Don’t let the title fool you. We should all want to be a great dad. We should try really hard to be a great dad.
But not all of us are naturally great at being a dad.
Not all of us were ready to be dads.
And ALL of us have days where we wish we could come home from work and just relax without kids.
But through my own limited experience as a dad, and my extensive experience as a son, I’ve discovered 5 steps to be a great dad even when your energy is at a minimum.
Step 1: The 10 Minute Morning Rule
Be a great, fun dad for the first ten minutes your kids are awake.
These are crucial moments in the day of your children.
Engaging your children immediately in the morning starts their day with a simple, yet powerful reminder.
“My dad loves me.”
Play hide and seek, wrestle, dance or even have them help you pick out a shirt to wear for work. If they are older, this might mean reading a devotional together, asking what they have planned that day, or doing some last-minute test-prep.
By spending just 10 minutes with your sole attention on your kids, you are reinforcing something in their minds every morning, “I love you, and I am so glad you are in my life.”
They may not acknowledge your sacrifice, or even seem to notice, but as they get older, they’ll realize what they have with their dad is special.
You only need to spend 10 minutes, because that’s probably all the time your kids have. After all, just like you, they need to dress, eat, etc.
Step 2: The 5:10 Rule
If you work a typical 9-5 and get home at 5, you are probably ready to sit in a recliner, shoot some hoops or work in the garage.
Instead, spend your first 10 minutes with your kids doing whatever they want to do.
Maybe that just means joining you playing basketball or working in the garage. Or maybe it means wrestling…again.
When you spend these first 10 minutes after work with your kids, you are reinforcing what you told them that morning. Here is what they are hearing.
“Son/Daughter, I couldn’t wait to get home so I could see you. I missed you so much.”
Step 3: The Bedtime Rule
You’ve probably guessed where this one is going. Ten minutes before bedtime, you are back on duty.
Read them their favorite story, talk about their day, etc. Once they become teenagers, this might change to 10 minutes before YOUR bedtime 😊.
But the principal is the same. End the evening by making sure your kids know you love them.
Step 4: The Meals Rule
Eating meals together (especially breakfast and dinner) as a family is an incredible opportunity for you to connect with your kids while doing something you already love – eating!
This is especially a wonderful way to reconnect if you missed Steps 1, 2 or 3.
Make this a habit in your life.
A lot of my favorite memories growing up are in the kitchen and dining room.
Step 5: The Extracurricular Rule
Most kids are involved in some sort of extracurricular activity – theatre, sports, music, robotics, etc.
When they have a game, show, performance…. GO!
Especially if it is something they are bad at, or if it is something you don’t’ care about.
I was pretty good at basketball, and my parents travelled thousands of miles over the course of 6 years to attend every single one of my games.
That was incredible. But you know what probably meant the most? They went to my cross country meets too. And I was terrible at cross country!
Nothing says, “I love you and care about you” like showing support for your kids when they want to try something new.
Maybe this sounds like a lot, but when you start calculating…it’s not.
Steps 1-3 only accumulate to 30 minutes a day.
Step 4 adds another 15-20 minutes, and step 5 is only an occasional thing.
So, we’re only talking about intentional parenthood 50 minutes a day.
Now, this isn’t the end goal. It’s just a starting point.
After all, stay-at-home moms are doing this stuff 24/7, so 50 minutes is kind of weak sauce compared to that.
But this is still a GREAT place to start. Imagine how awesome our society might be if every dad did all five of these things!
So, I challenge you (and myself) to be a great dad for 50 minutes today!
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