With all the work on your plate there’s barely enough time to shower let alone embark on new adventures. That’s the wrong attitude. No matter how frazzled your life might be, I bet you know a fellow parent who manages to do remarkable things without missing a single diaper change.
Do you want to envy them or be inspired?
That realization came to me while walking around Wonderland Lake in Boulder over the weekend. We had been putting off hiking as a family until our children got older for fear that it could be a disaster – Ben refusing to budge after seeing a really cool bug on the ground or Eli throwing a fit when he couldn’t take said bug home as his new pet.
The hike went off without a major hitch – I’ll call Eli’s late-day meltdown a glitch, nothing more.
Mid-walk, all the random thoughts I’ve been having about becoming more entrepreneurial in my professional life led me to a different train of thought. I should be doing more with my spare time, and I can’t let my parental duties be a 24/7 excuse. Why can’t we hike at a different park each weekend? Do we have to eat the same meals every night? Why haven’t I lost that last, stubborn five pounds?
The Missus loved the idea of tackling new adventures, and she admitted the conversation gave our marriage a jolt. She misses the spontaneity of our early courtship, something she feared couldn’t be replicated now that we have children. Frankly, I wasn’t aware we needed a spark in the first place, but I took her comments to heart all the same.
So here’s my battle plan, and it’s one I hope others will share:
- One New Recipe a Week: Nothing symbolizes marital malaise quite like eating the same meal week in, week out. Visit allrecipes.com, one of the best foodie sites on the web complete with user reviews and a customizable newsletter.
- Don’t Take Disasters to Heart: Every move you make as a parent can be a nightmare if your children make it so. Tantrums. Spilled drinks. Broken toys … or worse. At any moment a peaceful vibe can be shattered, and the thought of trying something ambitious seems insane. It’s not insane. Just do it, to quote our pals at Nike, and mentally prepare for the hiccups along the way.
- Baby Steps: Consider the simple but sage advice from Tim Ferriss, the author of “The 4-Hour Workweek.” Don’t try to tackle five new things at once. Adopt one new habit at a time, let it become a part of your routine, and then consider what to do next. For me, I’ve turned years of exercise failures into an early morning routine which has transformed my body (OK, given it a tweak or two). It took time, but it’s no longer a chore to roll out of bed at 6 a.m. and pop in that workout DVD. It’s simply what I do.
- Meetup Mania: The site Meetup.com offers a plethora of leisure options, from gathering to watch your favorite sports team to hiking the nearest trails. If your town doesn’t have a meetup.com group it might have other ways to network with fellow families.
- Accountability Matters: Share your new adventures on social media outlets. Not only will it energize you, but revealing your goals to others will give you a better chance of keeping your promises.
Planning is essential for most, if not all, of the above. Have hiking plans? Set up your food reserves, sun screen and other essentials the night before. Print out a map to your destination and read it out before putting the kids in the car. That will make the time needed to get out of the house go much more smoothly.
It’s also imperative to include your wives in on your master plans. Talk to your spouse to see if she’s on the same page, and if so make sure to have projects that you’ll both find fun.
As for me, I’ll be documenting my life changes here for all to see.