Balancing Act (Fatherhood Edition)
You might have stumbled on the term balancing act at some point in your life but did you know the proper definition for it? Balancing Act is defined as “an action or activity that requires a delicate balance between different situations or requirements.” Does that sound like a life of a parent? I think so. Parenthood is very unpredictable, fast, nonstop and leaves you at the edge of your seat. Between cooking, cleaning, baths, Dr. appointments, playtime, work, ministry, practice, and many other things, where do you find consistent balance in the midst of it all? In this 4 part series titled Balancing Act I will cover how to have proper balance in the areas of Fatherhood (Parenting), Career, Ministry, and Marriage. So buckle up and enjoy the ride!
2 Peter 3:17 " You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away.... and lose your own stability."
I have been blessed and consider myself the luckiest man on earth (or unlucky, according to some friends) to have two beautiful twins, Micah Jon and Aria Jaslene Sierra. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be a father of twins, but from day one my wife (Jennifer Sierra) and I have always kept this saying in our hearts, "God will never give us more than what we can handle". That has definitely been true in a lot of cases in our lives, but honestly it is a lot easier said than done. There are days where you don't know how you will find strength, patience and balance but for some reason we do. I wanted to write a few key things that I think is necessary to obtain consistent balance in your continued pursuit in parenthood.
It is all about the kids. I can go off into many different angles on this, but the one thing that I will say is that the moment you became a father (parent) is the moment you truly died to yourself. If fatherhood has taught me one thing it is that my agenda and plans are second to my children's needs and attention. Fatherhood exposed how selfish, I really was. I come from a background of bodybuilding, which is considered to be one of the most selfish sports out there. Between prepping meals, training, posing, meal timing, competing, supplementation, and repeating this cycle for weeks, months and even years, something had to change.
I decided to chop away things that I felt I could let go without ultimately taking away my goals of good health and staying in shape. This was easier said than done and was not accomplished in one night. Always remember that everything has a season. Your kids will not be two years old forever. So enjoy them. I am not telling you to quit what you are currently doing, but ask yourself, "Could I sacrifice some of my time and give it to my children?" or "Am I giving too much time to this one thing and not my children?" The ball is in your court to make the best choice.
Set daily routines or weekly events. I work from 9-6 pm Monday through Friday and every day when I get home at 6:30 pm it is my children's time. Nothing else. Whatever they want to do, we do. While mom gets dinner ready, we either play outside, play in the playroom, color, play hide and go seek, and many more things. After dinner we either play a little more if time permits or we have our bath time, followed by bible reading and then bed time. My kids know this routine because my wife and I have made it a priority to devote as much time as possible to them and they see that consistency every day. They know when daddy gets home it's their time. But when do you find time to do anything for yourself during the week? you might ask. We'll once the kids are in bed, my wife and I balance out the week and devout certain days to ourselves individually (usually she sleeps) and on Friday & Saturday nights (sometimes more) we have some time together. In this small frame of time I have learned to get a lot done. A lot of my writing comes at this time.
I speak as a father of toddlers but you might have adolescent children or older and that is where you might have to set up weekly family gatherings. Set up a day and time every week to devout strictly to your family. No emails, calls, work, etc. Just you and your family. This can consist of game night, movie night, going out for ice cream, take out dinner night, whatever will allow you to connect with your children and let them know that this is their time. You will be surprised how far and how meaningful this will be to you and your children.
Go out of your way a little more. As I spoke in my previous point about keeping routines, it also is good to get away from the norm. I know it sounds contradicting but your kids are not dummies. You might be able to get away with routines now that they are young, but once they get older it will be time to spice things up. I am not saying totally ditch your set routines, but what I am saying is that instead of doing your Monday through Friday routine, maybe on a random day of the week surprise your kids with some ice cream, a trip to Chuck 'e cheese or some tickets to a particular event around town. This applies greatly on your weekend plans. The kids will know that mommy and daddy are off so on these days you really need to bring the excitement. Jennifer and I like to sit down at the beginning of every month and look at each weekend. We pick out 1-3 weekends where we can specifically plan some out of the normal events for the kids. A trip to the beach, a particular event around town that might relate to the current season (pumpkin farms, Easter egg hunts, fairs, zoos, etc.) I don't want my kids to ever think that I am a boring dude! Breaking out of routine once in a while will let your kids know that they are more than just your Monday through Friday plans but that they are your 24/7 365!
At the end of the day you know your kids more than anyone else. God put them in your life for a reason. As a father do what you feel is best and right for your kids, but don't be afraid of change. Balance and routine are great things and I encourage it, but don't be afraid to break out of it from time to time. Also don't ever let anything get in the way of spending quality time with your kids. You think it might not have value, but to them it does. Trust me, I know a thing or two about not having a dad around (which I will cover in future topics to come). At any given day things can get out of balance but it's OK it's is a part of parenting and it is a life long journey of learning and more learning.
My prayer is that this can be an encouragement and reminder to every father. Pursue your relationship with your children with everything you have. Your efforts, time and love will not go unnoticed. Your children are a gift from God to you. Let God lead you to lead them!