Max Wettstein is an solid dad and a highly recognized fitness professional. Our readers get his advice on Father’s Day Fitness for Domesticated Dads. Follow him at @Max_Wettstein.
Being a father now-a-days is more fulfilling and rewarding, yet busier than ever. I am not trying to sound like a masculinist, but there is sort of a double standard set upon on us present-day fathers, not only by our nurturing wives and baby-Mommas, but by society in general. At least here in San Diego’s progressive society. Think about what is expected of you as a husband and father, and what is put on your plate daily. Most of us our working full time, and the minute we clock out, we immediately are taking over duties as primary parent, if not volunteering at their schools, or assisting as coaches, helping with homework, not to mention grinding through at least half the load of household chores. ‘Stay-at-home-Mom’ – what’s that? Many of us have a (equally busy) wife who also works at least part time, just to be able to afford to live in beautiful San Diego and offer our families the lifestyle it offers. What’s more, no San Diego mom I know of is willing to be content just tending to the home and kids. Mothers these days have yoga classes, extensive social groups, hobbies, and a serious list of personal goals! We Dads pick up the domestic slack by donning every hat in the household often with zero appreciation in return because it is what is expected of us. It’s considered our duty and even a privilege.
Don’t misunderstand me. There are few things as rewarding in life as spending quality time with our children, and most of us desire to be more involved and hands-on, if given a choice. But all this means time for Dad is pushed to the bottom of the honey-do list and is often considered low priority by spouses and bosses alike. Just finding time to go for a run, or go to the gym can not only be near impossible, but can be wrongfully perceived as selfish, or putting ourselves before our family. Any opportunity for continued personal growth and self-mastery? – Well sorry, but that is a luxury that we left behind the moment we had to put together the crib for baby #1. Or so it might seem.
The truth is, while you might have to pause for a decade or so at becoming an expert at mastering you, nothing makes us grow and mature more than fatherhood. Perhaps there is no greater opportunity to love another human being, more than fatherhood. If you are blessed with children, know that the collective experience of raising a family leaves us wiser and more evolved during life’s journey. Leading a family and household is as great a challenge as any corporate C.E.O. will face, and what used to be the sole home-making domain of the mother is now equally shared with us fathers. Like it or not, we have become fully domesticated. But back to finding time to still workout…
You are not selfish for taking some time each day to workout. It is humanistic to be better for everyone else in your life, if you fix yourself first. If you take some personal time each day for your holistic fitness whether it be meditation, yoga, a run, a gym workout, or a surf, you will be so much better prepared and grounded to handle whatever challenges pop up the rest of your day, both personal and professional. You won’t resent your family for sucking up all your time. You will be able to clear your head and vent off a lot of stress rather than possibly projecting it on to your kids or your dog. Your patience threshold will expand, allowing you to better handle all the stress the rest of your family members unload on you. Fight for that precious time to get your workout in and be all about you – even it is only for 30 minutes a day. We make this happen by opening our calendar the night before and scheduling it for all other family members to witness and agree to. If you get your workout into the family master calendar of events, it will happen! Another way, is to join a fitness group or sports’ team, where the entire group is counting on you to show up. Accountability is priceless, and perhaps your wife will be more on board if she knows your buddies need you to participate.
There are many opportunities to fit in fitness with your children as well. While not the same as being able to have that essential, critical, solo time, exercising with your family can be equally as rewarding and of course doubly productive. When we are being active with our kids it is a win-win for all. Many fathers put on their coaching hats and get involved that way. Others just train with their kids – that’s what I do. It is a different kind of intensity for sure, but still challenging. Because at a certain point in the adult vs. youth athletic performance graph, your kid starts to take you down in certain areas of skill and/or fitness. Age and time are always working in their favor, which seems unfair, but since it is your own kid beating you, in a way that is not such a bad thing. In fact eventually, your kid can serve to motivate you as roles reverse and you try to keep up with them. Not there yet with your kid? Give it a few years. It goes by quick, so as tired and under-appreciated as you may feel as your family’s fearless leader, try and enjoy every moment!
The key is to keep it fun. This is so important. Not trying to preach, but if your kid begins to feel too much pressure or expectation from you to perform, they may just start avoiding workouts with dear old Dad. There’s nothing wrong with a little coaching from Dad but when it comes down to it with kids and sports, at the end of the day, they just want to feel unconditional love from their father. Walking your (coaching) talk and setting a good athletic example is not such a bad idea either, so take care of yourself, and stay in the ‘game’ when possible, not just on the sidelines! Your own game-of-fitness that is – otherwise your kid’s real coach may ban you from attending.
Please note these are the opinions of Max Wettstein who is a fitness professional; however, these statements should not be considered medical advice. Each of you should consult your physician before beginning any exercise or lifestyle change.