I think it is healthy that my son knows that he is not always the center of the universe.
Leisure time is crucial for any parent, but in previous articles about “Time Sucks to Avoid,” I recommended that dads find outlets that don’t take up as much time as golf and fantasy football. I argued that they take up too much time away from work or family relative to their psychological and social benefits.
When the anti-golf piece was published here at Good Men Project, I was struck by an incredibly insightful comment:
“A column I read–verified with a couple of folks in the shrink business–made a different point: If you–father/husband–are not seen as inconveniencing the rest of the family for your own fun from time to time, they will eventually accord you the respect due a booger on the floor. They’re not being mean. It’s absolutely normal and inescapable. Golf is a better way of maintaining one’s position in the family than, say rock climbing or Civil War reenacting, and doesn’t take an entire weekend plus. But the primary reasons for golf are “saw-sharpening” and inconveniencing, and if you’re lucky, annoying the family so they continue to think of you as an actual person.”– R.A.
The more I think about his comment, the more I find myself agreeing. Maybe I shouldn’t be so vigilant about avoiding time sucks.
Like all of you, I spend a lot of time putting my family’s needs first. That’s just part of the deal in being a good, involved dad. However, R.A. has a point. If we never get away, they’ll never get the chance to miss us. If we never put ourselves first, take for granted we’re always there. If we don’t put on our oxygen masks on first, we can’t help them with theirs.
Now, I haven’t pulled a 180 here and I do not advocate neglecting our responsibilities. But I will recommend that we involved dads cordon off some time on a regular basis for our own needs (if things are not regularly scheduled, they tend to get put off).
My weekly two (sometimes four) hours of volleyball is a haven for me—I can just concentrate on the game, get into a flow, get some good exercise, and enjoy the company of fun group of people who are not involved in the other aspects of my life. And it means I get out of parenting duties on most Monday and some Thursday evenings, and sometimes it means we hire a sitter. I am committed to playing in my volleyball leagues even during the current two-month stretch in which my wife’s work schedule has temporarily spiked, and the primary parenting has fallen to me.
While I love my son Nick more than anything, I think it is healthy that he knows that he is not always the center of the universe. (It also helps that my wife Amy is supportive of my “me time”)
I’m a much better parent when I get to take some breaks—less stressed, more sane. I think we all are. So, go ahead, and let something suck away some of your time. Everyone will benefit.
What’s your “me” time activity? Why is it important to you? How do you defend some time for yourself? How do you feel you benefit from taking breaks? Let’s discuss in the comments section.
—photo by cmrlee/Flickr
—for more on Time Sucks and Work/Life Balance, check out Scott’s blog or these articles