Dads sometimes struggle with work life balance as well and want to stay connected with their young ones. Shivanshu, a father of two young, growing, energetic boys talks of how he has discovered the energy to keep up with them despite his own hectic work schedule.
Being a connected father! Something we all want to be but every day pressures and sometimes not knowing “how to” leave us wanting.
I struggle with that myself, as being a consultant, means travelling three; sometimes even all week and I miss the kids. Back home, I am sometimes tired and sometimes want to just relax or vegetate. And engaging in kids’ game or some such thing isn’t exactly most exciting. And then there is the feeling of guilt of not being connected!
While I don’t have all the answers I have discovered three things to help connect with my kids. One, I try to “be a kid” in whatever I engage with them. My children like to play board games and I try to become a kid while playing with them – trying to win, exclaiming, saddened by a loss, being loud and expressive. We make our own rules, for instance, where we decide not to bump anyone in Ludo equivalents, and sometimes seriously negotiate on whether or not to bump someone.
We race to make the tallest block tower or stack Ninjaki – with each of us doing our best to win. That’s when the connection kicks in. . . Alternatively, if I am just an “adult” in that process playing just to check the box while I am on the phone in parallel, I am unable to connect and neither do the kids. And the connect playing or doing stuff together is much stronger vs. through screen time, etc.
Two, I have discovered that when you love something and do it together it is fun. I love sports, even though I do not get time to play them anymore, but sports are common between my two boys and me. So, we discuss matches, teams, watch together, play together, I give them advice on how to hold the bat, hit the straight bat shot (yeah, even though I may not be qualified ) and go to their practice, games etc.
For a quick outdoor feel, we cheat and pitch our tent in the garden, laze around and play Croquet with the Jungle Croquet Set – completely absorbed in our game – we ended up spending hours in our own backyard! And being outdoors, in the natural environment helps even to just enjoy the fresh air, watch the clouds change different shapes and see the birds fly is extremely rewarding. You would be amazed at the imagination and creativity kids have.
Thirdly, and this is something my wife discovered more than I did, here “less is more”! Instead of trying to stuff every waking moment available and staying awake, bleary-eyed from overnight flights just for a few minutes before the kids leave for school, I try to rest and be ready for them when they are back from school, to engage with them for when they are back home. So sometimes it helps to do less but do it better.
Fatherhood is a journey and I live and learn every day. Some days are better than others and as you discover more, you enjoy the ride better. I look forward to a lifetime of love and learning and am privileged to have two boys who call me Dad.