I love being a father to 3 boys! Isaac and Jonathan just started t-ball and it has already been such a blast to help coach them. There are definitely days where I feel like I’m making up the dad thing as I go along, but God has been so faithful.
For the past few weeks, JoJo (Jonathan) has been asking me, “Dad, please take your shoes off,” while I’m at the house. At first, I didn’t get why he was asking me that. I know he doesn’t care if I track mud in the house! I also know he probably doesn’t care if I feel comfortable or not…I mean, he’s 4!
What I quickly realized is that he wants to know that when I’m playing with him, I’m not planning on going anywhere else. In his 4 year old mind, when dad puts his shoes on, it’s about time for him to go. That means that when I play with him, it’s important to him that my shoes are off. That communicates to him that I’m here to stay and focus on him while we spend time together.
This is one of the biggest things I’ve learned so far about parenting…presence is everything! You don’t have to have all the answers and you don’t need to always have the best strategy, but you do need to wholeheartedly engage…consistently.
I think this can look like some key practical decisions we can make on a daily and weekly basis…
- Minimize phone time in the house
It’s all too easy to allow our minds to drift into iPhone/social media land. Minutes can fly out the window faster than we can count them and they are minutes we’ll never get back. Make the intentional call to set the phone aside and focus on your family.
2. Keep the house 75-80% clean
This may not apply to everyone, but I gotta say it! Unless you’re superhuman and are just always able to keep your house clean, don’t stress yourself out too much on this. Especially if you have small kids, give yourself some grace and realize that clean for you doesn’t need to look like clean for the husband and wife down the street without any kids.
3. Invest your full energy
I could easily rationalize giving Abbi and the kids a low percentage of my energy after a long work day. I could come up with all the excuses about how I provide for the family and they just need to give me grace, but I don’t want to roll like that. If they are truly at the top of my priority list under God, the quality of energy I give them needs to meet or exceed the quantity.
4. Have fun
I sometimes see parents who don’t seem to enjoy their kids. A family is a wonderful combination of play and purpose. You don’t want all play and no purpose because then you have a clown house…but you also don’t want all purpose and no play because that’s fun for no one. Make sure to have tons of fun with your kids.
“Dad, please take your shoes off.” This simple statement from JoJo has reinforced an extremely important parenting principle. Presence is everything and more important than the kids hearing me tell them I love them, they need to see it every single day with my bare feet (-;