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STRIKING A BALANCE BETWEEN HUSTLING AND MAKING TIME FOR YOUR KIDS
A lot of changes have taken place in our generation. The challenge of striking a balance between making a living and having proper family life is real and needs to be managed cautiously. Below is an article I wrote on this issue
In this fast-paced generation, the gulf between parents and their children is getting wider. It is caused by responsibilities that pile up daily. You are thinking of paying house rent, school fees, water bill, electricity bill, for car maintenance and domestic services, piano lessons and feeding the family, to mention but a few. Imagine a parent- living in Lagos, Nigeria – who has to leave home at 5am and return at 10pm, when the kids are already in bed. The job becomes a necessary evil, putting food on the table, but ensuring the kids are raised by teachers as well as Cecilia, the domestic staff, and Akpan the driver. They run with what they can remember from the morning dose of instruction, and toss in a thing or two from their own upbringing.
This is a dicey situation, because kids should not be left to chance, and parents need funds to keep their homes running properly. Kids deserve to know their parents, understand their values and beliefs; and parents need to give their kids the best they can in life.
In all, balance is the key. Don’t put your all into doing things for your kids and end up doing nothing with them. When you do things with your kids, they open up to you. They tell you things that have happened all the while you were away, and that gives you an opportunity to correct and applaud them.
Below are a few steps that can help parents bond with their kids while giving attention to the affairs of life.
Cook together Cecilia may cook when you are not at home, but you don’t know the fun you deprive your kids of by not cooking with them. Making pancakes, cutting up veggies and what have you. A lot of times when we are stressed up, we just want some quiet, even when cooking; but including them on the chef schedule helps your kids look forward to being with you – even if it’s just for the pieces of meat you will wiggle at them as you go on, they will long for the next opportunity.
Another advantage of this is that it gives your kids a foundation of cooking that they will build on as they grow up. So with time, they will want to make their noodles themselves, fry their eggs the way they love them, and relieve you of the stress of employing another Cecilia when they are much older. Statistics have shown that cooking with your kids helps them accept healthy meals. Don’t expect your kids to cook magically or eat healthy when they grow up, teach them.
Fix broken furniture/equipment together Whether you are servicing your generator yourself or with the help of a technician, fixing doors with hammers, connecting your cable network installation from your living room to your bedroom, please let your kids watch. You can put them at a safe distance, but let them feel they are a part of it.
Playing with water Washing the car and watering flowers are good ways to play with your kids. You teach them the basics and then throw in a bit of fun, GET WET. Please don’t fight them when they are the first to splash water at you the next time, know that they have just learnt to be themselves around you.
Keep the bedtime tradition For kids, don’t just go to bed. Try hard to have one parent home at bedtime. You may read a story, tell one from your childhood or pray together but don’t let them go to bed without a love session.
Plan outings It doesn’t matter if it is to a department store, a shop in your neighbourhood, a park, for a picnic, an eatery, a visit to friends and family, the gym, their school activities etc.
Be deliberate about going out with your kids. First of all, they feel proud having you with them, and then you have an opportunity to hear their opinion on all the things they see and talk about, then you can tell them right from wrong.
Have pep talks Plan to discuss important issues with your kids. Let them know when their teeth will fall off, signs of puberty, about sex and abuse. Have a talk when a child is getting into a new class, a new school, a new town etc, let them know what to expect. Talk to them about your religion, challenges and life in general. When they hear these things from you, they will definitely bring issues to you when they arise. Then it won’t matter where you are, even over the phone they will give you a load down and expect sound advice.
Play games together When last did you play a game on the PS series? It doesn’t even have to be a video game, it could be Ludo, card games, scrabble or other board games. These will develop them intellectually and make them see you as a human being like them. When you lose a game, please accept your loss and move on, don’t try to play superman.
Speak with them when you are not around Whenever you are out of town, make sure a day doesn’t pass by that you don’t speak with your kids. Video or Skype calls have come to make this easier. It may cost a lot, but you are investing in your family and you sure will profit from it.
Other fun things You could have movie nights, boogie nights, karaoke nights, riddle nights, comedy nights and other fun things that appeal to you and your kids. You will see their fun sides and they will see yours too.
This may seem like a lot, but they don’t have to be done daily. One quality outing in a month can mean more to kids than you realize; one game night can make your kids so free that they can discuss that game for the rest of the month and look forward to the next. All that is required is planning.
In all, make your kids feel loved. Tell them how much you love and appreciate them and they will learn to do the same.
The only time you have to be with them for long should not be when you have heard of a form of misbehavior from Cecilia or Akpan, spend quality time with them. Whenever you hear they have misbehaved, it is nice to hear them out before your mete out punishment. Let them know you will always love them irrespective of any form of misbehaviour.
Kids need love, let’s give them love and create a tomorrow that we all can share. Happy children’s day to every kid on the face of the earth.