Someone recently asked me, “What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?”
My original answer follows below:
Being too busy. Work-life balance. Multitasking. These are things we all struggle with, whether you work outside the home or not.
I find it hard to drop everything and just play with my children. I try to find time to just be in the moment with my children, follow their lead and interact with them (and not worry about what else I need to do). I think this is so important for everyone – as a parent you can be awed at how wonderful your child is, and as a child you thrive under the attention of your parent.
I am acutely aware of how time flies and how short childhood really is. Some afternoons feel like forever, but weeks and months fly by in a blink of an eye. I want to be there with my children.
The other night I left dirty dishes piled up, my work bag unopened and spent the evening drawing and doing crafts with my three year old and five year old. We created fantastic worlds and imaginary creatures, and told stories about them. My five year old took the drawing we made together to bed with him, and grabbed it first thing the next morning.
I am now behind in work, but I know my time was better spent doing something meaningful with my children, because that’s what is really important.
This is the end of my orginal response, but I’ve spent some time thinking about it since.
I now need to say the biggest challenge is time. Time in all of it’s complex apsects – finding time, making time, allocating time, spending time.
Time is the currency of our modern times. We spend it, share it, give it up, save it for ‘me time,’ waste it, and run out of it. Time is more valuable than money – we talk about time-savers, multitasking, and spend money on all kinds things that save us time. Think about it – we spend money on dishwashers, toll highways, drive thrus – all in an effort to save some time. Time and money are inextricably linked.
Our econonmy runs on time – hourly wages for worker’s time, commission for time on task, deadlines, due dates – all ways to say time is money.
What happens when we impose this belief on childhood?
For anyone with children we know time marches on in a blur of lunch time, bed time, and nap times. Children grow and change over time. Afternoons feel like eternity and months fly by in a moment.
But think about it – children do not intuitively grasp time. This is the most challenging thing to teach them. Children need to be developmentally ready to understand time, usually around grade two.
As parents we need to take a child’s perspective of time – and slow down to watch the sun rise and set, take naps, eat lunch and spend time together.