Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Hero's Welcome in 3 Steps

I live in a town that has a heavy military presence. Navy deployments and homecomings are a regular occurrence in our community. Seeing cars decorated or signs in people's front yard, saying, "Welcome Home Daddy" is commonplace. I've never served but, I can only imagine how the big celebrations make that soldier feel when they get back from deployment. Thankfully, I have my fan club, that is rooting for me when I get home each day.
Courtesy: Heckel Family & Boots & Bombshells
I recently, traveled for business for a week, and received a hero's welcome complete with a stage play written by and starring my wife and daughters. It was their own special way of saying, welcome home. Now, I might not have been gone for 6 months on a top secret mission, but my family treats me like I have been. It doesn't happen like this everyday, but the fact that it happens with any consistency is something to be grateful for. Here's what I mean, if your family is happy to see you when you walk in each day, you should be applauded. That means you as a dad are doing something right. I was always told that a man sets the atmosphere and mood of his house. This can be good or bad. At times I've had to catch myself because I came in complaining or agitated because of something that happened at work. It is unfair to take out your work frustrations on those you call family. If your current situation has your kids running scared from you when you enter, you've got some things to work on. Your home should be your charging station and not an extension of your at-work battles. Here are a few steps to help you keep the right atmosphere in your home and ensure that a hero's welcome happens more frequently.

"I was always told that a man sets the atmosphere and mood of his house. "

1.) Ask for Transition Time: Most of us guys have been there. The second you walk in from work, your kids and your wife have 17 request that could keep you busy until midnight. Depending upon the type of day or the amount of traffic, determines your response. In my house, I've asked for about 5-10 minutes of transition time after I get home from work before any extra request can be made. Of course, life doesn't always make this a reality, but for most days it gives me a chance to get mentally prepared shift into hubby and daddy mode. I have to push the work world out of my brain so that I can fully devote myself to family time.

2.) Leave the Office Behind: In order for me to be ready for transition time, I have to leave the office behind. This means during drive time I might have to call my buddy to vent about the office craziness so that I'm not still stewing over it when I get home. If there are customers that I can call back during drive time then I take care of them in the car too. If they happen to call back when I'm at home, then they more than likely will have to wait until the next business day. As a career focused person, there will be times when work will follow you home, but it can't be that way everyday. Your family needs you to be actively engaged with them after business hours. They've been without you all day and they deserve to experience the fullness of your strength, gifts, and talents in the evenings. Obviously, there are certain situations that will require you to discuss with your wife, but your intimacy will be robbed if you're jabbering on for hours each day about work.

3.) Speak Well of the Family: It should go without saying, but you should say something positive at least once a day about your wife and kids to your coworkers. There's nothing that bugs me more  than hearing someone at work constantly complaining about their spouse or kids. If they're really that bad, it could mean that there is some improvement that needs to happen on the part of the husband or father. Even if your woman is being a difficult, being positive will make coping easier until things get better. Every relationship has challenges, but steering clear of  "verbal spouse bashing"  is the best prescription during these times. Trust and believe, you will make your family feel great at the office party when they hear co-workers commenting about how much you brag on them. Speaking well of your family while you're apart will help you all feel connected and increase the chances of getting that hero's welcome a bit more frequently.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Just Color

It's the new year and everyone is making resolutions as normal. Most of them will be broken by February 1, but some of them will stick. One of my resolutions is to color more. There is so much going on in the world right now, that can easily get people feeling bogged down. I've had my share of rough days of carrying the world on my back. My daughter turns to me the other day and asked, "What's wrong dad?" Shocked that she could pick up on my mood, I replied, "I'm a little stressed right now." Without missing a beat, she instinctively went to the bookshelf and said, "You need to color dad." At that point I realized my only option was to agree and comply with her suggestion. I was still preoccupied with the problem I was facing at this point. The more I started to rub the crayon on the page though, I actually found myself slowly erasing everything that had been weighing on my mind. Before I knew it, all I cared about was trying to find the"Fire Engine Red" crayon. Our recent election cycle has been a taxing journey that has left many Americans feeling emotionally drained.

"Coloring can be the stress reliever we dads have been looking for, as well as the much needed bonding time our kids are craving."

Well, my daughter has the key to helping everyone find their happy place. That secret apparently is coloring books. Maybe this is why there is a rise of "adult coloring books" popping up on the shelves at your local Wal-Mart. A recent CNN article discussed the mental health benefits adult coloring. In our world that is consumed with live tweeting and updating our statuses, coloring allows us to reconnect to a less stressful time when all we cared about was crayons. The point here is that coloring books give us a good means of slowing down. It's so easy to reach for our cell phones to check this or that only find more social media drama...aka stress. Coloring has the exact opposite effect. Pick up a coloring book today and try it. You'll be glad that you did. I think our politicians and world leaders need to allow more time in their schedules for coloring in 2017. Coloring can be the stress reliever we dads have been looking for, as well as the much needed bonding time our kids are craving. Power to the Crayon!!!