Our lives are full of ‘busy work’ and it’s very hard to work out what is the most important thing to do in any one moment. We can become overwhelmed with the myriad requests on our time but the two questions we really need to ask ourselves when considering anything are
Is this important?
The first question is vital in separating out the urgent from the important. If we only do the work that keeps us busy we are not being truly effective. Instead, we need to focus on doing the right things at the right time. For example, take the weekly shop. It might seem economical to traipse around the supermarket with your children and fight through the weekend crowds. Groceries are certainly important but what about the actual act of shopping for them? When you do a time and cost analysis you realise that those extra £4 pounds to organise the shop online and get it delivered are actually worth it.
Older generations often want to maintain control and save on extra costs. They would rather do the shopping themselves because they’re afraid to outsource things. This leads us to our second question.
Is there someone else who could do this better?
There are many tasks in our day-to-day lives that can/should always be done only by us. Think of the most important ones. Spending time with children, partners, and our extended families. And then there are other tasks that really don’t matter as much but are important to the general day-to-day running of our lives. Ironing our clothes, cleaning the house, washing a car. If we don’t find true value in these things then why do them?
Everyone is emotionally connected to different things. My father-in-law loves picking apart his car. My neighbor often spends all morning cleaning and waxing his car. These are their passions and they find them fulfilling. I respect people that want to spend time doing these things but I’m just not one of them. If we are not enjoying these activities, and if they are taking us away from the things we really love then we have to jettison them from our lives. Outsource these tasks to someone more qualified to do the job.
Next time you’re about to take on a new task, stop and ask yourself these questions. Just because someone asks you to do something, or it’s the thing that most people do, doesn’t mean you have to do it. Find what you love and do more of it. For many of my fellow parent bloggers, this will mean finding more ways to spend time with family and children.
I don’t normally feel nervous my children and especially not the baby who isn’t old enough to actually do anything yet! But today I felt a pang of emotion as I dropped off my daughter at a holiday workshop. She was so excited about doing the drama workshop and in her mind must have built up all sorts of things in her mind about how it would be. I hope that the reality was just as exciting. As I dropped her off I could see she was a little unsure of herself as all children are when they first meet but the person in charge was very welcoming and introduced her to some new children straightaway. Before I knew it I was out the door back in my car. Throughout the day I’ve been thinking about it and I’m now on the way to see her final performance they put together for the parents.
I guess the thing with parent nerves is that, just like with enemies, you should never show your fear.
I imagine that many children feel nervous about doing things and it might be compounded even more when their parents feel nervous for them. I remember when I went to Cub Scout camp first time only about 20 miles away from home, but I thought that was the end of the world and I was really homesick for parts of it.
The thing that really tipped me over the edge as a young boy was a note my mum put in my bag saying how much she would miss me.
It read, “love you and miss you lots of hope you have a good time mum X”. I can see what she was trying to do but it wasn’t very helpful. I didn’t descend into floods of tears and I didn’t make a fuss, but I spent a good part of that camp wishing I was at home. .
Sometimes as parents we have to hide our fears and just let our children get on with it.
They are far more resilient than we are and don’t find it hard to make friends and play alongside others. So the key lesson here let your children explore new things even if it feels a bit heart wrenching. Now I better get back inside and watch the performance!
Every day there are more and more things competing for our attention.
Wherever we look there is something screaming out at us “look at me, look at me!” A television has countless channels and now we also have on-demand programmes at any time of the day or night. Our emails and phones are closer to us than ever and it’s simple for somebody to reach us via WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. And worse still, these things seem to demand an instant response from us. And that’s not to mention the good old-fashioned text message.
As parents we also have to remember the day-to-day routines of the other people in our lives.
Children need book bags and school uniforms to be ready for the day ahead. In the holidays they have activities and friends to see. Houses don’t run themselves either; they are machines for living in and we have to maintain them constantly. I don’t know if it has always been this way. Was William Shakespeare drowning in phone calls, emails, and play dates for his own children… at least his own version of them?
Some people seem to be able to do it all, but how?
The more resources you have to throw at something the easier the problem can be solved. Presidents and Chief Executives make use of personal assistants and have whole teams of people dedicated to different aspects of their lives. The average family may not have access to all these people but there is a way that we can use to make life much easier. And it starts with one simple concept.
In everything you do, capture everything!
Your mind is a finite resource. Your attention and interest can only last so long, no matter how hard you concentrate. This is why you have to take breaks after reading or studying. Anything hovering around our minds slows us down. So, get those things out of your mind and onto paper.
You should write down and capture every thought that comes into your head.
This is the only way to ensure our minds are free to focus on the important tasks at hand. Some people may think this dulls the mind and we should focus on cultivating memory but I really think that’s just a party trick and most of us just simply want to be able to function.
As far as tools for capturing things go there are many out there. You could use a simple pen and paper, a notepad, or you could type into the notes section of your phone. If you really want to be clever you can dictate the notes into your phone or another device as you think of them.
However you capture thoughts, and it really needs to be something you’re comfortable with, do it every day and every time you think of something.
The key thing after capturing everything is to organise it. Set sometime at the end of the day, hopefully when the children have gone to bed, to organise everything and set deadlines. Ask yourself, “do I really need to do this?”, prioritise the important things and then make them happen!
This is going to be one of those self-indulgent, navel-gazing posts that’s probably more for my benefit than anyone else. It breaks the rule of successful blog posts to offer some value to the reader. Read on at your peril.
When I started this blog it was with the intention of creating a movement to support men of the modern era who are becoming fathers.
Typically I have found it hard to maintain due to the business of real life getting in the way. The subject matter that could be the greatest source of interest and inspiration, i.e. my children, has actually been the greatest hindrance to my success. It all comes down to a question of priorities. At the end of the day, when I’m tired from trying to get a one year old to sleep while convincing the five-year-old to put herself to sleep I just don’t have the energy to do much else.
At the start of 2017 I set some relatively simple goals to grow my social media presence and, most importantly, to finish a book about millennial parenting. None of this really happened.
The annual subscription for hosting this blog came up again recently and before I had a chance to contemplate whether or not to keep going the auto renewal took over and answered the question for me. I really want to make something of this blog now I am more invested than ever in it.
On the horizon I see increasing acknowledgement of millennials as parents and the unique challenges they face. There are numerous articles now referencing this generation and a lot of it isn’t all that positive.
Above all I have realised that being a parent is a positive exercise.
Day-to-day life may be challenging but the business of being a parent is truly rewarding. And that has never changed between the generations. I may not have a big readership and I may not ultimately change the world, but I can change my small part of it. And in writing my blogs and contributing to this world I’m sure I can make positive difference in my own life. As Martin Luther said you can do great things or you can do small things in a great way. And so this blog continues.
This post isn’t going to be the best one I’ve ever written. It’s not tagged with useful tips. It isn’t visually appealing. I don’t even want it to be read by many people. But it’s important that I do it. And keep putting words down.
Progress is putting one foot in front of the other and keeping moving.
I always love to read about the people at the back of the London marathon. The ones who have committed to completing the 26.2 miles at all costs. They’re usually doing it because there’s some higher purpose, like raising money for charity. They might be injured military heroes who are battling onwards in memory of their friends who never made it back home. They might be doing crazy charity challenges dressed in absurb costumes, highlighting their cause and raising lots of money. The guy who completed the marathon in a full diving suit sticks in my memory. He could barely move and it took him the best part of a week to do it.
But diving suit marathon man did complete the race. He set a goal and went for it in his own way, and completed the personal challenge doing some good in the process.
My blog has a kind of higher purpose; I want to examine and celebrate modern fatherhood. Sometimes I just enjoy writing and go through periods of prolific posting. But then modern fatherhood can also get in the way. I’ve realised my last blog post was nearly two months ago.
I might not have created any blogging content over the past two months but I’ve made some great memories.
I’ve been on a couple of holidays with my family, during which time I completely turned off email and social media. Sure, I’ve got plenty of Instagram-able images and lots of anecdotes for Twitter. But I haven’t managed to share them. It’s been tough juggling everything with a 5 month old baby and some things have to give.
I do regret that I’ve stopped completely over the past two months. I wish I kept my blog going, even minimally.
Like the diving suit man I’ve realised it’s important to keep taking the next step forward, however laborious and challenging. Because at least I’m making some progress. So this post is designed to give me a kick up the backside and try to stick to my 2017 annual plan. If I keep going between now and the end of the year I’ve got a good chance of finishing my book on the Millennial Dad.
I’m counting on other great parent bloggers to keep me accountable.
I’m not asking for a buddy blogger to keep an eye on me and make sure I’m posting regularly, although that might be helpful. Rather, I want to commit myself to regularly reading other bloggers’ posts. There’s some truly inspiring content out there being presented in exciting new ways. The standard of the bloggers I follow gives me something to aim for.
Keep up the good work everyone, and I’ll keep on taking steps forward!