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Because family life matters

Keeping connected with your family

The importance of staying close as a family when business takes you away from home.

Dad and daughter
Sometimes we have no option but to work long hours away from home work late or take on extra shifts. Few of us would choose to do that, but we can’t escape the fact that we have to put food on the table for our families: as much as they want us to be with them and we want to be there, they can’t eat our time!

When we can’t be with them at home it’s vital that we keep close connections with our family. This isn’t always easy, but it’s well worth the effort.

Here are some tips:

  • Take a few seconds to write a note that you can leave at home to put in your child’s lunch box or stick on their mirror. It doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece – perhaps a rhyme, a joke, or simply an “I love you.”
  • If you have to miss special occasions – birthdays, anniversaries, football matches or school plays – let them know that you would much rather be with them. If appropriate, ask them to take photographs so they can relive the event with you later.
  • Text them to let them know you’re thinking of them or to tell them about something funny or interesting.
  • Arrange a set time to talk on the phone. Young children may not be able to text or email, but they can certainly be excited by chatting via phone. If it’s not possible to do this every day, set it up as frequently as you can. Focus the conversation on specifics; young children can be put off by general questions, such as, “How was your day?” Instead, ask, “What was the favourite part of your day? What was the funniest thing that happened today?”
  • When you’re with your children, give them your full attention – kids cope better with a dad away who has that attitude, than having a dad at home who ignores them.

Family time is precious

‘Damage limitation’ measures like these are a good way of dealing with long hours, but in his book, The Sixty Minute Father, Rob Parsons gives a warning: “We work late on Friday so that we can have the weekend off. But we don’t quite finish and so we go in on Saturday morning “just for a few hours”. We find that we’re still there at five, and decide to bring some work home for Sunday, so that we can have a clear desk on Monday. And all of that would be fine save for the fact that we’ve lived like this for fifteen years; long hours have become a way of life and we work them irrespective of the needs of the job.”

As dads we need to be conscious of the danger of robbing ourselves and our families of quality time together simply because we know it could so easily become ‘normal’ for us not to have time together. We need to be reminded that working long hours may be necessary during seasons in our lives, but it should never become a lifestyle. Let’s work hard instead for success in what really matters.