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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Mar 04 2008

God Knows I Need Help Getting My Priorities Straight!

It’s been a couple of months since my last post. I could excuse the lengthy period of inactivity by saying that I’m just living up to my reputation as the Lazy Househusband, but the truth is that something really spooky happened to me end of last year. In fact, some would say that what happened to me was just simply too divine!

You see, I had one of my prayers answered. Now … I’m not religious or anything like that, but just before Christmas I found myself praying for something. I was praying for a solution to a dilemma. The festive season was upon us, people were getting ready to spend the new year with their families, and I was feeling quite overwhelmed with a pile of work I felt I had to complete.

I have a fairly obsessive personality and I am no doubt a workaholic. So, here I was on December 19, feeling like the Christmas and New Year’s break would be a perfect time for me to get ahead in my own business by putting some new systems in place for the new year, and at the same time feeling extremely guilty about the prospect of not spending this time with my family.

Whenever I am at a crossroads and feeling unable to make a decision, I usually go for a long walk, and start talking the problem out aloud. It helps to do this in a secluded place … luckily, at the bottom of the street where I live there is a large park that leads into a national forest. I can walk for about an hour and half alone in the woods without seeing another person. There is a little bridge that runs over a small stream towards the end of the walk.

By the time I get to this little bridge, I am usually in the right state of mind to begin my personal discussions with God. (If I am not in a good state, my conversations with my Higher Power usually consist of me presenting God with a “to-do” list!). On this particular day, I started out by stating ten things I was grateful to have in my life, and then I laid out my situation.

Would I spend the next couple of weeks “getting ahead” with my work and try to fit time for my wife and kids around the work, or would I prioritize time with my wife and kids and try to fit my plans around family activities? I know that for most people this would not be a dilemma. However, it was for me, for a whole range of reasons which my head could justify.

And so I prayed. I prayed for a solution. I prayed for the possibility of living a balanced life, for the ability to recognize the right path to follow and the willingness to take that path when it was presented to me and seize the opportunities to make the right decisions.

After an hour or so of walking backwards and forwards on that bridge talking to myself, I then went home, had dinner and went to bed.

The next morning, I got up and, as I always do, turned the computer on to check emails, online sales, etc …

The computer wouldn’t turn on.

I tried it again.

The computer wouldn’t turn on.

I tried it again.

The computer wouldn’t turn on.

I called my wife in a panic and told her I couldn’t get the computer to turn on. She reassured me that she would look for a laptop repair company and call me back. About an hour later, she called back with the phone number and address of a repairer. I called them up and booked my laptop in for a diagnosis after lunch. They were located about an hour away from me, so I got the kids in the car and told them that we were going to go on a “fun” drive across town.

I arrived at the repair shop and laid the computer on the counter, hoping that they were going to tell me they could have a look at it that afternoon and let me know the next day. After taking my laptop, the service technician told me that they were going to be closed not just the following day (Friday), but also the week after that and that they would call me on the following week to let me know what was wrong with the computer. Since this happened just a few days before Christmas, this meant that I was going to be without a laptop until the new year.

As it turned out, I ended up having no access to my computer for almost a month and a half, as my laptop was over three years old, the motherboard had died according to the technician, the manufacturer of this obsolete machine was on the other side of the country and closed for the New Year holiday season and we didn’t have the money to order a new computer straight away.

And so, I had no choice but to accept my situation and resign myself to the fact that the Divine had indeed presented me with a very clear solution to my prayers (albeit a fairly drastic and dramatic one!) and spent a wonderful time with my wife and kids during the holiday season.

To top it all off, a little money manifested itself in the New Year and I was able to order a brand new laptop. I’ve reinstalled all of my previous data and I am now back on track again …

The Lazy HouseHusband

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