In a column written by Christopher Toh in the paper today, his colleague, who is also a father, said, “…time is a luxury that we don’t have because we’re too busy trying to make sure our children have the luxuries we never had.” Instead of saying that we don’t have the time for our children, it would be more accurate to say that we do not make time to be with them because of our busy schedule. However, I believe that most would want to make time for their children.
Most parents nowadays are facing this similar challenge and are guilty of not spending enough quality time with their children. In a highly competitive society like Singapore, a lot of time both parents are working and their children are either left to the care of grandparents (who are the more fortunate one like my siblings and I) or domestic helpers.
Although it is important for parents to be working hard to provide for the family, it is equally important for parents to spend quality time with their children and to be there for them.
Reading the column reminds me of a catch-up I had with a friend last year. While giving him a ride home, I sensed his weariness and asked him about it. He shared about his new appointment at work; he was given a role to manage projects and some junior staffs. With the new appointment and responsibility, he not only had to work late almost everyday to fulfill endless deadlines but also had to spend time to guide the junior staffs. Even at home, he often had to reply to time critical email; ignoring the email could hold up the whole production.
As a result of his new appointment, he was always tired and did not have the energy to spend time with his new born girl. He told me the feeling sucked. It was clear that his top priority is his family but his work was keeping him from doing what is important to him. It was no wonder his positive energy was all drained and he appeared so tired, not only physically but also mentally. Good thing he realised what is his priority and making change.
I believe that most people realised the important to attain work-life balance but most are being thrown into the same situation as my friend. As what the columnist wrote, “The hard part of course, is putting realisation into practice.” A message from a fridge magnet given to the columnist, which I found very true, “This is how kids spell ‘love’ – ‘T.I.M.E’.” Children will not understand “…we’re too busy trying to make sure they have the luxuries we never had.” To them, ‘love’ is having us spend quality time with them and always being there for them.
We were only children once and so will our children be children once. When they grow up, the opportunity to read them books, bringing them out to the parks, taking them to the playground or, as apparently as in the case with the columnist’s son, just lying there next to him as he sleeps will be lost forever. We won’t get a second chance.