A healthier you is better equipped to really show up for his kids, family and community
Always allow time to connect with the support that that you need and work toward a healthier you.
June 22 – 26 was World Wellbeing Week, so we’re looking at some top tips for maintaining your wellness as a dad.
Bringing up children is hard work.
It can be physically demanding, requiring at times lack of sleep, skipped or quick meals, and exposure to illness.
It can also be mentally draining, particularly if you and/or your partner have a busy or stressful job.
Check out these tips to make things a little easier on yourself and maintain your health and wellbeing along the way.
Mental and social wellbeing
As well as being healthy physically, good mental health is very important in helping you be the best dad you can be for your kids.
A big barrier for men can be a sense of needing to cope with all of their problems alone. In fact, seeking help where you need to is brave, selfless, strong and a show of self-respect.
If any part of you is saying “not being able to do this on my own means I am not self-sufficient” or “not man enough,” remind yourself that venting your concerns and seeking help is something a strong, confident, healthy person needs to do.
So, you’ve heard it all before, don’t try cope with everything yourself – here are some tips for reaching out and finding support:
- Your network. Just like any romantic relationship, it’s important to put effort into your friendships and family relationships to keep them healthy. Make time for others, check in, be forgiving, talk to them about your own ups and downs and be open to really listening if they need support too.
- Talk about the things that help. Even if you spend a lot of time with your family, friends and social network, you may not be actually speaking about your worries, concerns or challenges in life very often. This can be the hardest hurdle for those who aren’t used to speaking openly. Try first with someone you trust to listen. Often going for a run, walk or drive can be a good place to start because they are situations where you are not actually looking at each other face-to-face (like over a coffee table), and there are few distractions. Not needing to make eye contact can help to ease the nerves and make opening up easier.
- Finding the right words. If you are not used to speaking about how you feel, or what is bothering you, start small. This doesn’t have to be a big moment, try “I have been thinking about ___ lately, and it’s bothering me.” You may find that once the first sentence is out, you are more able to speak freely about whatever is concerning you – and whoever you are speaking to may have some good advice.
- Getting the right support. If you are not comfortable speaking to someone you know about your concerns, other support is available. Check out Mensline, Lifeline or Mentoring Men who offer different options for speaking about whatever is bothering you.
- Find joy. Make a list of the things in life that you enjoy or are passionate about including work, family, sport or hobbies. If you’re not spending time on the things you enjoy, try to see how you can reshuffle to make room for what is most important.
- Control what you can. The goal isn’t to get rid of all your negative thoughts, feelings, and life situations. The goal is to change your response to them. Identify the things in life that you have the power to change, focus on doing what you can and work on accepting or moving away from what you cannot change.
Manage your Mental Wellbeing – a tip from our community, courtesy of rugby great Petero Civoniceva.
“Don’t fill your head with a lot of internal chatter. Just strip it all back and focus on the things you need to do. Stop worrying about all the things you have no control over, and just focus on the things you can control.
This has helped me so much in my life, my family and my game of sport. It helps to strip away your self-doubt, insecurities, and fear, so you can just focus on what you need to do to be the best you can be, and for me it was to father well and play well.
This approach has helped me to focus on the things I need to do to look after my mental wellbeing – it is so important not to let everyday things derail you.”
Make fathering easier for yourself by keeping as fit and healthy as you can.
You know the drill; exercise regularly, eat properly, and get adequate sleep. But often the enemy is TIME.
Use these time-savers to help you be present as a dad, and stay on top of your health:
- Exercising doesn’t have to be alone time. Save time by being active with your kids – go bike riding together, kick the footy around at the park, shoot some hoops or learn a dance routine together.
- Get help with the cooking. Time in the kitchen can be enjoyable and double as a learning and bonding experience for you and the kids. Especially with older kids, ask them to choose a recipe, and learn together.
- Save time with food. Cooking every day sometimes isn’t realistic. Double you recipe quantities and stash the leftovers in the fridge or freezer to give yourself every second night ‘off’.
- Use what you have. Many dads don’t take full advantage of the time off that they can take from work. You are within your rights to take all your holidays, and utilise sick or carers leave if necessary.
- If you need extra support with your physical health, reach out to your GP and discuss what you are struggling with. If finances are a concern, head to a bulk billing practice.
Put exercise into your wellbeing plan and share it with the kids – a tip from our community, courtesy of Duncan Armstrong OAM:
“This weekend it would be good to get out there with your kids no matter what. Sometimes as dads we just need to get moving in a (any) direction and live in the moment without a great deal of planning ahead.
Don’t think about the effort it takes to get your kids moving in the outdoors, just do it (thank you Nike!).
Great times with your kids and family are literally just a few moments away, so just move into it.
A bike ride, a walk, shoot a few hoops, take them to a skatepark or just throw the footy around. Don’t think too deeply about it, just move and let the good time come to you.”
Seek the support you need
It’s tempting to put on a brave face and give the impression to your family that you are coping well with work, fathering, or other aspects of your life – even when things are not going great.
Bottling up your anger or frustration can increase your stress levels and lead to a range of problems.
Instead, be honest with your partner, friends and family about how you are going and seek help as needed.
If you or your children are struggling
Kids can call Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 or Youth Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or you can contact your child’s GP. If you are struggling, call Lifeline on 131 114, or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.