Real Life Leading 77: Redeem the Time
This weekend I watched my older daughter coach her first soccer game, and it happened on the same field I played on in high school; the same field where I spent years coaching her and her sister; the same field where she played her first soccer game over a decade ago. I saw some of my high school teammates there, also coaching their younger kids’ teams. It was a great moment, but also one that got me thinking about the passing of time.
One constant issue I hear from many blended families is that it is difficult to get everything done in the time available. In the previous post, we talked about how we need to be flexible with our scheduling, and that’s definitely important. The other side of that coin, though, is to be sure that we’re not wasting what time we do have. Let me explain.
We all get 24 hours each day: that’s 1440 minutes, or 64,400 seconds. That’s all we get, and no one gets any extra. And in blended families, we may be only getting a fraction of that time with our kids, whether because of custody arrangements or living situations, or simply because the kids are getting older and busier. Whatever the reason, our time is limited, often extremely so. The difference can come in how we are spending much of our time, whether we are spending it purposefully and consciously and deliberately, or whether we are wasting much of it on things that are ultimately much less important than our families.
In the age of smart phones (no, this isn’t another anti-social media rant, so stick with me please!), it’s easy to waste a ton of time and not even realize it. And that’s the whole point: most of the time, we’re not wasting time on purpose, we don’t even realize we’re doing it until the time has passed and we wonder where it went. So my encouragement to you today is to start keeping track of your time: use one of the many apps that track your screen time, or keep a written journal with you (broken into 15-minutes segments throughout the day) for a few days to get an accurate assessment of where you’re spending your time. It’s much the same idea as tracking your receipts and purchases to find out where all of your money is going…only this is much more important.
I know we’re all very busy: this weekend one daughter had a volleyball tournament, the other daughter was coaching her little brother’s soccer game, and my wife wasn’t feeling well. That was just Saturday. Sunday is church followed by a two-hour round trip drive with a soccer game at the other end. So, after the volleyball tournament (and soccer game) yesterday, we made sure to spend a lot of time together as a family: watching movies, hanging out on the couch and laughing with each other, just generally being in the same place and interacting. It wasn’t forced or coerced, and it was a lot of fun.
We know today is going to be busy as well, so we wanted to redeem the time that we have in order to continue building relationships with each other for the future. It’s not perfect, and I don’t want to give the false impression that we never have any issues in our blended family. But what I can say is that, after spending years wasting much of my time (watching sports on TV or reading novels rather than spending time with my kids), and as I have begun to realize that my time with my girls is more limited than it’s ever been, I’m finally (hopefully not too late!) learning how important it is to be deliberate in spending more time with them. I encourage you to learn much sooner than I did so that you can redeem the time you have, while you have it. Be sure to think about ways to do that today!
Action Step: Write down three ways you can purposefully spend 15 minutes or more with your kids today, and then try out one of them. Watch a movie they like; listen to their newest favorite song and ask why they enjoy it; have them tell you what their plans are for when they grow up; cook a meal together; or do a quick web search for other ideas. Then let me know how it went!