parenting / what we do

investing your kids’ time

Parenting is short-lived.

That’s a statement that doesn’t always feel true.

I’m sitting in an Art Gallery café in Atlanta, Georgia, two days after my friend’s son was married. Married! How old am I? This is just sixteen years after my own Labour Day wedding weekend.

Apparently time moves quickly after having children.

Not so in the first year of a child’s birth. Those little ones are adorable for a reason: because they’d be too much work if they weren’t.

A. Lot. Of. Work.

Some of them super cute and serene, and Kodakifying each moment seems realistic. Some make you think the first year is one long night. Time can slow to a snail’s pace.

I’ve heard the same thing said about the time when kids enter kindergarten to high school graduation. It’s finished in a blink of an eye.

Arctic Summer 2010 338 to September 2015 127

So, invest your kids’ time, don’t just spend it,” I was reminded at the recent homeschool conference.

What do we want them to remember? What do we want them to learn?

It doesn’t have to be one long exposure to screen time. It doesn’t have to be spent at the mall. It doesn’t have to be spent reading semi-useful tidbits of info and regurgitating for standardized tests. Or it could be.

We can teach our children to live life on purpose, explore interests, find meaningful work now, expose them to everything we have access to.

Your child is the runner. You’re helping them to find their lane,” says the speaker.

A bazillion kids out there, and we assume they all need to know the same things to become effective, functional contributors to their families, communities and society.

Maybe they aren’t cookie cutter replacements of the last grade of schoolkids. Maybe they were put on this earth to do their thing, in their own way.

So though there are days when we need to plant them in front of the television and zone out with Pinterest, a good book, or cuddle with a cappuccino, their time is short.

Let’s help them to spend their time wisely, investing their time, teaching them how to live life on purpose.

15 thoughts on “investing your kids’ time

  1. “We assume they all need to know the same things to become effective, functional contributors to their families, communities and society.” I like this statement, it’s something that has come to mind lately in my own life as I move from stay-at-home homeschooling mom to having to be bread-winner for my children and I. As I look for jobs that pay enough to support us, I also take into consideration what I can feel proud of saying is my job title. I’ve been contemplating a vein of thought liken to your own in reference to my own self-value as I look for work and consider different avenues; and where I hope my children end up. Can I possibly say that it would be ok if they just entered the work-force, or are they required to get a college education? Does a college education make them functional contributors to their families, communities and society? This is a tough one to get over if you ever attended public high school where you are taught that college and your work is all that there is in life. I think that this which you state is left out of education entirely actually, as funny as that sounds. I don’t think that education in public schools, or even 4-year colleges, aims to make children grow into functional contributors of anything, but to merely get out with a degree – that’s all, and leave the proper marks behind so that the test-makers can feel proud of themselves. But, luckily, life IS more than what your job is. I think you are right on: investing in your kids’ time rather than just spending it will reach this goal: to achieve being effective and functional contributors to LIFE; it will help them find self-worth in more than just a job title, but in who they are, what their interests and hobbies are, and how their failures pan out into being something they can learn from (aka: victories). Thanks for the thought-provoking post. I’ve been enjoying many of your posts lately! 🙂

    • Absolutely with you! I have a couple certificates and a nursing degree too. My husband a medical doctor originally educated as a pharmacist. We’re trained in the system. We’re now gearing our kids towards college entry (Ill explain why sometime–there was also a time I was radically unschooling). But I don’t think a post secondary education is a requirement for a functional contributor to life. ‘Who they are, their interests and how they learn from failures’…both their biggest education and their biggest contribution! And thanks for the encouragement;)

      • Though I try to be open to the ideas of whatever my children may choose to do after their school years, I have to admit that a college education is something that I do hope for as well. My daughter is very smart, and lately has been coming up with ideas of what she wants to be when she grows up. I feel like my job is guidance counselor – since I feel that mine pretty much let me down – in helping her have insight into the actual steps to get into whatever career she chooses – because just going to college doesn’t cut it anymore! Right now, she is 5, and her current career choice is to be a biologist of some kind, which is totally cool with me, because that’s what I went to college for! I know that this will change again and again and again. My goal as parent is to allow them the liberty to dabble in and explore whatever career path they want and have a realistic idea of how to get from steps A to B, but also to feel that they will have value if they choose some other path that does not require a college education but fits their personality. I want them to feel value in who they are for who they are just because they are them. Thus, it is so important to” invest in their time,” to let them know that their interests are important, their growth is important to us as parents, that we are their cheerleaders in whatever they are drawn to. This is validating parenting at it’s greatest. 🙂

    • Oh, I will be interested in hearing more abut your journey – the homeschooling and bread winning – maybe keep in touch so we can share some resources?. I had been juggling and struggling with that from the get go – having to do both- and yet to discover / create a good system for us that I would find satisfying. The school in my eyes does not only NOT teach about contributing to society, but quite the opposite, it quite deeply and sometimes maybe subconsciously ingrains in the young adults the attitude of ‘uncontribute’ – cheat the system, cheat on exams just to pass, ‘work’ the job to get the paycheck, cheat to get to the top, etc. etc.

      • Yes, I think the current education system does exactly that: teaches how to ‘uncontribute’ – college included actually, because I was told a lot that it’s a lot about who you know… Which is totally uninteresting to me! I want my personal interests and passions to be the reason I move forward! Thank you for your kind words. If you would like to email me, jet me an email at or You say that you have been struggling with working and homeschooling, do you work full-time as well? As I stare at having to go back to work full-time, I am so torn about what to do because it seems like it will be impossible to homeschool, but I so, so, so want to, for the reasons in this post and those which I put in my reply. Good luck to you!

  2. I agree with this great post and the comments. Right now I’m reading a wickedly sarcastic book called “10 Ways to destroy your child’s imagination” which is an excellent cultural criticism of our society’s tendency to occupy every second of our children’s childhood with busywork, classes, scheduled events, and other “productive” activities, leaving them so little time to play, wander outside, explore the universe and themselves, to find out who they really are…so much more than a cookie cutter consumer! I highly recommend it…both inspiring and funny!

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