As I stepped out of the swimming pool having struggled to swim more than a couple of full-lengths I thought to myself why bother, why am I doing this what’s the point? I mean I am a 40 year old man with better things to be doing. So why exactly am I doing it? I’ve two children at home, limited sleep and no regular pattern in daily life as yet? Ironically that’s exactly why I was doing it in the first place. Well let’s go back just over a year when I started my second period of shared parental leave, at that time I thought to myself I need to have goals to achieve whilst off with my children.
Before having children time off would have meant planning nights out, lazy days watching movies and spending time bingeing on box sets, hell I even got to season five of Breaking Bad! With kids however my goals had to change and I set off on a course of self education through my CIPD and also began my journey of learning to swim. At that time I called these these my dad goals.
Now, with the excitement of starting shared parental leave and all of the questions I had and the unknown of what it would be like with two I began to think I was mad planning two large projects at the same time, strangely though this was the very reason I was doing it to keep my sanity and so I persevered and stuck to my guns.
So the question is, is it important to set and keep to your goals when your life is overtaken by tiny feet (and screaming and tantrums and poo!) Well I must admit that it’s tough, very tough but very worthwhile . For the swimming it meant paying for private lessons, giving up one evening a week at home (usually the children’s bedtime) and accepting that it wouldn’t happen overnight. But happen it did and after only a few months, the feeling of elation was exceptional and do you know why? Because I (me) had achieved something I never thought I could and it also came with the added bonus of assuring me that I could help my children if they ever got into difficulties swimming. Sure I’m not going to the Olympics or anything and I still need to make time to practice but I did it!
For my CIPD the sacrifice was real, it meant giving up the most golden of golden times, the afternoon nap time. Not my nap you understand, but the quiet time of about an hour daily when both kids slept. Gone were the days of doing things without hindrance or noise such as watching TV, lying in the sun or even going to the toilet! No I now had the pressure of completing an hours study every other day, even fitting in the occasional well timed Skype call.
Was it worth it? Most definitely. As my paperwork is off being validated and I await my certificate I can relax and reflect on another milestone achievement from a very busy year. And my main motivation? To future proof myself for my kids and family to ensure I was in a position to continually provide whatever the future held. Coincidentally with a very recent and real prospect of redundancy on the horizon, that’s a story for another day, I’m thankful that I started when I did.
So what am I trying to say is that I feel it’s important, particularly as life moves on and your children are born, to keep yourself motivated, focused and fit for whatever life throws at you in the future. If for nothing else your goals will give you a sense of identity and purpose which can keep you going at 4 am when you’re wide awake for like the tenth time or when you’re knee deep in pee from potty training. Be kind to yourself and don’t forget about “you” whilst always doing the best for your family. Its been a while since I posted and they are getting so big everyday,
For me I glanced back at the pool as I left and reflected that a year ago I struggled to get my feet off the ground but with all of the distractions I’ve had this year I’m doing just fine.