Presence is a challenge for us all. We’re all juggling work, home, friends, hobbies and of course relationships with our kids.
Most of us work. 9-5 Monday to Friday. None of us want to be weekend dads, but that sprint to leave work and get home in time to be together before their head hits the pillow is hard. Often it means we’ve left all sorts of things slightly undone, little loops that we know need to be closed. Things that have a nasty habit of popping into your mind when you’re trying to enjoy dinner, bath time and bedtime.
Over the years I’ve played with different ways of being more present. Here’s the routine I’ve found works.
Switching work off
My commute home means I have a 15 minute walk from the tube to my house. I use that time to mull the day. Am I on track with what I’m trying to achieve? What went well? What needs to change? Who do I need to talk to to move things forward? By the time I’ve reached the top of our road I’m onto the list of things for the next day. Jotting the things I need to do tomorrow on Trello and putting a calendar note on my phone for anything that needs to get done that night.
That’s work switched off.
Switching family on
When I get to the gate, which is all of 5 steps to the front door, I quickly think about what kind of dad and husband I want to be when I walk in the door. If all hell is breaking loose, how am I going to behave? How am I going to change the atmosphere quickly? If it’s quiet how am I going to bring the fun? If everyone’s having a great time, how am I going to join in?
Key in the door, turn it to the right, swing the door open and I’m in.
And 99% of the time it works. When I find my mind wandering onto work, my hand reaching for my phone, I tell myself to wait. It’s all planned, thought through and I have time that evening to sort anything else out I need to.