It’s All About Balance in Parenthood
The latest "Father Figuring" column
"It’s all about a balance in life.”
My daughter, Jessie, has heard me say this often. We all face the daily challenge of finding that right balance between work and play — while incorporating a block of time for sleep.
Jessie has always excelled at getting the most out of her days. She stopped taking naps after age 2. My wife, Mattie, and I now face a surprising challenge from Jessie’s zest to maximize her days — one so simple, I can’t believe I’m writing about it.
“Jessie, please replace the toilet tissue when the roll runs out.”
Jessie’s stated reason for her repeated failure to do this is, “It wastes time in my life that I’ll never get back.” She plops the new roll on top of the empty cardboard tube still on the holder, and lets Dad put the new roll on the spool. Apparently, time that Dad will never get back is more expendable.
Somehow, the girl who won’t take naps or replace the toilet tissue roll is about to enter seventh grade. I’m confident Jessie will have a great school year; however, her packed schedule concerns me. Will she have a proper balance in her life? I’ll let her fill you in on her upcoming plans.
Jessie, age 12:
I am going to be juggling schoolwork, dance, clarinet, saxophone and family during the upcoming school year. I will have to learn how to save time where I can, while keeping up the grades, learning saxophone, keeping up with clarinet, spending time with family and dancing. I am excited that I can have opportunities to pursue many different outlets. I am very grateful that I get to skip a year of band and go into the highest band at my school. I’m also going to learn how to play the alto saxophone in the jazz band. Dance is also a big part of my life. I will dance 3 or 4 days a week after school.
Next, I have schoolwork, homework and studying. I will be in challenging classes at my school and need to make sure I keep up my grades. Finally, it is important to spend quality time with my family. Now, back to Dad.
Jessie will keep busy, indeed, and will need to wisely manage her time among her various activities. Jessie forgot to mention that in addition to learning a new instrument, the alto saxophone, she will be taking her first pointe class. She’ll not only be squeezing a load of classes and activities into her daily schedule, but also squishing her feet into the box of tight-fitting pointe shoes and twirling around on her toes. Talk about working hard at balance!
I’m glad Jessie recognizes that she’ll need “to learn how to save time.” May I suggest quicker showers as a good starting point?
Mattie and I know, too, that our soon-to-be-teenager will spend more time with friends during the years ahead. How much time will she have left for her parents after school, dance and music? Let’s hope Jessie remembers her last sentence: “It is important to spend quality time with my family.”
Like Jessie, Mattie and I need to focus on how we spend our time. Mattie keeps a hectic schedule with her work. I wear lots of hats, too, not only as a writer, but also as a stay-at-home dad and husband. Finding that right balance is a daily challenge.
“Mattie, could I hire a personal assistant?”
But whether Jessie is spinning across the dance floor, playing one of her two instruments, or earning good grades, she’s on her own when it comes to replacing the empty toilet paper roll. I can’t waste any time in my life, either. Like she says, you can’t get it back.
Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad and author of “MoMENts: A Dad Holds On,” available on Amazon. Learn more about him at patrickhempfing.com. J.L. Hempfing, now age 14, began writing with her dad in kindergarten. Her current hobbies include reading, writing, playing clarinet and alto saxophone, and dancing.