You only have 18 summers with your kids before their lives change forever. They’re still your kids, sure, but things will be very different after they graduate high school. How do you want to spend those 18 summers? Pouring all of your time into your work because “they’ll thank me later?” Or enjoying the precious time you have with the people who are your whole reason for working?
I used to trade time for money, and too many entrepreneurs do the same. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the error of that philosophy, and I hope my newest podcast guest, Jim Sheils, can help a lot more business owners do the same. Jim is a real estate investor, public speaker, and the founder of 18 Summers, an organization dedicated to helping business owners reconnect with their family lives.
One of Jim’s biggest pieces of advice to these business owners is to establish rhythms in your family life as early as possible. Don’t wait until you’re five years into your career journey, or you’ll miss out on a lot more than you think. Set up a date night with your spouse every week. Have family meetings and family nights as often as you can. Prioritize the most important people in your life. The rest will follow.
Simple Strategies for Family Time
To greatly improve his family relationships, Jim has highlighted a number of helpful strategies that can make a big impact. For children under 18, Jim recommends having a quarterly “board meeting” with your children. During this meeting, the time is entirely one-on-one. There is no better way to “put a magnifying glass” over a relationship than with one-on-one time. Likewise, there’s no better way to increase the connection between people.
Speaking of connection, your Internet connection won’t be a part of this time. Put your electronics on airplane mode, unplug, hang up, and hang out with your child. Electronics can drive disconnection. If you’re getting calls and texts about a real estate deal gone bad, are you going to be fully invested in spending time with your loved ones? I think not. This can be a hard step, but it needs to be done.
The last principle of these quarterly meetings is that the activities you do should be chosen by your child. Doing something they love will give them ownership of the day, ignite their passions, and help you connect with them even further. In addition, be sure to incorporate time for focused reflection at the end. Ask them what their favorite part of the day was. This is a cornerstone of experiential education, and it encourages your children to open up to you about any number of things. This is where the magic happens.
At the end of the day, it’s all about keeping those rhythms and staying involved. Delegation is great, but not when it comes to family. Don’t short-change the people who mean the most to you, and always remember how valuable those days away from the office can be. After all, you only have 18 summers. Make the most of each and every one.