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Balancing Parenting With Your Other Passions In Life

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By Andy Robinson

A daddy who likes to write in his minimal spare time about his insights of transitioning from civilian life in to fatherhood.

Published on 30/05/2016



I’m a Dad. A Husband. A Son. A Brother. An Uncle. A Friend. A… you get the picture.

I am also Me.

There are moments within your life where decisions need to be made for the greater good of yourself, your family or for whatever else is in your life at that minute in time. Moments where change is required. A slight amendment to the daily grind.

A natural sportsman since the early years, sport has been a major part of my life – especially football. Representing my county, clinching leagues with the last kick of the game and the camaraderie of being part of a team were memories which have gradually faded away in to oblivion since ‘life’ took over.

Shift work entered the equation – as did a marriage and a daughter.  A combination which meant that my own personal pursuits took a proverbial back seat (and rightly so).

I have been dying inside – a collective cocktail of unfulfilled sporting achievement and a realization and acceptance that I am no longer allowed to play sport based purely on my circumstances.

But that is not how life should be, surely?

I have since made a change. From the depths of my soul I have decided to make a positive decision to step out of football retirement at the ripe old age of 31.

Yes, an old[ish], wrinkly[ish], grey[ish] haired Daddy is going to step out on to the cauldron of a football field once again.

Please park that thought for a few minutes. Let it wonder to the backs of your mind.

Bearing in mind this network is from a Dad’s perspective I will link my topic of conversation in with this.

In my opinion, a key ingredient to being a positive role model parent to your children is to have a delightful ability to be happy with yourself as a person first. Do not fret, I’m not going to go all spiritual on you here, don’t worry. What I am trying to say is we need to find or instill a level of self-worth, confidence and belief in to ourselves in all areas of our life in order to convey that positive message to our kids. Happiness will usually be brought to the table more often if we as parents have these components within our own personality.

If I was not happy with myself then how will I ever be able to support my daughter in her own pursuit of happiness. Happy parents will generally mean a happy child.

What is our purpose? Are we using our precious time on this planet wisely? Being a parent is tiring and yet it is immensely satisfying – it is also a 24/7 role.

And being a human is exactly the same – a 24/7 process.

Away from being a parent and the joy this brings, the same questions consistently appear in my mind: Am I happy with other areas of my life? Am I fulfilled? Alongside my parenting, do I balance my life with hobbies? Do I suggest dates with my wife often enough? Do I plan get-togethers with friends? When did I last dedicate some time spent writing that Sci-fi novel?

For me the answer to the vast majority of the questions has been a resounding ‘no’ or ‘very rarely’. Working shifts a few years prior to, and, subsequently during my wife’s pregnancy and the succeeding two years since giving birth, have been tough. My wife and I have just existed alongside one another, getting stressed, not sleeping, passing ships and arguing.

Granted the first few years of introducing a little human in to the world are a blur and are probably the toughest. (So I am told) – Sacrifices need to be made, things inevitably change. For me the most significant change has been my overall happiness. It dwindled to almost zero. My relationship with my wife hit rock bottom; my extreme moods with family members, friends and even our annoying cat were just exhausting. The saving grace for me during the past two years has been being a father to my amazing daughter. It is a cliché, but she truly has kept me going. Her smile always puts a smile on my face when all I want to do is scream.

Things needed to change. Something had to give.

But in order for our family to survive, I needed to begin searching for other things away from being a dad which made me smile – my profession and hobbies.

I am pleased to say that I have made the jump in to becoming a Nanny, or “Manny” as is the popular term. This fantastic role means I remain in an industry which I enjoy, but instead of working horrendous unsociable unsustainable shifts, I will work 3 days a week.

Becoming a Manny will now mean I have something which was non-existent before — time. I am getting it back. Time to control my life, to decide for MYSELF as a human being.

Working 3 days per week, I will now gain EXTRA exclusive time with my daughter; I will get four days to choose as I see fit: a family day out, a family day in, a day of writing, a day of eating, a day of going to the football, a day of playing golf, a day in London with Wife. The list is endless. I now have choice. Choice breeds freedom. Freedom of choice allows happiness.

Balance should be restored.

Now, back to my decision to step back in to the footballing world. This long lost hobby (along with numerous others), disappeared when I began working shifts. I am nearly 31, it is now or never.

To the untrained eye it might be deemed as selfish to be using some of my extra time to pursue a hobby instead of spending it with my family. The fact of the matter is that this hobby has been with me since I was big enough to kick a ball. It is part of me. I am still young[ish], fit[ish] and healthy[ish]. It made me happy for years. And it will make me even happier when I see my wife and daughter cheering me on from the touchline in the years that follow. No issue there, surely?

Being a parent requires a mental attitude which craves balance. (And a helping hand from partners). You still have to remember that you are on this planet too; you still have more than one purpose.

Go and do it.

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  1. Phill

    We’ve just had our 3rd , 1 month ago. I recognise that I need time for myself as well. But I feel as though my wife is in more need of time for herself but she has never had hobbies or done sport . Do I keep encouraging and waiting for her to find something for herself? Probably, I think I’ll give it 6 months until things have calmed down again. Sounds like you two have made a big change. Does your wife share your interest in time for herself? Thoughts/comments welcome.

  2. Dan

    Finding this website was tough, this post a near miracle.
    Following another brief argument with my wife about how my wanting to play a bit of sport was selfish and when does SHE get time to herself to turn off, I’m feeling low again.
    When I started reading the post, I was buoyed; “here’s another guy like me, he just needs that couple of hours every weekend to chase a ball round a field with 20odd other blokes”, “and look, he’s a similar age to me” “if I don’t do it now, I’ll end up like that grey-faced guy on my commuter train. He’s right, my happiness does count”.
    But then I read how you’ve managed it, you’ve done the impossible & created time. I used to have some time, it was the time I carved out of my sleep so that I could get the train an hour earlier and squeeze in a 40 min gym session before work. Granted, I didn’t get to see my daughter awake in the morning, but that was fine because I get an hour of playtime before bed every night.
    That hour has been taken from me. Wife has a new job, a part time job. A part time job that means I’m on the nursery drop-off 3 days a week. The gym membership is cancelled in favour of spending 45mins driving to and from nursery before I do my 80 minute commute.
    Like Andy, I’ve played sport since I could walk. Fighting against the sport less genes my parents gave me, I’ve done OK and found some sports I’m average and and enjoy. So I played hockey every weekend since my teens and cycled to work most days for the last 10 years.
    In an unprecedented move, I agreed to take a sebatical from hockey for a year; I wanted to get to know my daughter & we were moving out of London. Absolutely no time for running around a hockey pitch. I get it. And cycling to work? Not now I live 70 miles away! So that’s fine…or at least it should be.
    But the new season is a month old, I’ve played once at a new club and I’m desperate to play again. I understand that it can’t be every week religiously for the whole of Autumn/Winter, but a game every fortnight with training once a week, that’s two evenings and an afternoon every fortnight. “But when do I get MY free time” is the response.
    There is NO right answer to this. “Have some time on your own on Sunday morning”, I could say. But I know the answer will be that Sunday is family time, I’m not swanning off away from my daughter. “We’ll add an hour onto her mornings at nursery so that you’ve got an extra hour after your shift” is also an option, but it would be met with “I’m not shoving my daughter into nursery just so I can have some time to myself”. “Go to the gym a couple of evenings, do a class, have a swim. I’ll stay here, she’ll be fine” would only serve for me to be reminded that after waking up at 5.45 (which I have too), she’s far too tired to go out.
    So what’s next? I’m playing hockey this weekend, that’s what’s happening. And I’m going to training tomorrow too. I already feel selfish. I already know there is nothing I could do to make up for it. But for those 70 minutes of pitch time on Saturday, I’ll have to take the hit. After all, I don’t know when I’ll next get the opportunity, and I certainly can’t create time!

    Phill, sounds like you’re further down the track than I am. And, without being rude, being in your situation terrifies me because the longer you leave it, the harder it must get. My wife is similar to yours in that she doesn’t have such defined hobbies as I do & it’s hard for them to justify getting themselves time.
    I sympathise that it’s hard to know how much to push it, but I think you should continue trying. Otherwise she’ll just be a mum, and as wonderful as that is, it doesn’t make them that rounded person they probably need to be.

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