By Michael D. Harris-Arzon, Dadologist
As a professional and father, I used to find it extremely difficult to find time to build quality relationships with each of my children. Granted, as soon as Danny and I realized that we would actually be adopting three amazing children, I started transitioning work to where I could do it all from our home office. The incessant traveling came to an abrupt end. I finished up all of my speaking engagements and stopped scheduling new ones. I embraced smart technology and made it work for me at a time when tech experts insisted that every aspect of a business could not be run from a smart phone or iPad.
After almost twenty years of hoping, waiting and disappointment I knew that I had to make as much time available as I could to spend with the kids. Not only to help them with the transition into their new home and environment, but to instill in them the importance of sticking together as a family. Family is, has been and always will be the most important thing to Danny and I.
Being an Entrepreneur and small business owner, up until that time, had meant innumerable long hours and a work schedule that didn’t always meet-up with other peoples lives. This craziness had already made me an expert in scheduling and time management. Thus, it came down to plain ol’ common sense and listening to the one piece of advice we got regarding the raising of kids the most….KIDS NEED STRUCTURE! So I permenantly scheduled certain times throughout the day and week to spend with the kids. I actually spent the time to create reoccurring events in my calendar so I wouldn’t accidentally schedule a conference call or meeting during family time.
I will never know whom benefits more from those times, but I look back at my own childhood and I don’t remember either of my parents helping with homework every day because it seems like they were always working. Having weekly movie nights and Friday Night Dance Parties are just as important as the weekly conference calls with clients, and again not the type of memory I have growing up. I want our kids to have as many memories as possible of the family doing things together.
Time started passing us by faster than I could ever have imagined. Soon our family had its routine down pat, the adoption was finally completed and we looked forward to those scheduled family moments, even homework time lol. The fluidity that time possesses makes it difficult to gauge memories and what is going to standout to our children. A few years into my newest career as a father, I had a serious health scare and was in the hospital for about 10 days (during the Christmas holiday season no less!).
Each day Danny brought the kids to spend time with me at the hospital and that is when I started to hear from the kids that they wanted to spend one-on-one time with me. They were scared and each of them wanted me to themselves. While laying in the hospital bed and coming in and out of consciousness I noticed that the kids were taking turns laying with me. It didn’t matter if I was awake or not….. or if I was even paying them any attention. They simply needed to be with me on their own.
Being as young as I was and being faced with the very real possibility of dying (technically I did since I stopped breathing for 91 seconds) and never seeing my kids again was a wake up call like you couldn’t believe. Once I was home, it took me months to recover my strength and health enough to even walk to the end of the driveway by myself. But the very second I felt comfortable enough to leave the house with out help, I vowed I would start spending individual moments with each of our three kids.
Years later, it’s has become something for us to look forward to. While certain things are always done as a family, the monthly one-on-one adventures gives that child the chance to get undivided attention and now that they are older has become the best time for them to talk to us about more personal problems.