There's a common refrain among many fathers of young children — they lost a sense of self after their children were born. A modern dad's life is typically filled with work to support his family, doing chores around the house and trying to squeeze in any extra time to spend with his wife and children. Toss in chauffeuring children to their activities and a few hours of sleep and it can be a struggle to juggle all of those demands.

So, how do dads maintain their identity after their kids are born? It takes teamwork with your wife, solid planning and a commitment to make it happen.

Here are some tips:

Be Honest

You need to ask yourself — what are you passionate about? Is it running? Yoga? Building model airplanes? This is the first step, deciding which hobby or activity you want to get involved in. Second, you must realize that you won't have unlimited time to do what you want to so you have to make choices. Third, map out a schedule to accomplish your goals.

Determine the Cost

Everything comes with a price — whether it's time or money. How much will it cost you to fix up your bike and get all the gear you need? What is the cost of those personal weight-training sessions? If you set up a weekly tennis match it may not cost you much money — but you will need to block out 2-3 hours of time to dedicate to the outing. Do those numbers fit into your budget and lifestyle?

Make Your Case

After you've got the first step figured out, have a chat with your wife about your plan. Does that jibe with her plans? Certainly, she will support you but she might also want to carve out some time for herself. One thing you could consider — is there an activity or hobby that you could both partake in? That way, you get the double benefit of spending quality time together and enjoying a favorite hobby.

Be Realistic

It may not be feasible for you to spend an entire Saturday golfing and hanging out with the guys. There are other demands on your time. However, maybe once every few months you can squeeze it in. Take what you can get.

One of the challenges is where to use your resources. Is it fair to use your precious time and money to indulge your own interests at the expense of your children's interests? Probably not. The time for selfishness ends the second your first child enters the world kicking and screaming. There will be time again for you to take those French cooking classes or buy that vintage car that you've always dreamed of, but those days are a few years away.

The important thing is to maintain your sense of self throughout. It will not only make you a happy, more well-rounded person but it will open avenues for your children, also. I remember being a young boy and going to my father's soccer and softball games. It gave me a chance to see him do something he enjoyed and as I grew up, I got to play along too. It was important bonding time for us and nurtured my own lifelong love of sports.

Maybe if you include your children, they will have a similar experience and discover a life long love, while you get the opportunity to feel good about yourself by indulging one of your interests.

 

Check out the rest of our series:

Working Dads: How to Stay Fit

Working Dads: How to Connect with Your Kids Every Day