I’m a Better Dad When I Take Care of Myself First
I pride myself on being a good Dad. In fact, I strive to be the best Dad on the face of planet Earth. However, there is nothing more heartbreaking than when my kids want to play, but I am unable to play with them due to my own poor health choices. It is a stark reminder that in order to be the best Dad that I can be, I have to take care of myself first.
Daddy’s Too Tired:
Failing to Take Care of Myself
My 10-year-old son, Ethan, has autism and very limited social communication. Whenever he initiates play, I stop what I am doing and play with him in order to reinforce that communication. Unfortunately, there are times I just don’t have the strength or energy to play. Sometimes he comes up to me with a huge smile, climbs on my back and says, “Daddy Run, Daddy Run, Daddy Run…” It breaks my heart to tell him I can’t play right now. Daddy stayed up too late and is too tired to run, or Daddy is too bloated from his big plate of French fries last night. It is a glaring example of how my bad decisions and failure to take care of myself first affects others around me.
Diet Changes Have Made Me a Better Dad
I generally take care of myself pretty well. After a few decades of poor eating habits, I have made a complete lifestyle shift. I have Ethan’s autism diagnosis to thank for that. As I began to learn how food affected his behavior, I started to learn how it affected me as well. Food can have a positive or negative affect both physically and mentally. I really started keying in on my own symptoms, and I was able to identify what foods were causing me problems.
I have made great strides with my health thanks to many dietary changes. I continue to work hard to identify my personal deficits and do my best to make changes. My focus now is on improving sleep quality and stress management. These improvements should help me become a healthier, happier person. This, of course, translates into me being a better husband and a better Dad.
Old Habits Die Hard
However, there are times where I fall back into old bad habits. I don’t follow the routines I’ve created to ensure I stay healthy. Sometimes, I stay up too late playing PlayStation, or Heather and I make paleo brownies to enjoy after the kids go to bed. Then, we eat way too many right before going to bed.
The occasional stray from routine is okay. Staying up late on a Friday night to play Star Wars is one way I take care of myself. It is something I enjoy, and the rebels need my help to take down the Empire too.
Of course, it’s okay that the wife and I enjoy a nice evening dinner of chicken fingers and fries (our favorite cheat meal) as we catch up on West World. But, if we do this on repeated nights, weeks, or even months, it affects our health, our sleep, and our happiness. In turn, this affects our ability to be the best parents we can be.
We Need to Get Back To Healthy Habits
Heather and I are currently in a period of repeated bad choices. A few months ago, we moved back to Missouri to be closer to family and much needed support. However, that meant many changes for our little family. Heather started a new job. Gavin started a new school, and I became a full time homeschool Dad to Ethan and Kaitlyn. Meanwhile, I also began to take this blog more seriously as well. Now, we have handled most of these changes flawlessly. Unfortunately, Mom & Dad may have given in to the stress of all these changes. Our eating and sleeping habits are not what they were, and we need to break free from our rut and get back to our good, healthy routines.
Time to Get Back on Track
As you can see, the food & lifestyle choices we parents make have a direct impact on our kids. I know when I make good choices I am able to take better care of my family for sure. Heather and I will be entering the New Year with a renewed commitment to getting our health back on track. If you are a parent who has strayed from your healthy routine, or maybe you are ready to create one for the first time, I challenge you to join us in making 2017 the healthiest year yet. After all, Moms & Dads deserve to be happy and healthy, and our kids deserve the very best that we can give them.