Time Doesn’t Come from a Store

Christmas is coming. Time for me to get all anti-commercial goods on you! I am serious about it though. I always think my girls have too much stuff. I have too much stuff. We all have TOO MUCH STUFF! I love giving and receiving presents. Most of us do. I am not saying this should stop, but a monetary exchange, a gift draw, or the like, really puts me off.

The greatest gift is time. This is true on all levels. Your time is solely yours (it may not feel that way sometimes, but it truly is YOURS TO GIVE). 

I saw the direct impact of giving time to underprivileged kids when I coached football for 10-12 year old boys from da’ hood. Many were tough nosed kids from single parent homes, with very few positive male role models. This was a rough lot, with an “F” the world attitude.

Yet, with the gift of my time-I saw actual positive change.  whether it was teaching one how to throw a spiral, or how to shave-they developed a sense of worth.  They saw they could accomplish things, as individuals and collectively. They experienced that someone believed in them, cared about them and wanted to teach them and spend TIME with them. This is huge!

I know some of these boys have since gone on to do great things. Go to university, become realtors, lawyers and teachers-role models and people of influence.  I had the honour of assisting a kid (now man), buy his first home this past summer. Some have likely ended up in prison too, but I know I helped turn some in the right direction. I maybe, just maybe, helped to save a few.

I know the power of time first hand-I know it is the greatest gift you can give. So, why not give it to your own kids, your nieces and nephews-your loved ones?

Instead of new Barbies, a Lego set, or a new high end coat-plan a family day hike in the mountains. Actually go, pack a lunch. Make a memory and use the experience to teach about nature. The questions of discovery that come from kids will be more than worth it.

Take your nephew skating all winter-pick him up, get him on the outdoor rink. Plan a weekly bike ride with your niece-each week try a new route for new adventures. Cook with your mom (someone better learn her recipes!)

Go fishing with your dad-or work on his car. Set aside time with your spouse, even a glass of wine once the kids are asleep-that is a set meeting-that you cannot skip (because you have too many more important things to do). Plan an exercise get together with your friends, where you try something new-like yoga, or spin class.

For my family, we make sure the holiday season is filled with outdoor fun. A skate night at Olympic Plaza, or sled races on the toboggan bowl in Bridgeland are worth far more than any wrapped gift.

Just give a time commitment and stick to it.  A few less gifts under the tree will not ruin Christmas-it just might make it better. If time is money-set the spending limits high this year.

A Week in Her Shoes

This was not a social experiment, but the result of necessity. My wife lost her 98 year old grandmother this past week and headed to join family and celebrate her life. My wife’s family is from Barbados (a nice perk compared to in-laws from Brandon, MB-no offense, to Brandon). However, from Calgary, the trip is a long one. To further complicate things, I was in Montreal at the annual mortgage conference when this was happening. We literally crossed paths at the airport in Calgary (me on my way home, her on her way to the Caribbean.

So, there I was with my 2 kids (aged 2 and 5), active dog and the need to be running my brokerage, especially after being away from it for 5 days. I have a great team at Mortgage Connection, so that part went off without a hitch. So, just the kids, this will be fun, this will be easy. It certainly has been fun, but it is not easy. I already know my wife is a huge part of my success; she is my constant cheerleader and support. She never complains about early mornings, my extended nights. How I am always buzzing with ideas, can be a bit high-strung and sometimes go into super mortgage mode. She just takes it in stride and takes care of things. The truth it she is much more part of any and all my successes than I even knew. I always feel blessed to have such happy kids, such a loving, inviting and warm home. I now have a much better idea on what it takes to pull this off (there is nothing like real work experience).

Some points that really hit HOME this week:

1) Never ask a mom what she did today: First off this is a thoughtless and empty question. I hate this question for anyone, but especially a mom. Instead, ask what happened today that gave you a good laugh, made you smile, or happy. After being home for a week, I was quite content to get meals in the kids, the dog walked, some outdoor play time and a bit of laundry folded. If I showered-bonus. Asking me what I did would likely result in me saying: “Well, I survived, the kids are sleeping and no I didn’t vacuum and yes we are out of milk. How was your extended business lunch and hot latte?”

2) You will miss adult conversation more than you think. Yet, talking to children is way more REAL!

3) Crafts, clay, painting, games and Lego are actually more fun as an adult then when I was a kid. How does one go about working for Lego- specifically in the product testing area?

4) Planning and a schedule is more of a suggestion than a rule: Set an alarm, get ready for school, or dance, or gymnastics with what seems like plenty of time, only to be derailed by a terrible two tantrum, or, “Where is your jacket? How is it not in the closet? It was here yesterday?” 20 minutes later, jacket found in the toy chest and now late-awesome. Oh and my coffee is sitting on the counter, nice and cold with one sip missing…

5) Never tell me a stay at home mom doesn’t have a job. They have a full-time job, with no breaks, no pay and very little respect from society (which is a complete joke considering they are raising society). Working moms you have a double whammy. How you keep the two worlds on track is remarkable-all I can say is Bravo. Now a single working mom-that is a task that is beyond me. After playing that role for a week, I really don’t know how you beautiful women do it. The older I get the more I realize women are far superior to us men. From now on I am referring to them as WOWMEN.

For more stuff like this-check out Mortgaged, Married and Minivan’d


A Lession in value and other things…

Should a five year old have access to an iPad-maybe? I mean it certainly has some apps that kids love. And Steve Jobs did help my eldest learn to count when she was 2. I am sure child experts will say limited screen time is a must, or that they shouldn’t be on it at all. I am no expert and I am worried kids are too into gadgets (but adults are the worst example!) This is not about the appropriateness of iPad usage-it is about what to do when your child breaks said iPad.

Our daughter dropped ours and the screen smashed-I mean Charlotte’s Web style. This was an accident though-she literally dropped it. So, anger is not the right reaction. Here is an opportunity for a lesson.

The first question from her scared self-“Can we fix it?-can we get a new one?”

The right answer-“No, we can’t-not now.” The iPad is expensive, it costs a lot of money and we can’t afford to go buy one right now. We need to live WITHOUT this now.”

Whether we could run out and buy a new one, or not is irrelevant. What we can TEACH in this moment is that things cost money-money has value and things that cost money have value. Money has limitations and sometimes we do not have the resources to just buy something.

So, I asked my daughter-“What do you think we can do here?” her first response “Ask Santa for a new one for the next 6 Christmas’s”

This is pretty good, but I followed up with another question “Well, you broke it, so what do you think YOU could do to help fix the accident?”

“Well, Daddy, I could do more chores, I could save my money and I can help buy a new one.”

I responded “Yes, you can, but it will take a really long time to have enough money to get a new one.”

And here is where the life lesson sinks in.

“I have to be okay with that Daddy, it costs a lot of money and i’ll help-we can live without an iPad right?”

“You bet we can darling-you bet we can.”


The Delicate Dance

My little girl started kindergarten this week. I wasn’t one of the parents that was crying, but on the inside I had a bit of a lump in my throat. Wow, has time flown by already.
We had the option to partake in class for the first couple of days, but my wife and I decided to just drop our daughter off. This is her time and we not only do not need to be there, we really shouldn’t be. We want our kids to be free to discover a new thing without mommy and daddy. I understand why many parents chose to stay. They wanted to ensure their child was okay. Perhaps they wanted to see what the environment was like and how the teachers were. Of course we care about all these things, but the start of school didn’t seem like the time for this. We too, will experience this, through volunteering in class throughout the year. The start of school is a big step for parents, but really it is a bigger step for the kids. It is another step towards independence. Seeing this growth is AWESOME, but it is HARD for us.
This is all part of the delicate dance of parenting-the art of holding on and letting go at the same time.
This hits you in a variety of ways. School is a big one. Going back to work after a maternity leave. Or even the time your little toddler no longer wants you to ride down the slide with them. Walking a daughter down the aisle is perhaps the most symbolic gesture of letting go, but the reality is we do it everyday a little bit. I don’t think this beautiful dichotomy will ever leave. With each new day, we ought to hang on a little less and let go a little more. My advice-embrace the growth and enjoy the new stage. Love and remember the stage that passed. You will never fully let go-they will always be your baby-even when they have babes of their own.becksandellieMy wonderful wife and eldest daughter 2012