My children have no concept of hurry. There is no such thing as getting somewhere on time. We can set their clothes out the night before and I can prod and beg, but they are always unmoved—literally. My toddler seems to think that “time to to go” is code for “Take off your shoes. Now remove all your clothing as fast you can.” While my kids do need to learn the importance of being on time, I can learn something from their lack of hurry, from how well they live in each moment. If we want to learn how to be a better dad, we need to learn to slow down. We need to stop hurrying and just be present with our children. They crave time with us—uninterrupted time when we are not just around them but truly with them. It’s when we spend unhurried time with our kids that they really feel and know our love for them.
In his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, John Mark Comer writes, “Hurry and love are oil and water: they simply don’t mix.” If we want to develop strong, loving relationships with our children and wives, we need to slow down and spend time with them. Here are 3 strategies to help us do that.It’s when we spend unhurried time with our kids that they really feel and know our love for them.
1. Cut out some of the busyness.
I often operate like hurry is a virtue—the more I can get done today, the better off our family will be. I tend to think if I’m doing something on my long to-do list, I’m making progress. But hurry is not a virtue. In fact, it can be a vice. In my frenzied busyness, I may fail to sit down and build LEGOs with my son or listen to the story my daughter wants to share. Our children are unimpressed by our long to-do lists. They just need us to be with them, physically and emotionally. As Comer writes, “Hurry kills relationships. Love takes time, hurry doesn’t have it.”
It’s not easy. Work, soccer practices, meal planning, cleaning the house, and on and on. It’s all important. But if our family truly is our priority, something has to give. We need to put time with them at the top of our to-do lists, even if that means eliminating something from the agenda, putting up with a dirty bathroom for a few more days, eating a less-than gourmet meal for dinner, or leaving your fantasy football team unprepared for Sunday.
2. Put your phone away.
If you went on a date and the other person was constantly checking her phone, you’d think that was rude and insulting. Why is it any different now that we’re married and have children? We can’t be fully engaged with our wives or children if we’re checking the scores, scrolling a social feed, or sending a text. None of those things are inherently bad, but they can get in the way of our relationships. Do you want to know how to be a better dad? Put the phone away for a while. Don’t just be present with them in the same room. Really be there and be fully engaged.
3. Plan to slow down.
I know all too well that if you hope for something to happen, it probably won’t—unless you plan for it. I can hope I get some quality time with my kids, that I get a chance to laugh with my wife, or that I finally get some time to rest. But it doesn’t happen if I don’t plan for it.
We have to plan for the things we want to do, not just the things we have to do. We always put our appointments and work obligations on the calendar, but we also need to schedule in some unhurried time, too, some time to slow down and just be with our family. If we don’t plan for how to be a better dad, it won’t happen.
Sound off: Do you know how to be a better dad by slowing down? What are some other ways we can improve?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “If we had plenty of time, what would you like to do together?”