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Fathers Need to Keep Dreaming Alive

Fathers Need to Keep Dreaming Alive

We all have dreams. We dream of happiness, achievement, and fulfillment. We dream to connect deeply with others. The opportunity to achieve these is what fuels us and makes us human.

I learned something from my parents about how to dream. In the early 1980’s while in the throws of raising a family with three children, they dreamed about spending more time boating. They loved the playfulness and joy that came out as a family when we were on the water.

So while they were working two full-time jobs and raising kids, they managed to find land, design a house, save the money, and build a lake house. This was a dream of theirs and they saw it to completion when their children were all under the age of 10, which was probably the busiest decade of their lives.

That dream of theirs keeps on giving to me and my family to this day. Now my parents are grandparents and take joy in my family and my siblings families use and appreciating their lake house.

My boys love it. They love grandpa’s boat, swimming in the lake to keep cool, and taking naps on the porch. To be fair, everyone likes taking naps on the porch.

Dreaming should not end when we become parents. Or be put on hold and then start up again after our children grow up and move out of the house. They should be reinvigorated with a new motivation and passion. They should be visited during routine self-evaluations and stoked by regular action. They should be fueled by a new source of joy, our children.

Since becoming a father I have been revisiting my personal dreams very often. And my dreams have changed. What I value has changed. Money and stuff isn’t as important now. Time and experience with those I love is.

I have found that I dream best when I’m walking by myself. Whether it is on a hike in the woods or just a quick stroll around the neighborhood at dusk, there is something about solitude in the outdoors that triggers my imagination and wonder. With distractions minimized, the majesty of the world around me provides the energy and I allow myself to let go.

I dream of more time with my family.  I dream of simplicity in my routine and less distractions from material things. I dream of developing a few, very deep relationships with good men. I dream of growing skills for my career so I can provide more for others. I dream more of financial independence. I dream of having a six pack and being able to dunk a basketball again. I dream of long, health marriage with my best friend.

And I’ve been called to action in support of these newly invigorated dreams.  I try new methods, routines, or diet strategies. I wake up earlier, go to bed earlier, workout more, eat healthier, and write more. I play with my kids, write less emails, and automate the mundane.

I’ve also gotten ruthless at elimination. I’ve eliminated much of the time I used to waste on mindless web-surfing or watching brainless TV shows.  My web-surfing is usually focused with a purpose of something I’m trying to learn about.

I am more selective on what I read. I started this blog and built it from scratch without knowing anything about websites. I’ve become very picky on how I spend my time at work and at home. I’ve learned to say no more.

We as fathers also influence our children’s ability to dream. They learn from us leading by example when we allow ourselves to dream and go chase them. Their dreams will be different from ours and that is OK. Our encouragement for them to dream while they are young will be critical in their willingness to do it later on in life.

As a father, I am trying to focus my time, energy, and resources to dream big and go chase them. And I want my children to have no unreasonable fears that prohibits them from dreaming or chasing those dreams. Our humanity is built on hope that our dreams may come true, so we as fathers need to do what we can to foster that hope.

Fatherhood Needs Self-Improvement to be a Top Priority

Fatherhood Needs Self-Improvement to be a Top Priority

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.

Fatherhood is a continuum and what parenting skills i have learned through my first four years are different than what will be needed as they get older.  This continual change requires me to keep it a priority to continually take care of and invest in myself.