Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Even Dads Need to Defrag

I'm a life coach. No, no, don't close the window, hear me out!!

A Dad I was coaching (you don’t know him, folks, he’s never commented on this blog, stop guessing!), once lamented about the complete lack of time in his life to think, plan, pray. He lacked ”time away from the noise” as he put it.
Now this man deeply loved his wife and four kids, he loved his work. But he was the kind of guy (I think most of us are) who needed regular space just to clear his head, get some focus, think and even not have to think!

His wife and youngest child had health problems. His job meant 9 hours straight of interacting with people at way beyond the surface level, always giving out. He lived only a few minutes away from home and the trip home was nowhere near enough time to “change hats” from Worker to Dad.

Fellas, if you’re lucky enough to be living with your family (ie., not divorced or separated), and regardless of whether your wife is working or at home, whether you are a SAHD or a “working” Dad like my friend above (as if stay-at-home parents don’t work!), you need that time out that my friend was missing. (So does your wife, by the way).

I suspect this is why many men make the detour to the pub or bar on the way home, or actually stay back in the office when everyone else has left, just to have some peace and quiet where they don’t have to listen carefully, respond, mediate, etc etc. Unfortunately neither of these solutions is really meeting the need. You need time to relax and refresh, to let go of one role before taking on the next, a way to chill out…

Now don’t give me that crap about being too busy. If your wife said she’d been too busy to take the car in for its scheduled service 18 months ago, you’d go postal on her, so be consistent here dude…
Here’s some thoughts on the how and the what:
  1. My coaching client above decided at first on ten-minute walks around the carpark at work during the day. He did this because his wife wan’t yet in a place to accept him taking a 30 minute detour anywhere on his way home at night. His workplace understood: most of them just thought he was exercising, while his mangers knew what he was up to and that he would come back into the office with a clearer mind.
  2. A bunch of coaching buddies and I have a monthly practise, some of them call it a Refocus Day, I call it a Defrag Day. Some of them hike. I mix it up between a favourite sheltered cove/beach nearby and coffee shops, where I can just stare at the water, think, drink good coffee, read, plan, etc. Again, my coaching client above revived his own practises of halfdays away praying in the forest at a favourite spot by a stream.
  3. One of my friends’ Dads had a great routine each night. He would come home, kiss his wife, say hi to the kids and then retreat to the lounge room with a paper (or occasionally with nothing) and just sit for 20   minutes. In that time, his wife enforced the rule that no one was to disturb him. And when he came back into the family space 20 minutes later, he was fully present with them.
  4. This will take talking through with your partner, so get ready to sell it, to be vulnerable, to not be immediately understood. These go with the territory. But this is worth calmly persisting with…
  5. Like most things to do with your inner world, you’re only going to get suggestions from me rather than a formula. You gotta try some things out, talk some things out, find your own solution here. The important thing is defrag your head and your life regularly and both will run better.
If you want to read a little more about this, try these posts:

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