The common cry I hear from from moms and dads everywhere is this: How do I balance all the stuff I need to do for my kids, with all the things I need to do for my life?
A client of mine, a mom of a young child who runs her own business, explained that she was having a difficult time deciding whether or not to hire childcare to watch her 4-year old son a few nights a week. Her business required evening meetings. And for the past couple of years, she’d been dragging her kid along, figuring – it’s not perfect, he goes to bed too late, but at least we’re together. “When else am I going to see him?” she asked me.
It can be hard to always give our children our full attention. Ironically, the thing that often stands in the way of us consistently delivering that quality time, are things we do for our kids. Things like working or taking care of household issues, like errands and repairs and laundry.
My new book, “Time To Parent,” introduces a new, simple way to organize the job of being a parent. The book introduces a new, simple acronym -- P.A.R.T -- that encapsulates all the different kinds of time you need to invest in your kids. Some of it’s visible to your kids, but some of it it isn’t; some happens in adult world, while some happens in a kid’s world. Seeing it all laid out in quadrant, makes it easier to where your doing well, and where you may be falling short.
Here’s a short guide to the quadrants in the P.A.R.T. formula:
P is for Provide. Provide takes up an enormous amount of time for many parents. It’s the time you spend providing the basic needs for your kids: food, clothing, shelter, safety and education. Time spent providing is in the adult world (at work) and largely invisible to your children. Kids know you’re not around, but they don’t know what you’re doing.
A is for Arrange. Arrange covers all the things you do to keep the logistical trains running in your life, including managing schedules, transportation, paperwork and activities. These activities take place in your child’s world -- and so your children will certainly notice if you drop the ball -- but the amount of time and effort it takes to make their lives run smoothly, is largely invisible to them (but definitely not to you!)
R is for Relate. Relate is what most people think of when they think about being a parent. It’s the time spent listening, soothing, reflecting, talking, enjoying and playing with our kids. Lots of parents would love more time in this quadrant – it’s the joyful, connected time kids and parents crave. Relate takes place in your child’s world and is very visible to them.
T is for Teach. Teach is helping your children learn how to be a person in the world. It’s the values, life skills, self-control and social habits you impart to your kids. It also covers discipline, and how you help your children learn to set and respect people’s boundaries and their own. Teach is visible to your kids, and it’s in the adult world.
Parents who spend too much or too little time in one (or more) quadrants will feel out of balance. Giving too many hours to one “kind” of time can cause you and your kids discomfort – whether it’s a morning routine that feels out of control or weekends that feel rushed (and never restorative).
Knowing precisely where you’re out of whack, makes it easier to get back on track. There’s lots more about the quadrants in “Time To Parent” and you can also take this online assessment here to find out where you’re struggling.