Ask any dad, “How’s your confidence level right now?,” and the top answer will most likely be, “Eh, it’s been better.”
Tell us if this is true: You work hard, but you worry about having enough, so you work some more, and then even more, because “busy, busy, busy” is the American mindset, says Pam Monday, marriage and family therapist in Austin, Texas. But you still don’t know if it’s ever enough.
It doesn’t get much more definitive when you’re with your kids. You can believe what you’re doing or saying is right, but you’re never really sure. “There’s no playbook,” reminds Lesli Doares, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of Hero Husband: Building a Super Marriage with Truth, Confidence and Authentic Leadership. “And what works for child number one might not work with child number two.”
So, confidence wanes. Maybe you’re stretched too thin and not hearing much positive feedback. Maybe you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Whatever the case, there are some small-on-time but big-on-results steps you can take to become more confident in general. What it comes down to is that you need to shake up the routine and inject a little positivity and accomplishment into your life. When that happens, you breathe a little easier, feel more comfortable with who you are, and everyone benefits. Here’s what to do.
1. Make The Bed
It’s not a euphemism. Seriously, just make the bed. No one likes doing it, so take it on without complaint. It’ll provide order to a chaotic house, and the bed doesn’t squirm or endlessly negotiate for just “One more minute” “Nothing with kids is ever completed,” notes Pat Love, relationship expert and author of Five Forces Destroying Your Relationship You Probably Never Heard Of. When you’re done making the bed, there is.
2. Finish Three Minor Tasks
Completing tasks is crucial to feeling confident. And the more you complete, the more momentum you gain. That’s why it helps to have a daily list of three easy-to-knock-off items. “It sounds so stupidly simple,” Love says. “But it’s not.” Why? Chances are, you’re continually getting distracted and pulled away from what’s in front of you, so at the end of the day, you merely stop rather than finish anything. Make yourself complete at least three small tasks. Even if one is “change out the Brita filter.” Small things add to the completed pile, and while that makes you feel good, the rest of the house sees that you get stuff done. “That builds trust,” she says.
3. Look for a Hand
Whether it’s fixing a window or getting your kids to not hit, you might try something but still think, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” It’s healthy to admit your limitations, but don’t stop there. Fill in your blanks. Read a book or ask a mentor, friend, your dad, or anyone who fits the bill for help. You’ll hear news ideas, challenge old ones, and add to your tool box. And if you’re worried about your ego? “LeBron James has at least five coaches,” Doares says. “The best know when they don’t know something.”
4. Seek Out More Fun
You need time away from the kids, as does your partner, so make this pitch: We need to have more fun. It’ll make us better all around. How about we take turns once a month watching the kids for an afternoon so the other can go off and play?” You’re conspiring together, always good for connection, but it’s key that you plan together. If you just take control of your “great idea”, rather than happy reciprocity, the lingering impression will be, “You owe me,” Monday says.
5. Address That Habit
You know what you do well. But you also know what you don’t. Chances are, your partner has also mentioned an annoying behavior once or 10 times, be it the lecturing voice you slip into or the belief that piles on the floor equal clean. If you can’t full-on eliminate it, at least try to do it less or catch yourself and stop before you get the look. The attempt will show that you’re listening, that you care, and that will resonate. “She’ll find it more attractive and her desire will make you feel more attractive,” Love says.
6. Vow to Take a Social Media Break
An occasional fast is healthy. When it comes to social media, all the more so. Online everyone seems like they have it together, but that’s pure fallacy. Taking the occasional step back turns down the noise, the need to compare and self-doubt. “We’re inundated with information but not knowledge,” Doares notes. Choose one day a week to be completely phone free; you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel when you stop focusing on the
7. Prioritize the Positive
Everyone wants compliments, but they don’t always come. Rather than stew, tell your partner that you need to hear good stuff and propose that every day at a certain time, you each finish, “Something I really appreciate about you is …” Or ask that before you go to bed, you hear one positive thing you did that day as a dad. It would great if you just felt it, but sometimes you need that outside perspective, because, as Monday says, “You can’t see it right now.”
And when the opportunity is there, brag about your partner in front of others. You’re making it public and that takes a certain brass. It makes your spouse overflow with good feelings, and in turn her, “you feel attractive and confident,” Love says.
8. Reconnect with Old Joy
Pre-kids, you did things like play poker, shoot hoops, run races, and you loved it. But that stuff got dropped in the name of no time. You could reclaim some element, but most guys balk because the activity won’t be the same. Mainly, you won’t be as good and you won’t win as much.
That might be true, but so what? You want to look for the words that will motivate you: I’ll get outside. I’ll see old friends. I’ll take it as a challenge, try my best, maybe surprise myself, and whatever happens, allow myself to enjoy it. And isn’t that what you’re trying to impart to your kids? “You gotta stop talking yourself out of it and start talking yourself into it,” Monday says.