Time…or lack thereof

80_2639991The Earth circles around the sun 365 and ¼ times per year creating 365 days in a calendar year.  Of those 365 days I see my kids pretty close to half of them which amounts to about 182 days.

Not too bad…I, as a divorced dad, get my kids 182 and ½ days.  That is a whopping 4380 hours!

But wait, school and work are 7 AM to 5 PM 5 days a week.  Yes, even in summer, because they go to “camp” all day and I still have to work.  So, that adds up to a loss of 130 days (1300 hours).

I have 3080 hours a year with my kids!  So, what can be bad about that?

My blog this week is about the infamous WEEKDAY NIGHTS!  It ends up being 2 or 3 weekdays that we are together (depending on the week because of our rotating “shared” schedule).  And by the time I drive home from school, we end up with less than 3 hours a night together on a perfect night.  We only have one hour “together” on soccer, dance or hockey nights.

Issue # 1: A bad day at school

Someone gets a dreaded YELLOW or RED for their behavior that day at school.  (And if you don’t know what that means, just consider yourself one of the lucky ones.)  Now this certain someone has to be punished.  I only get my kids 3 hours a night and now I am obligated to spend 2 of them talking about being quiet in line at lunch, etc..?  I know I have to punish them, but I really want to sit and hang out, play games and laugh because I only get so many nights a week with them.  On these nights, there is no fun.  Someone is in the dog house and they don’t even get the fact that I suffer more than them.

Issue #2: The dreaded homework

Some days you get slammed.  Books need to be read, projects need finishing, and even class work that wasn’t finished at school has to be completed on my time with my kids.  It can take over an hour some days.  Sometimes there are tears and there is almost always miserable complaining (if not from the kids, then from me).  I have one child whose teacher sends 6 pages of homework anytime from Sunday night, and for the last 2 weeks, Wednesday afternoon all due on Friday, regardless.  So, we have to do ALL of it in 2 days.  And on the weeks the teacher sends it all on time I’m usually still stuck doing all of it in 2 nights.  I digress.  Remember, we only have 3 hours a night (some nights).

Issue #3: Showers

When you have 4 kids and only 1 bathroom for them to share it’s not easy to juggle showers, teeth brushing, hair, and everything else that takes place in the bathroom when kids are concerned.  They stink, the boys especially.  Not only going in, but coming out, too.  “Mr. AXE”…no one can breathe around your products.  One kid takes 3 minute showers and MAY be clean and another kid takes 40 minute shower/baths and may have cleaned nothing.  No one wants to go first and whoever goes last may be left with no hot water.  Remember, this is all in my 3 hour window (some nights less).

425_2962087Issue #4: Dinner

I have to feed 4 kids and let’s face it; there is no time for gourmet meals.  And no, we did not cook all weekend and freeze meals for each night this week.  I’m happy to have even gotten to the grocery store over the weekend in between hockey, soccer, dance, birthday parties, church, etc.  So, what do we have time for tonight?  Healthy or Hot Pockets? Does everyone like what I made?  Of course not, so guess what?  More time wasted over that discussion.  Will someone sit and scowl at their plate and be stubborn and not eat?  Of Course.  More time wasted.  Dinner manifests wasted time more often than not.  It is important to sit together and eat and talk about the day.  I want dinner to be a time to communicate and be a family.  Oh, but I do not live in a perfect world and still only have 3 hours in my night with my kids (maybe one night a week).

Issue #5: Sports

I get to see each of my kids a total of 1 hour for one of my days in a week.

I want them to play sports and be healthy minded and make friends and learn about teamwork and exercise and challenge themselves physically.  That is why we do these activities.  But, one kid runs off to play on a playground and one sits and reads.  One plays and one is STARVING!  Not to mention, when it is done, we still have all those other things to do: homework, dinner, and showers, etc.

I just never thought when getting divorced how important TIME (or lack thereof) truly is.  I thought…I will have them 3080 hours a year and we have nothing but time on our side.  I never thought…I will have them about 15 minutes a night to hug and talk to and connect with them.  I have 15 GOOD minutes on 3 weeknights to really listen to them and hug them and hold them.  That is it.

I don’t think I am a bad dad because for the 3 hours/3080 minutes we do have, when we are doing homework and learning together, eating and talking, growing as an athlete, and learning the rules of life with those red and yellow behavior days, we make the best of all of that.  I know as they get older my 15 minutes will be 10 and 5 then one day none.

I believe I make the best of my 15 minutes and that’s what being a parent is all about.

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BJ Witkopf

BJ Witkopf

Divorced dad of 2, live with my girlfriend with her 2 kids I am an active dad that is involved in everything the kids do. I make time where there isn't any and don't miss a thing. We play hockey and soccer and dance. I am trying to learn to be an artist and writer and dad and good employee all at the same time. it isn't always easy but in the end everyone is happy.