There is a truckload of parenting advice on how to fathers can make more time for their families. This is especially the case for new fathers and fathers-to-be.

Dragging ourselves through chapter after chapter of self-help drudgery, only to be told how much we’re not doing, and how much more we need to be doing, can be a soul-sucking experience.

What’s offered as help to maximise time — nearly always with good intentions — can itself be time-consuming and harmful.

The perfection promised by best-selling formulas clash with our imperfections, financial commitments and responsibilities, wounding us with disappointment.


In this scenario, the time-saving self-help guru only serves to chain families to unrealistic expectations. Consequently, pushing some fathers to give in, tune out, and give up.

Consider the concept of being time-poor.

Time-poverty is defined by Cambridge as ‘not having enough time to do things.’
This simple definition is a widespread belief that’s been challenged by American-born Australian Professor of Philosophy Bob Goodin, from ANU Research School of Social Sciences.

He views the term as misleading.

For Goodin, time poverty is only properly understood if separated into two groups: necessity and choice. There are those who are ‘time-poor by necessity,’ and those who are ‘time-poor by choice’.

Someone who fits the description of being time-poor by necessity might be a single parent.

Someone who fits the description of being time-poor by choice, might be someone who loves their job.

Being strapped for time, like being strapped for cash, might be more the result of our choices, and circumstances, than it is not having any time at all.

Social researcher Rebecca Huntley agrees with Goodin:

‘It doesn’t take long as a social researcher to realise that the phrase “I don’t have time to do that” is as much of a reflection of our values, priorities and mindset as it is about the tick of the clock and the revolutions of the Earth around the Sun.’

She adds,

‘It’s almost as if saying you have lots of time and aren’t busy is an admission of failure or betrays a lack of imagination and ambition — either for yourself or, if you have them, your children and grandchildren.’

These observations shatter the time-poor narrative. They invite a rethink of responsibility for how our time is invested.

Understanding what we put into our time, can better help us understand how to tame time for the benefit of those nearest to us.

The first thing to do is ditch the label time-poor.

I’m a writer, husband, student of theology and politics, as well as a home-schooling dad — it’s easy for me to buy into the time-poverty mindset.

Add on 12 years’ experience in middle-management. I know the cost of exhaustion, and what it’s like to have no choice, but to run on autopilot.

I’ve experienced dysfunction, the pressures of time, and expectations that go with it. As well as the temptation to drown out that noise, or more tragically, self-medicate it away.

Like most fathers, when it comes to time, I’m without excuse, but not without hope.

Three practical ways by which I have neutralised the toxin of time pressures weighing down my relationships with my kids is by simply involving, inviting, and inventing.

Involve children in menial tasks like cleaning, exercise, yard work, and shopping as you would a friend. And not just a tag-along, but really engage them in the process. This can be as simple as the important job of pushing the trolley, putting items into the trolley, or crossing items off the shopping list. Give them age-appropriate instruction and some ownership of the task.

Invite them to suggest activities. Get democratic — but make them aware that you have the right of veto; the buck stops with you. Never outrightly reject an idea. Footnote it, or explain why the idea won’t work. Remain positive and affirming. No serious idea is a dumb one. This could mean movie night choice, cooking popcorn, or asking them to join you in a game. Run with the fun.

Invent new family traditions, or reinvent healthy old ones. Education begins in the home. Look at every event, task or activity as an adventure. See these moments as an opportunity to teach. Lead an expedition that breaks good ground, and goes where our fathers may not have taken us.

There is, as the adage goes, “no time like the present.”

Lamentations reminds us that God’s mercies are new every morning.

Involving, inviting and inventing are three ways to harness time. Build on the opportunities of God-directed learning to build healthy relationships with our children.

Adults can inspire initiative in children by applying initiative themselves.

Don’t get too ambitious. Fight impatience. Let the joy of the father to the fatherless clear a path for you. From here you can lead your kids on an adventure they’ll gladly follow.

Involve, invite and invent.
Invest in these and you will inspire.

[Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash]

About the Author: Rod Lampard

Rod, his wife Jonda, and their five kids are homeschooling veterans. Rod spent 12 years in management at Koorong, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry & Theology, and is a writer for the theological, politically edgy news site Caldron Pool. Rod also writes for the Spectator. Find his personal blog here.

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