Learn why a bit of time for yourself every now and then shouldn’t be underestimated.
One of the hardest things about fatherhood is the expectations. Generations of glorifying stoic masculinity to the point of mental and physical harm is a huge part of our culture and is something which most of us have unconsciously internalised to some degree.
Like many traditions of generations past, this view of life is not only outdated, it is actively detrimental to our continued wellbeing. We aren’t machines, we are humans, and if we ignore that, we’re only going to be hurting ourselves and sending the wrong message to our children.
Many of us have experienced it first-hand. A father coming home so tired and worn-out that all he could do is drink and sit in front of the television. Of course, this isn’t entirely their fault, as for many this was the only way to deal with the immense pressure and stresses of daily life. We know better today, though, and, by understanding and accepting our limitations we can do more.
Taking time to yourself is not an expression of weakness and is not indicative of a lack of love for your kids or family. Sure, we are social creatures at heart but we all have limited energy when it comes to social activity, and families can take as much energy as anything else.
There is also an enormous amount of individual variability here, as some will become overcome quickly, whereas others might take months or years to reach their breaking point. Again, none of this makes you weak or a failure. It simply indicates the psychological realities of us as humans.
It can be difficult but one of the most ideal solutions to this problem is to take reasonable and responsible periods of time to yourself. The old adage of recharging your batteries is very much true in this regard, and should not be underestimated.
Of course, recharging your batteries doesn’t necessarily mean resting (though this often is ideal). As for where you can start, we can look to this survey from the US State of Health.
Many of us would like nothing more than a few hours of relaxing and listening to music, with 44 per cent of respondents turning to this method. This could easily be combined with painting or sinking into a video game, with 24 per cent stating hobbies alone as their preferred choice. Watching the latest sports game is also an effective stress-killing method. Football, tennis and horse racing remain the favourite for punters but you can also bet on more unusual sports like snooker or darts.
Alternatively, you could spend some time with the boys (35 per cent), playing sports (43 per cent), surfing the internet (38 per cent), or reading (36 per cent). We all have different capacities, and we can recharge in different ways. You might have a very different idea to relax, and that’s just fine too.
After something more isolated? Spend a day out in the bush or plan a day camping away. Finding a babysitter or convincing your partner can be a hassle. But if you afford them the same opportunity, then you could be surprised at just how receptive to the idea they can be.
First and foremost, you need to understand that parenthood is a marathon and not a sprint. Had Pheidippides taken a rest along the way he might not have died at the finishing line, and this is something we all need to remember.