There is a question that I meditate on just about every day. In the hours and hours that I spend away from my family, trying my best to earn a living I can’t help but wonder if there’s a way for me to be a better father. I can’t be alone in this feeling, I am sure of it.
We all spend our every waking moment in an attempt to make a comfortable life for our family, and somewhere in the meantime we have to find room to let them know how much they mean to us. And still, somewhere in there, we have to find time for ourselves. What is a parent to do?
I folks, am no answer man nor am I in the running for father of the year, but perhaps these suggestions will help you satisfy that need to improve your dad game.
1. Low tech
I beat this dead horse about every single week I think, but who doesn’t love the classics. As often as possible, try to put away your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or just about any other device you can think of. There is a time of course to incorporate technology into quality time with your children, wife, and other family or friends, but in my experience it seems that it ends up being just another distraction. In a previous post entitled Be Here, we talked about making time for those you care about despite feeling as though you didn’t want to. I keep bringing it up because it is that important.
Believe me they will remember that extra effort. One of the worst feelings I have had in recent memory was when I saw a picture my daughter drew of me with a phone in my hand. That is how she sees me, teathered to this thing, and I’m trying to change that.
2. Get up
I work about 60 hours a week, give or take. That is an exhausting schedule, and I know a lot of you out there work just as much and more. So, in that mere two to four hours that you have to get ready for work, do homework with your kids, and exercise you’re pretty much spent. What I suggest, just let some of your tasks to work for you. I like the DVD set p90x from beachbody.com. It is a relatively short exercise program, that is mildly entertaining. What’s more, my kids think its cool, and are more than happy spend 90 minutes rolling around on the ground with me.
My wife is exceptional at this practice. She and my youngest daughter share household responsibilities like a game. In the process of this “play time” my four year old has learned to fold and put away her own laundry. I think this is amazing, and she feels like she’s spending quality time with her mommy. Everybody wins.
3. Going somewhere?
I’m really trying to get better at this, like most things in my life. But there are often times that I have to leave the house once I get there at night for groceries and other goodies. A lot of the time I really want to go alone. This however, serves no purpose in the building of children without separation anxiety or abandonment issues. So, in being more present I try to take at least one kid with me every time I leave…Almost everytime I leave.
4. Pencil me in
Like most everybody in the modern world, I work on a schedule. My schedule is the master, dictating every move I make during the day. As awful as this may seem, it is necessary to keep all the different stuff we have to do straight. Remember that smart phone that we were talking about earlier? Well, pull that bad boy out and schedule in some time for yourself. I have found the only way this works is if you take it seriously. Let’s face it, there are not enough hours in the day so unless you take the time to make yourself a priority as well, not just your people, you will never do so. I know personally that it’s only a short matter of time before I become bitter about not having any me time.
If you are anything like me, you take yourself too seriously. I am so worried that I am going to fuck up my kids, alienate my wife, and fail at life that I never stop to enjoy the ride. True, I am happier now than I have been in years, but that does not mean I am not caught in the minutiae of existence in the age of information. Stop. Breathe. Repeat. Continue being. You are doing just fine.
Image courtesy of moillusions.com