Sanity, Dear Lord does it seem out of reach many times as a father. Managing kids, work, relationships, schedules, finances, personal responsibilities, goals, trying to sleep and have a litttle fun on top, it’s easy to fall behind. There are literally months upon months that I can think of when my eyes open in the morning, I am already down on myself because of progress, or what feels like everything has come to a standstill.
Personal care has become huge for me, and I am not talking about massages and pedicures. If you know me you know that these are not my speed. I am talking about listening to the things I need from day to day. The things that make me feel on point.
One day I was on a flight and it all started to click. I was listening to the stewardesses talk through how to use the oxygen masks. You know the part where they tell you to put on yours first and then help those around you. If you read between the lines, they are telling you that it matters that you have oxygen, it matters that you are capable, it matters that you are able to help others. And this paralleled my life directly, and provided a much needed window into a dilemma I was caught up in.
It became apparent to me what was missing from my days. I didn’t give myself time, just for me. When we had 1 daughter this conversation was a bit easier to make a case for. We were able to manage time easier, even though we didn’t know it in the moment. Now with 2, and I would assume this gets increasingly challenging with more, you have to start making some larger edits in your calendar for this to happen. As you keep adding humans, I believe it to be that much more important for dad and mom to have their heads on straight.
When I began to give myself some time, I immediately noticed that I felt better about my progress. Progress might not be the best word. I felt much better about where I was. I felt much better about where we were as a family. I was more mild mannered with the girls. I was more interested in..... well everything. You could say the blade just feels sharper when you give yourself time. What a discovery! It may sound simpleton of me to say this, but its easy to get lost with children. Its easy to not know which way is up. I mean I forgot to pee one time. Can’t tell you how that happens, the urge to pee doesn’t just go away.
Over some months or maybe a year and some trial and error of how to make this schedule work, I came to a pretty workable routine. There have been 3 things for me that do nothing but improve my sense of well-being, and are worth “Gold." The first of these things is Silence. I need time in silence. I have done breathing exercises, meditation, cycling, just sitting in the dark, and combinations. Any and all of these just allow my body and mind to feel one. I get up at 3 am most mornings and this is first on my list. It is dark and quiet most mornings, and you can catch me cashing in on some serious “Gold” time. The days when I do this, I feel like a man on a mission, I feel like a man in control. The days I miss, I feel extremely reactive and behind the ball.
The second one for me is Sip. It’s important to me and my soul to have hot coffee in the morning. It’s more than just a drink. It breathes life into this tired body. It is a source of joy for me every morning that I cannot explain. Just me and my coffee. We have moments 7 Days a week. Most days I try to have 2 before I see or hear anyone else. These times are also “Gold” for me. Just a little dose of ME time, does wonders for my sanity.
The third one on the list is Sweat. I must sweat in the morning. I used to sweat in the middle of the day and his is overrated. The victory that you claim sweating in the early morning misty darkness is a majestic. I have changed the method to the madness over the years. Lately I have been riding my bike to and from work about 30 min each way, and this my friends is “Gold” for me. Everyone laughs at my Gold helmet that I wear on my bike. But that Gold helmet is much more than the coolest helmet on the road. It’s my Gold! It’s me out there fighting the good fight. That is my time, at at this juncture of my life, I am literally trading sleep for quality me time. Every time it is time well spent, even when its raining. Sweat for me is more than just the commute. I head straight to the gym to lift, and this makes me feel alive. Nothing is harder in the day than putting a cold barbell on your back at 4 in the morning. Perspective arrives in droves. Make yourself struggle early in the day, and you my friend have just won the day.
There are plenty of things that have helped me along the way with the girls. But I am here to tell you that caring for yourself, even if that means 5 minutes of breathing, or grabbing a cup of coffee will do wonders for your sanity. Don’t underestimate the power of a calm mind, and a body that feels alive. Don’t underestimate the result of encouraging Mama to take the same time. Go out of your way to help her do what she needs. Relationships are about support. Support Mama. There are things that she needs as well. Hopefully you 2 are a unit as far as raising your children go. But each person is very much still an individual, its crazy to think different. Support each other, Make sure each individual gets their time, and this journey may just be much more enjoyable.