As parents ourselves, we’re pretty sure you remember the day you brought your first child home from the hospital. Walking through the door with your child was a thrill, but it was also an uneasy time. You probably felt exhausted. It’s hard to sleep in a hospital bed, and even harder when you’re trying to make do with a stiff recliner. As you made your way to your room and fell onto your own comfortable bed, it hit you—there were no buttons to call the nurse anywhere in your home. You were on your own!
There is a reason insurance companies refer to childbirth as a life-altering experience. From this time forward, you would live with that almost-rested-enough-but-not-quite ache in your chest, and eyelids that were just a little heaver than you’d like them to be.
Parenthood, like any other art, can never be fully mastered. Children don’t come with instruction manuals. And every day your child changes just enough to keep you on your toes. No matter how old they get, that will never change. As common as the expression may be, parents are never a step ahead of their children. At best, we’re a half-step behind them, reading their actions, guiding, coaching, and cheering them on—all the while trying not to be helicopter parents.
As a father, you love your children and do your best to show it—but sometimes that takes a little planning. Fathers usually spend more of their waking hours at work than they do at home with their families. You long for that elusive work/life balance everyone talks about.
In an earlier blog, we suggested that you look at balance a little differently. Rather than comparing it to a scale that is in perfect balance, we suggested you consider the magicians and jugglers who spin plates on poles. They’ll get one spinning well and move to the next, then to another and another. Once they’re all spinning, they run from plate to plate giving each one a spin when necessary.
We suggest that you try the same approach. Not every plate you juggle will be spinning at the same speed. At times some plates may be barely moving at all, but as long as you can spin it before it falls, you’re doing well. And if a plate does fall, simply pick it up and get it started again as soon as you’re able.
We call these plates ‘roles’. Each father plays several roles each day: Husband, Dad, Son, Brother, Uncle, Grandpa, Employee, Neighbor, Friend, Teacher, and Cheerleader—to name only a few. Managing these roles takes some effort, and the Weekly Compass Card can be a great help.
Keep a Compass Card in your Pouch Pagefinder as you plan each week. The Compass Card has space for you to write the roles you’ll focus on during the week, and a line for you to write your most important task (or big rock) associated with each role. Focus on one goal per role to ensure you have time to get them done. Don’t try to spin more plates than necessary. Sometimes you’ll need to allow things to fall out of your lives for a while so you can focus on the most meaningful. Keep those spinning, and you’ll be all right.
One way to strengthen your role as fathers and your relationships with your children is through thoughtful communication. Of course, this means planning time with your children, but it can also include creative notes, letters, and cards. As you fill out your Weekly Compass Card and make your daily plans, focus on creative ways that you can communicate your love for your children. They’ll remember your efforts, despite your occasional mistakes, and be grateful for it. Good luck, Dad.
Happy Father’s Day!