Loving Our Kids in the Face of Exhaustion

Enjoying Our Kids Even When We're ExhaustedEvery day, I get out of bed and do my best to be the most incredible dad, husband, business owner and man I can be.

But sometimes I fall short. Short on energy, patience, answers, compassion or time.

Lately, my struggle with exhaustion seems more tough than usual. And whatever self pity I experience is overshadowed by the guilt that I am not doing a better job as a dad.

I’m not doing anything “wrong,” per se. It’s just that I’m so overwhelmed that I feel like it’s difficult to handle even the smallest of issues.

Of course it’s not really the issue that’s the problem, I have really good kids. The problem is that my nervous system is on overload — ALL THE TIME.

Is this how you feel, too?

The question is, how do we overcome this and simply love our children? Love them in a way that says “I’m so glad you’re here and that you chose me as your dad.”

To let all of the noise fade away so we can love our children and ENJOY them.

We were watching the first episode of The Brady Bunch on Hulu today, and Mr. & Mrs. Brady were on their honeymoon, regretting yelling at their kids and being short with them. I can relate.

So, what do we do?

I’ve found the best solution is to take better care of myself so I am more equipped to handle life. Meditation and exercise serve me very well, as does being mindful. I also apologize to my boys when I make a mistake. I can’t take it back, but I can at least admit my misstep.

When I’m mindful, I stop myself from reacting and getting stressed. Instead, I look at my boys, smile and realize how much I love them.

Thank you Max and Joss for being my boys.

And remember, you are not alone …

The Loss of Time & the Art of Surviving

Lost Time & The Art of SurvivalI find it hard to believe that it’s been 4 months since my last blog post.

I have plenty to say, but three jobs, karate, swimming, financial stress — and doing my best to be a good dad and husband have left me tired and out of time.

Blogging, which was once done 3X per week, is now perpetually on the back burner. And this makes me sad.

I’ve recently started exercising and meditating again, which is helping me hold everything together. 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there, I feel like a thief stealing time that no longer belongs to me.

Survival trumps just about everything. But if all we focus on is survival, then we’re essentially standing still — or worse sinking in metaphorical quick sand. Yuck.

So, how do we get unstuck?

MOVEMENT.

Especially moving our eyes up & over the junk that lies before us. If we can look past the junk, we can see where we’d like to go. Once we accomplish this, we can take steps to get there. I’ve gotten into the habit of doing one or two major things each week to move my progress forward. And inch by inch, I am moving closer to my goals.

You can do this, too. I know you can. The trick is to stop thinking about it, and start doing it. Put it on the schedule — actually on your calendar — and do it.

Start today. Even if it’s only for 3 minutes.

And remember, you are not alone …

Coping with Exhaustion

Exhaustion.

It’s something that haunts my existence constantly these days. And if you’re a fellow parent, chances are you feel the same.

The question is, how are we coping with our exhaustion? Are we treating our kids and our spouse in a way we’re happy with? Or are we constantly crabby, finding it hard not to be set off by the smallest thing.

When it takes just about every ounce of focus for us to accomplish just what needs to be done today, how do we find the time and energy to work on improving our family’s future?

I’ve become accustomed to feeling exhaustion. It’s the new normal. Problem is, I don’t see any relief in sight.

But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up.

What I’ve found is that if I continue to work on what I call my foundational balance – which consists of exercise, sleep, eating well, some form of meditation, and having an occasional date with my wife – I’m still exhausted, but my temperament is far more positive.

I’m the first tot admit that when I don’t work on my foundational balance, I’m no fun to be around.

What about you?

And remember, you are not alone …

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Life is Like a Cup of Coffee …

Have you ever thought about the similarities between life and coffee?

Some people have good cups, some great – while others have a cup that’s bitter, full of yucky grains, or has simply gotten cold.

You could say the same about our lives.

In my experience as a dad and a man, I’ve found that many people think that they’re stuck with whatever cup they’ve been poured. Not true.

We all have the ability to empty out our cup, clean it, and start fresh with a better blend.

Stepping away from the metaphorical and toward the practical, what I’m really talking about is rebuilding our lives. Whether it’s changing jobs, going back to school, improving our health – whatever – there are steps we can take to go from bitter to better.

What about when others try to throw stuff in our coffee?

Sometimes it’s people we can easily avoid, like coworkers or acquaintances that are negative. But sometimes its family, and that’s a situation which becomes much harder to solve.

My youngest son has been throwing stuff in my coffee by waking up every night crying. This has been going on for longer than I can remember.

He’s obviously not trying to throw junk in my coffee – yet in it goes. Since I love him with all my heart, I want to help him, but this is making my waking hours incredibly difficult. From work, to exercise, to growing my speaking career – it’s simply much harder to move forward toward my goals because I’m exhausted.

Even in this case, there is a choice. If I let the circumstances dictate who I am, then I’m simply reacting to my environment and I am lost. If I remain true to who I am as best I can – as a dad, a husband, a writer and a speaker – then at least I’m not throwing more junk in my own coffee. It may not be perfect (yet), but this choice is certainly the better blend.

And remember, you are not alone …

Star Wars Episode 7: Dads are not Droids

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …
… Daddy Brain’s children thought he was a droid.

At least that what it seems like sometimes. Like most kids, mine are constantly demanding my attention – either to play, eat, bathe, or break up an argument about something that nobody will remember 20 minutes from now.

All in all, I love my role as a Work At Home Dad. But alas, I am not a droid. I can not recharge my battery in one hour like my iPhone. And I struggle with processing all the input that streams into my brain all day long. Working on growing my speaking career, caring for my boys, my wife and myself – not to mention actually mowing the lawn every once in a while is a constant struggle. And it’s exhausting.

I was speaking with a friend the other day and he told me that my quest for “balance” was impossible – especially if I’m constantly trying to have a balance between work, family and self on a daily basis. I think he’s right. Quite frankly, everything is cyclical – whether I want it to be or not. Sometimes the focus needs to be on work. Other times on play.

Above all, I need to recognize when my wife or kids need me. Although this is paramount over the former two things, it’s sometimes difficult because it involves being flexible. And being flexible means occasionally letting go of what I have planned. Finally, I need to make sure I take good care of myself so I can do all of these things well, and have a clear head to know where to direct my attention first.

Like my good friend, R2D2 the astromech droid, all I can do is my best.

May the force be with you.

And remember, you are not alone …

Acting with Kindness & Patience isn’t Always Easy …

The other day I got to thinking about how I’d like to treat my family vs. how I actually treat them. I found a disparity between the two, and realized I have some work to do if I want to give my wife and boys more of the following:

– Respect
– Love
– Understanding
– Wisdom
– Knowledge
– Belief in themselves
– Nurturing
– A feeling of being protected
– A feeling of being cared for
– Financial comfort

I share these thoughts with you because in the face of exhaustion and stress, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of what’s most important in our lives. Taking a moment to be mindful about how we treat our family can help us refocus.

The result? A happier, healthier personal (not to mention professional) life.

And remember, you are not alone …

The Daddy Brain Workshop Series

The Daddy Brain Workshop in Madison, WI

Three 1-hour sessions focusing on issues that concern dads:

DAD’S EMOTIONAL LIFE
Wednesday, May 12th from 6-7 pm
Traditionally, dads have not been encouraged to talk about their emotions. But feelings like frustration, inadequacy, stress, sadness & fear need to be addressed, not suppressed.

DISCIPLINE
Thursday, May 20th from 6-7 pm
Positive and negative forms of discipline are discussed, as well as how we treat our kids on a daily basis (beyond discipline). Brain development is also touched upon.

GOALS FOR DADS, KIDS AND THE FAMILY
Thursday, June 3rd from 6-7 pm
How to define, set and attain goals – even in the face of obstacles like exhaustion, negative emotions, lack of time and stress.

All workshops are @ The Madison Public Library, Sequoya Branch. 4340 Tokay Blvd, Room A. To reserve your seat, or for more info, call Joey @ 608-216-6760, or e-mail daddybrain@live.com.

Have a group that would benefit from these workshops? I offer 1-day sessions and can travel to your town – wherever that might be. Feel free to e-mail or call me to discuss.

And remember, you are not alone …