Before you go further, please know that as I am writing this I have no real idea as to where I am going to head with this piece but bear with me for a little longer. There are people worse off out there right now and that should be acknowledged. I am not writing this from a perspective that life is bad, to the contrary life is good, I am lucky… I am however writing this as a parent that has learnt much in a very short period of time.
This will be written in two parts. The first part will be a reflective piece from father-me, that is reflecting to help me find more valuable lessons in being a better version of myself tomorrow compared to today, one that is still honestly growing in his role as dad.
The second part is my take from the other-me, the life coach, who hopes that even some small part might resonate with you and help your life as a parent. I am writing this as I would talk to my clients who may need some helpful advice as a parent.
LET ME SET THE SCENE
YOU’VE GOT TO KNOW THIS ABOUT ME
I am the primary carer of our little 2 year old boy, my wife works her butt off and is at her desk at 8.30am until 6.30pm each night, with a break for lunch. I do my best to support her career and do what I can around the house. I am an only child and a natural introvert. Don’t think “introvert” sitting in the corner at a party type cliche, think of me enjoying… (no, loving is more accurate) my own space. My quiet time gives me a recharge of energy for life.
“Humans are biological not logical. All learning is state (mindset) dependant.”
THEN, THERE WAS THE LOCKDOWN SITUATION
With that in mind, let me also just say that we have just come out of a stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne, which has recently known one of the most severe Coronavirus restrictions globally, a stage where daycare centres were closed for 2 months…meaning my 27 month old boy was home for that time.
ALL. OF. THAT TIME!
During this lockdown, no visitors were allowed in the house, unless it was a medical emergency, thankfully none occurred.
2 months of spending more consecutive face to face time with my boy than any other human I have ever known except for my mother when I was a child and the time I traveled around Europe for 3 months with my best friend (15 years ago). These 2 months with my son have been about establishing our bond, relationship and possibly some of the habits we will hold onto for life, unless of course we have the insight and perspective to change them for the better.
A FATHER’S LEARNINGS OVER THE LIFE COACH’S PERSPECTIVE
BE MORE PRESENT
These last months have been trying and fantastic, valuable, life changing, shit and brilliant all at the same time. I have had the opportunity to spend time with my boy, time that I never thought I would have. The 8 weeks were awesome and now I already wish I had lived each moment that much better with him and not focused on the time left before the next scheduled task. I wish I had lived the moments a little more carefree and a little less “don’t do that” or “you/it might hurt/break/drop/fall/something”.
AS A LIFE COACH I WOULD ASK
Do you know what habits in your family relationships you want to create or alter? How strong are the bonds you are forming? Could they be stronger?
If you were honest, how often do you find yourself not being 100% present with your kids, once a day, once an hour?
NEVER STOP LEARNING
What lesson(s) do I take away from my face to face encounter with those big ice blue eyes? What did I learn from the walks around the oval, walking through the big gumtrees? What did I learn between counting to 10 all morning and putting him to bed after book time at night? What did I learn from those rainy days spent in the lounge with no TV to pass the time?
I learnt he is already head strong and determined, he loves being around people and other kids, he gains his energy from being with others, he sleeps on his tummy, he eats like a uni student, likes disco music and dinosaurs are his thing. Bedtime, means find any other task in the house to do, to avoid actually going to bed. The garage is his favourite place in the house. He likes pretending to mop behind me when I am vacuuming the floor. I learnt my back story and beliefs of being an only child and introvert are not relevant to him and have no place in his story, nor our relationship and bond. That is purely an excuse.
AS A LIFE COACH I WOULD ASK
What is the one valuable lessons learnt during this crazy year called 2020, that you will always remember and laugh at with the kids?
MORE TIME IS NEVER A CERTAINTY
I know that we all think we have more time or time to do it over tomorrow but we don’t. I don’t mean this in a life and death way. I mean this in regards to the fact that we can’t do things over. There is no repeat or rewind button for us. That moment is happening and it’s gone.
AS A LIFE COACH I WOULD ASK
Could that moment have been your path to something different and greater, if you changed what you normally do?
Again this is not a new comment or theory and it really isn’t supposed to be. It’s me connecting with the desire to do more and stir the same emotion and belief in you.
A LIFE COACH’S PERSPECTIVE ON A FATHER’S EXPERIENCE
My message more than anything else is that we are surrounded by opportunities in our lives to let go of the facade and just be in the moment with our kids, this could be just playing, dancing, jumping and hanging out with them or it could be about being real and authentic during your conversations in the car.
What is the point of not being present and invested in every moment you are involved in? I am not saying it is easy but it is so worth it. We can’t go back and do things we deep down inside know we should but why allow this to happen in the first place?
See where that takes you when you start living your life with energy, passion, commitment and use the power that exists within you versus holding back for tomorrow.
So tonight go and hug and kiss your partner, your kids. Or if you can, call your parents and thank them for doing what they could for you. Don’t wait any longer, do it now.
“Kids don’t do as we say….they do what we do.
They don’t hear us, they imitate us”
SO, IS THE LIFE YOU LEAD TRULY THE LESSON YOU TEACH?
I believe so but as a life coach, all I can do is help you get to your own self-reflection and realisation. To help you do that, let me share some of my truth with you:
Develop and nurture self confidence, self worth and internal validation.
Encourage happiness and gratitude with all you have.
Put down your phone, even start by not touching it for an hour each morning.
Figure out what values you want to encourage and live by each day.
Make a list of the amazing things your parents taught you.
What is the list to develop that you didn’t get from them? When we try to develop the skills they didn’t have, we realise how hard it is.
Live with care and attention.
Create impactful and nurturing routines and traditions.
Have awareness of your shortcomings, the ones you don’t want to shine a light on for your kids to emulate, remove them from your parenting bag of tricks.
If failure is ok in adult life, encourage your kids to give it a go more often. No barrier or expectations.
Work doesn’t matter really that much, don’t use it as an excuse.
Actually don’t find excuses. Either do it or not but don’t sit in the middle.
Take their lead at times and see where it takes you.
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO YOUR CHOICE OF LEGACY
As parents, teachers or coaches to our kids, as students of life we should focus on leaving the world in a better place and to make a greater impact than the original path that we were placed on as children.
If I truly believe that kids don’t listen to us, they imitate us…then I would close with this:
Your kids won’t without question benefit from just being sent to an expensive school because you say this is the path they should be on, they won’t necessarily live a happy and full life if you just say “be happy and you have fun”.
They will however always benefit from you being present and showing them how to experience life with gratitude and care. They will benefit from you investing the time showing them what living an amazing life is like and not just passing the moments and minutes, believing that there is plenty more to come.
They will then flourish as a result, and that’s an important part of creating fulfilling legacies.