Few messages have generated as much feedback from men as the one I delivered to our church family this past Sunday. And no wonder – whenever you ask men to stay engaged at home – to stay connected and involved after work – you’ll get plenty of responses.
I’m glad they felt they could respond! Truth is, 99% of the men who either emailed me, called me, or spoke with me face to face were wanting to do exactly that – stay engaged! “We want to, but how?” they’d ask.
So here’s a couple of suggestions from one who is in the trenches with you. One who struggles like you do to be “dad and hubby” after a long day. One who knows my kids want my best but I feel like all I have left sometimes is my worst. Yeah, that’s me more than I want to admit. Here’s what I do to stay engaged at home (most of the time):
Firstly, win one battle at a time. Sometimes if I look at the whole evening at one time, I can get a little overwhelmed. But if I just take the evening one question at a time – “Dad, wanna play soccer?” “Hey dad, let’s go bike riding!” “Honey, can you set the table?” “Dad, I need $20 for a team dinner tomorrow.” “Dad, can I get a ride to my friend’s?” “I need help with my homework, dad.” – I do much better. Face it, that many questions can be intimidating. But if I just simply address the one question asked of me at that moment, then try and resolve it honestly, I’ve stayed engaged, helped my family, and avoided red-lining due to our version of the Inquisition.
Secondly, stay in shape. You probably don’t want to hear this, but one of the reasons some men tire easily is because they are out of shape, overweight, and wrongly nourished. For instance, getting a sugar high at work may make you feel revved for an intense meeting, but at some point – usually later that night at home – you’re left dry. It’s what I call the “High and Dry Syndrome” – we get high for work and end up dry for our family. Why? One reason could be bad eating habits.
Another reason could be a lack of motion/exercise. Before you click out of this screen, bear with me a little longer. When you are out of shape and in less-than-desirable cardio condition, you will run out of energy faster because your body has to work harder. But when men are in decent shape, they can stay engaged and involved longer (like at home after work!); their bodies last past 5:00! Personally, I didn’t think it would happen, but I watched my energy level increase when I started getting up early and exercising. Odd, ain’t it? I started expending energy and felt better! An added benefit is that you are emotionally better fit as well, as exercising releases endorphins, God’s natural chemicals that help you feel relaxed and stress-free.
Remember — energy isn’t created or destroyed; it is only changed, transferred or utilized. In the world of exercise, think about like this: when you start moving, it helps you keep moving. Why? Because you have accessed your stored energy and utilized it, which, in turn, releases endorphins and makes you feel better. And when you feel better, you usually want to engage. Stay connected. Believe it or not, getting in shape will help you find renewed energy for the ones who matter most.
Now drop and crank out 50 pushups…your wife and kids will thank you later.