- Writers Note: This blog post applies to all father’s, no matter how many kids you have. We are all drowning anyway right?
They will test you.
They will try you.
They will make you think you are going crazy.
Trust me. I’ve been there.
As a Dad with 5 kids, I know what it’s like trying to figure out ways to not lose your cool, keep your head straight, and maintain your sanity.
I’m going to be honest with you though, it isn’t something that you can sit on your laurals and expect to just happen. You’re gonna have to work for it. Your kids are each competing for your time, along with your wife, work, clients, friends, and other family members. There are several key components to staying sane when you have 5 kids. While this list isn’t exhaustive by any means, I have found that these 5 ingredients help me when life feels like it is a chaotic mess.
5 Ways To Keep Your Sanity As A Dad With 5 Kids
1.) “Me Time”
I know what you are thinking: “Shawn, I don’t have enough time as it is!! Where am I going to get time to myself?” The real answer is you’re not, if you don’t plan for it. The key to getting a little “Me Time,” is all in the planning. I’m not talking about time where you spend hours in front of the television vegging out ignoring your family. “Me Time” is all about recharging and refueling. The “Me Time” you should be having is time spent reviving yourself.
The neat thing about it, is that it doesn’t have to happen all at once. Personally, I believe it best to make time for yourself throughout the day, whether that is when you are going to the bathroom, just after you wake up, just before bed, or for a few minutes in the car before or after work.
I personally am recharged when I am reading a good book. It doesn’t have to be a motivational book. It could be anything. Last month it was a fiction novel about the zombie apocalypse, this month it is a book on geopolitics. I try to fit a few paragraphs in when I go to the bathroom, and usually right before I go to bed.
In the car I listen to podcasts.
Again, they don’t have to always be motivational (one day we will talk about the cult of motivation), often times mine are spiritual in nature, or around a topic I really enjoy.
That doesn’t mean you can’t take a longer time out, but remember that if you do, you have to plan accordingly. The last time I had an extended “Me Time” was when my best friend Gary Miller and I took a trip to Nashville for fun. That was 3 years ago. So, remember, you may not be able to take the fishing trip every weekend, but if you schedule it right, you can have the “Me Time” you need to recharge and refuel for the kids.
2.) Find a Hobby
This may sound repetitive but bare with me. When it comes to “Me Time,” I am talking about quick moments of time to gather yourself together. When it comes to a hobby, I mean something that you spend time doing, and doing it often. Men need hobbies. It keeps us busy and keeps us from being idle. Too often men get in trouble because they are simply bored and have nothing to do.
So, find a hobby.
It can be something you do with your family, just your wife, or by yourself. It doesn’t matter, but find something that you love to do, your passionate about, and that brings you joy and do it. Then keep doing it. It actually may turn into a side hustle, you never know.
The reason I put this down is because when I was reviewing my life this week, and the points I had for this blog, I realized that I didn’t really have a hobby that I was focused on. I love to blog, and really want to podcast again in the future, but at this time in my life I really wasn’t taking time to do something I enjoy just to do it.
So, I decided that for now, this blog will be my hobby, and I hope to add a podcast in the future.
So, dad’s find you something you love to do and go enjoy yourself. Here is a helpful link to get you started.
3.) Set Boundaries with your Kids
This is hard, but it has to happen. We MUST set boundaries with our kids. They must know that there are lines that cannot be crossed. I’m not talking about moral lines (though those are important), but areas of life that they are off limits to. The is an area that you and your wife are gonna have to figure out together, and then when you do, stick to it.
One of the areas we try (keyword there) to keep secure is our bedroom. We don’t let the kids in our bedroom without being invited, or given permission. That may seem harsh, but the bedroom should be a place of rest for you and your wife, as well as a place of intimacy away from the kids (and I’m not just talking about sex here). Having boundaries set that allows for adult time and kid time, helps the kids know their role (said in my best Rock impression possible) within the family unit.
For some that may mean different things, set some boundaries while your kids are young and it will be easier to keep the boundaries in place. Just know that there will be times that the boundaries will be tested, like countries who try to infringe on another’s boarder, your kids will push to see how far you will allow them to go. Approach these situations with grace and gentle firmness, and be willing to move boundaries as your children grow.
No matter what your boundaries may be, set some in place that allow for you to personally recharge and refuel, as well as both you and your wife together. This is key and it will be good for you, your marriage, and your kids.
4.) Read a good book
I am a bookworm, but I know a lot of guys aren’t. However, reading a good book can help you chill, calm your mind, and refuel in ways you can’t imagine. The old adage is true, “Readers are Leaders,” and if you want to grow in your life as a man, husband, dad, business, etc. it’s only going to come by reading and putting good things in your mind. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t even have to be motivational, instructional, etc. all the time. I just finished a 3 book series on the zombie apocalypse (yeah I am a zombie nerd). Currently I am reading a book on international geopolitics.
While those are not the only books I am reading, they are the books I am reading to renew myself and recharge.
My recommendation is always have a book by your bedside, one in the bathroom, and one with you (in your car or briefcase) that you can pull on when you have down times like at lunch, waiting on a plane/train, etc. Reading helps keep your creative juices flowing, as well as stimulates your brain, and helps you grow.
5.) Connect with God
This seems obvious, but how often do we forget to do it. I’m not just talking about going to church and reading your Bible (though those are also important). I’m talking about deeply connecting with God. Getting outside of the religiousness we often fill ourselves with, and getting real and honest with yourself and God. I recommend finding teachings from Christian leaders that challenge you and listening to them. As well as going for a walk and just listening for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Pray and ask God into your day, week, month, and year. Seek Him.
However you do that, renew yourself in finding God in new ways.
One of my personal favorite ways to connect with God, is to sit out on a hill in my car, or on my porch and watch a thunderstorm roll in. I have heard God speak to me so often in those times, and yet as I write this I realize that the last time I have done that is so long ago I can’t even remember. (Preaching to myself here)
While this is the most important item on the list, I listed it last because too often we brush over this area. Personally, I realized something today that humbled and challenged me, as well as caused me to repent. What was it? I hadn’t asked God into my daily life in a long time. I hadn’t asked Him for His wisdom and thoughts on my marriage, some family situations, and career issues I am facing.
Needless to say, I spent some time connecting today.
Please understand when I say this: I am not asking you to pray for 4 hours, or read your Bible for 2 hours, or spend every waking moment at church. I don’t want you to become more religious and neither does God. What I am saying is find a way to connect with God and do it often. However, that works for you.
There is peace, joy, and blessings in doing so.
Having kids is a lot of work. Maintaining balance in a marriage, at work, mentally, etc. while having kids is even more work. But, if you want to become the Dad your kids need you, and you truly want to be, it’s okay to take time to recharge, refuel, and find ways to do that effectively.
If you have questions, or you would like to connect personally with me on the topics above. Shoot me an email at: email@example.com.
I hope this post encouraged you, and let you know that no matter how many kids you have, things will be crazy, but it’s okay to take time to maintain your sanity and recharge.
As always, feel free to share your thoughts below. I would love to hear from you.
Until next time.