The responsibility of fatherhood is often so overwhelming that we often willingly sacrifice our own health and well-being to take care of our children. But we also need to continually invest in ourselves and it should remain a high priority.
We invest in our own health, wellness, and skills so that we can have the capacity to take care of and add value to others. We all have a deep need to grow and if we don’t feed this innate desire we become frustrated, resentful, and even depressed.
Self-improvement and fatherhood are not mutually exclusive, but sometimes you also need time away from your kids to invest in yourself. I feel that by combining self-improvement activities done in solitude with ones that can be done as a family will provide more than enough opportunities for growth.
Whether it is sleeping a bit more, reading, lifting weights, or learning a new computer skill so you can get a new job or promotion, the reality is that we need some time to ourselves and for ourselves. These tasks are in addition to the time we need for reflecting and self-evaluation. These are action based tasks.
There are many different ways to find some time to regularly invest in yourself. I discovered that after my children were born I was forced to develop new schedules and habits in order to do so. I now usually choose to go to bed earlier so that I can get up first in the house for time to myself. I often stretch, meditate, exercise, read, or write in those moments. Some days it’s only 10 minutes, other times it can be an hour or two. But I never regret the valuable quiet moments in the house to myself.
This means that I don’t work or watch TV as often in the evenings when the kids go to sleep, and guess what? Both of those have turned out to actually be good things in my life. These are areas that originally felt to be sacrificial ended up actually producing unexpected fruit.
Fortunately both of my children still nap, so on the weekends I try to carve out an hour during their naps to invest in myself. I usually workout, read, or write during this time.
In addition to early in the morning and naps there are other times I occasionally use to invest in myself but these are currently not part of my regular routine. This can be during my lunch hour during the work day, taking vacation time while my children are still in school, or even occasionally getting a babysitter.
I’ve also focused this time to myself on activities that are hard to achieve when I’m with my kids. Reflecting, reading, writing, and lifting weights are the most common of those activities. Sometimes it is mountain biking, spending time with friends, or on a date with my wife.
Self-improvement allows me to add more value to others. Investments in my health through diet, exercise, and sleep provide me with more energy, patience, and physical fitness to keep up with my increased responsibilities. Investments in knowledge, wisdom, and new technical skills provide me with more tools to solve problems at my job or in other people’s lives.