Parenting 101 should be a required class before you can take a baby home form the hospital. It’s certainly not a course offered at any school I’ve ever attended. Thankfully the initial months are fairly simple; keep the kid alive, fed, clean, well-rested and out of harm’s way. But the role gets more complicated as time goes on. Honestly it sometimes feels like a never ending job. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a job I love and wouldn’t trade it for anything.
But as your bundle of joy grows, so do your parental responsibilities. Oddly enough, the duties grow exponentially with the number of kids you have. Here’s a small subset of jobs.
- Financial Advisor
As you can see, keeping them alive in those sleep-deprived early months was just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s not forget about the other hats we wear outside of parenting. Hobbies tend to take a backseat. Time for friends dwindles to zero, especially with those childless friends. And remember that special person you decided to embark on this journey with, your spouse, how’s that relationship?
Sprinkle in a chronic health issue, financial hardship, geo-political situation, or you know, “normal life”. How the heck are we suppose to keep our heads above water?!
I hope you’re not still reading with the expectation of a silver bullet answer. If anyone has that please do let us know in the comments. However I can offer my experiences as a dad of 3, currently 4, 8 & 11 years old. I may be kidding myself, but I think I’ve leavened to handle it better as time goes on. Truth be told, the only direction I could go was up.
First and foremost, you need to take care of yourself. If your not healthy and grounded you are doing your family an injustice. For me that’s seeing a therapist, even 3 years in I’m still reluctant but I know it helps. In conjunction with that, meds for anxiety and/or depression might be required, and there’s nothing wrong with that. My anxiety and depression went undiagnosed and untreated until I was 33. Check out Psychology Today to get started.
Secondly, plan out your week as much as possible. We use a giant whiteboard in the kitchen. Map out all the week’s activities, such as dr appointments, extra curricular activities, and be sure to pencil in family time like movie night or outings. I find this helps illustrate how much fun stuff you do, or should do! Incorporate your hobbies, include family if at all possible. Schedule big events and build up the excitement. Could be a family trip to a beach resort, tickets to a game, or just a night out at a favorite restaurant.
Tip: I love soccer, playing, watching, talking about soccer. My kids are on the fence. So I decided to coach. It’s great for bonding when I coach them. Fun for me because I can play before or after practice as time permits. Win-win!!
Lastly, don’t fall prey to the grind. Life is short so don’t forget to enjoy it with those around you. So often we just get into a routine, wake up, have breakfast, go to school/work, get home, have dinner, watch some tv, go to bed, rinse repeat. Celebrate the milestones. Consistently stop and ask yourself, did I make the most of today? If not, do better tomorrow.
This is what’s working for me at the moment. I’m sure it will change. Please share what you use to keep your priorities straight.