A coaching client of mine (a Dad) once lamented the complete lack of time in his life to think, to plan, to pray. As he put it, he lacked “time away from the noise”.
Now this man deeply loved his wife and four kids, he loved his work. But he acutely felt the need for regular space just to clear his head, get some focus, think and even not have to think!
His wife and youngest child had health problems. His job meant 9 hours straight of interacting with people at way beyond the surface level, always solving their problems. He lived only a few minutes away from home and the trip home was nowhere near enough time to “change hats” from Worker to Dad. Life was like running the rapids, 16 hours a day.
Fellas, if you’re lucky enough to be living with your family (ie., not divorced or separated), and regardless of whether your wife is working or at home, whether you are a SAHD or a “working” Dad like my friend above (as if stay-at-home parents don’t work!), you need that time out that my friend was missing. So does your wife, by the way.I suspect this is why many men make the detour to the pub or bar on the way home, or actually stay back in the office when everyone else has left, just to have some peace and quiet where they don’t have to stop fights, listen carefully, respond, mediate, help with homework, etc etc.
Unfortunately neither of these “solutions” is really meeting the need. We need time to relax and refresh, to let go of one role before taking on the next, a way to chill out…Now don’t give me that garbage about being too busy. If your wife said she’d been too busy to take the car in for its scheduled service 18 months ago, you’d go postal on her, so be consistent here dude…
Here are some thoughts on the how and the what of defragging yourself:
My coaching client decided at first on ten-minute walks around the car park at work during the day. He did this because his wife wasn’t yet in a place to accept him taking a 30 minute detour anywhere on his way home at night. His workplace understood: most of them just thought he was exercising, while his fellow mangers knew what he was up to and that he would come back into the office with a clearer mind.
A bunch of coaching buddies and I have a monthly practise, some of them call it a Refocus Day, I call it a Defrag Day. Some of them hike. I mix it up between a favourite sheltered cove/beach nearby and coffee shops, where I can just stare at the water, think, drink good coffee, read, plan, etc. Again, my coaching client above revived his own practises of half-days away praying in the forest at a favourite spot by a stream, with instant effect.
One of my friends’ Dads had a great routine each night. He would come home, kiss his wife, say hi to the kids and then retreat to the lounge room with a paper (or occasionally with nothing) and just sit for 20 minutes. In that time, his wife enforced the rule that no one was to disturb him. And when he came back into the family space 20 minutes later, he was fully present with them.
Like most things to do with your inner world, you’re only going to get suggestions from me rather than a formula. You need to try some things out, talk some things out, find your own solution here. The important thing is defrag your head and your life regularly and both will run better.
Making a start on this will require some talking through with your partner. Get ready to sell it, to be vulnerable, to not be immediately understood. These go with the territory. But this is worth calmly persisting with…
Peter Aldin is founder of Great Circle Coaching & Development and a licensed facilitator of the Pitstop parenting program for men. For over a decade, he has provided consulting and training that assists people to sharpen their personal and professional re