By James Harker-Syren
I am a dad of two. We have a five-year-old daughter and 12-month-old son. I also lead a team of product managers on a tax software product and support Fredricaon the Green-Mom.com web site while providing general business support.
Trying to be a great dad and a loving husband while balancing a demanding job is no easy feat. As you might expect, mornings are hectic. Getting the kids up, fed and ready for school is usually an exercise in multi-tasking, coordination and patience (and some good coffee doesn’t hurt). I drop off Isabella at school and then it’s a race to work. By the time I get home, I usually have about an hour before they are heading to bed.
Like many parents, I need to find a genie who will give me three “time” wishes … more time with my kids, more time with Fredrica and more time to get on top of work. Despite watching Aladdin with my 5-year-old at least a hundred times, I’ve had no luck running into a Genie.
I thought a lot about New Year’s resolutions this year. Usually I have a fairly long list of them. Looking back on it, the most common one I’ve had over the years
is “more balance.”This year I set one intention, a daily intention, actually: to be really present every moment at home. I find my mind is in the “future” a lot. I can’t seem to help myself: I think of what I need to do or have forgotten to do, or I think of some problem from work that I need solve … heck, I even think of all the little things that have been fixed and still need to be fixed on this web site :-).
I finally have realized that really being present isn’t too different from the principles behind meditation. It helps to breathe deeply and to be aware of your breathing; this helps slow your mind down. You can’t force all those thoughts about the future not to come into your head, but you can watch them pass by and let them go.
So, how’s it going? I’ve found that this simple formula helps bring forth so much more creativity in the ways I interact with my kids. For instance, a number of sprinklers in our yard needed to be fixed. I was able to make it into so much fun with our 5-year-old. I dressed her in rain boots, a rain jacket and an umbrella. As we tested sprinklers, I let her examine each one to determine if it needed to be replaced. We then got to work counting the sprinklers that needed to be fixed and making sure we had enough parts. Then we replaced and, of course, retested all the sprinklers. All in all, a chore I usually would have tried to knock out by myself while the kids were busy doing something else without me was a lot of fun to do with them. I found I could even be more present in a simple drive to school. Isabella is learning her numbers, especially beyond 20 so we make up fun games of things to look for, discover and count.
What I’ve learned is that when I am more present I tune in more to what can really engage them. Sometimes that is listening/watching more to what Fredrica is doing (she spends a lot of time with them of course), sometimes it is talking to friends and colleagues and getting inspired by what they are doing with their kids. The bottom line is my time with my kids is much less than I would like t it to be so my goal is to make is as special as possible and to be there with them heart and soul each time.