When my children were younger, I had to change careers.

I chose to do this because I wanted more money to get my children into better schools. I also wanted to move my family to a bigger house. I thought that with more cash flowing in, I would have more time for my wife and kids. I would finally be able to pay for those expensive dance classes my daughters wanted as well as afford the video games my son kept clamoring for. In my mind, everyone would be happy and I’d be the perfect dad. Boy, was I wrong.

Within a few months, I realized I didn’t have any balance between my work and family life. My relationship with my kids took a hit and fights with my wife became common. Finally, it hit me that unless I got my priorities right, I would lose everything I held dear.

Determining What Is Important

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As parents, we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that as long as we provide for our children, we don’t have to do anything else. That’s not how it works.

Children need parents who are actively involved in their lives, not those who just watch from the sidelines. They need you to be there to provide guidance, affirmation, love and support. Active parenting goes a long way towards shoring their self-esteem and setting them on the path to becoming confident, well-adjusted, independent adults. You really don’t want to end up as the parent of a troubled teen, scrambling for lasting solutions to unwanted teen problems that could’ve been avoided.

Prioritizing Being Present For My Family

Once I decided to make my family a priority in my life, I had to sit down, figure out how I spent my time and how I could work in more quality family time. Here’s what I did:

  • I reorganized my day. This meant working out what tasks were absolutely necessary e.g. work deadlines, attending my children’s school events, etc., and which ones weren’t. Also, I had to determine how I could be more efficient at essential tasks so I could complete them quickly enough to do other things.
  • I found more ways to spend time with my family. I had to get smart about bonding with my kids. So I decided that no matter what, I would eat breakfast with them and drive them to school afterward. Additionally, I made calendar appointments to hang out with each of my children once a week, doing whatever they wanted.
  • I got rid of distractions. I decided not to allow any distractions during my one-on-one time with my kids. This meant I didn’t check my phone, Facebook notifications or email. I immersed myself in the moment and my relationship with my children grew richer as a result.

During this time, I learned that setting my parenting priorities straight was essential if I wanted a happy family. While providing for my children is important, it is just as crucial to be involved in their lives, otherwise, I would miss out on the many precious moments that make parenting worthwhile.