Post the Industrial Revolution men have steadily become less engaged with their children, passing on less wisdom. The economic environment post Industrial revolution required somebody in the house to go to work. Men were the accepted choice given the mothers nurturing qualities , the result men became scarcer in the home.
The male of the house became the provider at this time and the home involvement was usually limited to discipline.
Now it seems men are expected to be more engaged with their children and why not? I mean, being with your kids is the fountain of youth. That said, it seems that finding time is the most difficult part. We men are expected to work longer and after a hard day in the office, be bright and cheery, worriless and funny when at home.
Our need to work harder of course is a myth, which I won’t get into here, but our need to be more engaging when we are at home is a truth. Our children do not need to carry our burden. All they want is some time. Here is 6 things some of the Fired Up Dads I speak to, do to help them be more engaged at home.
I hope they help.
1) Clear your Schedule
If you are anything like me you find it hard finding time to spend with your kids. This is exacerbated when the pressures of work build, home maintenance tasks grow and life in general swamps you with general busy-ness.
For me it is not so much finding the time, it is finding time for my brain to be in the moment.
When life’s tasks are building it is hard not to be thinking about all the things you should be doing when you should really be concentrating on that time with your kids. For me this is a huge area of anxiety which usually results in my feeling angry and stressed because I have not completed the tasks I had planned for the day. I then become a person that my kids don’t want to be around anyway. It is pointless spending time with your kids when you don’t really want to be there or your focus is elsewhere.
My advice! Clear your schedule. Even if it means you have to spend 30 more minutes completing the task so that you can be clear of the activity. Take the extra time. Not only will you be able to be in the moment with your kids, but your kids will enjoy the time you spend with them. You will be a much nicer person to be around and way more engaged.
This one I cannot recommend enough. For those of you who have been living in under a rock, a GoPro mini video camera is the ultimate tool for engaging with your kids. These little cameras can go underwater and be attached to nearly everything in existence to get some crazy mad footage.
I recently mounted mine on my 4 year olds bicycle handlebars and got some unbelievable footage of his face as he learnt to ride his bike for the first time without training wheels. Priceless stuff and a moment in time captured forever.
The good thing about these is that the editing software is free from the GoPro website and allows you to add credits, music, fades and do nearly everything they do in movies. You can also use the smartphone App for real time viewing and more.
Whilst I might sound like I am promoting the GoPro, I am. I love it! It is my favourite man toy. But the thing I like best is the time I get to spend with my kids making movies of their antics; and mine. Get one and let the bonding grow.
My friend Vanessa, a mother of two, was recently telling me about the mad house her house would turn into at the end of each day when her husband got home. The minute he walked in the door the kids would be on him and Vanessa herself (not having spoken to an adult all day) would be at him, dinner needed cooking and other tasks to be done. Vanessa told me it always ended in the same way. Her husband would get angry, yell at the kids, the kids would get upset and the rest of the night was ruined.
Vanessa said that she knew something had to change. To digress, this is my favourite mantra; you can’t continue to do the same thing and expect things to change. That is why I turned away from an executive career and into what I do now. I knew something had to change for me to be happy and for my family to have the father, husband and role model they deserve.
Back on task. The next day, when her husband came home she handed him a beer and invited him to go and watch TV in the separate TV area for 30 minutes. She requested the kids leave him alone for that time. According to the Vanessa the result was fantastic. After 30 minutes he came out of the lounge and was engaged with the kids, was happy, laughing and in the family zone. Now she works this way every night. She believes that she gets the best out of her man and that her kids get the best out of their father.
Now whilst this sounds great, it is not always achievable. Yes, us guys need to ‘download’ the occurrences and thoughts for the day before we can focus on other areas, but we cannot always do it in this manner. My suggestion, download by doing something on the way home. Stop at a park, go to the gym or listen to one of my podcasts over a iced coffee at a local café. Whatever it takes for you to ‘download’ and be able to engage with your family when you get home. When you are with your family, you need to be with your family.
A separate point: Don’t try to download at the pub. One or two ends up as three or four, your judgement becomes impaired and you end up messing things up more. Stay away from the booze and get intoxicated by the cool stuff your kids are doing.
4) Get more energy
The Fired Up Dads I speak to in my podcasts had a number of ways that they ensured they had the energy to engage with their kids. These included:
- Eating less, more often
- Exercising in the morning
- Drinking Herbal Tea
- Listening to inspirational podcasts
- Protein Powder; and
See my post on “How FiredUpDads Maintain Energy”
5) Get some me time
I listen to allot of podcasts throughout my day. My favourite is Entrepreneur on Fire (EOFire) and The Tim Ferris Show (Tim Ferris of ‘4 Hour Work Week’ fame). The mind-blowing people interviewed on both these shows are inspiring and give great tips on the things they do to maintain momentum. John Lee Dumas and Tim Ferris are absolute freaks of knowledge – I just can’t get enough of either of them.
One such entrepreneur interviewed on EOFire was Sarah Davidson, Founder of Hello Fearless, a school for female entrepreneurs. The point I liked best about her interview was Sarah’s taking of Monk Days.
Sarah’s definition of Monk Days was a day where she turned all technology off, email, phone, health tracker etc. and simply spent the day reflecting on happenings in her life and creating strategies to be even better in the future.
According to the Fired Up Dads I speak with they could all benefit from a Monk Day.
You need to be disciplined. You need to choose a day, lock it in the calendar and ensure that nothing interrupts that commitment. After hearing Sarah speak, I have committed to take a Monk Day every quarter this year. My father-in-law owns 50 acres just out of Melbourne. Reception is terrible down there anyway, so that combined with the sweet smell of nature makes it the ideal place to reflect.
Now you may not be able to grab a Monk Day in full, but at least try and get some time to yourself in whatever means possible. If you don’t have a place to go, a park is just as good and I enjoy doing my own thing in a local café. Whatever it takes to clear the head.
It will do you and your family the world of good.
If you take nothing else from this blog remember this one. Your children spell love – T.I.M.E. and whilst they may not show it (or you may not see it) when your T.I.M.E. is interrupted by a check of the e-mails, an important call or a check of your stocks, they feel it.
If you commit to spending T.I.M.E. with your children, 30 minutes, a day, whatever length of time; literally commit. There is nothing that can’t wait and the benefit of an uninterrupted session with the youngsters will score you big Dad points not just with the kids, but with the wife too.
Ahhhh…. Happy Families.