There is an opportunity to be ‘Dad’. Is it selfish to choose instead to read, blog, exercise?
A personal tension I feel is between being a present Dad at all opportunities versus sometimes choosing to do other things with my time.
On the one end of the scale, I could spend every spare second with my Son, playing and helping out, living entirely in the here and now. At the other, I could spend some of that time doing other things. Now the assumption here is that these other things have some future benefit to me and indirectly the family. We’re not suggesting that this time would be routinely spent in the pub or playing endless sport.
I’m talking more about spending this time doing things like making myself better at my job, writing this blog (as I write this my Wife and Son are reading books upstairs), taking some exercise, reading a book about something I don’t know about but which might help me in my life. All of these things are at some level challenging and therefore improving me.
I wonder are there certain rules which should simply never be broken?… Such as not blogging if that means missing book time?!
There’s an element of delaying gratification right now in order that one becomes a better version of oneself, in all forms, better able to serve those who rely on us later down the line.
Being naturally introverted, I know that if I don’t have some solitude every day, even if only half an hour or so, I become lethargic and distracted when I am with family, my mind eventually wandering towards things that need* to be done, or so I convince myself.
So what’s the solution. It’s individual, but I do have some developing thoughts.
Flexibility, balance and communication are key.
Communicating where we are in terms of energy levels at the given moment. Demonstrable balance, proving we are prepared to give and take as life ebbs and flows. And flexibility to adapt our use of our time to suit the needs of those around us.
And to be able to communicate our energy levels we first need to have the self-awareness to realise what they are. Mindfulness will help with this. As will discussing it openly at home and elsewhere, especially with other Parents, both male and female perspectives will help. We then need the skills to be able to express our current state in such a way that partners and children understand and feel valued as part of the process.
To have these skills of communication and self-awareness and to be aware of the need to be flexible, we need to take time to develop ourselves, and that takes space.
But no-one is saying it’s easy, it’s really not. Or that I’ve got it right, I really haven’t. It’s messy and disorganised and sometimes it goes wrong. But by being up front about our needs, we can grow towards a dynamic balance which works for everyone.
Let’s stay in touch…