Seasons of Life

This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

You know something is a little off but you can’t quite pinpoint it. Your daily interactions with your kid have felt a little strained, maybe at times like you’re going through the motions. If you have more than one child you may feel like you’re getting along better with one, while having a hard time understanding the other. You may be quick to snap at them or just plain tired and having a hard time fully focusing.

It happens to all of us. We get into a rut or have a season where we feel like all we do is argue with and discipline our children. It can be frustrating and really difficult to deal with in the moment. But there is good news: seasons change. Winter gives way to spring, spring brings summer, and summer yields to fall. Time passes and a new season is just right around the corner. Often this is a good change that brings better behavior, deeper connection and more fun.

Here are some of our favorite ways to break out of a rut and help speed up the changing of the seasons:

-Go on a date with the child that you feel disconnected from. Often, this focused one-on-one time is all the relationship needs to get back on track. With so many distractions it’s hard to always give kids our full attention. A date is the perfect way to do just that.

-Pull out an old favorite game or activity. Sometimes the best remedy is returning to something you know they love and you enjoy doing with them.

-Read a favorite book or make up your own story at bedtime. Bedtime has fostered many of our favorite moments with our kids and the requests for cuddles and adorable look they have when they’re asleep are always a good boost to your emotional connection.

So, the next time you feel like you’re in a season that just can’t end soon enough…first, give yourself some grace. Remember that each season has its place and purpose. Then try out one of these activities and see if it helps speed up the arrival of spring after a long, cold winter.

This is fatherhood…

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Moments

I’ve often heard “enjoy every moment” or “make every moment count” because before you know it they’ll be graduating or grown up and out of the house. While this seems like fairly sound advice, it fails to take into account that not all of life’s moments are enjoyable and it’s often just not physically possible to soak up every single moment.

I’ve been really working on being present as much as possible lately. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed by my thoughts and anxieties sometimes forgetting to be present in the moment. While it can be tough, my earnest efforts to be fully engaged and present every time I’m with my kids really pays off in my relationship with them and their desire to spend time with me. By investing as much energy as I can into enjoying as many moments as possible, I’m setting myself up for more opportunities and special moments I’ll never forget.

One of these moments came not that long ago. I was putting the kids to bed on my own (something I highly recommend all dads do with at least some frequency) while my wife was out getting a much-needed break with a friend. My daughter (for a bit) was already asleep and it was time to get my son ready now too. I’m not totally sure how it came up, perhaps a picture on our scrolling picture roll on the TV, but my son noticed my grandpa who passed away before he was born. We’ve had some great talks and discussions about my grandpa before as he has always been one of my heroes. We talked about how he made a “special ball” my son gets to play with. My grandpa loved wood-working and made a perfect sphere out of wood that I found in his house, really liked and in turn gave to my son to play with. As we talked more he said “I really like that guy”. My heart melted in an instant as I too “really liked that guy”. My son thought it was special that he made that special ball just for him and that was why he really liked that guy.

While my grandpa made that ball many years before my son was conceived I know for a fact he would have made a special ball for him if he’d had the opportunity, so his sentiment was still true. I went on to talk about how one of my favorite things about my grandpa was how he loved to tell stories, and then of course my son wanted to hear them. So his bedtime story that night was a story my grandpa always chuckled while he told – of the time the little boy he read to at the local school grabbed the glasses right off my grandpa’s face and declared: “Let’s see you read now!” I told the story and then told my son that reading program my grandpa volunteered at and believed in is the same place that I am working at now.

It was all one big, incredible moment that I especially hang onto during a busy and stressful period of life. And it only happened because of the effort I’d put in previously to being present as much as possible with my son. So…my advice is…don’t “enjoy” every moment…you can’t enjoy picking up poop off of a tent floor…you just can’t…but you can set yourself up for awesome and amazing moments by being as engaged as possible as often as possible…and that’s all I’m trying to do right now.

This is fatherhood…