• My wife recently came up to me and asked if she could buy some of my time. I wasn’t sure what she meant, but she explained that it was the only way that she could get me to focus on her without any outside distractions. I joked that she couldn’t afford me. To which she quickly replied, “Hey it’s your money, so pay yourself whatever you want!” I didn’t think our communication was that bad and felt that there were many times when I would give her my undivided attention. However, after all, I am a guy and sometimes have to be hit over the head with something because hints just don’t seem to work. She was simply asking for more of my time.

    In my mind, I thought our family was doing well because we had scheduled “quality time,” during dinner, bedtime, etc., in which we all disconnect from our devices and focus on family. This gives us a chance to interact without being pulled in a million directions. While it’s better than nothing, I realized that it’s not a substitute for time or just being there for them. I hate when anyone tells me, “Quick, tell me what you need because I’m in the middle of something.” So why would I do it to them? After a while, it gets old if I’m at home and my focus is everywhere else except for where it needs to be- with my family. I wouldn’t do it to my boss or any stranger for that matter. Yet, for some reason when it comes to our family, many of us think it’s okay because we can get away with it. Well, it’s not okay!

    I realize that there are extenuating circumstances and I’ve definitely had my share of excuses. Whether I’m too tired, busy, stressed, have work to finish or just having a bad day, I somehow justify not being fully there even when I’m with my family. Having scheduled “quality time” helps but is limited in that loved ones may not be available or are not in the mood to talk during that time. It doesn’t replace a quantity of time. I don’t mean just being there physically, but mentally as well. Don’t just sit around doing your work, playing on the computer or vegging out in their presence, thinking you’re doing a great job. Spending time with loved ones requires you to be engaged on their level and interacting with them. When I have moment of clarity, I remind myself what all my hard work is for: my family and loved ones! As obvious as it sounds, I sometimes forget. I catch myself and realize that if I can’t put them first and treat them better than everyone else, then my efforts are misguided. It’s not just words, but the action of giving them both quality and a quantity of time demonstrates that they are my priority!