We may become overwhelmed by our family responsibilities and job expectations. Recall the adage that less is more, and prioritise your main role, in which you cannot be replaced.
“You can’t have it all,” used to be a saying to describe women juggling careers and motherhood. Mothers are caught in the conundrum of trying to be present for their children while having a successful career, all at the same time. It is very hard.
Anne Marie Slaughter, a Princeton University Professor, who got her dream job in the government in Washington DC, realised she could not “have it all”.
It is not just women who can’t have it all. Dads are the same. We have to make a decision on what we are going to have, and what we are not going to have, and sometimes less is more.
My son’s wife is struggling with recovery from post-natal depression.
Twelve months ago she was going really well, but when she had a relapse, my son had to make some adjustments in his priorities, because less is more.
My son is an engineer, and his company is very family-friendly. They allowed him to start late every day so he can run his children to school and in exchange, he loses his rostered day off. He can’t go surfing that day, but less is more, and better still, his wife is happier and getting better by the day.
Recently, I came across the Australian Fatherhood Research Consortium and its monthly newsletter. In it, I found a great article called “Take it easy on yourself, Dad” by a father with a young baby juggling the challenge of being a father and successful in his work.
“As I write this, my little nine-month-old boy Jack is sound asleep, something that has been a rare occurrence in our household up until recently. I had been told by everyone to be prepared for the lack of sleep a baby brings to your life, however, being a shift worker gave me a sense of false confidence and I thought I would cruise through these sleepless nights with ease.
I was wrong! I was working 12hr days, studying, trying to be a good husband and father and it was slowly wearing me down. I found myself feeling really low and disappointed as I had a feeling, I wasn’t being the father I had imagined myself to be.
Even though our wives and partners often bear most of the workload with raising children, I felt a lot of pressure as a dad to be this superhero-type figure that doesn’t waver under pressure and will always be a solid rock that the family can rely on.
My wife is amazing and seems to have an endless abundance of energy. She has handled the sleepless nights much better than I. It took some honest conversations with her and a hard look at myself to realise I was running myself into the ground. This was counterproductive to being a good father.
It was then that I made the decision to take a step back from some of the areas of my life that were adding pressure and direct more of my focus to being present with my son. That small change had a huge positive effect for myself and my family. I have realised through having our son that I can’t do everything all at once and it is ok to ask for help, take a step back and sometimes less is more.
I have found success in parenting my son through not being so hard on myself and trying every day to just enjoy the little moments I get with him. I can be the rock my wife and son need, but I’m only capable of being that if I don’t take on too much work and added pressure.
After all, my first and most important job is being a father.”
You cannot have it all. Something has to take precedence. The key thing is to work out what is important to you as a father, and as a man with a vocation, because less is more.
Yours for the Important Things,
PS: A massive thank you to all those who donated to our end-of-year Dads4Kids matching challenge. The stupendous news is: we met the target! The really good news is that your giving is going to enable us to help many more dads be better dads and put a smile on many more children’s faces.