Have you ever come home from work, feeling totally exhausted, only to realize that now you have to take care of your kids and respond to your spouse’s needs? A lot of people view this as their most important responsibility, but I, for one, often find myself so terribly depleted of energy. Now that your work outside of the home is done, your work inside is just beginning. There is homework to help with, horse rides to give, walks to go on, talks to have, and spouses to support.
Fatigue at the end of the day is not unique to fathers. In fact, I know it is something that many parents experience. We work and work and work to provide something great for our families and tire ourselves out so that when we come home, we don’t feel up to much of anything.
I know it’s really easy to let being tired get in the way of spending the short time that Here are a few things you can do to make sure that this time is spent in a meaningful way.
- Make a plan. If you make a plan before you get tired, it will be easier to do something productive with your family when you are tired. If you wait until you are tired to make the plan, it’s more likely than not that you will do what I do and resort to watching tv, browsing Facebook, or any number of “easy” things. If you fail to plan, your default will likely be something that is not productive and something that doesn’t build deep connections with your family. Don’t take a chance on letting the “tired you” do what’s right for your family. Make a plan with your family at the beginning of the week, or write down a quick plan at the beginning of the day. Put it on a 3″ x 5″ card and place the card where you’ll see it first thing when you get home. Not only will this make sure that you your default is something meaningful, it will give you something to look forward to throughout the day.
- Don’t lay down. The second I lay down, I don’t want to do anything else. I have lost the battle, and there’s no changing courses. We have a couch in our living room that is not incredibly comfortable until it’s the end of the day, I’m tired, and I don’t want to be doing anything else. So, I put a coffee table in our living room. When I’m sitting down, even if I’ve got my feet up, as long as I’m not laying down, I’m more effective. It’s not a perfect solution, but it keeps me out of the trance imposed by laying down.
- Go outside. If you’ve been cooped up in your office all day, what’s more fun than running around outside? We have visited parks and played on playgrounds. My son loves both of these, and we always have a lot of fun. When we don’t have time to go to a park, we wander around our apartment complex. When our son was just starting to work on walking and running, we took him to the tennis court and let him run around on a flat surface. He loved it.
- Exercise together. Family yoga, push-up contests, sit-ups, sports or anything else that involves movement. Doing this outside is a great idea (see #3 above), unless it’s too cold or too hot. If that’s the case, exercise inside can be just as fun. Move the furniture out of the living room and you’ve got a great space to get moving.
- Have a family project that you all work on together. This can be working in a garden, putting a puzzle together, woodworking, or working on a service project for someone else. Just make sure that you’re doing it together. The possibilities and options are endless.
*Bonus: Avoid personal electronics. Why? They exclude everyone that is important. It’s hard to share Facebook posts or your Twitter feed with everyone in your family. If you need this “me” time, save it for a time when the rest of your family is in bed or doing other things. If you absolutely need the “me” time, set a time limit.
What do you do to beat “end-of-the-day fatigue”? What suggestions do you have?