Time: What Matters Most

“If I could save time in a bottle…”

“I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then…”

“If I could turn back time…”

Recognize the lyrics? Funny, it seems the most memorable songs of my youth all share the common theme of time and the desire to have more of it. Like it or not, we all get the same amount to spend, save or squander each day. Your allotment of 24 hours is yours to use; it very well could be the most valuable possession you have.

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When it comes to parenting, it is — without argue — the most important gift we can share with our children. No, we do not give them time. Rather, the wise parent shares it.

As the youngest of four children, time was very precious in my parents’ home. I arrived two weeks before my oldest sibling’s fourth birthday. With an infant, two toddlers and an emerging preschooler, my parents must have prayed daily for even an extra 10 minutes!

In the hustle and bustle of our busy family, I learned the important lessons of how time equals love early and often.

From my earliest memory, my Mom worked out of necessity. It took a lot for a young family to provide for their children. Her work as a bank teller provided a meager supplemental income and offer reliable hours that worked around available school and childcare. Her organized and efficient ways opened the door to lots of togetherness and family time.

When our schooling years were busiest, Mom quit her job to stay home. Money was tight, but we rarely felt like we were “doing without” and the love that filled our days outweighed any material sacrifices we made.

Mine was the house where neighbor kids gathered to play, impromptu games took shape often and sleepovers were the norm. My Mom was a room mother, a PTA leader and always had time to stop her work and help a friend in need. Her time, it seemed, had no boundary.

Dinner was promptly at 5:00, with all of us seated and ready to share the events of our day. Dad was a stickler for clean hands and shirts, and no one left the table early. Family dinner was our anchor for most of my formative years and is a practice my own family religiously adheres to. Nothing beats the time we share around the dinner table.

In this day, I cannot stop time or turn it back and recycle the many hours I have wasted. I am away from home on business often, and accept that my “away” time makes me largely unavailable to my own family. I try feverishly not to waste the moments I have.

I work hardest when I am away, to minimize the work left to be done when I am home. I am fortunate to have weekday help that enables me to not be weighed down by domestic responsibilities that would burden my weekends. I do not squander the gift of time on activities that do not include my family, knowing each moment we have together is priceless.

I believe in a life/work balance; with my priority on the life part. Yes, I am proud to admit I work to live, I do not live to work. I define myself by the happiness and quality of life my family shares. To do it any other way would make me a fraud and a failure.

Time is love. It is not to be wasted or thrown away carelessly. Well spent, it will enrich your life and those of the ones you hold most dear.

While I, too, may never stop wishing I had a tad more time, I am blessed with plenty. I just need to spend it on what matters most.

How are you spending your time?

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