Being a great dad isn’t bringing in the big dollars, it’s bonding with your kids – and learning from each other. That’s been my experience.
As I write this article my 4yo and 2yo sons are trashing the lounge room. It’s barely enough space for our family of four, so I have to let them. Each night we do the ‘clean the house’ lesson.
Most of us, including me, have habits that sometimes get in the way of the way we treat our children. When we don’t remove or edit these habits, being a Father stays elusive – even though you may not realise it.
Over the last four years of being a Dad I have discovered these habits have sometimes held me back. Maybe you will find yourself among them.
Remember, this is just an opinion, maybe you think otherwise. If you do, please leave a comment either below or Twitter!
1. Trying to Sleep In
Anyone who has kids knows sleeping past 7.00am is near impossible. In some households children arise from their slumber around 5.30am.
I use to think that 7.00am is far too early to be getting out of bed – but I have since discovered it is a blessing. When I moved my office back into the house (and dismantled my man-cave), I discovered playing with my children was more fun! Whilst they played around my feet, I found new topics for blogging quicker and with more humor. Both boys now supply enough for their own blog!
Yet I understand that not everyone enjoys mornings. Morning people are full of zippidydoodaa, which can be really annoying for those that just want a few extra milliseconds of REM sleep. I understand that, I remember those times. But I found a new way to get extra sleep – and it costs nothing.
If you have children under three years old, they are probably having midday sleeps. This is a great time to get 30-60 minutes of sleep. Whilst many believe you should be cleaning, vacuuming or picking up toys – what’s the point if the kids are only going to trash it again when they wake up? Okay, I don’t follow that logic. I am a cleaner. I tidy. I pick up toys. It is worth it for piece of mind. But when I need a few moments sleep, I use time where I don’t need to interact with our boys.
Great dads are known for waking up early with their children, sometimes before their kids, so they can start writing articles, editing photographs, responding to emails, and finding paid work to pay for more toys – all without sacrificing either their sanity or family-time!
2. Unhealthy Mind, Unhealthy Child
When our attitude sucks, our kid’s attitude will too. Ever notice that when you don’t feel like doing anything, nor do your kids? Keep smiling, keep going, and do more than you can – and your kids will copy you. Well, not all the time. But they will want to be more like their father.
My four-year-old son spends a lot of time trying either to be like his mother or myself. It is rarely not funny – because he is so cute.
3. Not Reading
Great dads invest time and effort to ensure their kid’s imagination are fed with either fictional or real knowledge, keeping up with the Aliens in Underpants series, plus learning from inspirational stories
Smart dads invest effort and time appropriately, expanding their child’s knowledge of the world around them.
As JK Rowling said “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” The books we choose our kids to read helps them see so many perspectives, opens their minds to so many new ideas, and allows our imagination to see things that may never be – and that is important. Innovation is not only born from necessity, but from kids who can imagine it.
4. Relying on One Toy
When your child is restricted to only one brand or toy-type, they are less likely to learn how to put square pegs into round holes. When multiple options are at their disposal, kids are more likely to play games never invented, talk (if only in their minds) through the possibilities, and then act on them. Don’t give kids restrictions that stop their learning and imagination.
5. Spending Carelessly
Ninty-five percent of the toys you buy for kids were used for five minutes. I don’t need to ask anyone or research this one: Most parents will know this to be a truth. Consequently, special celebrations are wasted, and your children never know what surprise really means.
Stop buying stuff every day, especially when used to bribe kids to get into the car to go food shopping. Make the food the reward – and I don’t mean sweets! Kids who recgonise the taste of vegetables and fruit will learn faster and stay smarter.
Not saving will put you and your kids into long-term poverty – with no easy way to escape the cycle!
6. Watching too much Television
Whilst TV has its place in the home, making it the centre of attention is dangerous. Again without research, but based purely on observation – kid’s minds seem to stagnate and absorb very little information when seated in front of the television for long periods.
That said, if your children are going to spend any amount of time in front of the TV, make sure it is educational. In Australia, ABCKids is our preference. From Tree Fu Tom to Peter Rabbit, almost every nightly program before bed teaches the kids some morals and scruples, and helps to reinforce what parents teach during the day.
As a parent though, television is an escape from the hassles of the day. So I focus on documentaries and epic movies so I get some brain stimulation.
7. Staying in your Comfort Zone
As a Dad myself, I totally get it. Some nights we just want to chillax into the lounge, flick on the idiot box, and veg out for the night. But a life spent sitting is a life without success.
Unless you are a work-at-home dad – but walking occasionally helps the mind to stay active. It’s a habit that has worked well for every father since the beginning of time!
So take your kids for walks in the park or the yard, and introduce them to everything that interests them. They will become better people for the experience and knowledge.
8. Not saying “I Don’t Know”.
Your kids don’t know everything, despite what they tell you. And nor do you. Keep asking your kids questions – it will enlighten both of you. Your kids somehow expand their vocabulary, and you learn what they do and don’t know. When both a child and their father knows when to say “I don’t know” is good for everyone.