Your wife and kids usually see the best and worst of you. Stealing from them is not something you probably thought about, but I bet you’re doing it. I learned this from two books I read that briefly address stealing. In Dave Ramsey’s book, “EntreLeadership,” and Jon Acuff’s book, “Quitter,” the topic of an employee stealing is discussed.
As I read them, I realized I have been one of those thieving employees, and this was a nice gut-punch to me. But even worse, an effective gut-punch combo was the realization I’ve been stealing from my wife and kids just as much, if not more.
Stealing from your employee
There are many obvious ways employees steal: taking merchandise, embezzling money, taking office supplies home for personal use. But the type of theft Dave and Jon discuss isn’t as easily recognized. In fact, many employees, including you, probably don’t even recognize (acknowledge) it as stealing. I am talking about stealing time.
When you agreed to work for your employer (or run your own business), your employer (and your clients) agreed to pay you for that work. That means during your work hours, you are to be doing company work. Not Facebook, not paying your bills, not doing anything outside of the job you are paid to do. And you are to show up on time to do so, and not leave early. When you use this time for something other than this, you are stealing.When you use family time for something other than family, you are stealing. Click To Tweet
Stealing from your wife
So if you can steal time from your employer, then you can steal time from your wife and kids. If you are like me, you probably steal more time from your family than anything else. Being married with kids makes it easy to steal time from your spouse. Shoot, there are even plenty of conspirators willing to help you. I have at least three that I live with.
Our marriage mentors have said, “kids are an interruption in your marriage.”
That statement is so true. Their needs are your responsibility, and many times meeting those needs interrupts the time you are spending or planning to spend with your wife. If you’ve ever been a “single couple” (married without kids), then you know exactly what I am talking about.
“PK”, pre-kids, you could come and go when you pleased. You could do what you and your wife wanted to do. You could do what you wanted, where you wanted, when you wanted, and if you decided to do it in your bedroom, you didn’t even have to lock the door!
Yes, sex is part of the “it” I am talking about, but not the only “it.” Date night was only limited by your imagination. Quiet time was not a problem. Of course “AK”, after kids, things are different.
Stealing from your kids
Stealing from your wife, “AK,” is not the only problem. You are probably stealing from your kids as well. The biggest partner in crime to that is work, especially with working from home today. The very thing you do in the name of providing for your kids is the very thing that steals one of your greatest gifts to them. Time spent.
In my case, I work from home, my wife works from home, and all of our kids are online for school this season. When I have not completed all the work I intended to during my “work hours” it can feel like an interruption to stop and “leave” work when my kids finish. What do you think I do? I try to make up the time “lost” by taking it from them later. I effectively rob Peter (my kids) to pay Paul (my work).
I stay in my office 30-minutes more (which turns into 2 hours it seems!) or jump on the computer to “finish one more thing.” I keep my face in my phone, reading emails, responding to messages, expanding upon ideas, or even just doing nothing to recover from my “long day.” All the while my kids are wanting time with me, especially our 5th-grader, Joshua.
How you can quit stealing from your wife and kids
Unfortunately, you cannot return the time you’ve stolen from your wife and kids. You can’t go back into last week, grab a ball and go outside to throw it with your kids. You and your wife can’t go to the Valentine’s Day concert you missed earlier this year. It would be great if you could, but it’s not happening.
What can happen is committing to doing away with your criminal ways, the stealing you do from your wife and kids. Picture yourself as a rehabilitated thief! No more stealing time from your family. Below are 5 ways to get you on the road to recovery.
5 ways to stop stealing from and cheating on your spouse and kids
- Get up early in the morning. Jon Acuff likes to call this “being selfish at 5 am.” Twenty-four hours sometimes just doesn’t seem to be enough. Get more out of your day by waking early. You won’t have to worry about stealing from your family because your family will be asleep! I recently re-committed to this and it has been amazing!!
- Non-negotiable time blocks. Block out some regular time intervals in your calendar for your family. Plan to spend time with your wife. And guard this time like Ft. Knox. Don’t negotiate, trade it, or do anything but spend the time. (Pro Tip: Use a shard Google Calendar and put it in your wife and kids calendar to add some accountability.)
- Focus on one thing. One of my issues is violating my own principle. I sometimes do not “do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done.” If you are working on project A, project A gets all your attention. If you are spending time with your family, your family gets all your attention. Multi-tasking is proven to be less effective than focused work, so FOCUS!
- Be on time. If you do the first three points consistently you are on your way to no longer being a family time thief. Also, be on time for everything. When you arrive late it steals from whatever you are late to, which makes it easier to steal from the next thing in line. A friend of mine says to be a time pessimist instead of a time optimist to help with you showing up on time.
- Don’t be afraid to let some things go. Some things are more important than others. And many days you will not be able to do everything you intended to do. That is okay. Prioritize the most important things. The less important things can wait if you don’t get to them. Your wife and kids should always be at the top of that list.