It’s a bold statement. “Spending more time with your kids is more important than your job.” I say it with an extensive meaning behind it. At the time Fox was born and I became a single mom, I had to work really hard to bring in enough money to feed and clothe him. My family helped a lot with this, but ultimately it needed to be me doing it.
I started working in a daycare/preschool to bring Fox into an educational environment and start getting my finances in check. Here I experienced my student’s emotional neglect first hand. While many of these kids have parents who work hard to support them and love them with all their hearts, they’re still not getting the emotional support they need. Why? Their parents are without them 90% of the day. The emotional support these kids need are reliant upon us, the teachers. No one can replace a parent, no one. The emotional support and confidence a child receives from a parent is immeasurable compared to everyone else on the planet. This made my job harder, knowing these kids need their parents and the parents themselves, need them.
I get it though. We have to work to survive, and we each feel guilty and unbalanced when we can’t give our kids what they need most – our time. So, as working parents how do we get around this obstacle? With vacations, weekend trips, movie nights, ice cream dates, working from home, sharing personal and intimate moments, telling them you love them, hugging them a thousand times…
Some of these solutions are easy, some of them though are a little more difficult. A few things I have been able to do with my son since leaving an office and working from home are still challenging. So, how is it I manage doing anything with Fox at all, and how can other parents do the same? Let’s go through the list and talk about how I do it (and how you can do it too).
Taking a week long vacation for anyone regardless of your work environment is simple. You schedule it, go on it, and call it a good time. But here’s the thing, taking a week off to go somewhere expensive isn’t conducive to most family’s budgets. So what do you do? There are a few options, go camping, stay at a local hotel, or hop in the car and do a roadtrip. This past summer I went to my hometown in Washington State for vacation.
We stayed with family and friends, and drove my car. I saved over $450 in airline and baggage costs, not to mention the money I saved by staying with family. Overall I spent a total of $500 in gas, one night in a hotel, food, and local attractions. That’s much more affordable than a family trip to Disneyland (average cost $3,400 for a family of four).
The most expensive thing my son and I did was take a trip to Northwest Trek. This animal park is an incredible experience resting in the Rainier Mountain range. You can read my review on the park here.
I’m fortunate enough to have the kind of car meant for off roading. I’m also fortunate enough to have great outdoor areas like Flagstaff, Sedona, and the Superstition Spring Mountains to hike and camp out in. Taking a weekend trip is an affordable way to get out of the house and explore your local area.
There’s nothing more important to me than supporting local businesses and environments. During the cooler seasons in Arizona, I visit a new area within the state and give myself and Fox the opportunity to disconnect.
Each Friday night, I set aside time to make Fox his favorite dinner, do an activity with him, and munch on popcorn while we watch a new movie. This is an inexpensive version of movie night. Best part is having it in the comfort of my own home and allows my son to see how I value his choices and opinions by letting him select the movie.
How do we avoid going out for a new movie? That’s the great part about being a parent! You miss out or avoid movie theatres, leaving a mass number of unseen movies. To that point, we have an Apple TV, giving us access to every new release and pre-released film on the market via Netflix, Hulu, or iTunes. Sure, we have the cost of renting a movie, but there’s no hassle in driving somewhere and keeping kids entertained for two hours if the movie is boring.
Taking the time to sit on the couch cuddled under a blanket and connecting through common interests helps to develop your kids’ interpersonal intelligence. Not to mention, it’s an easy way to bond,.
Ice Cream Dates
Whether it’s Bahama Bucks or Peterson’s Ice Cream, the act of taking your kids out for a sweet treat and having a conversation with them sans the phones and tablets, is a vital part of parenting. This day in age we’re all constantly on our phones, even taking photos (harmless, but not so harmless). This puts us in a position where our kids see how important our phones are to us over them.
Trade out the phone for a scoop of mint chocolate chip.
Working From Home
This is more of a goal than anything else. Not everyone can work from home and in some cases those who do work from home struggle to separate their work lives from their home ones. At times, even I struggle with it. This is why finding a balance between work and life are vital to the emotional support of not only your kids, but yourself too.
Showing them that having a career and something of importance to you personally is great, but showing them they’re truly more important than anything else in the world is even greater. Opting to work from home allows just that. A working tip: Avoid working during kids’ dominant waking hours. Wake up early, work a few hours, enjoy breakfast, playtime, lunch, then hit it again during naps, school, and bedtimes.
Summer breaks will make a routine like this difficult, but you can do it – check out some summer camps and programs that are right for your child.
By working from home I am able to be there for my son in whatever situation possible and spend more quality time with him during the prime times of the day.
Regardless of how you spend time with your kids, taking the time be there and be in the moment with them is how you’ll make memories and impressions that will last.