For the last few weeks, I have really noticed that each individual facet of my life flourishes when I put the time in – not all at once, but individual time. Like all mums, I have lots of time pressures – work, blog, children, husband, family and the list goes on.
The more time I spend on my blog, the more people read it. For example, if I spend three hours on it in one day and add a post, my readership doubles – the days I don’t nurture it, readership is lower. It is instantly gratifying to see the fruits of my labour.
The three days a week I spend at work, I rejuvenate my job. I email people, find stories, write copy, talk to people and nurture relationships. The other two days, it just ticks along. By the end of the three days, I again see the fruits of my labour.
On my work days, the house is left to fend for itself. While the essentials get done, like dishes, food preparation, clean clothes and floors swept – other things get left behind. The toys are not picked up, the entrance way becomes a dumping ground and the dog is not walked. When I do invest time on the house, peace again reigns in our home.
Same with preparing dinner. If I spend the extra 20 minutes a day preparing a loving, nutritious meal, rather than getting takeaway or leftovers, I know I am giving my children the best nutrition I can. However, with preparing dinner – there is no instant gratification. I have to trust that the food I am giving my children will have an everlasting effect on their health.
I can’t help but think as a parent, the time I invest in my children each day and every day is going to have an everlasting impact. Unlike work, blogging or cleaning the house, there is no instant gratification. Building and shaping a personality and a small child is relentless at times. This is where I have to take the small wins. For example, I have read a book to my kids almost every day since the minute they were born. Each of them now love books. Two are avid readers and one cries if she isn’t read a book at bedtime. If I didn’t spend 20 minutes every day instilling this love of books, it might be a whole different story.
Last week, I dragged my husband out to the premiere of an Australian documentary Overfed & Undernourished and we were both pleasantly surprised. It concreted my thoughts on the importance of investing undivided time on our children. Overfed & Undernourished is a story about an 11-year-old boy, Liam. His mother died and his father was left to raise four children. He had a single income and was time poor so would buy easy, packaged food. His children ate four pieces of toast and had a hot chocolate when they got home from school. He needed peace so the kids would spend hours playing Mindcraft after school – sedentary. He admits he didn’t have the time or energy to put into raising healthy, active children and it became his habit. The result was his 11-year-old son was 80 kilograms. Liam was a prime candidate for childhood diabetes and it had already had an impact on his growing spine and nervous system. There was nothing good going into his body and he had no energy to do sport. His Dad had lost his soul mate and didn’t have the time or energy to invest either.
Liam went to live with his aunt and uncle (Dr Anthony & Kate Golle) for three months who valued nutrition and exercise and had the time, money and knowledge to invest in good food and exercise. After a huge personal battle for both Liam and the rest of the family, they got through the three months and Liam lost 20 kilograms. He had energy, determination, courage, perseverance, increased resilience and self-esteem, a healthier body within and out and a new outlook on life. His aunt and uncle had 3 children of their own under the age of 5 and both had a job, so the juggle was hard but they invested their time in Liam and it paid off. They would exercise for an hour every day. They grew their own vegetable garden and incorporated it into every meal. They drank power smoothies, fresh food and there was little packaged food in the house.
Whether it is the intense time such as the three months Kate and Anthony put into Liam or the those little minutes every day we grab with our children to instil a love of reading, exercise, maths, tickles on the floor, pushes on the swing or cuddles on the couch – it is this time investment as a parent that will win in the end. Not the blog or the job or the house cleaning. These smaller activities need repeating daily or weekly to really have an impact. Just like learning an instrument, the more you practice, the better you become. The more time and effort we put into shaping the values and learning for our children, the better they will become.
I have heard many times that raising a child is similar to tending to a garden, if you nurture and water it, it grows and flourishes. I am just now beginning to see the likeness. The more time I spend with my kids on whatever task, the better it becomes. I don’t mean the time you take the kids to the park and check your emails and facebook page, I mean the 10 minutes you are actually in the park chasing them around, pushing them on the swing and catching them down the slide. For the past few weeks, I have been conscious that if my child asks for help with their homework or asks for cuddles on the couch or asks to be read a story, I do it. Rather than saying we will do it tomorrow.
What time investment is important in your family?