Q: I'm a busy working man. I know I should be spending more time with my family, and I really want to. But I'm stumped as to how I can fit it all in; there's just no place to cut anything. What can I do?
Jim: There's a hard truth that we sometimes have to face: We can always make time for whatever is most important to us. Once you decide what comes first, it's easier than you might think to make adjustments.
One way to make more family time might be to rearrange your daily schedule. If you go into work early, that might make room at day's end to leave earlier and beat the rush hour traffic on the way home. If you do this consistently, you could save yourself several extra hours a week -- time that could be spent with your spouse and kids.
Also, don't go out to lunch if you can help it. By the time you factor in parking, ordering and everything else, the lunch "hour" can easily stretch to two hours or more. Instead, pack your own lunch and just take a 30-minute break. It's cheaper and, again, it might give you just enough extra time to make your son's Little League game later in the day.
Finally, don't be so quick to take that promotion. If it's going to require even more travel and more overtime, it might be more worthwhile just to stay where you are for now. Your family may need you more than they need extra income.
Now, I'm not suggesting that you shirk responsibilities at work. Just make sure your job isn't all-consuming. There's a big difference between putting in an honest day's work and being a workaholic. With a little creativity, you'll find a healthy balance between the office and the home.
For more ideas to help your family thrive, go to FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Q: I've had it up to here with our lazy teenagers. They're good kids, but I can't seem to motivate them to get off the couch and do anything constructive -- much less finish their homework or clean their rooms. Do you have any suggestions?
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: Rather than "laziness," I'd prefer to view this as motivation toward other things. While it's common for teens to seem unmotivated, they're usually motivated toward something (technology, friends, dating, etc.) unless they're clinically depressed. Each of us has our own motivators.
Sometimes teens disengage because they are overwhelmed; they're still learning how to handle hormones, stress, technology, more freedoms and many other distractions. It can also simply be immaturity.
As parents, we're positioned to teach our teens about limits, balance and life ownership. One method is to create consequences, such as losing or gaining freedoms and privileges. Another is to allow natural consequences to take place -- a bad grade, or not having enough money for gas or going out with friends. If video games and social media are significant distractions, limiting (or even disconnecting) technology for specified periods may be helpful.
Help your kids learn to set goals and pursue them, with small celebrations as each objective is achieved. Involve them in choosing the goals, celebrations and consequences. Remind them that you want them to enjoy life by learning how to manage it well.
Have confidence in setting limits. You're not in charge of their happiness; you're in charge of teaching them and helping them move toward maturity and healthy decision-making. If you'd like to speak with one of our counselors, you can call 1-855-771-HELP (4357). You might also find our "7 Traits of Effective Parenting" Assessment to be helpful; see www.focusonthefamily.com/7traits.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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