“A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” Vito Corleone, The Godfather [Mario Puzo]
If you’re like me, you’ve got a lot on your plate and sometimes feel overwhelmed by all you need to do and how little time you have to do it. Some nights I come home from a brain-bending, mind-numbing exhausting day and think of nothing but vegging out on the couch. As an entrepreneur, that’s nearly every day! It’s been long joked (and proven) that entrepreneurs work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you’re a parent, that is particularly true!
Yet without taking the time to spend quality time with my family, what is the point of all my business efforts? Why am I doing all of this, if I am not also taking the time to share life’s best moments –– with my family?
“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” – Joni Mitchell
“People say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Truth is, you knew what you had, you just never thought you’d lose it.” – Anonymous
I have seven kids; each one unique and special and owed some part of my day. My three youngest get bedtime stories after bath-time, and a “bednight” snack before getting tucked in. One son particularly loves to throw a ball around with me or play basketball for a bit after supper. I’ve been enjoying The Walking Dead with another son and Game of Thrones with my oldest. My daughter, though married, is often over for dinner with her husband. My three oldest all work part-time in my business, too, giving me valuable professional time with them. They all take the legacy of our family-legacy business very seriously.
Keeping in touch with my parents and my grandmother is also very important to me. As I discuss further in my best-selling book, The Wolves and the Mandolin (ForbesBooks), my parents and grandparents shaped my life quite a bit. Even as I find myself rushing from one meeting to the next, I still make time as often as possible to call home.
Those are powerful words.
The classic song Cats in the Cradle points out that if we’re too busy for our kids now, they’ll one day be too busy for us. They are our legacy: let’s treat them like it.
Sadly, most people spend the majority of their time on things that don’t necessarily make them ultimately happy: commuting, cleaning, working. Even social media doesn’t provide “happy” times.
One study found that the average family spends about 34 minutes together per day. Unless we’re very mindful, we tend to take our family for granted.
Sadly, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. We should make an effort to spend time with our kids, parents, grandkids and grandparents while we can! Not a day goes by I don’t wish I had just a little more time with my late grandmother or my grandfathers.
Family Time Need Not Be Fancy
Some think they just don’t have time to spend with family. You have to eat. Yo family members have to eat. Why not kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, and enjoy meals together. The American College of Pediatricians concluded that family meals help children feel safe and secure and allow parents and to gauge their kids’ emotional wellbeing. How many times have you heard a parent dealing with a parenting emergency say, “I had no idea that was going on!” Take advantage of the simple opportunity that family mealtime allows.
Screen time gets a bad rap; I find that film provides a lot of opportunity to share time with my kids while also opening the door for discussion of philosophy and life in general. TWD and GoT offer a lot of practical life and business advice in parody with entertainment. One movie I particularly enjoyed recently with my family was Rock Dog. Yes, it was a little silly but it demonstrated the undertones discussed thoroughly throughout my book! The high and often simple points in life that I call “mandolin moments” are what make fighting the wolves worthwhile.
Family Members of All Ages Need Family Time
It’s pretty obvious that young children benefit from time with their parents and vice versa. But senior citizens may reap even more rewards from family time. Many seniors are lonely and socially isolated.
One study concluded that social isolation leads to health problems as serious as smoking cigarettes and obesity. Spending time with older relatives can actually improve their mental and physical health!
There are other clever quotes I love that aren’t as depressing as those first two, such as “Time spent with family is worth every second” and “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”
Jobs come and go. Friends and employees will come and go. Workloads rarely decrease. Your family is a constant. There will not always be a “tomorrow.” Make the effort to take the time to appreciate them in person, and not wait til after they’re gone.
“If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do, is to save every day ’til eternity passes away, just to spend them with you.”