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One Piece Of Advice That All Parents Need

How will your children remember you when you’re gone?

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m busy, all of the time. Whether it be writing, pitching to clients on Upwork, or working at my actual job, it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.

We live in an age of convenience. With a smartphone app for pretty much anything, you’d think that we’d have more time on our hands, right? Wrong. But what did you do with the hour that you saved by doing your grocery shopping online? If you’re like most people, you probably spent it scrolling through another app, like Facebook or Tik Tok, or doing something that made you feel like you were busy, but in actual fact, you weren’t productive in the slightest. It’s okay, we’re all guilty of it, and all is not lost, because I’m here to tell you to knock it off and spend your time on the things that truly matter.

Three things you should know about me

  • I have two children under the age of seven.
  • I have in the past had a very unhealthy relationship with my smartphone.
  • Last Tuesday, I almost died.

I don’t share this with you to garner sympathy. I share this because (cliche aside) there are very few things that can give you a fresh perspective in the same way that almost dying will. Take my advice, if you’ve ever found yourself thinking that there aren’t enough hours in the day and that something’s gotta give, make sure it’s the right thing.

As I was lying in the ambulance being taken to hospital, my thoughts weren’t on that funny Tik Tok I watched the night before, they were with my children.

I’ve previously written about my struggles with social media addiction and dependence on my smartphone. I know I’m not alone in this, with research showing that the average smartphone use per day is around three hours, fifteen minutes, with the top 20% of users clocking in four and a half hours per day. That’s a full day and then some, every week.

Recently, I’ve felt as I’ve been slipping back into my old habits. But my smartphone usage for the past seven days was just over seventeen hours, so less than average, at only around two and a half hours a day. Not too surprising really, considering I spent most of the last week lying in a hospital bed.

What does this have to do with parenting?

My memories of the last week are pretty hazy, but there is one thing I can tell you for sure. As I was lying in the ambulance being rushed to a hospital, my thoughts weren’t on that funny Tik Tok I watched the night before, they were with my children. I wasn’t thinking about my to-do list and how much I need to get done. I thought about the times I’d refused to play hide-and-seek or play a game with them because I was “too busy” scrolling through Facebook, answering a work email, or some other activity that could have waited. All I could think about was the time I’d wasted.

We all think that we have loads of time. You might be right. But you also might be very wrong. I’m a 29-year-old man who is in generally good health, yet I suffered a catastrophic internal bleed in my stomach and I’m lucky to be alive.

If you were gone tomorrow, how would your children remember you? Would they remember you as the parent who always read them a story when they asked? Or would they remember that you paid more attention to your smartphone than to them? I know which one I’d prefer, which is why since I returned home from the hospital, I’ve made a conscious effort to not say “no” to my children (current health permitting) when they’ve asked me to do something with them.

In a nutshell

Don’t tell your kids that you’re “too busy” to spend time with them when what you’re actually doing is wasting time pretending to be busy.

I’m not saying that parents don’t need downtime. By all means, tell your children that you’ll play hide-and-seek after you've finished your morning coffee. If you are genuinely in the middle of something that can’t wait, tell them that you’ll play after you’re done, but make sure you follow through.

I’m also not suggesting that you need to swear off of Facebook or Instagram, or whatever app it is that rocks your socks. I’m saying that there’s a time for it, and that time isn’t when your children are seeking your attention. Lord knows, kids these days spend just as much time on devices as adults, so while they’re busy watching Rebecca Zamolo or Ryan’s Toy Review, crack on and scroll through Tik Tok to your heart’s content. Just don’t waste the time you have. Take it from me that you might not have as much of it as you think.

Jon Peters is a 29-year-old writer from the UK, who has just submitted his first children’s book to a publisher. He lives in Cornwall, the UK with his wife and two children. If you made it this far down the page, thanks so much for reading. If you’d like to hear more from me, you can get to my profile super quickly by clicking here, or here. Happy reading.

Trying to make the world a better place, one word at a time.

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