Recently, I was returning home after wrapping my first day of filming on a new StarHub television programme called Super Daddy.
Parents know that each and every moment with your child is precious ― and fleeting.
This is not a significant realisation, I know, to see on paper.
It is something that happens inside each parent when they are struck by the reality of time passing.
As they grow, however, it is a challenge to get them to want to spend time with me – which is natural, since they are growing from small children into teenagers.
If someone asked me to choose just one aspect of my life that keeps me stable, happy and fulfilled, I would answer “my children” unhesitatingly.
Watching the kindergarteners that day, and fondly recalling my kids at that age, I thought back to them in Primary school, when they were so much smaller and so much more reliant on their parents.
Then, I felt like I was their whole world.
That is especially since I do not live with my kids.
Due to the nature of my work and overseas commitments, I agreed, during the time of my divorce from their mother, to have Sage and Jonas stay with her.
As much as I would prefer to have the children staying with me, it seemed like the right solution.
If I cannot be in the same country as them, I believe it is still best to have them be with their mother as opposed to a nanny or domestic helper primarily watching over them.
Lately, my work has taken me overseas much more frequently ― which means that I do not get to see the kids all that much.
When I am in town, I try to see them every day, even if it is only for an hour or so. As they grow, however, it is a challenge to get them to want to spend time with me ― which is natural, since they are growing from small children into teenagers.
Do things with your kids
As I witness my children march into young adulthood, I know there is only so much I can do in the time I have with them.
In approaching our time together, I try to set intentional goals.
When I do see them, I ask myself what I intend to do with them, in the time I have with them.
And, how much time would I myself like to invest and spend with them?
Breaking down my parenting “agenda” in this way has made my life as a father more meaningful, effective, and efficient.
Yet I am at ease knowing they are doing well, because I believe I have established a solid foundation and relationship with them.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to what a parent can do to be fully present with children, to enliven the precious moments they have together.
When we spend moments together, I try to take them outside of their own interests and get them to be active with me.
Sage is an illustrator, and even runs an online “slime”-selling business with a classmate.
If left to our own devices, I recall the times when we could spend hours in the same room, but we would be busy with our own separate pursuits.
Jonas would be playing his computer games, and Sage, my little painter, would be working on new art.
There is nothing wrong with that model.
It occurred to me that both children enjoy being active and playing sports. But unless they are in a group environment with their friends and schoolmates, the likelihood of them choosing to go outside and exercise and train are slim to none ― unless I am there to remind and encourage them.
Because I know my children would prefer to stay indoors, I thus make an extra effort to get them outdoors to be active when we are together. While they might not be too enthusiastic about participating initially, they are usually quite receptive after warming up a bit (literally).
In planning what we are doing ahead of time, this means loads of activities are on my mind.
It could be taking them to the track to go running, or learning to ride a bicycle.
But it does have to be so “outdoorsy” all the time ― if I was feeling ambitious, activities could include me asking my kids to work on their public-speaking skills by devising a short speech on a subject of their choice, or reading a book together.
I am lucky in that for the most part, my kids are game. Maybe it will change when they are older, but this works for now.
That day in that kindergarten, I could not help but smile, think of my own kids, and remind myself what a privilege it is to be with them.
This story written, I am on to the next order of business – planning my next active outing with my not-so-little ones.
Allan Wu is an actor and best known as the host of The Amazing Race Asia. While his work constantly takes him around the world, his favourite job is being father to his two children.
This story first appeared on TODAYONLINE.
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