Parental busyness is the bane of many a child’s existence. “I’m only trying to give them the best advantages of life” means little to the youngster who sees only that grown-up work hours still run past 8 p.m. on the night of the 7 p.m. concert that Junior practiced for months to get a starring solo in. 


Seriously, if you “have to” work ten hours a day, six days a week, you have a problem with your own self-esteem as well as with family closeness. Is it really your supervisor who expects you to stay that busy, or are you pushing yourself to always be the top achiever in the office? Are you thinking of yourself as someone who can’t finish anything in normal eight-hour days, and subconsciously handling your schedule inefficiently to reinforce that opinion? Or are you afraid of your own family—afraid to be emotionally vulnerable, afraid of doing the wrong thing, afraid it will reflect on you if you show up to cheer on your daughter and she plays a bad game that night? 


If this issue is having serious repercussions in your family, consult a therapist. If, however, you simply have a bad habit, here are a few life hacks for making more time to attend your children’s events (and for spending more time with them overall): 

  • Review your regular duties carefully and see which ones can be eliminated or delegated. 
  • Do the most important tasks first (or at your peak-energy hours) and squeeze less important tasks in around the more important. Too many people get this backwards and then wonder why they have no time left for worthwhile tasks. 
  • Take your work breaks, practice keeping up a leisurely pace, and your overall efficiency will improve greatly. 
  • Give yourself incentive to leave work at normal quitting time: join a carpool; rediscover nightly family dinners; promise your mother you’ll call at 5:45. 
  • Ask to be informed of important children’s events as soon as they’re scheduled, and block off the dates on your calendar. (“Important” means important to the participating child who invites you. If you can’t enjoy the event for its own sake, enjoy your child’s pleasure in it.) 
  • Make a habit of sharing details about your work responsibilities with your family, on a regular basis. If you really have the occasional legitimate reason to work late—and especially if you hit an emergency that couldn’t have been timed worse—your children will be less hurt if they have some solid idea of what it’s all about. 
  • Instead of automatically agreeing to outside requests, ask yourself, “Is this important enough to put off a possible opportunity to invest in my child’s growth and future?” When you make a habit of phrasing it that way, more time for your children will start to become miraculously available.