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Balancing act: Follow the rules of T-ball in work, family life

Published: Tuesday, April 12 2011 10:54 p.m. MDT

I've had the incredible opportunity the last few weeks of watching my 5-year-old son practice T-ball.

This is his first experience playing a team sport and working with a coach, and although it's been stressful trying to leave work in time to watch his practices and games, the effort has been worth it.

It's fun to watch him as he learns to throw, catch, hit and run the bases. When he received his official team cap and shirt, he was literally bouncing up and down with excitement.

I can't remember the last time I saw such a display of pure energy and joy. And it's infectious. You won't find a parent watching practice who doesn't have a huge smile on his or her face.

I've also been impressed by the patience of the coach, who is working with little boys who mostly haven't played baseball before. In particular, I liked the two rules he established at their initial practice: First, have fun. Second, always watch the ball.

These rules serve a practical purpose for a T-ball team. If the kids are not having fun at that age, there's something very wrong. And if they're not watching the ball, whether they're up to bat, in the field or running the bases, they're likely to get hit by it. (The distraction level is pretty high with this group. When my boy was on first base at a recent practice, he spent most of his time spinning around in circles.)

But beyond the T-ball field, I think these rules apply to all of us, at work and at home.

The first rule, again, is to have fun. When was the last time you had fun at work?

For me, there are fun moments every day, usually when I'm talking with colleagues about the news of the day. I've worked with many of these people for years, and they've become friends as well as coworkers.

It's also fun to be a part of a huge, breaking news story. There's nothing quite like the buzz and energy in a newsroom when something big is happening. It's exhausting and exhilarating all at once.

As for life at home, some of my family's best "fun" moments come when we're all gathered around the dinner table, talking about our day at home, work or school. We also have fun when we're playing simple games, or when we're snuggled up together on the couch for "family movie night."

I've found that fun, at work or at home, doesn't have to cost money and doesn't have to be complicated. It usually depends on enjoying the company of the people with whom you're spending your time. Neither work nor family life is always going to be fun, but if it isn't enjoyable at least some of the time, I would argue that there's something very wrong.

Which brings us to rule two: Always watch the ball.

At work, this can be challenging. We live in a fast-paced world, full of change and moving targets. Keeping the "ball" of personal and corporate goals in sight is tough. It requires hard work, concentration and constant self-improvement.

If we don't keep our eye on the ball at work — if we're just spinning around on first base — we're likely to find ourselves left behind or, even worse, hit with the equivalent of a baseball to the noggin.

But we've got to watch the ball at home, too. That means we need to be there for our spouse and children. We've got to spend quality and quantity time with them. We need to be engaged and interested in what they're doing. We need to put down those iPhones and BlackBerrys and really be home when we're at home. (That's me talking to me.)

If we don't keep our eye on the ball at home, we may lose touch with our spouse and children and find that they no longer try to involve us in their daily activities. And that would feel much worse, I think, than a baseball to the gut.

What do you think about this? How do you have fun at home and at work? What steps do you take to make sure you're always watching the ball? I'd like to hear your input.

Meanwhile, you'll find me at the T-ball field once or twice a week, as I try to live by these rules myself. I'll be the guy who's laughing along with his son as the little guy spins and jumps from base to base.

Email your comments to gkratz@desnews.com or post them online at deseretnews.com. Follow me on Twitter at gkratzdesnews.

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