I’ll confess, I’m not a dad. However, I doubt it’s a controversial thing to say that parenting can be emotionally draining at times. For a lot of people it’s something that they just accept, but few people realise there are a couple of things you can do to combat it.
stop yourself scraping the bottom of your emotional barrel
Imagine your emotional energy as being the liquid in a fuel tank. You have an inlet through which you can fill it, and there’s a pipe at the bottom which takes it away as it’s used. Some activities fill your emotional tank, and others drain it. To stop yourself being a dad scraping the bottom of your emotional barrel, you need to know what fills it and what drains it.
For example, some of the things that fill me are playing guitar and drums, watching football with mates, walks in the countryside, river boat trips, and baking. Some things that drain me are washing up, mass cleaning, a booked up diary and meeting many new people at once.
You can’t always cut out everything that drains you
Generally speaking, you’ll enjoy stuff that fills you. But not everything you enjoy will fill you, something you love might even drain you. You can’t always cut out everything that drains you (your wife might not like it if you decided to stop working on the basis that it left you feeling emotionally drained). However you can offset their effect by ensuring you spend time doing the things that fill you.
Also, you can’t do everything that fills you all the time (I don’t own a boat or live near a river, so guess which of my fillers is a rare treat). But others are easier to do without hassle (like popping to the pub to watch the next football game with mates) or spontaneously in a limited time gap (like picking my guitar up for 10 minutes).
This is energetic suicide!
When people enter a busy period, such as when work picks up, or a dad has a family to look after, people tend to stop doing the stuff they enjoy (the stuff that fills them) to make time for the boring stuff they have do to (the stuff that drains them). This is energetic suicide! It’s like driving from London to Moscow under time pressure and deciding to create more time for driving by not stopping for petrol. At some point, you’ll grind to a halt.
Make sure you’re making time for the stuff that fills your emotional tank. Being a dad is, in my opinion, one of the greatest and most important jobs in the world. You are charged with loving, caring for and raising new life, and putting them on the start of their journey through life. It’s something which is rewarding, but very demanding and can take a huge toll on your emotions. So make sure you’re not a Dad running on empty. Keep your emotional energy brimming. Keep your tank full.
By Jeremy Cooper
Photo credit: Hannah Hylton