Changes You Can Make
Review the priorities in your life, make a list of your top five, and begin investing the bulk of your time and energy in those choices. If you are a parent, your list, of course, should include your children. Keep your list of five handy, and refer to it whenever a decision arises. Ask yourself, "Does what I am doing, or about to do, fit into my list of priorities?"
Unlike much advice, this way of living is not "easier said than done." On the contrary, it's "easier done than said"! You'll often be surprised to discover that it doesn't take hours to fill a child's need for attention.
Sometimes 15 minutes will fill your child's cup and then allow you to tend to your daily rituals without that nagging sense of guilt, or that feeling that something essential is missing. In this story of father and daughter, if Jeff had dropped everything upon his arrival home and given Lily thirty minutes of undivided attention, he might have fulfilled her need for his love. She might then have been happy to scamper off and allow him to get to his business, or perhaps trailed along with him, letting their connection linger through the evening.
Of course, some daily tasks must be done regardless of their placement of your list. The laundry would definitely not be in my top five, but it still needs to be done! However, having your list will help ensure that these "maintenance'' tasks are done with the proper acknowledgement of their importance. This means that I may decide that a game of Monopoly with my children is worth postponing the laundry until after they've gone to bed.
As for those must-do tasks, some can be undertaken with a child included as helper or as company. A 3-year-old can sit beside you with her plastic kitchen set "preparing" her own dinner, as you prepare dinner for the family; a 5-year-old can sort socks or fold hand towels as you fold the other laundry; a 7-year-old can accompany you on your round of errands. In each case, you will very likely enjoy the time talking together.
When you decree that your family and your children are your priority, and that you want, and need, to spend more time with them, your daily decisions will become easier. You may even begin to ascertain that some goals you had rated as "top priority" are supremely unimportant. And as a natural and direct effect, these will fall away, leaving you with two undeniable gains: a heightened and refined sense of values, and the freedom to pursue them.