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Ode to the Tired Dad

Fatherhood is a wonderful thing. There may be no better way to learn who you are than to spend time working with children. Children can bring out our strengths as well as our weaknesses. There never has been a father who felt like he always did it right—it’s just the opposite, in fact. According to the Pew Research Center*, roughly 48% of fathers feel like they aren’t doing enough.

There’s a lot to do. Dads teach their children how to respect each other, how to treat mom, and how to behave in public. Whenever possible, dads take time to encourage their children. Fathers work to discover their children’s strengths and help develop them. They take note of their children’s interests, and take interest in their passions. There is so much negativity in the world—so much comparison—that kids know all too well where they struggle. They need to hear that they’re good at something. Dads are great at that, or can be with effort and focus.

Parenthood certainly takes focused effort. There’s nothing easy about it. But the things we appreciate most are those things that we work the hardest to accomplish. Tough challenges bring the best rewards.

Parents are busy. You’re pulled in so many directions throughout the day that it can be hard to meet every expectation every time. Fathers usually spend more of their waking hours at work than they do at home with their families. Every dad feels that tug. When you’re away you want to be home. Yet each morning you feel the pull of responsibility driving you forward and out the door. You long for that elusive work/life balance everyone talks about.

Balance in any aspect of life is a challenge. Instead, consider the magicians, jugglers, and acrobats 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.

As you work to keep your busy lives moving, you may want to consider doing the same. 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 what if a plate falls? You 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. As you plan each week, keep a Compass Card in your Pouch Pagefinder. 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.

Keeping these roles and activities in front of you daily will help you keep the most important things in your life moving. Be careful to keep your focus. Don’t try to spin more plates than necessary. Take time to decide which roles and activities matter most at any given time. Sometimes you’ll need to allow things to fall out of your lives for a while so you can focus on the most meaningful.

According to the Pew Research Center, Dad, there’s a good chance you wish you were more than you are. We suggest you take a minute today and list the things and people you love in your planner. Make your list as long and as exhaustive as possible. Then place a star next to the things that you’d give up the rest to keep. As you do this, you’ll find that several of the tasks nagging at you truly can wait. You’ll understand fairly quickly which plates need the most attention. Keep those spinning, and you’ll be all right.

Happy Father’s Day!




3 Replies to “Ode to the Tired Dad”

  1. Admiring the effort and time you put into your site and in depth information you present. It’s good to find a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old spun information. Fantastic article! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  2. Great article. As a father to two young children (3&2), I can relate to a lot of what you spoke of. Especially juggling multiple roles and work/life balance. I am currently building a leadership development and personal enrichment coaching business while I work full time in the Alberta oil and gas industry as a Power Engineer. I am somewhere in the midst of 200-210 hours per month at the fulltime job and putting in approx 1-4 hours a day towards my coaching biz. My goal is to get out of corporate and become a fulltime entrepreneur so I can be home for my children as much as possible and design my work schedule around my priorities. Keeping focus (on the right things) has been a challenge and I really had to dial in and drop a number of small projects lately which has brought a huge shift in productivity and positive well being. Once I recognized all the \”spinning plates\” were spinning at different speeds I realized its ok and all I can do is my best everyday and I will eventually get to where I want with my business.

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