a peek inside the fishbowl

19 Mar, 2015

The importance of Family Time (a guest post)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy|Fishbowl patrons|Guest postings

Hello Fishies! I’m doing something new at the Fishbowl this week. I’ve asked each of my amazing Fishbowl patrons to write a post on a topic that is important to the parenting community. This one is by Mark Saunders, Director of Fun at Saunders Farm

Water fun at Saunders

What is the number one thing parents want in life?

A) More Money
B) More Patience
D) All of the ABOVE

Some of us would answer “D.”  While that rings true for so many, it’s only part of the answer. At a recent conference I attended, the keynote speaker quoted a study that had asked plenty of parents what they want in life. The overwhelming answer is…. TIME.

Yes, time. Time to get everything done. Time to relax. Me-time. Time to be present in the moment. Time to spend with the kids.

I remember so vividly when our three kids were babies and periodically one of them would fall asleep on my chest at naptime. It was the most glorious feeling. Just before they surrendered to sleep, I’d feel their little bodies take a deep breathe then exhale and sink right into me. I didn’t want to move. I couldn’t. I was paralyzed with LOVE. And peace. I would luxuriate in the moment because I couldn’t do anything else. It was as if I was given the gift of Time.

Our kids got older and the ‘sleeper hold’ didn’t work anymore. Soon came dance classes, hockey, piano, soccer and all of the usual distractions of daily life. Our schedule didn’t stop. Time was vanishing. And it was flying by…

Occasionally, when our kids were little and we were in the thick of a crazy day, we’d start to complain about the lack of family time and inevitably some wiser, more experienced soul within earshot would say: “Enjoy your kids now. Time passes quickly and before you know it, they’ll be moving out.” It was hard to imagine.

Now we’ve entered the teen and tween years. Mom and Dad are now “the rides” – the ride to work, the ride to the new best friends’ house, the ride to the trampoline park, the ride to the party. It seems as though some days, the only “family Time” we get is in the car. My wife used to laugh at her own mom’s friends who had keychains that said “Mom’s Taxi.” but now it makes total sense. We’ve learned to make those frequent car trips meaningful and fun!

As time continues to accelerate and the kids rapidly grow, it’s been increasingly important for my wife Angela and me to carve out “Family Time.” We have always been aware of the fleeting passage of time.

We run a family farm that provides Family Time for many families in the region. We are just like the families who visit; we make time for Family Time. We are grateful for the families that visit our farm and we are both inspired and humbled by these families. They help remind us to keep Family Time a priority.

One of our favourite and simple ‘Family Times’ is to cook together. Both Angela and I love to cook, and our kids have been involved in the joy of cooking from as early as they could. Our oldest, Aidan, now 15, was thrilled to get his own Jamie Oliver cookbook from a family for his birthday last year. Now, at least once a week, he’s at the helm of the meal preparations in the house. Aidan, Molly and Julia have now developed into little foodies with well-developed palates – as a big treat, all five of us love visiting great Ottawa restaurants like Murray Street, Town or The Cheshire Cat Pub.

A springtime Family Time is to visit a Maple Syrup Farm like Fulton’s Sugarbush in Pakenham or Stanley’s Maple Farm in Edwards. We stuff our faces with pancakes and fresh maple syrup, then hike off our sugar highs on the trails and woods on their farms.

Family skiing, skating and tobogganing don’t happen as often as they used to, but that makes the times when we do get out even more precious. Family Movie Night and Family Game Night may no longer be part of our weekly routine, but we jump on the chance to have one when the stars align.

We cherish the time our family takes to reconnect and to play together. It is not always easy to make it, but when we do, it seems to slow down the passage of time. And it takes me back to when I had my little baby asleep on my chest: Divine. Glorious. Perfect.

Perfect indeed. Thank you Mark!
p.s. You can read other guest posts right here!

3 Responses to "The importance of Family Time (a guest post)"

1 | KristaR

March 19th, 2015 at 11:39 am


Beautiful post Mark. My husband and I were reminiscing just the other day about those glorious and delicious hours we spent with babies sound asleep on our chests. You don’t realize how quickly time passes until you have kids.

2 | coffee with julie

March 21st, 2015 at 6:53 pm


Oh, I think back to having a baby lying on my chest sleeping often. It really is divine, like you said. Thank you for this post. I loved it.

3 | Katie

March 24th, 2015 at 8:01 am


Lovely post, lovely topic. Rings true. Thanks for the reminder.

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Have a great summer at Saunders Farm!

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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