I have been reading some of the books from the Dave Ramsey team lately. In Dave Ramsey’s book, “EntreLeadership,” and Jon Acuff’s book, “Quitter,” the topic of employee stealing is discussed. As I read it and realized I have been one of those thieving employees, it was a nice gut punch. 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 aren’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, they 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.
Stealing from your spouse
So if you can steal time from your employer, then you can definitely 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 spouse. 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 spouse wanted to do. You could even 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 one of the “its” 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 spouse, “AK,” is not the only problem. You are probably stealing from your kids as well. The biggest partner in crime to that is work. 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 about half the day, and work at a school the other half. When I have not completed all the work I intended at home it can feel like an interruption to stop and leave for the school. What do you think I do? I try to make up the time “lost” by taking it from my kids later. I effectively rob Peter (my kids) to pay Paul (my work).
I come home and 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 their time.
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. Five ways to stop stealing from your wife and kids.
5 Ways to Stop Stealing from Your Wife and Kids
- Get up early in the morning. Jon Acuff likes to call this “being selfish at 5am.” 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 sleep!
- Non-negotiable time blocks. Block out some regular time intervals in your calendar for your family. Time for you and your wife, and time for you and your kids. Guard this time like Ft. Knox. Don’t negotiate, trade it, or do anything but spend the time.
- 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.
- Be on time. If you do the first three points consistently you are on your way to making sure you are on time. When you arrive late it steals from whatever you are late to, which makes it easier to steal from the next thing in line. My friend Kevin, at SportsDadHub.com has a great suggestion to help this by being a time pessimist instead of a time optimist.
- 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.
Question: How do you plan to stop stealing from your spouse or your kids? Please share in the comment section below.