If you look six months ahead in your calendar, most likely you’ll see white space.   Nothing booked – just a lot of free time.

Now look at this coming week…if your week is like mine, there isn’t much white space.  Between work, meetings, sports and a few social gatherings, there’s not much free time at all.

What defines us as a family is a combination of the white space and all the filled up space.  It’s how we relate in the moment, and how we make moments that stand out from the rest that define us.

It’s tempting to think you can make up for it all with an awesome vacation, but you can’t.

The picture above is from a trip my youngest son Sam and I took to Vancouver last fall.  We’re at Whistler, not skiing, but downhill biking.  You actually take your bikes up the ski lift and bike down the mountain on some amazing trails.  (Yes, we are in full body armour.)  It was crazy – and fun. But mountain biking once a year isn’t enough.  Nor is a week at the beach.

It’s not just quality time, it’s the quantity of quality time that matters.  It’s tempting for me as a parent to think that the high moments – the great experiences – will define us.  And they do to an extent, but the balance of our time with our kids is not spent on great trips.  It’s in the grind of life.

So this is true:  it’s a constant battle, but if I keep enough white space in my calendar each week (a day off, some unstructured time in the evenings), I am a better dad.  I am also a better husband.  I’m more patient, more kind, even more fun to be around.

How about you?  Do you get impacted by the amount of white space in your life?  What are some ways you’ve learned to keep things in better balance?