Busy-ness trap: catch your bus or hug your children?

This morning was one of those priority awareness days. I usually take our kids to school so Gina can get to work early (and return home a little earlier) but she and the kids are home sick today so I thought I’d make a run for an earlier train so I can finish work a little earlier and get back to help with the kids.

I was running a little later than I hoped but made it out the door and was heading for the bus stop to take the bus to the train station and catch that earlier train. I said goodbye to our kids as I was rushing out. They were tidying up and looking out of windows but they heard me. My wife called me when I was about half a block up the road to ask me if I was nearby because the kids wanted to give me a hug.

There were a few profanities on my side (nothing the kids heard, I hope) and I ran back, gave them hugs and rushed back out and up the road to the bus stop. I saw the bus pulling up to the stop street (it was about 10 minutes early, or late depending on which one it was) when I was about 100 meters away and started running. It pulled away when I was about 20 meters away and there wasn’t enough traffic to slow it so I could catch up.

I may have been able to catch that earlier train if I made that bus and, as I walked to the station, I realized this is one of those busy-ness traps: do you take a few extra minutes to hug your kids or do you forgo that so you can catch that bus and get to work a little earlier?

It’s a rhetorical question, for the most part, because taking a few extra minutes to hug your kids and show them they are more important than the chance of catching an earlier bus is the better thing to do. Kids don’t always receive the attention they deserve when we are rushing around creating better lives for them and it sometimes seems like a fair sacrifice to make. I wonder how often it is, though?

All for our kids

I’ve just put our kids to sleep. My wife is at a meeting tonight so it was my chance to read them a bedtime story about a rhino and its compulsion to run everywhere before putting our daughter to bed first.

I had a realisation while I listened to her breathing deeply that I’ve felt coming for a while now: I think parents must go through a phase of their lives where everything is about their kids. It’s not like this is a radical epiphany. People have been commenting on this for, well, a long time but these sorts of things don’t seem real until you finally click.

Sure, we focus on careers, ambitions and personal interests but when it comes down to it, it’s all about them, really. The rest of our lives are mostly a support system for our kids’ young lives and doing the best we can to give them a better life than the life we had growing up.

That doesn’t mean we necessarily had a bad childhood, I think I had a pretty good one and I have lots if good memories. I’d just like our kids to have an even better life so, one day, they can give their children an even better life. That is a pretty good legacy to leave behind.

A reminder of what its all about, at least for me

Wow, what a year this has been. “Challenging” doesn’t quite describe it for me. My business is evolving rapidly and about to take what could potentially be a radical leap in a fairly different direction and while I’m excited about it, it also scares me more than a little (which means it is probably also the right decision). Today has been particularly intense so this video was perfect:

This ad reminded me why I do what I do every day and what it is all about at the end of the metaphorical day. It also reminds me why I shouldn’t do some of the things I do every day either: things like stress about challenges and work so hard that I miss the time I have with my family. I also keep reminding myself to be more present when I spend time with my wife and our kids and not distracted by work or devices that don’t enhance those moments.

As much as I love my devices, when I am using them I am not present with my wife or our kids and, in those moments, they deserve to have me there with them, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Just as I watch this video and see myself in so many of those moments with our kids, I can’t help but remember that my Dad isn’t around to share them with me. Like him, I don’t know how much time I have with my family and that makes the time I do have even more precious.

Happy Mothers' Day Moms

‘Mother and Child’

Henry Essenhigh Corke (1883-1919); Autochrome

Collection of National Media Museum

Mothers’ Day has rolled around again and its a convenient time to stop for a day and pay more attention to the women who made it possible for us to be here in the first place. I took a stroll through some YouTube channels I follow and found some great videos paying tribute to our Moms. I especially like the Facebook video:

Nokia has a great one too titled #Notetomom – Happy Mothers’ Day:

We all know inspiring Moms (aside from our own, of course) and some of the Moms who inspire me include Gina (my wife), Di, Taryn and Victoire.

Swiss Mother and Child on the Beach at Long Key State Park Family Is on a Tour of the United States, Camping Along the Way.

A letter to a young child from his dying mother

“From 1994” Short Film from Casey Warren | MINDCASTLE on Vimeo.

This is a powerful and emotional video and it touches on something I’ve thought about a couple times. We don’t know how much longer we have in this life. If our time came to an end today, what would we want to leave behind for our kids? Would we leave a letter for them sharing our thoughts, feelings and wisdom? I thought about recording short videos for our kids about the things I think about and the lessons I’ve learned and want to share with them.

I also realised that my blog, my updates and my photos are also my legacy to our kids. Through all this stuff I share online (publicly and not so publicly), they gain more insights into who I am which could help them understand decisions I have made. I think about what I have from my father and one of his possessions which help me understand him better is a journal he kept for a while before he passed away.

I wonder if our kids will look at all the stuff I have captured from our lives and see it as a valuable record of our lives? I hope they will see some benefit in it even if a lot of what I publish is either pretty limited to specific contexts and passing events or just waffle.

Mostly I just don’t particularly want to leave this life for many more decades to come. I’d much rather our kids get to know me better in person.

I use Facebook for more than birthdays and stalking

Paul Jacobson

I come across a lot of people who tend to use Facebook more to stalk people they meet or to check who is having a birthday today. I do that stuff but I have been using Facebook as my primary online social space for a while now and it is a terrific tool for me. While Google+ gives users the ability to share selectively, very few of my friends and family are using it so it’s a very limited option for me. With the exception of a couple family members who are still concerned about Facebook’s privacy controls (I think their privacy is probably better protected on Facebook that out and about in their neighbourhoods), my family and friends are all on Facebook and use it fairly actively.

Most of the stuff I share on Facebook is invisible to the public and to a number of people who I have friended but remain on a restricted list. Facebook is where I share details of my life with my kids, wife, family generally and friends and I took a decision to only share that more personal stuff with people who I have met, am friendly with and would invite to my kids’ birthday parties. I’ve set my Instagram stream up to be private by default and when I publish to Facebook from Instagram, it goes to “Friends” by default. In fact, “Friends only” is my profile default.

Everyone else can see my public updates and, in that sense, I treat Facebook like Twitter. My public updates are posts I am happy to share with anyone who can see them just as my tweets are. I don’t understand why anyone would use Twitter as their primary social network. To me, Twitter is the online equivalent of standing in a crowded room shouting over everyone else in an attempt to maintain a coherent conversation. Photos and stuff you shared may as well be Polaroid prints you pass around the room to people you know and don’t know. Some people are public by default, I prefer to be more selective with who gets to see my more personal stuff (although what I regard as personal may not fall within your definition). With all Facebook’s efforts to get us to share more publicly in the past, selective sharing is what Facebook is good for and perhaps what it is really intended to be used for.

The people who I friend and assign to my restricted list tend to be people I have met and know on some level but they may be business contacts or people I just don’t know very well. If I don’t friend someone or refuse a friend request, it is generally because I just don’t know the person beyond a passing familiarity with the person online. I similarly don’t accept Foursquare connection requests from random people or people I don’t know well enough to feel comfortable disclosing my locations. Facebook, in many ways, mirrors my life generally. It’s more meaningful to me because of that.

I’m not quite sure why I felt the need to publish this post. I suppose one reason is to present another perspective on Facebook as a user who does more than stalk people and check birthdays (Facebook is awesome for birthdays!). As more of our lives is online, it is really important to have a space where we can share selectively if we choose to. If Facebook fell away, that space may be Google+ or whatever comes next. Path is also an interesting option although not all that compelling alongside Facebook. Path may be a preview of what may be coming in the years to come but, for now, it’s tough to beat Facebook. At least, for me.

Home time, shut down

One of my clients mentioned to me that he doesn’t open his laptop when he is home. He would rather go into the office a little earlier, stay a little later than work at home. At first it sounded a little extreme but I have come to really like the idea. I’ve started shutting my laptop down when I leave the office and leaving it in my bag until I return to work the next morning. I even try leave my iPhone by my bed weekday evenings. The result is being more present for my children and wife. Even our dogs seem to be more engaged. Another plus is I feel like I have had a real break from work when I return the next morning.