Jun 20 2009

The Workaholic Househusband – My Inner Obama Says It’s Time For Change

The other day I was walking through the school grounds on my way to pick up the kids, when I overheard one of the older students complaining to her teenage friend that she wasn’t going to be able to hang out with her peer group after school because her mom had “bailed out” on her.

I can only imagine that this probably had to do with the girl not being old enough to drive yet, feeling let down by her mother because she expected to have a personal chauffer catering to her whims and desires, and all she got instead was a time-starved busy parent with more things to do in a typical day than there was time to do it all in.

This got me thinking about all the ways I “bail out” on my own family.

Probably the biggest bail out in my situation, is that I often return to work immediately after coming home with the kids. Instead of sitting down at the kitchen table with them to eat a healthy afternoon snack and listen to how their day has been, I let them feed themselves and go back to my office to finish something “urgent” I’m working on.

They will then come into my office full of exciting things to share with me, only to find me completely engrossed in the work I’m doing. I’ll turn around to face them, but even though my eyes are looking at them and my head is nodding, my mind is generally too absorbed to stop and listen to what my children are saying. I’m “bailing out” on them again.

If I’ve already resigned myself to being yet again a prisoner of my own workaholism, I’ll generally let the kids turn on the other computer in my office and play games or watch a DVD. Even though all four of us are in the same room together, I’m not really there with them or for them … I’m “bailing out” on them.

I don’t even stop working when Corporate Babe comes home. In fact, I don’t even stop until about 10 minutes after dinner has been served, when all the kids have already tried to get me to come and have dinner and I can hear my wife taking angry foot steps towards my office.

I then eat my dinner quickly, anxious to finish and get back to work. If the kids try to start a conversation with me, I’ll tell them to please focus on eating their dinner. I then excuse myself from the table once I have finished eating and “bail out”.

I keep working until they’re in bed, pausing only when my wife requests that I go and give my boys a kiss goodnight. I do this rather expediently, then return to work.

I then keep working until well after midnight, going to bed only when I can’t see or think straight anymore.

I then lie in bed wishing I had more time to get more work done, instead of feeling like I am being so interrupted all the time.

I once heard someone say that no one lies on their death bed at the end of their life wishing they had spent more time at the office.

Right now I feel like I am dying and all I want to do is get more work done.

Something is really wrong here.

I don’t know what’s causing all this, but I do know and have been aware for some time now that I have been “bailing out” for far too long on my family, on my health, on my responsibilities, and on all other areas of my life – spiritual, social, intellectual, emotional and physical.

There … I’ve put it out! Now I’m going to do something about it.

I’m going to stop bailing out.

I’m going to start participating more fully in my own life and in the life of my partner and children.

I know what needs to be done … I’ve been thinking about it for a very long time now. I’ve written it down many times on my “to-do” list, I even visualize myself doing it whenever I hang up the washing outside, or when I am standing in the shower letting the hot water run over my stiff, aching body. I just haven’t seriously committed to doing what I know needs to be done until now.

Now it’s too painful to ignore. My kids are growing too fast and my “inner Obama” is telling me it’s time for real change to take place in my life.

So here’s what I am going to do to start creating change in my life, starting right now (11:33 am, Sunday, June 21, 2009):

  • I won’t go back to work after picking up the kids from school until after they’ve gone to bed. I’ll develop a healthy routine of being with them after school, listen to them as they help me with some of the things that need to get done around the house, get some playing and fun time in with my children, get them bathed in the evenings and help prepare dinner.
  • I’ll have dinner with my family and stay in the kitchen until everyone has finished eating and only leave the kitchen after it’s tidy, ready for the next day.
  • I’ll go on a half hour walk each day during my working week. I’ll figure out when the best time to get my walk in is, then start turning it into a regular habit that will hopefully grow into other forms of exercise, like swimming and Yoga.
  • I’ll get to bed by 10:30 pm each night during the working week.

I will maintain the above commitment for the next 30 days and report on my progress whenever I make a new post on this blog.

At the end of 30 days, I’ll assess my results and my performance and fine-tune my expectations.

If I fall down, I’ll just get up and go again. As someone really wise once said “success is the ability to continually go from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm!”

I am not bailing out this time.

The Lazy Househusband

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