Be the Dad 9. The ‘Enjoy the journey’ Dad.
‘Success is a journey not a destination. The doing is often more important that the outcome.’ Arther Ashe
Your kids are going to poop on you, have a laugh.
(don't worry, I explain below)
Parenting and relationships are a Journey, in sports it would be called playing ‘the long game’. The largest percentage of our lives are spent on the way to where we are going, not at the destination.Here is how to enjoy the journey of raising a family in the crazy hustle and bustle of our lives including 10 ways how to enjoy everyday and 12 ways to make the day fun.
I’m excited about the change you will experience after reading this!
The never ending Van ride
I’m sure my Mum would dread the long van rides that our family of 7 would take. A 2 day long haul of 15 hours on the road from Wanaka to New Plymouth with no air conditioning and no ipads. Kids throwing up, kids fighting, endless questions of ‘how long’ and the real possibility of Dad running out of petrol. I could imagine that she would look out the window, have a long sigh, and wish that she was at the destination. However instead of it being a never ending painful experience, Mum and Dad would make the trip fun for us with stories, audiobooks, family songs, I spy games, rotating front set turns, numerous stops, interesting scenery to look at and food.
And that is parenting in a nut shell, enduring and enjoying
To endure and enjoy
Our lives are like this long Van ride, we can view it as a monotonous task to endure to get to a destination or we can enjoy the journey and create special moments on the way.
Parents with grown children often look back on this busy time with nostalgia in their eyes and reminisce that it was crazy but they miss having their kids around and wish that they had enjoyed it more.
When we were potty training our two year old oldest daughter, I got caught with a no. 2 in the underpants, not mine, hers. ‘No big deal’ I thought, ‘I will hold her over the bath and take it off’. The plan was going well with me holding her above the bath with one hand and trying to take the undies off with the other hand until the undies got down to about knee height. She looked down, saw this big brown intruder and panicked.
A cry of ‘yahhhhhh!!’
burst out from her mouth and she started running in the air, literally running, kicking to get the undies off. The result; a poo sprinkler. It was actually amazing, poo was flying eveywhere, all over the bathroom, towels, the basin, the walls and all over me. It was a laugh or cry moment. The clean up would take ages! I took a moment, still holding her above the bath and I thought, ‘at least its not Mum and I’ll look back on this and laugh’, plus ‘what can I do? it’s already happened’. So I started laughing and called my wife in who almost started dry retching, I made sure to let her know that I would clean it up (poo is my thing).
NOTE: This is definitely not how I respond every time, but it’s worth taking the win and trying to learn from it.
So prepare yourself, adjust your expectations about this being a growth journey and take it day by day...
Your kids will get it wrong, you will get it wrong. Days will be hectic and feel never ending. You are going to need to repeat the same message over and over thousands of times. You will fail to feel like a winner some days. You will make the plan, adjust the plan and then try again. You will go through this cycle over and over throughout a 20 year cycle. There will be tears, joy, relationship problems, relationship solutions, obstacles that you will overcome and push through until one day the kids are fully grown. And if you journey right you will be sad to have them leave.
….and plan to enjoy and see the gold on the way through
Some of the greatest stories are about struggle, survival and overcoming. Ernest Shackleton was marooned on the Antarctic in the early 1900’s with his crew in the freezing cold. They could of just shivered, frozen, given up and perished but Ernest gave them activities like, reading, drama and games to keep spirits high even through this tough experience. Parenting is not as dramatic as being stuck on the ice over a harsh Antarctic winter but it makes sense not to just endure but to enjoy, so here are:
10 Keys to enjoying your Family Life daily
Thankfulness helps you enjoy the Journey:
When the kid wets the bed, are you going to cry, swear or be thankful that you (a) have a kid who (b) has a bed to sleep on, that you (c) have a Washing machine and (d) sheets to wash, (e) a roof over your head and that (f) one day they will be through this stage. Thankfulness gives you joy in hard moments.
Learn from the day before
Don’t get discouraged, learn from the loses and set yourself up for success next time. Bed wetting, what to do next time: I need a spare set of sheets ready, I need a wet the bed blanket protector, I need to take the child to the toilet before bed, I need to wake them up when I go to bed if necessary to go to the toilet, I need to not give them a massive glass of water before bed.
Write down the wins
Journal the special moments. Think back over the smart comments, the unusual insights, the surprises. We were watching a documentary on Lions hunting their prey and my five year old said when I remarked he knew something about Lions confidentially stated; ‘I actually know a lot about Africa Dad’ - classic.
Celebrate milestones, make it a family party. Potty training, starting school, tying shoe laces. Stop the family and have an announcement: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, on this special occasion we honour and knight Sir childsname for completing their first chapter book.’
Have a goal, a destination that you are heading for refer Be the Dad 3.
Plan to succeed, just like a journey, figure out the destination early and set a plan for how to get there.
Laugh or Cry: You have a choice.
Poo all over the bathroom. Stop, take a moment, look around and picture this moment in the grand scheme of your life. When you put it in perspective, the small moments don’t seem as big as at that moment.
Appreciation: Smell the flowers.
Stop in the middle of doing the dishes and look at the people around you. They are your people, your tribe. Think about what is special about each of them and how far they have come. Appreciation makes the journey come alive.
Plan the day ahead and think of these thoughts:
Take a minute at the start of the day to consider: How do we effectively get through the day? What can we do better than yesterday. What can we do to make this day a little special? What is the word of wisdom or inspiration for me to take into this day? How will I make Mum and the kids feel special and loved today? What is important for me and my family in this day?
Find others on the same Journey
Bring other people on the journey with you. Find other families at the same stage, with similar values and goals that you can share stories and experiences with. Encourage other parents and be encouraged, you can learn from and support one another. You can find these families at Pre-school, school, sports, Scouts, guides, interest groups and Church.
On the Prisoner of War death marches in the pacific in WW2, the Allied prisoners would support each other and as a result more people survived to reach the destination.
Be unique as a family and resist comparison
Different families have different goals. Facebook is a great but unrealistic standard to compare your progress against, also people generally only share the best photo, not the one where everyone was screaming a moment before. Everyone has their own struggles. Figure out what is important to you, what comes naturally and works for you and go for that.
12 Ways to make the day fun:
Pick a daily mundane experience and make it fun - teeth brushing competition, putting dishes away in slow motion or backwards, time the kids getting dressed
Dance while making breakfast
Put on an audiobook learning about something in the car
Ask the kids what the favorite thing in their day was at teatime
Dry them out of the shower using a different countries style every night (make it up by using accents and a national anthem)
Put undies on your head
Make faces with their food when you dish up
Make tidying up a race
Get your imagination involved
Talk in a different accent
Ask everyone to make up or tell their favourite joke
Have an impromptu cuddle rumble - a wrestle without fists and people getting hurt
So endure and enjoy and be the ‘enjoy the journey’ Dad