You are in a world fighting for your time, attention and affection. Here is the Why and the how to put your family first.
‘men, never let overworking steal quality time from your family. They would rather live with you in a tent than without you in a mansion'. fiercemarraige.com
What is the most important thing?
Your dirt bike will get old and rust, your friends will come and go, your video game will get hacked like mine did in Call of Duty and you will lose your hard earned profile, the important sports games you watch will fade into oblivion, your work will continue day in and out, your big muscles may fade (but I hope not) and droop, but the most important thing that you will ever have is those people gathered around your deathbed and all of the memories from start to finish that you managed to share with them.
All of life is competing with your family for your attention, Money, success, fame and entertainment. Will you have an epiphany of valuing your family the highest and of putting them first or as John Cameron says lay them, your family on the altar of your success?
I make you a promise right now, that you will not look back at the end of your life and regret putting your family first, here’s 8 ways how:
8 Ways to put your family first
1/ Make a Commitment to have a great family. When you got married, you made a commitment, ‘I am going to love you, stick with you through good times and bad’. A healthy marriage will be my priority.
When you have kids you make the same decision but without the formality of the wedding ceremony. Maybe we need the formality of an occasion like this so that we know what the most important thing is when it comes to what will be your number one. When you have kids, you are not adding them onto your already busy life, they are now your life. When it comes to deciding what you are going to do on the weekend and it's your number one fun activity vs. your number one commitment, your family, how will you choose? Your decision to which is your greatest commitment will guide you.
2/ How to put your family first without resenting them; Balance.
All of the areas of your life are like plants, they need time and love to grow.
Going to ride your dirt bike or to do your favourite activity is not a good or a bad thing by itself, its in the context of how it fits into the rest of your life, check this out:
Scenario 1. After a balanced week of work and home time, You have just spent Saturday with your kids, working around the house and having time with them in the afternoon and hanging out with your wife having some quality time that evening. Sunday morning you get up and have breakfast with your family and then go along on your pre-planned dirt bike afternoon, you are home to tuck them in and say good night. TICK, Win
Scenario 2. You have worked late all week and not been around to have tea with the family or put them into bed. Saturday comes around and you sleep in because you are so tired and then watch sports on the couch in the afternoon and then a movie at night, the next morning you have breakfast with the family and announce you are leaving for the day to go riding. BANHHH, Fail
The difference was the context of input that you had given your family during the week. In Scenario 1. The love tanks are full in Scenario 2. The love tanks are empty. You need to find the balance in your life where yours and your families needs can be fulfilled.
3/ Plan and Prioritise: Look at your week, early in the week and make a plan of all of the actions that you need to take to make sure that everything gets time in order of priority. This will enable you to be able to decide what comes first and then how to fit in the other things that you need to do. Here is a great way to get your balance (link to time management tool)
A great focusing statement is; ’What things are going to give you the best returns’?
4/ Accepting that being a Dad is paying a price. You probably have friends with no kids, less kids or who just spend time differently to you. When you out at a family BBQ and are watching a sports game and there is only 10 minutes left, but you have already stretched your wife and kids that extra 10 minutes past when you needed to leave to get them into bed, you have a tough decision; Do I stay and wear them out and enjoy this tight ending or do I go and miss the end but have a better family for tomorrow and avoid a disconnect with my wife? The choice comes down to one very simple thing: you. You have to pay the price to make your family the most important thing and they need to know that they matter the most.
It's about changing the mindset from me to us.
5/ Why US is the best way to look at your life.
Is it really better to give than to receive? It can be pretty good to receive, it's great to get something nice. But then again, when you give, the other person is not just getting joy or love, you are getting it too as the giver, a double gift. When you set yourself as the giver in your family, it is role modelling giving to your family and they will watch, copy and reciprocate. A generous family is a beautiful thing and it all starts with an US mindset. When you look at the world through a ME mindset you will never have enough, no-one will be able to keep you happy, when you look at the world through an US mindset, you will always seek to make others happy and in doing so be happy yourself.
6/ Work the frenemy (Friend-enemy)
I love this saying from fiercemarraige.com ‘men, never let overworking steal quality time from your family. They would rather live with you in a tent than without you in a mansion.
As Dads one of our main responsibilities is being the breadwinner. If we don’t work then our families won’t eat and have nowhere to sleep. So our role is very important, but not the only thing that makes us a Dad. The state gives benefits to people who can’t work or are not healthy enough to work but this doesn’t make the Prime Minister or president your Dad or Mum. They are just giving you money to stay alive. Our role is not just to make the money for our family.
Maximising work time in work hours
Work will take as much time as you can give it. If you give work your afterhours, answer your emails 24/7 and keep your phone switched on all the time, the emails will keep rolling in and the phone will keep ringing. So what do you do?
Put a limit on it. If you are at work for 40 hours of paid time, limit it to that. I can hear the protests now, ‘but I won’t be able to get my work done in that time!’. Its ok I have done this, hear me out:
Starting from next week, write down in order of priority all of the tasks that you have to do and then how much time you have to do them. It will probably be longer than your 40 hours.
Necessity is the mother of all invention. You only having a set time will cause you to come up with genius ideas to work smarter and harder.
Work like a Mum. We employ mums who can only come to work for 4-5 hours a day but get 100% productivity squeezed into that time. How? They are efficient planners and workers as the Mum in their family and they only have a certain amount of time, they have a cap, so they are great at Time and motion and making sure that no moment is wasted.
Home time is home time. Put an auto reply on the email, a voicemail on the phone and leave work at work. This is hard as there are exceptions like real estate agents and business owners but in those cases, you will have other down times say in the morning or middle of the day, transfer your family times to those time slots.
Read the one minute Manager by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
Ask your boss for help. A happy worker is a great worker, especially if they are already doing their best, reach out and ask your boss for help if you have put the above keys into practise and still can’t make it work.
It's better to work half the hours and keep your family than work twice the hours and lose them and half of all you earned when she leaves.
7/ Tomorrow starts tonight - Get Sleep
Putting your family first is having enough energy and alertness to have your best self in play. The number one cause of depression is lack of sleep. You are much more likely to be grumpy and make bad decisions when you are tired. In WW1 the opposing armies in the trenches on the western front knew this and would fire artillery shells over at constant intervals to sleep deprive the other side.
8/ The number one way to be the family first Dad = Time.
One of the easiest ways to tell your family that they are the most important in your life is to give them your most important resource - Time.
So Dad’s it's tough but it all starts with a decision, that your family is the most important. Once you have answered that, all of the other choices in life become a lot easier. I know you will never regret putting them first.
Be the Family First Dad.