Ask a Therapist: How Can New Fathers Manage the Exhaustion of Parenting?
Being a father is exhausting (to put it mildly). Nevertheless, I meet many men who feel a tension to "not be selfish" and thus deny themselves the self-care that is necessary to survive the journey of fatherhood. I like to reframe the concept of "selfishness" to include the alternative possibility of being "self-interested." Being "selfish" says "no one else's needs matter but yours," whereas "self-interested" means "others' needs matter INCLUDING your own." To be self-interested is to pursue an optimal balance between working to serve the ones who depend on us, while ensuring we have the emotional and physical resources to continue serving. If you have ever been on an airplane, you might have heard instructions on what to do if the cabin pressure changes, which requires everyone to wear oxygen masks. Flight attendants instruct parents to put THEIR OWN mask on first prior to assisting children. Why would we choose to help ourselves first in such a situation? Because if we pass out from lack of oxygen before we finish helping our children, who will be available to them in a time of need? Our children will only get the best of us if we ensure we have our best to give.
Better Self Care for a Better You
Fathers, reflect on how your parenting will improve if you were even slightly more rested. Consider how your patience with your children and partner would improve if you were even slightly less tense. Your time and opportunities for self-care are limited in new ways once fatherhood begins. You may not have as many three hour windows of time where you could go to a movie or get together with friends or even play a round of golf. Your coping window might have shrunk to 20 minutes in between feedings, diaper changes, bath-time, doctors appointments, etc. Modify your preferred relaxation activity/hobby to fit into these smaller periods of time. Swing a golf club in the back yard for a few minutes while breathing the outdoor air deeply. Play your favorite music albums, audiobooks, or stand-up comedy routines with headphones while taking care of household chores. Consider a new way to relax that does not take much time. These ways might include brief exercise routines, walking outside, or enjoying a brief Youtube video that can help you laugh or "get away" for a moment. You will be amazed how much further your patience, tolerance, and energy will go if you incorporate even slightly more self-care into your routine. Both you and other family members will benefit from your efforts to remain self-interested in the midst of new demands and responsibilities.
Read more articles about parenting from The Catalyst Center:
Imaginative play is so fun and helpful for children in many different ways. However, parents are oftentimes at a loss as to how to encourage this so here are some benefits to imaginative play as well as some suggestions for how to easily incorporate it into your family life.
Believe it or not, some many parents find it difficult to think of what to do when trying to play with their child. We need to be able to get out of our own way and more than anything, out of our heads and really connect with our kids.
Birth is often crazy and unpredictable. For some mothers and families, the experience of giving birth ends up varying greatly from what they planned or hoped for. Trauma from birth and postpartum periods can mimic postpartum depression or other postpartum issues, yet the way we resolve these problems are distinct.
Summertime means kids are out of school and the dreaded “Bringing Kids to the Grocery Store Season,” is upon us. Daily tasks can become much more complicated when you have to plan around kids’ schedules, moods, attention-spans, etc.
The Catalyst Center wants to wish every father a wonderful Father's Day! We've compiled a list of some fun local activities to help you celebrate Dad with the whole family!
As a full-time therapist and parent of three children, I know firsthand that it can sometimes feel like a juggling act! Here are some suggestions that may buy you more time to spend with your family...
Our children will only get the best of us if we ensure we have our best to give. If you have ever been on an airplane, you might have heard instructions on what to do if the cabin pressure changes, which requires everyone to wear oxygen masks. Flight attendants instruct parents to put THEIR OWN mask on first prior to assisting children. Why would we choose to help ourselves first in such a situation? Because if we pass out from lack of oxygen before we finish helping our children, who will be available to them in a time of need?
If you are looking for fun and unique ways to spend the your Mothers Day, here are six diverse ideas/events in the Denver metro area.
Would you like to better understand your teenager? Dr. Courtney Klein highlights ways you can reconnect with your ever-changing child to foster deeper relationships, better communication, and improved bonding.
Finding ways to connect with loved ones over long distances is a dilemma faced by many families. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other family might not get many opportunities to interact with distant loved ones in person and must rely on other means such as phones or computers. This reality can make it more difficult to connect with younger children who live apart from you, but there are ways to overcome this distance. Read Dr. Katie Godfrey's ideas about how to facilitate long distance connections with children in your family using hand puppets for interactive conversations with younger loved ones.