TIME WELL WASTED: How a Summer Ear Worm Led to Some Much Needed Family Time

Ahh, summer! At long last, it’s finally here! The smell of barbecue, the trips to the ballpark, and of course, the classic summer songs. From “Summertime Blues” to “The Summer Wind”, there is no shortage of seasonal favorites coming out of my speakers these days. But thanks to a recent afternoon with my children, I’ll soon be adding a lesser-known tune to my summer playlist.


Last Sunday, I was enjoying lunch with my two eldest children, Caleb (12), and Ava (8). We were on break from work, and the plan was to finish our molotes, and head back to the school to do some cleaning—our typical Sunday routine. But, during our meal, Ava made it clear that she wanted to spend some more time together. Time, apparently, that didn’t involve cleaning carpets.

At first, I politely explained to her, “Daddy has responsibilities. And among those are, to keep our school clean. And in order to do that, I am going to need your help.” Evidently, I wasn’t convincing enough. With crossed arms and a pouty face, Ava explained to me that she wanted to go to the pool instead. And with that, we traded squinty looks and continued our meals. It appeared we’d reached a standoff.

As I was contemplating my next move, I slowly became distracted by the tune playing in my head. It was the title track to Brad Paisley’s 2005 album, Time Well Wasted. In the song, Paisley recounts an afternoon spent fishing with his father rather than completing items on his to do list.

“I could’ve been workin’ overtime/Or at home tryin’ to make
that truck run right
Instead of wadin' out in that stream/All day long barely
catchin’ a thing, just me and Dad
I’m glad he talked me into that/ It was time well wasted”

Just then I looked over at Ava, whose grimace was only interrupted by sporadic bites of her chipotle chicken empanada. I knew, in the next few moments, I had the ability to make, or break her day. I was faced with a choice: to get my to-do list done, or to enjoy the day at the pool with my family. 9 times out of 10, I chose the to-do list. But this day was different.

For some reason, that dang song was stuck in my head. It looped over and over, as if it were trying to tell me something. By the time we’d finished our meal, the lyrics had depleted any remaining willpower I had to return to work. It was official—we were going to the pool! We paid our tab, jumped in the car, and drove home to grab our swimsuits.

After a brief commute, we arrived to the pool, and unloaded our cache of floaties, goggles, and pool noodles. The girls ran, jumped into the pool, and proceeded to have a great time. I sat back in the chair and enjoyed a couple deep breaths of slightly chlorinated air. Once again, the chorus to Paisley’s song began running through my head and I found myself humming along under my breath. Suddenly, my daydream was interrupted.

“Dad, dad, watch me,” Ava shouted from across the pool.

“No, watch me, Dad,” countered Lydia, one of my other

Before I knew it, there was a full-blown underwater handstand contest underway and I was the appointed judge. I spent the next 20 minutes assessing performances, giving out scores, and gently padding egos so as to keep the peace. When all was said and done, the contest predictably ended in a tie, and both girls swam off to continue their aquatic adventure.

As we made our way home from the pool, a mere 3 minute walk, I held Ava’s hand and noticed the sparkle in her eye. In that moment, I realized there wasn’t a completed to-do list in the world that could have replaced the experience I just shared with my daughters. I’d traded productivity for fatherhood, and I came out ahead! Though routines are necessary to help us remain productive, we cannot forget to make time for the moments that matter most.

When I arrived to work on Monday morning, I noticed the carpet was not quite as clean as usual. The chairs still needed to be wiped down, and the garbages needed to be changed. As a grabbed a set of fresh can liners, I reflected back on the previous day, and once again the song started up in my head.

“It was time well wasted/And there’s no way I’d trade a few more things that I could’ve crossed off my list/For a day that I’ll never forget”

Somehow, that Monday morning seemed to go just a little bit better than most.

Here’s to a summer of swimming, songs, and time well wasted.


–Eric Nehring