Author Sid Madge looks at how dads can create a ‘new balance’ post-Covid-19 using five practical steps.
Covid-19 has turned most of lives upside down. The lucky ones have able to stay home, reconnect with family and enjoy the unplanned down time, knowing that the majority of their salary is still being paid. The unlucky have been struggling both financially and emotionally.
However, amongst the gloomy predictions of an economic slump and job losses, there is hope. There is an opportunity society to change, and an opportunity for each of us as fathers to help create a better balance ourselves and for our families.
What are we all thinking and feeling?
A recent YouGov survey showed that only 8 per cent of Britons want life to return to ‘normal’ after the virus outbreak is over. While 42 per cent of participants said they value food and other essentials more since the pandemic, with 38 per cent cooking from scratch more.
Sixty-one per cent of people are spending less money and 51 per cent noticed cleaner air outdoors, while 27 per cent think there is more wildlife. Two-fifths said there is a stronger sense of community in their area since the outbreak began and 39 per cent say they are catching up with friends and family more.
We are being reminded of what is truly important and meaningful in our lives. The only question is whether we will heed those lessons and insights and use them to create something better or whether we will all go back to the way it was.
There is talk of a ‘new normal’. Apart from the fact that ‘normal’ starts with the word, ‘no’, new normal implies that we are going to have to make some compromises in the new reality we find ourselves in.
But what if the compromise was the way we used to live?
Compromising our time with those we love to make money to buy stuff we didn’t really need in the first place. Compromising time with friends and family for work commitments and never-ending deadlines. And compromising our health because we didn’t believe we had the time or inclination to cook from scratch or take care of our fitness.
Yet these are the little things that have kept us sane for the last few months. The walk around the local park, or the home-made soup or freshly baked bread – who would have ever predicted there would be a yeast shortage in the UK! The shared family meals, life lived at a slower and often, more enjoyable pace. A bit less anxiety, a bit more love.
Let’s forget about normal or new normal and instead focus on ‘new balance’. So, as a father how do you go about creating this?
Five steps to a ‘new balance’
Here are five practical steps to help make this ‘new balance’ a reality in your family unit for adults and children alike. Share these tips with those around you and help them create the space to turn these into regular habits:
- Master your mornings: start your day from a place of positivity. Focus on what you want to achieve that day and take a minute or two to remind yourself what you are already grateful for in your life. Write down six things you are grateful for, and six things you absolutely must achieve today. Then use these as your focus for the day.
- On your commute, or while you eat your breakfast (if you no longer commute) read an inspirational book. For example, ‘Meee in a Work Minute’ has 60 one-minute nuggets of wisdom including life hacks, advice, insights, science, short exercises, and thought experiments to ensure you start the day with positivity and confidence. Another great book is A. C. Grayling’s ‘The Meaning of Things’ which had a profound impact on my life. There are dozens of great books so pick those that resonate with you. Many are also available as audio books.
- Take time out, every day to get outside, ideally in nature or a local park. Walk, pay attention to what’s going on around you. Don’t cut yourself off from what’s around with music, audio books or podcasts. Instead, notice the trees, the bird song, the change of the seasons. Take this time, even if it’s just a few minutes, to learn how to just ‘be’. Listen. Think. Spend time in silence.
- Eradicate unnecessary activity. Ask yourself does this activity add value and make you feel better or does it detract from your life. Lockdown has taught us what is really important and spending money and endless shopping doesn’t appear to have made the cut. Take some time to consider what’s really important in your life. If something doesn’t add value, eliminate it or seek to cut down that activity in your life. Focus on what matters professionally and personally. Focus on what makes you and your family happy. And make these things the priority.
- Connect with people you care about – at work and at home. At work seek to find ways to maintain some of the flexibility that became essential during Covid-19. Honour both the human being and the co-worker. Find ways (by using the tips above) to maintain a connection and to find a balance that works for both parts of your life; the business/work and the home. At home, talk to each other, eat together as a family and maintain the strengthened bonds facilitated by the pandemic.
The future needs human collaboration not competition. Kindness not aggression. Win/win not win/lose. During this strange Covid-19 period we have found ourselves reconnecting with what is most important to us as human beings and specifically in our role as fathers.
First and foremost it is the simple, deeply human things: family, friends, laughter, gratitude, happiness, safety, love, appreciation. We are important as people. We are important as fathers.
Sid Madge is founder of Meee (My Education Employment Enterprise) which draws on the best creativity and thinking from the worlds of branding, psychology, neuroscience, education and sociology, to help people achieve extraordinary lives.
He is also author of the Meee in Minute series of books which each offer 60 ways to change your life, work-, or family-life in 60 seconds.