Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Work, School, Technology and Errands: Where Does Family Time Fit In?

Now that back-to-school time is winding down, extracurricular activities are in full swing. As parents, we often find ourselves just as busy as our kids. Sports, plans, homework and appointments are difficult to manage and can take away from family time. Jim Cox, a parent and sergeant for the Fairfax Country, VA, Police Department, has some advice about what parents can do for each other and their families to ensure more quality time is spent together.

I supervise a detective who is a father to six children, and I have always been impressed by his ability to find time to spend with his family. As a narcotics/money laundering detective, his job is beyond demanding; still, he finds time to go to church with his family, coach little league football and spend time with his kids when he isn’t working.

For him, and anyone else who has a good balance between work and family time, it’s all about setting priorities; it’s essential not to lose sight of what is most important to us. With our increasing dependence on technology, it is easy to get too caught up on our cell phones, computers and emails. Children and families can truly suffer when we put work before everything else. The phrases, “Not now,” “I’m busy” and “I’m in the middle of something” have become all too common, but in my opinion, we need to get back to putting family before our careers. This is not a perfect world, and there will truly be times when the demands of your job will keep you from spending time with your loved ones. It’s just important not to let it spin out of control.

With my own squad, I have made it clear that family is priority. When someone’s family time is compromised, his work product will suffer as well. Think about this: when is the last time that you sat at the dinner table together with your family? At those dinners, do you ask your children about their day? Showing interest in your family members’ lives is extremely important, as it shows you care about them. You’ll be rewarded with a smile and sense of closeness.

When it comes to your spouse or partner, I think it is important to remember that you are a team. Take turns attending your child’s activities if you both can’t be there together. Our children should be the most important part of our lives. Stay focused. Always remember that love can overcome just about anything.

When we don’t make our children our number one priority, they can stray, get in trouble or even experiment with drugs. Be a team. Love each other. Be there for each other and always remember: family comes first.

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