At four p.m., my workday ends , at least until late at night.  Four p.m. is when I leave the house to pick up my daughters, nearly 6 and 9 from the bus stop around the corner.  I walk them home and we talk about their day.  The older one generally blurts out a million events a mile a minute while the younger one needs a little more prodding.  Some days they’re grouchy or tired and don’t say much; some days they’re angry that I didn’t bring the car or cook the dinner that they wanted.

I have my own practice so that four pm is mine.  Sure, there are days every so often when I’m delayed downtown or have a lengthy deposition where my husband or mom have to step in for pick up instead.  But in general, the four p.m. deadline is etched in stone, it’s one of those aspects of my practice (probably the only one!) that I’m committed to not compromising. And because I’m committed, I’ve been able to make it happen.

Four p.m. until 8:30 when my daughters go to bed is a fairly long
time, long
enough for them to get bored if they don’t have an after school lesson
that day or for me to get tired shuttling them around if they do.  Long
enough that much of our time
together is quantity time rather than quality time with all kinds of creative activities programmed in.   Long enough to sometimes even make me wonder
whether at their age, I even need to be home for them at all.   But
then I remember that the reason that 4 pm is so important isn’t because
my girls need me every day, because they don’t.  Rather, it’s for that
one day every so often that they might want to confide about a bully or
a friend who was mean or a teacher who was unfair and if I’m not there
on standby everyday, I’ll miss out when they need me most.

Do you have your own four pm in your life, an uncompromisable
commitment that you abide no matter the cost?  And if you don’t, why
not?