The demands on a father are higher now than ever before. Gone are the days when a Dad could come home from work, sit down in his La-Z-Boy and watch TV to unwind from a long day. Honestly, that is not a bad thing, but what has replaced that ritual can be overwhelming. Now you have to leave work by 5:15pm to make it to the 5:30pm soccer practice you are coaching. After practice is over, you grab dinner for the family from the fast food drive-through, eat in the car and rush home for homework, bath time and finally kids’ bed time. By the time the kids are in bed, you are ready to collapse. Oh, but wait, you still owe your boss that progress report you did not finish. Time to boot-up the computer.
Sound familiar? So goes the life of a father in today’s hyper-involved Dad world. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my kids and wife. In fact it is the highlight of my life. I also like my job and feel very driven to make a difference at work and advance in my career. The push and pull from work and family life can leave you feeling guilty about not spending enough time with either of them. That is why I consciously work to balance the two.
Generally, that means leaving work right at five o’clock at least twice a week to spend time with the kids, either for sports practice or just to play with them in the yard. The other days of the week, I work a little later, but still make it home in time for dinner with the family. Being home for dinner is very important to me and if I have to write a few emails after the kids have gone to bed to make dinner time, that is an easy sacrifice.
Best of all though, I have a secret weapon when it comes to spending time with my kids: YMCA’s Adventure Guides program. Adventure Guides is a program specifically designed for Dad’s and their kids. You join a “circle” or tribe of other Dads and kids and do activities that strengthen the father/child bond. In my Adventure Guides program, we meet once a month for an activity of some kind, such as building a pine wood derby car, doing a rocket launch or going bowling. Of course the highlight of Adventure Guides is that we go on three camping trips a year. There is not a better way for fathers to bond with their kids and create memories that will last a lifetime.
In today’s go-go world, it is awesome to have a resource like Adventure Guides available to enrich your family life. It adds some structure to your time with your kids and schedules your time so you have dedicated “Kid-Dad time” on the calendar. It also takes a bit of the stress off of work, so you can work late once or twice a week or miss a T-Ball game and know you are still going to get quality time with your kids.