Our Family makes us whole, but we all need to be individuals as well. Like me you probably feel obligated to spend your limited time with your little ones. I’m glad I am able to be with them every evening and weekend. However, for a period after the arrival of our second I occasionally felt myself harboring a little resentment. It seemed that there was nothing left that defined ‘Me’. I soon realized I needed ‘time for dad’ set aside.
Prior to becoming Dad I had a lot of hobbies and a few friends around each of those hobbies. After becoming dad and devoting every spare minute to family, I began to cut back on the hobbies and in turn cut back on friends. Two years later and now a dad of two, hobbies and interests became experienced as memories and dreams.
Recently I’ve been trying to combat this feeling 3 different ways:
Just dad or meet the Guys:
For me attempting to get solo hobby time in frequently isn’t a very realistic option. Unless I schedule carefully. I manage to accomplish this by scheduling the occasional full Saturday event weeks in advance. That way my wife and family can decide if they are going to tag along or plan their own day.
For activities that I want to participate in more often I schedule them early in the mornings (at daylight). I do this because its during time that the family is still sleeping, eating breakfast and getting around. By doing so I can usually be back to spend 3/4 of the day with them. For example: I might meet a buddy at the trail head at daylight for a quick ride, set up an early tee time (wearing waterproof shoes for the dew), make an early morning or night time fishing trip with dad, or go sit in my nearby tree stand for a morning hunt leaving me available to return to the house when the crew gets up for the day.
Take the Whole Clan:
By including the clan in I hobbies feel less restrained by obligation to be at home to help out with the kids. I sometimes accomplish this in a group environment. For example, when I played organized sports like softball tournaments, it was nice to have a tight knit group of friends/families to socialize with. Or more often it can be an activity that the close family can partake in together.
We choose activities that are age appropriate and scale them accordingly, but the options are nearly endless if we get creative and plan ahead. Plus, if you start them at a young age maybe someday they can fully participate alongside as your equal or give you a good challenge as you struggle to keep up! We a have a few go to options like running or riding bikes with a 2 kid bike trailer. This way we get to burn some energy and bring the kids along, though we usually take a break or two for some exploring and play time. Keep checking back as we discover new activities and post reviews of the activity and/or any gear required.
Use a Sitter:
Time for dad doesn’t necessarily mean dad needs time to spend by himself doing whatever he pleases. It can also include time for mom and dad to reconnect. Ever since my wife and I met I have encouraged and attempted to build hobbies that we could do together. In general I failed to catch her attention with most of these attempts.
But when the opportunity to use a sitter pops up on a free weekend we take advantage. We like try to do something together that we couldn’t normally do with the kids. If planning is left up to my wife, it usually includes last minute socializing at an event. But decisions are left up to me I like to take advantage by getting in a light mountain bike ride, hike, visit to the golf course, shooting range, or even visit the local theme park for some big kid roller coaster action. Really, anything we can do together outside of the normal routine with the kids is considered a win in my book. Sometimes, this even means house or project work that we have turned into a hobby.