We hear a lot about how the best way to love our kids is to spend time with them. And that’s true. But what is a man to do when he has to work 50+ hours a week, spend 10 hours a week commuting back and forth to work, and he’s lucky to get four hours of sleep at night?
Commute to communicate.
I believe every man should volunteer to drive or pick up his children from school at least one day out of the week. If that’s not possible, take advantage of any time you get to spend in the car with your kids. But make sure you set the rules. The #1 rule in Daddy’s car: No talking on cell phones, no playing on tablets, and no listening to music. The goal is to communicate with each other during the commute. The record to date has been a seven-hour road trip with my daughter when she was 12. The key to pulling this off is to ask a lot of questions. If you don’t know where to start, download the Q&U app, where you’ll find a bank of great questions to ask your kids.
Initially, my kids pushed back. But now, they quickly remind me of the rules whenever I pull out my cell phone.
Master their media.
Although we’re not allowed to use media in the car, one of the best ways I’ve learned to spend quality time with my children is to become a master of their music and their movies. I’m not talking about mastering everything they watch or listen to—just a little bit of it. The goal is to learn just enough to be able to discuss and critique it, so you can have an intelligent conversation with them about it. You’ll be shocked how much time you can spend talking to your daughter about Tori Kelly or your son about the last Michael Bay movie.
My wife is always surprised by how much I seem to know about the kids’ interests. But the truth is, I only know a little about a lot—and that’s all you need to know. And there’s a bonus: You get to monitor what they’re watching and listening to without spying on them.
Hijack their hobbies.Find out what your kids love to do, and get them to teach you how to do it.
Not only should you master your children’s media, but you also should hijack their hobbies. Find out what your kids love to do, and get them to teach you how to do it. Look for as many opportunities as you can to do it with them. This is effective for several reasons. One, you’re doing something they love to do. Two, you’re spending quality time with them while you’re doing it. Three, you get a chance to talk to them about something they love. And four, they get to play parent by teaching you how to do something they’re good at.
You can pick as many of their hobbies as you like, but I would suggest you start with one. For my college-aged son, it’s rock climbing. I hate it, because it’s hard. But he loves it, so I do it with him as many chances as I get. When he was younger, it was basketball. For my high school-aged daughter, it’s baking. When she was younger, it was singing. I am horrible at both. And even though I can’t boil a pot of water, it seems the only thing my daughter enjoys more than baking is watching her old man try to do it with her.
They both have other hobbies they like, but I can only handle humiliation one hobby at a time. So, whether you have all the time in the world (I hate you) or seemingly no time at all, it’s less about the quantity of time you spend with your children and more about the quality. Just maximize the moments by creatively making every minute count.
Sound off: What are some other creative ways to spend time with our kids?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is your favorite thing to do? Would you be willing to teach me how to do it?”