons instead of going to bed. We negotiated with a book and some water. All in all, we had a bit of fun with a new book and truly enjoyed the evening with an “I love you, DadDad” just before my wife took her to bed. This is not our nightly routine, (crying over cartoons) but when it comes up, it is good to know there are ways to work through the trying times with your children. You have to take into consideration what is bothering them and if anything has changed in their routine. My wife usually reads to our daughter and then takes her to bed after I get a good night hug and “I love you.” Sometimes, my wife has other things that have to happen during bedtime and it can make for major crises in our daughter’s point of view.
The point of this story is to balance your time. Spend time with your kids. I’m not saying I’m perfect, actually nowhere near. We all have work to do, goals to accomplish, and a mile long to-do list. That’s what comes with being a parent. You can either take this with a grain of salt and keep doing what you do, or you can take our advice and play all the way.