The Gift of Time

As you're reading this, I'm probably shopping. Yep, I'm one of those crazy people who gets up at the crack of dawn and goes shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I love getting a good bargain, but I mostly love spending the day hanging out with my mom and watching all the other crazy people. I'm hoping to put a dent in the girls' Christmas lists this morning, and probably get a couple things for myself, too. As I pondered my girls' lists this week -- one short and one long -- I wondered what on their lists to get. We have a few surprises in store, so the actually list shopping is going to be limited. Yet, we always try to get that one thing they absolutely think they must have. (Although, this year, my 10-year-old thinks she must have a cell phone. She'll be disappointed on that one.)

But you know what I've discovered over the past 10 years? The one thing my kids truly want more than anything else is me. They want to know they have my undivided attention. They want to spend time with me.

As a parent, don't buy into the myth that you can give your kid "quality" time rather than "quantity" time. Our kids needs us to spend time with them -- lots of it. They need us to put away our phones, our computers and our TVs and focus on them and what they have to say. They need us to listen to them, laugh with them and dry their tears. But we can't do that if we don't make the time.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." If you have kids, the time for spending time with them is now. Our kids will only grow up once. If we don't capture this time now, we won't get it back.

This Christmas, I encourage you to give your kids the gift of time. Make each of your children a coupon book offering them your time. You can set up a regular date with each of your kids, or you can offer them the opportunity to choose the time. Coupon ideas include playing a game of their choice with you, making dinner with you or staying up a half hour later to spend time alone with you. Make coupons that fit your child and your family. You can find some coupon templates and more ideas here.

Give your kids the gift of time this Christmas. You don't have to brave the mall for it, and it's what they really want.