The fatherhood / ambition balance

Becoming a dad for the first time is a massive change to our lives.  How do you got about balancing fatherhood with ambition?

 
It can be difficult to focus on wider goals with this new person in our lives.
 
In this post, I share my experiences being a new dad and some of the tactics used to balance being a father with my wider interests.
 

“You don’t have children, do you?  How do you expect me to do that?”

I remember this excuse from a parent. Even at eighteen, I felt people using their children as an excuse why they couldn’t do something struck me as lazy.

Now actually as a father, I appreciate the additional ‘baggage’ a child adds to the smallest task, but still think it is a pathetic cop-out to use your child as an excuse not to do anything.

Now that I arrive at sixteen months as a father, I see how my child adds difficultly to working on other ambitions.

The change was an upward struggle to incorporate goals alongside the priority of being a good father, but have managed to develop a system to maintain this balance:

Work out your time gaps

Having a new born feels like you are the serving staff in an old Victorian manor, getting everything in order for when the lady of the house awakens.

Despite the initial feeling, having a child does not mean you are busy 100% of the time; by reading this post, illustrates this is a FACT.  There are always gaps:

  • early in the morning
  • late at night
  • work lunchtimes
  • nap times
  • on the work commute

It doesn’t seem obvious at first, but when you consciously look for gaps, you find them.

It’s actually quite motivating because you know you don’t have long and are more determined than ever to get shit done.

Be flexible with habits

I wrote while little lady napped.  But this didn’t always work if she wasn’t settling and this used to bug me; following routine was important and I felt like the baby was killing my habits.

Don’t make it hard on yourself, simply appreciate you need to be flexible.  If I can’t write because a nap time goes bad, I might write when she watches Night Garden or stay up late to work.

Establish what really matters

Fatherhood changes you for the better – every second count and you become more focused than ever!  You will realise what goals matter to you the most.

Use your new responsibility to decide whether you are really motivated to create that side hustle or doing something else.  Your goals will be more focused than ever.

Make them your goal

When my daughter was born, I realised I had to reframe my goals to consider the change in my life, incorporating her into my goals.  If you have not done this yet, do it!

When I say this, I don’t mean become a pushy parent, instead focus on developing yourself to become a better dad.  You may see your new duties as a time when you don’t have opportunities to set new goals, actually, being a father is the perfect time to create new ones.

Dependent on age, goals will vary.  For a sixteen month old, it’s making sure I read for them, brush their teeth and put them to bed on a daily basis.  It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking –  just good habits to support your child’s development in becoming a functional person.

Keep learning

Being a parent is a challenge, if you want to get through it then you better learn to enjoy the journey.  You won’t always get it right, but as your child keeps growing and changing, so should you.

One of the biggest learning curves was understanding my daughter is not a programmable robot that follows basic instructions to function.  What worked to get her to sleep last night, doesn’t necessarily work tonight.  Realising this is a developing person with their own feelings and emotions was such a profound step in my experience as a father.

In my short time being a dad I have learned a lot and I keep learnng.  Maintainin a growth mindset and accept that you will never stop learning and can always keep improving.

Enjoy the time with your child

I saw growth in my mindset regarding my child, when I realised I no longer viewed the time spent with my daughter as a daily community service, holding me off from focusing on my goals, but a pleasure to be around and an opportunity for growth.

You will be presented with challenges that test patience, resilience, and ability to adapt.

Simply enjoy the time with your child selflessly – give them your love support and make those beautiful memories that will leave a lasting impression into adulthood.

I’m proud of the person my daughter is growing into so far, but it’s true, it goes way too quick.

 

The future

Hopefully, you got something from these ideas.  Being a father has made me appreciate my free time more.  My view as my daughter becomes more independent, I can either:

  1. do Netflix and chill
  2. spend time working on my goals

Having scarce time I would lean towards option 2.

Keep being ambitious and strive for excellence in fatherhood – if you are there for your child that will be the best present you can ever give them.

You only get one opportunity to make an impression as a father to a child – good luck with your journey and don’t fuck it up.

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10 thoughts on “The fatherhood / ambition balance

  1. This is definitely something that I see as being a task to overcome. I am ambitious by nature and I often make plans around how I would respond or do things in a certain scenario. Your post on this issue is refreshing. I will be taking some tips from it, especially “always learning” part.

  2. Great advice. I agree with everything you stated. As a dad of two, finding the time to finish my Ed.D while working full time was challenging. I had to make sacrifices, but my children were never the sacrifice (it was usually sleeping). I believe that the most significant problem so many dads face is time management.

    1. Thank you. Sustaining concentration with an activity like doing your Ed.D with children is something I have much respect for well done! Do you have any tips on maintain the habit (especially if sleeping less)

      Like you say time management is key many dads will say they are busy to do anything ignorning the netflix binge, killing time on YouTube etc.

      1. I would say that carving out designated time to work is crucial. I understand that that can be difficult when for new fathers whose children are not on a sleeping schedule, but it is necessary. If you are looking for time just to become available, that time is going to get filled up quickly. Be intentional about your time. For example, my kids are in bed by 8 pm and my wife is usually in bed around 10 pm. So, my time to work and write is often from 10 pm to midnight. I know that was a lot, but my best advice is to be intentional. Don’t just wait for free time to happen, because it won’t just happen.

      2. Good advice. Probably one element of the post I understated was once your child/ren are in bed there is still a wife in all this who you need to spend time with.

        I have implemented staying up to write now and again after 10pm, but need to make it a more regular habit.

        Thank you very much for your thoughts.

  3. Great read! In the same boat here with a now 2.5 year old. I have found that getting up around 4:00 am is where my prime time is! I get a workout in first then still have some time to write or read then get ready for work. Always make time for a date night and an evening with friends/family and you can balance all y our goals! Keep at it, I enjoy this type of motivation! Thank you!

    1. Thanks for your comment very much appreciated!

      Yes its continued challenge, keeping learning, keeping balancing priorities – with my little girl it keeps presenting new challenges, so keep having to mix up the routine.

      Good tips though, keep making effort for date nights with my wife as it does alter the relationship and impact the time we spend alone.

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