Being a parent is not easy. It would be challenging if it was the only thing we had to do, but of course it is just one of many things on our weekly schedule. These other necessary items, like maintaining the home, doing ministry, and earning a living all take away that most precious of resources: time. A child needs your time and your attention more than anything that is on their Christmas list. You can’t create time from scratch, so what can you do to make the most of the time that you have? The key is to be ‘present.’
Presence When Present and When Absent
Being present is difficult to describe, but I think you know what I mean. The easiest way to imagine it is to imagine its opposite. We have all been in the same room with someone who was absent – a growing problem with all the digital distractions. So being present when you are home is a key. But what about when I am not home? As a working parent who spends 50 hours per week outside of the home, I have an even greater disadvantage. Much of the day I am not physically present, but we have found a fun way that I can be ‘present’ even when I am absent.
Leaving notes for your kids is a great way to be present in their lives even when you are absent. This is probably the most simple and perhaps most obvious post I have ever posted, but we have really found it to be a blessing for our kids. We have a whiteboard in our kitchen that we use for notes to self, grocery lists, homework problems, etc. I have a marker that I keep in my junk drawer to write notes for the kids in the morning before I leave for work. I generally leave before they wake up, so the message greets them when they come downstairs to eat breakfast and make their lunches. This message is a way that I can:
Show them I care about them and delight in them.
Focus their minds on God.
We purchased these really neat cards from Joe McGee, and I sometimes will clip one on to the whiteboard to give them something to read and discuss.
The kids will sometimes leave me a note back, which is fun. It literally takes me a minute or two, and it is a small investment with a worthwhile payoff.
A Penny For My Thoughts (Literally)
I also picked up a $1 pack of 100 plain white 3×5 notecards at the store, and I use these as another way to leave notes. I generally use these notes for Dana, but sometimes I leave them for the kids also. You can put them in the kitchen, or you can slip a note into their backpack so that they find it at school. If I am going away for a business trip I will make up a bunch of these notes and hide them throughout the house and their bedrooms. Again, this is a way that I can be speaking to them even when I am away. It reminds them that I was thinking of them and I am thinking of them.
Your caring presence in your kids’ lives makes all the difference. How do you show them that you care, when you are present and when you are absent?
Here are some examples, just to show you how simple and easy and fun it can be: