Being intentional about becoming a better dad can’t be over looked. According to research by Forbes, 96% of people surveyed were living in auto pilot. Just think of all the things we do without putting any thought into it. We do easily get stuck in a rut. My day usually goes like this: wake up, shower, wake the kids, coffee, breakfast, make lunches, get dressed, rush off to take kids to school, race to work, pick up kids, work out, prep for dinner, get ready for bed….repeat. How many times have you walked into a room and wondered “what did I come in here for?” A better example of this is often times when I get in the car, I blindly start driving to the school. Why? My brain has shut off and I am not being intentional.
What does being intentional have to do with being a better dad? Being intentional about building relationships w your family has to go to the top of the list. Steven Covey calls this being proactive. In fact, it’s his first habit of the 7 habits of highly effective people. One thing my family has always enjoyed is camping. Recently I realized that we had not been to one of our favorite camping spots in 2 years (Devil’s Fork State Park). In my mind, we go there all time. Two years ago seems like a few weeks ago. So, I got looking at my calendar and we only went camping 3 times last year! As a family, we were not being intentional about doing this activity. Something we love doing, that actually brought us together and made great memories had gotten pushed to the side. So what did I do? I went out and bought a used travel trailer and planned a 2 week road trip to Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton. Having been tent camper and having never camped in a travel trailer we now had 8 months to learn how to drive, operate, and renovate the trailer. We have something on the books for once a month, leading up to the two week trip and 2 other weekend trips planned before school starts in the fall.
Being intentional about creating memories for my family is something that I strive to grow in. When it hit me that I only have 6 more years with my 12 year old in the house, I knew I needed to make the most of my time.
Here are a few tips to finding ways at being intentional with building your family relationships:
1. Find something everyone can enjoy
This is going to be specific to your family. Not everyone enjoys the same activities. With that said, someone in the house has to give a little. It doesn’t have to be your favorite thing to do, you just have to be willing to give it a try.
Ask your kids what they want to do. Bribe them with ice cream to go with you to do something you like. The bottom line is, make it fun. Make them want to do things together because the reward is fun! It doesn’t have to be some major event. (Click here for 101 Things to do with your kids) When my children were younger, I use to pick my daughters up from day care and take them to the zoo every afternoon. Seriously, we had a yearly pass and it got so ridiculous that we could go through the zoo in under 20 minutes. They got sick of the zoo and wanted to blaze through and hit the playground at the park next door. Years later, my youngest daughter will still asks me to take her to the zoo.
2. Get past the excuses that have been stopping you
Why did my family not go to our favorite spot for two years? We had tons of excuses not to go! My wife got a big promotion, so work went to the front of the line. I was perusing advances at work, as well. There was always something coming up, or we were behind on something. We “didn’t have time” and we were not being intentional. There were more reasons not to, than reason to. We just lost our focus and let things outside of our household get in the way. Maybe it is money. God knows, if you have family there are always unplanned expenses that pop up. Be SMART about what you want. Make a goal and squash the excuses.
3. Get out your calendar and plan dates for events.
You have to be in control of your destiny. The calendar is a powerful tool. When you look ahead and plan for events that you intentionally use to build your family, and put those events on the calendar, it empowers you to say no to distractions and say yes to what you want to do. Back to my camping trip example, (I am getting obsessed with this) I put all of my families big events for the upcoming months on the calendar. Then I looked for open dates that we could take off and hit the road. Every 5 weeks or so, we are going to take a weekend to put the camper on the road. It is on the books. Now, I am forced to say no to other things, because I have already said “yes” to these intentional events.
4. Start where you are at. It doesn’t have to be grandiose.
Do small things. Maybe it’s not a weekend get away for the family. Maybe, it is a Sunday afternoon trip to the park. Maybe it is just putting some music on and cooking a family meal, while having a dance party. We do this one quite a bit in our house. It’s free and it’s fun, and no I don’t have great dance skills.
Thanks for taking time to read my blog. I hope some of these thoughts help you out or give you some ideas. If you have anything you want to share or any cool ideas that other dads can use while being intentional in building family relationships, then chime in with a comment or email me! Oh yeah, make sure you subscribe (get on the email list) so I can put you into the Facebook group. That way we can connect and we can both be part of helping each other become a better dad.