Author Bio: Jeff Jackson is a dad to twins, husband to 1 and teacher to his students.He lives with his family in Rockland County, NY, just north of NYC. He enjoys comedy, filmmaking, acting, writing and watching the Yankees.
“The past cannot be cured.” – Elizabeth I
“I am definitely going to take a course on time management… just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.” – Louis E. Boone
At what point, or more accurately – at what time, did I move from “I want to spend as much time with my kids as possible” TO “omg, how much longer do I have to spend with my kids”?
Isn’t that the essence of parenting?
That’s exactly why I believe the whole concept of “balance” in life is worse than a misnomer, it is bs.
Nobody wants balance. Everybody wants to spend more time with their kids and, by extension, their families, including spouses. But, I believe there are limits to that too. Yes, yes, I know, everybody loves their spouse, at least for a few hours a day, but everybody also loves their own independence, men and women.
I also don’t believe that people really, really love their jobs. I suppose there are some who do. That’s ok. God bless them. Most of the people I’ve met, probably in the hundreds, only work cause they/we have to and their job doesn’t suck too bad and they can stand it enough to make money to buy their families and their selves some leisure and luxury time.
Ok, let’s review, where are we?
Kids. Parenting. Families. Work. Time. Happiness.
Here are three things to keep in mind when examining how to capitalize on the three great resources in life – time, energy and money – to spend on those things which really matter in life – kids, families and work to gain that thing called happiness.
First first, aka prelude, let me apologize. I’m sorry I included ‘work’ in the above list. It is definitely debatable how “important” work is in the overall scheme of life. However, based on my intense research and fatigable self-discovery, work takes up a major portion of our lives. Hence, its place on the list. More on this later.
Ok this is the real first, kids. I have twin boys. Make no mistake about it. Twins are a game – and life – changer. I love my boys. I would do almost anything for them. Well, anything besides share my last piece of chocolate with them, but most everything else. However, raising them has taken every – and I mean every – single second of time, ounce of energy and scrap of money to raise them. I really and truly don’t know how we, yes we, did it.
Understand that it has been a joint effort, yea teamwork, in every area. Yes, I have been involved in everything since the beginning, from changing dirty poo-poo blowout diapers to being thrown-up upon at first haircut to doctor’s appointments and school recitals and baseball games, etc., etc., etc. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I don’t understand other dads not getting involved. But, for twins, it was and is a necessity and never has been questioned.
Nevertheless, I have needed some downtime, too, as did/does Mommy. Plus, we do occasionally have other responsibilities like work, or cleaning the house, maintaining the yard, shoveling the show or fixing the car or taking care of grandma (wife’s mother who lives with us and is just shy of 80,000 years old).
The key is that the kid’s activities come first in everything we do. Mommy and I communicate constantly on what each of the little buggers need and who will be available to provide it for them. We do this daily, weekly, monthly. Taking care of the kids needs is always first priority.
However, there are competing priorities sometimes, which segues into the Family part of the life trilogy.
Maybe the term priorities is an exaggeration. You decide.
Mommy has to work. Daddy has to work. The car needs an inspection, brakes, looked at, replaced. One boy has a recital and the other has homework due tomorrow. Mommy doesn’t feel well. Daddy’s working three jobs and needs a nap.
What are we going to do for dinner? Let’s do something together. Everybody has a day off, let’s go somewhere, with an educational setting preferably.
Choices. Decisions. Compromises. How well we negotiate the three resources determines the extent of satisfaction, or happiness, we feel on the three areas of life. Nobody bats 1000%. But, that’s ok as long as nobody feels overwhelmed all the time. Perspective and peace. And everybody feels satisfied at least most of the time.
Which brings up the third major area – work. I’ve had a couple of different jobs while my boys have been here. And yes, there have been times I’ve worked at three different jobs and sometimes even 7 days a week. Twins tend to eat up all of the resources at an alarming and abundant rate.
If you are one of the people who has a job you love including an accommodating boss and interesting and fulfilling work with a reasonable commute and good salary, good for you. Cherish it.
If not, you have some work to do and decisions to make and perhaps compromises to be negotiated. I have been, unfortunately, in the position in which one of the above employment qualities has been somewhat less than stellar. My employment struggles have definitely impacted my consciousness and probably affected all my relationships, though I do try purposefully to avoid that.
In the end, the human barometer for all of the above is your own happiness. I do not believe it is all that mysterious of a concept. If you are not happy with something in your life, then you must change that thing or find peace with the way it is. Your happiness is your decision and your choice, or choice and decision, if you prefer.
What will you do to leverage those three great resources in life – time, energy and money – to spend more time with you kids and family and acquire that soul-satisfying happiness which feeds you? What choices, decisions and compromises will you make, will you require others to make, to get there?
Will you get everything? Of course not. Nobody does. Life is hard. I believe that everything we are going through today has been encountered before, at least on a certain level. Do you really think the people during the Enlightenment period said, “We don’t have running water yet, but at least we’re out of the Dark Ages!”
Don’t agree? That’s ok. Don’t call me. Don’t text me. I don’t care. I’m busy. I’m fighting my own battles and negotiating my own compromises on the journey to happiness. I’ll look for you there.