When you think of the New Year probably the first thing that comes to mind is making New Year resolutions. These don’t last long in fact the average is about two weeks. For me, it’s about two days.
I make a resolution to eat healthy and then someone invites me over for a big dinner. I make a resolution to exercise more and the weather gets nasty and you just can’t get outside.
But this year my resolution is to get rid of habits that I have fallen into over the years. These habits keep me from being the best dad that I can be. They also keep me from spending more time with my family and even worse they keep me from spending quality time with my family.
While you read my list you can make your own list of habits you need to stop for the new year. It might line up with my list but I’m sure there are more that affect your life in a big way.
I find myself in this situation a lot. The kids want to do something but it requires my full attention or my physical presence. It’s been a long day and I’m tired and I am just not feeling it.
I say no.
The kids insist.
I tell them I am too tired.
The kids insist.
As I get older I find this conversation happens all too often. But lately, I am trying to not say no. If the kids want to go outside, then we go outside. If the kids want to get on the floor and play with toys, I get on the floor and play with toys.
Now, this doesn’t mean I say “yes” to everything they ask. It just means that I stop making excuses when it comes to spending time with them. There is a small time frame your kids will want to spend every waking minute with you. It happens a lot quicker than you expect. Make sure you say yes more often in the new year, you can always rest after they go to bed.
Yelling is something I need to work on probably more than anything. The kids do something they shouldn’t and my immediate reaction is to yell. I try my best to catch myself but this is one habit that is hard to break. I have found that practicing the pause before I react has helped tremendously.
Yelling really doesn’t help anything. Most kids will just shut down when you yell at them. It actually scares them and you might be harming the trust.
In the new year try practicing the pause. Before you react take a second or two and not say anything. Look around and see if your perspective changes. Then try to react with a rash calm voice.
Eating too much
I know a lot of people who have the New Year’s resolution to diet and exercise. That usually lasts about a week for me. I start off good but then I fall off the wagon real quick.
Even if you are healthy and stay in shape, eating too much is not good for your body. Not only do you eat useless calories but it costs you money that could have been used more wisely somewhere else for your family.
After the new year make a plan to eat not only less but eat healthier. Join an accountability program where you have others check on you and make sure you are sticking to a diet. And even if you don’t want to do a full-blown diet try just cutting back a thing or two to start. Small steps always win with a diet.
If I had to pick one thing that probably ruins your happiness quicker than anything it would be worrying. Worrying over things not only makes your mental state miserable but can also have a long-lasting physical effect on your body.
I used to be a big worrier. I would worry about how I am going to pay for bills, I would worry about how my kids would do in school, or worry about them when they got sick. Now I put it all in God’s hands. If I find myself worrying about something I simply stop and say a prayer about the situation and move on.
This also helps me sleep better at night. I would regularly lay in bed worrying about things that are happening in my life or the next day. Now I pray about them right before I go to bed, give it to God, and sleep so much better.
For next year try to worry less and pray more. If you find yourself worrying about the same thing in your life turn that worry into a prayer. Pray over those worries night after night. Rest easy and know that God has a plan. It might not show up immediately but he will come through for you.
This one some people may not even realize they are doing. I had a time period with my job where I was just negative about every little facet. Any time something would come up I just would always see what could go wrong rather than look at it as an opportunity.
Not only was it unhealthy it was also affecting those around me. People I would work with would want to avoid me because who wants to work with someone that is going to just bring you down. I finally realized this was happening and decided to turn it around.
I still look at things at work with a pessimistic outlook but I don’t let those negative feelings out in the wild and affect my team.
The same can happen in your family. Maybe the kids are always sick or maybe things around the house are always breaking. It can start building up and you just get that feeling that the entire world is against you. Don’t give up. Take those negative thoughts and replace them with positivity and gratitude.
In the new year start a gratitude journal. Every day find one thing to be thankful for. Even if it was a small thing like you had food to eat today. Building on that daily dose of gratitude will start to reverse that negative outlook.
Ignoring your wife
News flash, your kids are not your number one priority if you are married. Your wife should always come before the kids. It’s a hard pill to swallow but it’s one that I believe has led this last generation to where they are headed.
By spoiling kids and making them the number one priority in families we see divorce rates continue to be high. I hear things like we just don’t have anything in common or we never have time for each other.
Make time. Figure it out. Hire a babysitter or find family that can watch the kids. Don’t push your spouse to the side and think everything will be ok. If you are not making time for your spouse someone else just might be making time for her.
Next year you need to find a way to make a weekly or monthly date night plan. Find babysitters in advance and take your wife out as often as possible. And if babysitters are not an option do an at-home date after the kids go to bed.
Wait didn’t you just tell me I need to stop saying no? Yes. But this time I’m telling you to stop saying yes to people outside of your family. When there are outside people asking you to participate in something that doesn’t enrich your kid’s life, say no.
You should also stop saying yes to extracurricular activities for your kids.
Do they need to stay active?
Do they need to have an activity every night of the week?
Take a break from volunteering all the time and spend that extra evening with your kids. Stay home and play some board games. Skip practice and take your kids fishing. Or just have a night with your kids to hang out and relax.
For next year practice saying no if you have so many things that just feel like they are keeping your family busy instead of enriching and bringing your family together. Say no to extra meetings or sports your kids don’t enjoy or anything that draws time away from spending time together.
Being on your electronics too much
I’ve said this a lot and but just put your phone down. I’m bad about this because I am always checking social media or looking at the news or watching some stupid video. It just needs to stop.
If your kids are acting crazy and not playing well on their own they may be craving your attention. If the phone or computer is right in front of your face put it down for a few minutes and interact with them. They may get bored quickly playing with you and go back to other things but for a brief moment, they want your attention.
In the new year, this will be one of my main focuses for my little ones. There is a small window when they are young that they want a large portion of our attention. Try to focus on them more and less on our phones.
Avoiding hard conversations
How do you handle talking to your kids about things that make you uncomfortable? When your kids reach double digits you need to start considering having the “sex” talk. And when they are approaching teenager years you need to let them be aware of drugs and alcohol.
Yes at school they will find some of these things out from different programs and their teachers. But you as a dad are their number one source. How you talk about these things can set the tone for their entire life of how they react when presented with these challenging topics.
Next year I would recommend sitting down and writing out a plan of conversations you want to have with your kids and determine if they are old enough to have those talks. I would suggest having a lot of these conversations earlier than later. With the proliferation of social media, our kids are exposed to these topics at a much earlier age than expected.
Ignoring your kid’s bad habits
Do you see your kid doing something that probably isn’t the best for them but you just let your kid be a kid? Maybe you tell yourself they will grow out of it or it isn’t so bad because maybe you do these things yourself.
It’s time to pay more attention. Most of these habits may seem harmless but if we let them go on too long it will be even worse trying to break them of those habits. My son has hit double digits and he has already started to show some teenager tendencies that I want to put a stop to. I know if I ignore it and let him continue these habits will only get worse.
In the upcoming year pay attention to habits that are either annoying you or maybe you start to let slide. Can these habits lead to destructive behavior? Or is there a chance these habits can have a snowball effect and lead to worse habits? If so stop them now and watch how the behavior will improve throughout the year.
The last two years have been abysmal for me and exercising. I went on a backpacking trip with my son and while I did well I feel I wasn’t in the best shape for the trip. My son wants to do more of those this year so I have to start getting into better shape.
It may seem cliche to start the new year by exercising more but make a plan and stick to it. Get some accountability partners or get your kids to hold you accountable and make a bigger effort to start exercising more and be consistent.
Not focusing on your family
When you reflect on what you did over the past year what are your memories of what you did with your family? Do you have several instances you can remember of having a good time and really focusing on your family? Does it outweigh the number of times you focused on negative things that happened?
Make the new year right by planning focused time to spend with your family. Plan out some vacations or some micro vacations early in the year and follow through on those plans.
Make sure you are putting down your phone and being present with your family. Take some time off and use all of your vacation time you have available to do those fun things with your family and make some memories.
And document those memories. When I visit my mom and dad I always enjoy looking through family photo albums and seeing all the cool things we did as a family that I had forgotten about. It always makes me smile to see how awesome my parents were and the time they spent with us.
Bad habits happen to all of us. Sometimes we don’t even realize we have those bad habits until someone calls us out on them. But we have to make sure we put a stop to them and start with some good habits in the new year.
Focus on your family, put down your phone, make sure you are healthy for the new year. Your kids will need you even after they move out. Make sure you are around and ready to be there to help them.
Do you have any other habits that dads need to get rid of for the new year? If so drop a comment or leave us a message on our Facebook page.