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Balancing responsibilities with my children’s need for time with me

Question: It seems like there aren't enough hours in the day to do all that needs to be done. What with working and maintaining a household it's difficult to spend quality time with my children. What do you think I should do?

Answer: You may have more time than you realise. If not, it's crucial that you put out an effort to find or make some.

A few years ago family experts were preaching that what's important is "quality time," not "quantity time." More recent research shows that kids need both "quality" and "quantity" time with their parents. In fact, the more involved parents are with their children, the less likely they are to have social, emotional or academic problems, use drugs or alcohol, become involved in crime or engage in premarital sex

Without more detailed information about your family situation it's hard to know exactly how to advise you. But your inquiry leads us to believe that you may need to re-examine your priorities.

You can begin by asking yourself a few simple questions. Is your employment outside the home a matter of providing for basic needs, or are you driven by materialistic desires or a longing for personal significance? Are there any aspects of "maintaining a household" that you can afford to sacrifice? Do you attach a greater value to status or appearance than to the well-being of your children? After all, a spotless home isn't nearly as important as a close relationship with your children.

As an anonymous poet has written:

For when at times I'm forced to choose
The one job or the other,
I'd like to cook and clean and scrub,
But first I'll be a mother.

Another suggestion: one of the easiest ways to make more time for your children is to turn off the phone. If you're serious about wanting more time with your children, make the obvious choice. Instead of using your phone, read to them, play board games together, take a walk to a local park or just talk to them.

It's also important to avoid the temptation to get your kids overly involved in activities outside the home. Some parents feel pressure to sign their children up for numerous sports teams, music and dance lessons, social clubs and all kinds of community organisations. Don't fall prey to this mindset. Kids don't need a dozen different weekly activities. They need quality and quantity time with loving, involved and committed parents.

This article was published with permission from Focus on the Family Malaysia.

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