“Daddy… Daddy… DADDY!!”
I am suddenly ripped out of a deep sleep. I wake up on the living room floor in a small puddle of my own drool. I hear the credits song of a Paw Patrol episode in the background and see that my kids are reverting back to some restless chimpanzee-like state. What time is it? How long was I out? Is that a sticker on my forehead?
Turns out, I was only asleep for a few minutes but lately that’s all it takes for me to dive into the deep of my “new-normal” state of exhaustion. I’m instantly brought back to childhood memories of my own dad snoring away on the couch while we played around him or watched TV. When did I become my father?
I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say that balancing work and home with little ones really takes its toll on the ol’ dad bod. I try to be the present and involved parent. I volunteer at my kid’s school, we hike and bike ride together, and I’m with them during karate, soccer, and music lessons. I try to make time for myself, my partner, and squeeze in quality time with family and friends. But sometimes trying to balance it all just adds to the fatigue.
I find myself drinking more coffee than ever, I’m easily irritable, I’m mixing my words and blurting out statements that make no sense. Ever just “rest your eyes” for a second half way through bedtime stories – only to be elbowed by your kid and jolted back into consciousness?
Of course the solution is to get more sleep and sometimes I’ll bury myself under the blankets right after putting the boys to bed. But more often than not, those magical hours after the kids are asleep is when I get a second wind. The thought of having some uninterrupted time to myself is all I need to perk up. I’ll pour myself a glass of wine, grab an over-salted snack and jump into an anticipated TV show episode, or crank up the PS4 to play an old favourite.
I tell myself (as you should too) that it’s OK to be tired and it’s OK to indulge in time for yourself – even if the baggy eyes are telling you otherwise. Being a dad is hard work, I am not alone, and I know it will pay off.
But for now all I can muster is putting on the next episode of Paw Patrol and taking another nap!