Recently, I was talking to a guy I know who is a young father. He and his wife have four kids ranging from four to nine years old. All of his kids participate in some activity or another. As I listened to him talk about his family’s schedule for just that week, I got tired trying to keep everything straight. But not him! He was enthusiastic and positive about it all. He wasn’t complaining about the hours he spends driving to and from practices and games and then staying to watch them. I was impressed by his enthusiasm. I tried to remember if I was positive like him when my kids were little. I hope I was, but I remember many times feeling very worn out from all the craziness.
Between all of the activities, he figures he and his wife spend more than 20 hours a week involved in their kids’ activities and then some time together as a family. That doesn’t include school and the activities there. Yet, despite it all, he seemed genuinely excited about his role as a dad.
When I asked him what was most challenging about this season in his life, he said, “Eating dinner as a family, consistently attending church, caring for my marriage, and understanding the difference between enjoying life and rushing through life. Also putting realistic expectations on my children. I sometimes treat the younger ones the same as the older kids.”
When I asked him about the more positive areas, he said more brightly, “Spending quality time with my kids, especially when there is just one child in the car. It’s a great opportunity to listen and share teachable moments that will really impact their life.”
When I asked him how he cares for his marriage in the midst of all of it, his eyes got a little watery, and I knew I had touched on a sensitive area. I sensed that I spoke into a part of his life that is probably lacking, like it is for many dads at this stage of life. But once he realized he’d been slipping, he implemented a few simple behaviors that have helped his relationship and that are setting a good example of a husband for his children.
He started by hugging his wife every morning before he leaves for work. He removed some apps from his phone that he knows have been a distraction so he can focus when he and his wife talk. He also attempts to go to bed at the same time as his wife instead of staying up and watching another show or playing a game on his phone.
I’m sure there are many men reading this today that can relate to this dad. He’s not only physically managing a lot of tasks, but there’s a lot he’s processing mentally. In addition to everything else, he runs his own business. He feels the weight of being the financial provider for the family as well as an emotional support for his wife and children, and he wants to do it all really well.
If you’re in a similar spot, I want you to know you’re not alone—juggling all of these things is tiring! Don’t beat yourself up when you fall short, but don’t use busyness or tiredness as an excuse. Work to improve where you can without beating yourself up when you fall short.