by Andrew Bradley – Cape Town based CEO of Old Mutual Wealth & father of 4
I find that the best way to manage things as stress-free as possible is to create a simple structure and framework. Week time is very challenging. I try to be at home by 7pm for family dinner and mostly manage to do so, unless there’s a function. We all try to be there, but sometimes it’s not possible due to lectures or travel. I try as much as possible to keep weekends free for the family. I then usually spend some one-on-one time with one child while Debbie, my wife, is with the others, and then we also spend half a day all together. Sunday evening is family dinner time. This is non-negotiable. If one child is away due to an event such as a sports competition, then we meet on Facetime. This is how we stay connected at 7pm dinner time.
Another way to keep things simple is to set-up time slots and a choice of default destinations for time away from home. The trick is to create it in such a way that the children want to go back each time. Our special places to go to are the farm and Plettenberg Bay for our beach holidays. My children for example, love to have the big celebrations on the farm. Debbie created that base to build on, and the deal when we go to the farm or to the beach on holiday is: one part family time, the other part friends, not just friends. We love to spend family time on the farm where we enjoy walking, target shooting with an air rifle, cycling, just chilling, or checking out the cows and the game. One of our kids loves exploring with his dog and planting trees. Or, we do quadrathlons in the shed: table tennis, darts, pool table, and shooting basket ball hoops. We have huge competitions amongst ourselves for all 4 events. When we are on a beach holiday, we usually have ‘come dine with me’ cook offs each evening – it spreads the load, but most importantly all these activities create a fantastic environment to engage. The camaraderie and banter can get quite intense. But all these are huge life lessons. And then, every 2-3 years we try and go on an overseas holiday. Last time we went skiing – another great experience for engagement.
Not everyone in the family enjoys doing the same things, so how does one handle this? The 6 of us each get a turn to decide what to do for our time together on the weekends, like going to the beach or walking on the mountain. We ‘operate’ on a 6-week cycle: when 1 chooses, all the others follow, even if they dont like it. If one child is away, the whole family follows if that’s what she/he wants when it’s her/his turn, and if it’s possible.
As for myself, I go cycling or running in the early morning. That’s my ‘me-time’. I do need to have that time just for myself to keep things in perspective…”