Time is a precious commodity! Funnily enough it is the one commodity that is shared equally by humanity. There is no stockpile in a specific country. There is no authority that distributes it to the highest bidder. It is given freely and fairly – 24 hours every day. If we think money is precious, and healthy financial functioning depends on wise investments and working within a budget, shouldn’t our approach to time be the same?
The problem is that we spend our 24hours on so much stuff – some important, some trivial. We stretch the time we have to cover more than it should (much like we try to do with our income). It is only after much time and much reflection that we evaluate the time we’ve spent and discover that what is most important to us hasn’t featured as much as we’d hoped. We need to identify what is a wise investment – what gives us a good return? We should evaluate our activities and the time available to us and plan how much time can be spent in these various areas, and where we have to say, “No!”.
One of the wise investment areas is quality time with our children. Investing is about putting a little bit away, regularly, over a long period of time. The earlier you start investing, even a little amount, the greater the return at the end of the investment period. The later your start, the more you have to put in. Often I hear parents complain that they don’t have time – and they feel guilty! I find myself in this place often. We try compensate with expensive toys and games, exhilarating experiences and over-the-top consolations. Every day we promise ourselves to ‘make time’. But the reality is that makingtime is impossible. All we can do is prioritise our time differently.
Moments with our children are priceless – and like time are irreplaceable. The good news is that it is in the everyday moments that our investment grows. Don’t overlook them and don’t underestimate them.
Why not start with one or two of these time deposits every day:
- Read a story together before bed.
- Play dolls or cars instead of watching your early evening soapy.
- Take an extra few minutes to make supper because your little one is your sous-chef for the evening.
- Pack the dishwasher or lunchboxes together.
- Eat dinner or breakfast together around a table – talk to each other about the day.
- Put down your technology, make eye contact. In fact, why not create a technology down time, where everyone’s technology gets turned off at a certain time of the day.
- Take leave for an afternoon to attend a sport match.
- Use the time in the car to talk about what’s important to your child, instead of listening to the radio.
- Walk to school together.
- Ask their opinion on a family decision.
- Ask them to teach you something you don’t know.
- Air guitar together to music you both like.
- Begin a weekend tradition where you engage with one another (Friday Braai Day or Park Run on Saturdays or Sunday Scrabble Wars).
May I encourage you, as a parent, acknowledge that time is your most precious commodity. And time with your children a priceless resource. Fight for it! Do not give it up for trivial pursuits. Prioritise the little things – a certain time to be engaged with your kids in simple ways, every day. It is here that you get to enjoy the precious moments. In the ordinary make extraordinary memories. Begin a wise investment today – small deposits, daily, over time.