Last year I worked more hours than I usually do. I couldn’t find anyone to work the afternoon shift, so I had to do it myself. It was nice to make the extra money, but it wasn’t worth the time I missed at home. Since I was at work all day, I couldn’t devote as much time to my kids and to the activities that I feel are essential to their upbringing (mostly a lot of time outside).
What was really missing was the slow pace we had all gotten used to. I was working so much that I was always in a rush, only able to do the bare minimum with my kids – brief playtime, dinner, story time, and tuck in. I’m used to having all afternoon to spend with them. We ride bikes, swim, go to the library, play outside, and have time to try new things, like making bracelets or geocaching.
Having to work extra hours made me realize I really am committed to slow living. The extra money isn’t worth the frantic pace of life. In a few short years my kids will be grown and gone. I want to make the most of the time we have together.
I also want them raised right. I don’t want vapid consumer zombies. I want good, grounded people. That doesn’t happen by accident. If I don’t raise my kids, the culture will.
I spend a lot of time with my kids and I try to show them how to have a good time on the cheap. While other suburban families go out to eat and go to places like the the mall or the indoor play places, we pack a picnic and head to the lake for a free day of fun.
It’s not about never spending money; it’s about spending money on things that bring hours of enjoyment, not something they lose interest in after 5 minutes. Both my kids got new bikes and we bought two kayaks this summer, but we get our money’s worth out of them. The bikes and the kayaks keep us outside and active and we use them together, unlike something like a video game that isolates kids. It’s not about being cheap; it’s about being intentional.
I’m looking forward to a wonderful summer with my kids. They’re little for such a fleeting period of time. I want to be fully present for it.