Let me start out today by saying I am not a parenting guru. I am not somebody who can always tell you the right way to do everything. In fact, I am so far from the perfect parent that I often find myself wondering if whatever I just did was straight-up idiocy. Like the time I told Noah to jump down to me from the fourth story balcony. Nah, that one was probably fine. I was there to catch him, after all. I do have my less than ideal times though, I’m just going to have to think really hard to remember any.

That being said, I also have learned a few amazing tricks that I’ll share with you all from time to time. I hope that’s okay. Use them, or don’t. There are a lot of right ways to do a lot of things.

One question I’m commonly asked is, how can I spend more time with my child? I try, and I want to, but more often than not it doesn’t happen. And sometimes it’s a question more like this, How can you do all that you do on SDL and still give the time you say you do to your son? It doesn’t seem possible. This is a very valid question.

First off, it really helps that I type 140 words per minute. My greatest fear is that I’ll lose all but one finger in a table saw and have to upkeep SDL that way. If that does happen, let’s hope my last finger is my middle finger. Imagine the innocent fun you could have with that! Seriously though, that’s not even funny to joke about. Do you know how long that bullying piece would have taken with one stub finger? I’m crying just thinking about it.

Anyway, most of my daily posts take no longer than 20-40 minutes (including editing), and most of them I write-up several days in advance. Once a person’s blog is built, the day to day is not as strenuous as you might think. My power posts are different beasts all together. I have spent an average of probably 14-16 hours on each of those because I want to make sure that not one phrase or word is carrying a message that I don’t really feel or mean. I just wait and tackle those on the days when Noah is at his mom’s house or after he’s in bed.

I try to make sure that when I’m with Noah, he gets serious one-on-one with dad. Every single day. But, there are some days when something comes up, some project is due, some deadline needs to be met, or life just generally gets in the way. On those days I find it very easy to keep pushing Noah off, keep turning on new movies, ask him to go color or paint, or sit him down with his iPod Touch (which is awesome for kids with its bazillion educational apps).

On days like these, I start feeling more and more guilty, and Noah feels more and more neglected. In fact, it was on one of these days that Noah finally grabbed my chin, pulled my face toward him, and said, “Daddy, I just wanna do something with you.”

I apologized. We played. I went back to what I was doing.

An hour later I could tell he was feeling neglected again. I grabbed the egg timer (which we use for time-outs) and I said, “let’s set this together. When it goes off, no matter what, I’ll come play with you for fifteen minutes.” He was delighted. He helped me turn the dial and was content to go play on his own for the next half hour. When that timer went off, you better believe he was at my side before it finished ringing, smiling as big as Kentucky. “Time to play, dad!”

We set the timer together again, this time for fifteen minutes, and played. He knew when that timer went back off, dad had to get back to work. And he was perfectly content to entertain himself again when it did.

Try this next time you are plugging away, begging your kids to leave you the heck alone (we’ve all done it). I promise… Your project will still get done, and the deadline will still get met. I don’t have these days super often, but when I do, the egg timer makes all the difference. Noah’s needs are met and, frankly, it gives dad a needed break that he otherwise wouldn’t have given himself. After having made this a fun habit in our house, I can honestly say that I am always able to mentally do more in 45 minutes than I would have in an hour.

Plus, playing with your kids is just plain fun.

The magical egg timer. I highly suggest if you don’t have one, you immediately go buy one. They’re around two dollars. A small price to pay for happy kids and a parent who doesn’t feel like crap.

What are your tricks to breaking away on days like these?

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS, we’d love for you to follow us. We definitely appreciate you sharing this on Facebook and Twitter. And no, I never actually asked Noah to jump down four stories.