Whether you’re the father to a newborn baby, elementary school-aged child or a teen – if you’re a dad, you are under stress. Today’s dads are expected to move seamlessly between career and family as well as help out around the house and have a social life. But the reality is that there are only so many hours in the day. And often, the demands of a career and the demands of family can be overwhelming.
You can’t expect to eliminate stress, but you can change how you deal with it. Here are a few stress buster tips designed especially for busy dads!
Take Care of Yourself
Men often try to “do it all” and can extend themselves too much. Although it’s easy to zip out of the office for a fast food special, make sure you eat healthy meals and snacks as often as possible. Stress hormones actually rob the body of many vitamins and nutrients. Also, getting a good night’s sleep will ensure that you are far better equipped to deal with the day-to-day pressures of job, family and social life. When you’re a dad, getting to the gym isn’t always easy, so why not take the kids out on a bike ride, or play a game of catch or touch football in the backyard? You and your kids will benefit!
Work as a Team & Get Help If Needed
In addition to helping your partner with household duties such as making dinner and doing the dishes, if your children are of school age, get them involved in the daily chores. The upside is tremendous. You get to spend more time with the kids if you all make dinner together, and many hands make quick work of any task. Sometimes, we all need a little extra help for house projects or special events such as holidays and parties. Don’t be afraid to turn to friends and family. People love to help out; they just have to be asked. Make a point of returning the favor when you can.
Make Your Home a Stress-Free Zone
It happens to the best of us — we turn on the TV so we can tune out and relax. Unfortunately, television, along with video games and computer activities, can over-stimulate the brain, not really allowing for any downtime. Try to restrict the hours of television you — and your kids — watch per day, and consider having a family game or activity night. Kids often use television as a time waster and more important things, like homework, can go undone. As an added bonus, by reducing television for quieter, more relaxing pursuits like reading a book or working on a jigsaw puzzle, you are also winding down in the process.
Manage Your Time
When you have children and a career, the constant demands on your time can take their toll. So, use some time management techniques to get the most out of each hour of your day. It’s your turn to make dinner? Double the recipe and you’ll have an extra meal for the freezer ready whenever you need it. Want to save time in the morning? Start the night before: get the whole family to choose their clothes for the following day; set the table for breakfast; have all homework checked and in the kids’ backpacks ready to go. Use your daily commute on the train to read the newspaper or catch up on some work. Stuck in a car? Listen to some uplifting music, or a book on tape. Taking an hour on Sunday to plan the week ahead, coordinating everyone’s schedule. It will save headaches later in the week.
Often men have a tough time opening up about a rough day at the office, or the stress they feel trying to balance career and family demands. When stress isn’t discussed it can often lead to the misperception that there is no stress or work-family conflict. By opening up to your wife, children, family members and friends, you are sharing the burden. When communicating to your children, don’t confuse “lecturing” with “communicating.” Also remember that communication is not just verbal. You communicate through your actions and deeds. Lead by example and don’t forget to hug your kids every day. You won’t regret it.