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How to Make Time for Your Family

How to Make Time for Your Family

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Working with families, I often think how sad it is that when a couple separates, G‑d forbid, the father is prepared to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees in order to win more time with his children; yet when time with one’s children is freely available, some fathers are “too busy” to “make the time.”

Numerous studies have shown that children whose fathers played an active role in their lives are more likely to have a better self-esteem and a positive outlook on life when they become adults. Yet some fathers simply don’t understand the importance of the role a father plays in his children’s lives. This may be because they have never had an appropriate role model—perhaps their own father never spent any time with them.

“My husband never has time for the family,” a woman complained in one of our workshops. “His hobbies seem to be more important than his wife and children. He finds time to play golf and go out with his friends, but has hardly any time for us.”

Upon speaking to the husband, it became apparent that he has a very busy work schedule and needs to have some “unwind time” to keep him sane. “As soon as my business is settled,” he promised, “I will have more time. The only way to ‘make time’ now is to work harder. And I cannot work any harder than I’m working now!”

But maybe what this man needs to do is not to work harder but to work smarter.

There is one thing that we all have in common, regardless of our gender, age or religion, and that is time. Nobody has more than 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. Yet it is well known that if you want something done, the best person to ask is a busy person—as he or she knows how to find time for things that are important. When someone tells me they are too busy to do something, what he or she is really saying is “I have more important things to do with my time.”

People go to financial planners and accountants to work out how to get maximum return on their money. Yet not so many people go to experts in time management to see how they could maximize their time—how they could look at what they are already doing and see how they can use the time more wisely.

I suggested to the busy father that instead of working harder, he should consider working smarter. For example, when he goes for a walk to unwind, he should take his wife or one of his children with him. If he is going on a business trip, perhaps he should consider taking some family members along.

The busier we are, the more proactive we need to become in planning the time that we are going to spend with our loved ones. Often it’s as simple a matter as good planning; “failing to plan,” goes the saying, “is planning to fail.” I suggest that we each look at our diary at the beginning of each month and set aside times when we can include our family in our schedule. We can even hold a family meeting at which each family member explains his or her schedule for the coming days or weeks, and together find ways to use the time wisely.

Take action that makes a difference. Discuss with your loved ones when and how you could spend more quality time as a family, and you’ll be surprised how creative you can be and how your family relationships will blossom.

Try it. It works!

Rabbi Yaakov Lieder has served as a teacher and principal, and in a variety of other educational positions, for more than 30 years in Israel, the U.S., and Sydney, Australia. He is the founder and director of the Support Centre to aid families struggling with relationship and child-rearing issues. Click here for more articles by Rabbi Lieder.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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