Originally published August 19th, 2012
It was somewhere between feeling the grass between my toes during the late evening or watching my kids swinging back and forth with their eyes closed to the wind that I realized I’ve been way too busy. I changed jobs back in May after almost 16yrs with the same company. I had a lot of success with it, and was offered a few opportunities to move, but I realized that it was just time to do something different. I want nothing more than to work in baseball, but opportunities are few and far between, so when my current job recruited me with a chance to stay closer to home I took it. I’d been on the road for about 25% of my week for close to 3yrs, so the idea of being home almost every night sounded good. I left 5 weeks of vacation for a sudden rush of new responsibility, training, and a ton of hours. I don’t regret the decision, but it’s made this summer a real drag.
I’ve done everything I could to stay connected during the summer, but unfortunately, staying “connected” has really had a double meaning for my family. There’s been a fine line between staying “connected” at work while staying connected to my kids. It can be hard to get that balance, but I can’t stress how important it is as a parent. This last weekend was a great example.
We camped on the Oregon Coast almost every summer when I was a kid, and for the last 6yrs or so, we’ve made it a point to meet down there as a total family. This was the first year we went back to Beverly Beach, where we would park our camper for about a week out of every summer when I was growing up. I was excited to take the girls there because I have so many great memories of being there as a kid. Unfortunately, work threw a wrench in the schedule, and I ended up driving down separately from Amy and the girls and I was losing a day on the end of the trip too. It was the third family event of the summer, and the third one that was being interrupted and/or changed up by work. I could see where the girls (especially Megan) were starting to resent it, so I knew I wanted to get the most out of the (brief) trip that I could.
We took the girls to the beach. We rode bikes. We played games, and we laughed around the campfire. It was awesome to show the girls the different sites that I remembered camping in, and having them run and play at the same beach that was like a summer home to me growing up. (Complete with long sleeves and shorts, the Oregon Coast I remember. Ha-ha.) We’ve been camping a ton of times over the years, but something about this trip specifically made me long for the days before work and email, and certainly both! It was fun being involved and just watching everything and taking it in.
We’re a little over two weeks away from starting school and I’d challenge you to do more with your kids. I understand if you have to work — believe me, I understand — but do more. Carve out some time every night and just turn off your phone. Turn off your computer. Turn off the TV and get outside. Think about what summer was like for most of us growing up. A summer of playing catch at a park, waking up early to play basketball at the end of your driveway, or riding your bike up to the store for ice cream. Our kids have more distractions than we ever had, but unfortunately, so do we.
So make a point of it! Use these next two weeks to do more. Need ideas? Try some of these, and share some favorite things you like to do too:
- Lay outside and read your kids a book and watch the clouds in between chapters.
- Take your kids fishing off a dock. You probably won’t catch anything, but your kids will have a great time trying. (Take Doritos.)
- Take your kids camping. Short on time and no campground close? Try your backyard!
- Have a water fight with your kids. It’s been 90 degrees here. If you haven’t bought a few squirt guns and a pack of water balloons you’re missing out! When was the last time you ran through a sprinkler?
- Ride bikes with your kids. Where did you like to ride as a kid? Try taking them there.
- Let your kids stay up late and just take them outside and sit in the grass to look at the stars.
- Is it raining outside? Have a movie day/night with your kids and sit with them. Make popcorn and let them use Red Vines for straws.
- Take them some place new, in a different way than you’ve done it before! Take your kids on a ferry, or a bus, or train, or a subway. Let them experience something they’ve never done before.
… Do that last one, on the way to a ballgame.
Worth a try? Great, get out there and — whoa, whoa, hold on a minute. Try it without your phone. There are two weeks left before school starts. There’s still time left to unplug, make the most of it!