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If I am not careful, I can get so busy with my urgent daily tasks that I forget one of my most important jobs: to be present to my kids, to truly enjoy them.

When my first two kids were babies (16 months apart…yes, crazy times) I heard a story of a busy and distracted father.  It was such a simple story, yet I remember it and am still challenged by it to this day.

Here’s the synopsis:

Dinner was ready.  The father was busy in the other room, so the mother sent one of their daughters to ask him to join them in the dining room.  The child toddled into the living room and said to her preoccupied father whose nose was buried in the screen of his brightly lit phone,

“Daddy, come enjoin us”.

Intending to say “come and join us” her version sounded more like, “come enjoy us”.

The busy father paused, looked up from his blackberry, and fell silent.  He was struck by the profound message delivered by his child.  He felt the weight of his current reality.  He had been so busy doing his “project of the moment” (you can fill in the blank…answering emails, folding laundry, loading/unloading dishes, filing taxes, zoning out on facebook…) that he wasn’t present to those who mattered most.  He wasn’t enjoying his family, his most prized gifts.  He knew it and they knew it.

These were my gifts back then…

These are my gifts now…

Where does the time go?

I am the first to admit that I can go for hours, carting my kids from point A to point B, scurrying, rushing and hurrying, without really seeing them or enjoying them.  Without seeing the gifts that they are, or affirming the gifts God has deposited inside of them.

Our children are waiting to be enjoyed.  Made to be enjoyed.  Needing to be enjoyed.

Upon noticing how full my grocery cart was (not with food, but kids), a kind lady said with empathy to me, “the days are long, but the years are short”.  How true.  I do not want to miss these quickly passing precious moments.

If I cognitively understand this, then why do I fail to slow down to enjoy them?  There is always so much to do, and so little time.

So what’s a parent to do?

10 minutes, two times a day.  Mind, body, soul.  

I recently participated in a Positive Parenting webinar by Amy McCready, and she suggested this 10 minutes of “special one-on-one time” idea to her listeners.  10 minutes of being fully present to your kids, mind, body and soul.  Face to face, eye to eye, quality time.  Set the timer, and for that set apart time, do what they like to do.  Let them know that this is their time alone with you, and that they matter.  A lot.

Trains, dolls, legos…no ipad, laptop, laundry.

Amy reminded us that all people have the need to belong and feel significant.  This includes your kids.  They get that sense of belonging when they know that we enjoy them, when they are truly seen, not just tolerated.  Don’t we all need that?

10 minutes of investing in face-to-face time with your kids will fill their “love tanks”, which will enable them to thrive and function throughout the rest of their day in more peace and security.  (Such an investment in time with them will likely address many behavior issues as well.)

This is my charge to you, and more importantly, my charge to me:

10 minutes, face to face “enjoy us” time.  2xs a day.

“Come enjoy us.”