Prior to becoming a father, I had time to sleep in, go out when I wanted (even afford to do so), go visit friends, run at anytime of day, and a host of other activities at my convenience. What’s changed? My family takes precedence over my wants. I want you to realize I said wants there instead of needs. The question then becomes, what are a father’s needs?
Those are a few of the basics. There are certain things I cannot forego in order to be a more effective father. I need to eat, and healthy for that matter. A father needs energy to keep up with his kids. I need sleep (the amount of sleep is going to differ by each person, for me, it is about 7-8 hours of sleep to feel energized). The topic of sleep is definitely one for another post. Shelter is an obvious need. Finally, fitness…for me, I need to be in good shape to have energy to play with my kids. It is important to me.
These needs didn’t change since I was a bachelor and had no children. I had these needs before, but the difference is how I meet these needs. Instead of going to bed at 1 a.m., and waking up at 10 a.m., I now have to go to bed earlier because my kids wake up at 7 a.m. regardless of how much sleep I got. Also, in order to take care of my body and still pay attention to my children, I need to exercise when they are asleep (this has changed a bit since we bought a double jogging stroller). I have tried to workout at home when the kids are awake, but it has become difficult to finish a workout with them asking for juice or snacks or for me to read a story.
Rule #2: Your needs are not always the most important.
I take care of these needs to be a better father, but I have realized I can care for myself, without taking time away from my children. Let’s face it, for those of us who work, we already take enough time away from our children.
Would I change this?
Not at all. I love the discipline I have learned by putting someone else’s needs ahead of my own. I love the joy I feel when I get to spend time with my children, knowing I have taken care of the important things in my life.
What are some ways you have adapted to take care of yourself while having children?