I could have made so much more progress in the five years I was a stay at home dad.
And when I look back and ponder why I didn’t do better, I conclude that I simply didn’t feel like it.
The way I felt robbed me of so much time and opportunity.
Opportunity to be happy and opportunity to be productive.
The constant and unrelenting nature of looking after very young children all day (and often all night) takes its toll, especially on someone already weakened and damaged after being tossed around on life’s stormy seas.
Maybe you think I’m overstating it by using words like ‘constant’ and ‘unrelenting’? I promise you I’m not.
It’s very easy for a dad to drop into the family scene and take charge of the kids for a couple of days and then hand them back to mum with an ‘I don’t know what all the fuss is about’ look on his face – and I know, because I’ve done it – but 2 or 3 days is absolutely and totally unrepresentative of what it’s like to have them full time.
Yes it’s wonderful and yes it’s rewarding, but it’s exhausting, both physically and mentally.
Did I mention it’s unrelenting?
And that’s where you start getting to a low ebb.
The constant demands of the children… continually meeting their needs and often neglecting your own… it reduces you to a husk.
You always do your best for your children but when it comes to yourself you can often feel indifferent .
When you don’t feel like doing anything… guess what? Nothing gets done.
It’s hard to fight too, because we’re driven by our emotions, and the fact is we don’t have direct access to our emotions, they’re pretty much hardwired in.
Watch this video to see how emotion is linked to feelings, and note the role that physiology takes, i.e. fatigue, sleep deprivation and similar conditions endured by stay at home parents.
If you haven’t sunk as low as ‘indifferent’, maybe you’ve reached harassed, overwhelmed, frustrated or even angry?
The result is still the same… you simply don’t feel like doing the things you need to or want to do to make your life better.
I learnt eventually that you have to create opportunities for feeling good and take action to reduce the chances of feeling lousy.
Lousy has a habit of lingering.
I still fall foul of this even after all this time. But being conscious of it helps enormously.
It takes practice and time, but good things start to happen when you harness the feel good factor.