The most difficult challenge in parenting and life in general is achieving “work-life balance.” Not much has changed in the workplace when it comes to those in charge (bosses) setting the standard at work by being able to work unlimited hours, nights, and weekends and expecting everyone else to do the same. A person has to decide if achieving work-life balance is going to be a bedrock principle of their life, and then needs to have the resolve to follow through because there will be consequences: you will be out-worked (in terms of hours) and out-maneuvered (in terms of political face time) by others that either have chosen to not live by the same principle, or don’t have to.
Life is full of trade-offs and this is one (and may be the most difficult one) that everyone who works will face. Work-life balance is not a principle that needs to apply to everyone but if you choose to define your life by this principle, then have the resolve to accept the inevitable trade-offs but understand the rewards and go forward with no regrets.
Take a look around at a family restaurant: see that mom on a smartphone, dad on an iPad, and every child plugged-in and tuned-out? What can a parent do to take back family time?
My suggestion is to not “replace a gadget with gadget,” but to replace a gadget with your own innate creativity and sense of humor.
In the growing-up years of our kids, as a family we gave up TV for Lent (40 days, 40 nights) and we had dinner at the table every night during that period. The conversation during dinner was amazing and then instead of running to the TV after dinner, our kids would put on a skit each night. My wife and I would sit on the stairs and the kids would perform in the entranceway….. it was their “stage”. We laughed till we cried! It was the most amazing time and a beautiful unintended consequence was that we all dreamed like never before and woke up each morning to share our wild dreams with each other at breakfast.
We carried on this tradition for over 10 years until our kids hit high school, but during that time the togetherness, creativity, joy, and laughter we shared was truly special and are now fond memories we love to reminisce and laugh about today.
The only gadget we needed was our brain, the ultimate gadget!
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