Keith had a patient in a few months ago who was telling him about his son. While he was young, he worked as hard as he could to make sure his little boy had everything he thought he needed. He worked long hours, and was often away at weekends, all with the best of intentions. When his son turned 18, he happily told him that he was getting on a bit so he was going to start winding down at work and maybe they could start spending some time together. His son turned to him, dismayed and said, “Dad, you’re too late. I don’t need you anymore, where were you when I really needed you?” Keith’s patient was devastated. It’s a hard lesson to learn and one that often comes too late in life. All I could think when he told me about it was the lyrics of Harry Chapin’s ‘Cats in the Cradle’ – which should be a song released for every generation just to remind us all that actually what your kids need from you more than anything is your time.
Running your own business is hectic. Work doesn’t just start at 8.30am when the first patient comes through the door, nor end at 5.30pm when you close the door behind the last. Especially in these days of remote communication; it’s too easy to log onto the practice computer system to catch up on patients notes, write treatment plans for life changing smile makeovers and chat to prospective patients through social media from home in the evenings. And Keith and I often find ourselves sitting at the kitchen table, chatting about the direction the practice is going in, what have been our wins for the day or how are we going to deal with whatever situation has arisen with a patient or the team that day. The kids next door watching telly.
And I know we’re not alone in feeling that there are some weeks that go by and you never actually speak to each other about anything other than work, the weeks that you robotically do what the kids need you to do – but are you really listening to what they are telling you?
It’s too easy when you’re running a business too to be scared to take a holiday: what if something goes wrong when we’re away; how will the business finances cope when you’re not there generating the income thats needed?
But if you don’t take time off and spend it with your family, the time quickly passes and before you know it, they’re gone and as everyone and their granny keeps telling me – “you don’t get that time back.”
2 weeks ago was half term for us, our local council have wisely matched up 3 local holidays with 2 inservice days, meaning the kids get a full week off and usually it’s the week before the English holidays so it often means a cheaper deal!
We took the plunge and decided to go on a skiing holiday – a first for the girls and I! It was brilliant fun and totally different to anything we’d done before, but the best part about it how much time we got to spend together as a family.
We all skied together at the pace of the worst skier (me – kids have an amazing ability just to point their skis downhill and not worry about the consequences!). When we got back to the hotel we all sat and played stupid games together and they all slagged me off for being a big feartie at the top of most of the runs. Just the 4 of us sat together for every meal and we managed to catch up with what’s been happening in the life of our kids and each other.
The skiing was fun – but actually the best bit was all being forced together and enjoying the same activity together, it didn’t really matter what it was. Keith’s patient hreally brought home to all of us how important family time is – whether it’s a holiday abroad together, a campervan round Scotland together (I think that might be our next trip!) or actually just all chilling out together with some board games on a Saturday night.
I hope you all enjoy your time with your family this weekend.