Enjoying your neighbourhood, friends, and family requires that ever so rare and limited commodity: time. Like the sand in an hour glass, the changing digital display on our screen, or the setting of the sun, we are all bound by the passage of time. While we work hard for money, money can be replaced. Time cannot. We have only so much time given to us. So where do we spend it?
We have an odd relationship with time. One moment can change our lives and a ten minute conversation can turn us in a new direction. Yet for others a decade can go by and feel wasted or lost. How we spend our time changes us and our experience of the world around us, so to take a few moments to consider how we spend our time seems like time well spent.
Several studies have been done to keep track of how much meaningful time parents spend with their kids. One study says on average fathers spend less than seven minutes a day talking to their kids. Other studies found that some parents spent less than four minutes in what they describe as meaningful interactions. Similar studies in Britain found that a working parent will spend about 20 minutes a day interacting with their children and 2.5 hours engaged in TV or movies. These numbers show that people close to us, especially children, have the most to lose when we spend our time without without much forethought.
A dear friend of mine has been revisiting how she spends time with her children. She said that she used to create efficiency in all that she did, especially during her evening routine. After supper she would send the kids out of the kitchen and spend the next hour cleaning up the dishes. Once the kitchen was clean, then she would begin the task of putting everyone to bed. But she realized that she was missing out on a valuable hour with her kids. Today she leaves the dishes and enjoys her children, cleaning up after they’ve gone to bed.
My friend is discovering that time matters and that she has a choice to make in how she spends it. John Maxwell wrote, “Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have.”
The key to spending time well is to decide what deserves our time. When we prioritize people, for example, then our time will be shared with them. Our spouse, our kids, our friends, and the people in our neighbourhood are valuable. They are the handful of people that can share in our time, and they are worth it. Their lives are shaped by how we spend our time, and when we spend our time on those closest to us, we may very likely enjoy the rewards.
May you take time to consider how you spend your time. May you prioritize those people who matter the most to you, and may you discover the value and beauty of spending your time generously among those who live in your community. Sharing your life with family and neighbours might be the very best time you’ll spend.