The Muscle Dad has the goal to help every dad be the best ever. Here are seven tips to get you started.
I’m sure you can all agree that being in the trenches with young children isn’t always the best of times.
It’s nearly impossible to keep your smiley face on when your toddler decides to make the newly painted wall his art canvas or when your grade-schooler decides to go play in her room instead of sitting on the stairs in timeout.
If you are ever stuck in rush hour traffic all you need to do is look around and you’ll notice that most dads are really stressed out and just plain unhappy.
But what is happiness anyways?
Some see happiness as “just an illusion, filled with sadness and confusion.”
Eek! I sure hope that you have a different definition of happiness.
What’s my definition of happiness? Well I‘m glad you asked. To me happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.
According to an article by livescience.com, they say that “a happy marriage, a secure bank account and good sleep make happy moms and dads.”
If you can check off all three of those, then I’d say you are doing pretty darn well.
But after reading that article I got to thinking—what do I need to do to make sure I’m a super happy dad.
So I REALLY got to thinking and here is what I came up with.
- Be Present
Why is this numero uno? Because it is the easiest to do, once you consciously choose to implement it.
What the hell am I talking about?
It’s really simple. When you’re spending good quality time with your kids don’t think about what you didn’t do yesterday or what you have to do tomorrow or next week. LIVE. IN. THE. MOMENT.
Every minute that you spend with your kids you are creating moments and memories that you will never get back again.
As stupid as this might sound, sometimes when I’m at the park with my oldest daughter I try to remind myself to take mental pictures of her climbing up the slide (even after I told her not too) and the sliding back down again face first.
It’s moments like these that I know I will never get back and will want to remember when I’m 84 years old and still waiting for the Toronto Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup.
- Let Your Kids Be Themselves
This one can be quite tricky. In our heads we all have ideas about what we want our kids to be and how we want them to behave. And you know what? 9 out of 10 times it just doesn’t happen.
You just can’t expect your kids to be a miniature you. Besides if you ask your spouse they probably don’t want your kids to turn out like you anyways (just kidding).
Your children are individuals. They need to be who they are so they can figure out this big world we live in. Enjoy their uniqueness and celebrate their differences.
- Forgive and Ask Forgiveness
How many times were you told as a kid to forgive and forget? Maybe you did forgive little Billy for kicking you in the nuts, but I’m sure you never forgot.
When it comes to forgiving your kids these eloquent words might help…
“Everyone makes mistakes. If you can’t forgive others, don’t expect others to forgive you.”
Or how about this one…
“It takes a strong person to say sorry and an even stronger person to forgive.”
We all have good days and bad days and so do your kids. In a single day your child might mess up several times. I’m sure at some point they won’t listen, they might spill their Kool-Aid after you told them not to put it on the couch, or they might yank the cat’s tail.
Whatever your kid does it’s important that you forgive them and make sure to let them know that you forgive them. If there is conflict make sure it is settled before bedtime. Parenting with guilt only leads to misery.
But most important of all is that if you make a mistake or an error (what? You? NEVER!) you need to fess up and ask your child for forgiveness. This will give them a better understanding of what forgiveness is and what it means. It also makes you more relatable so that down the road your children won’t hide things or make up stories.
- Be Consistent
How many times has this happened to you?
You’re standing in line the checkout line at the grocery store and of course the checkout line happens to have a Kinder Egg placed ever so cleverly right at your daughter’s eye level.
Your daughter looks up at you ever so sweetly and softly says “Can we get this Daddy?”
Of course you say no because it’s 9am and way too early for a massive sugar rush.
Then it happens—your daughter’s sweet innocent face slowly turns to a big frown and then it happens. The tears start gushing down her face, her arms start whaling and she starts screaming “but Daddy, I really want it!”
And now you are the center of attention. What do you do? Do you give in, grab the Kinder Egg and say “Fine, here! Now put the tears away,” or do you hold your ground and dig your heels in?
If you do give in, know that you are not only letting your child win, but you are setting their expectations for future behavior. Kids are really smart and they don’t care what other people think about them.
They will quickly realize that if they kick and scream they will get what they want, and trust me, they will not hesitate to use their new found power of persuasion.
If you don’t give and deal with the temporary discomfort you can stop the problem even before it starts and your child will soon try a different method to get what they want.
- Play With Your Kids
What do you think your child likes best…?
- When you sit at the kitchen table playing on your iPad; while they are busy building a princess castle right in front of you
- When you sit down with them so you are at the same level and help build the biggest and best princess castle ever so that not one, but three princesses can live there!
To really connect with your kids you need to actively participate in their lives.
I know this isn’t always the easiest thing to do because you have a huge to-do list that is constantly running in your head (we all do). But at the end of the day I’m sure you when you look back at your day the best part will be the time you actually spent with your kids.
- Don’t Compare
I suppose its human nature to always compare things. After all when you go to buy a car you probably compare a Ford F150 to a GMC Sierra, so I get it.
But what isn’t a good idea is to compare your kids to other kids or expect your kids you be like other kids. We already talked about this up above in #3 and when you compare your kids to other kids it will only make you discontent and make your family miserable. Who wants that?
Enjoy your family as they are and never mind what others are doing.
- Take Care of Yourself
I left this one until the very end because of course it is rather selfish. Taking care of yourself is all about you and your well-being, but it is vital to you and your families’ happiness.
Don’t get so lost in taking care of your kids that you forget to make yourself happy. Everyone needs “me” time and you’re no different.
You know what makes you happy. If that means getting a round of golf in a week, make it happen. If that means reading a book outside on the deck sipping some Hennessey (I always wanted to write that), make it happen.
For me I am my happiest when I get a good solid 90 minute workout in first thing in the morning, once the kids are off to school and my wife is off to work.
If I don’t get my workout in I can turn into a big-nasty-no-fun-grumpy bear and then no one wants to spend any time with me.
Make sure you find a way to schedule some “me” time.
Originally posted on www.muscledadblog.com. Reprinted with permission.
Photo: Flickr/Lamanna’s Bakery