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5 Ways to Be More Present and Engaged With Your Family

A few tricks to bring you back into the moment.

We get it. A lot of guys straddle the line between work life and home responsibilities. And, in this age of smartphones, social media, and push notifications, that line becomes blurrier and blurrier every second. It also makes it easier to space out when you get home and should be enjoying time with your family. It’s not that you don’t want to live in the moment, it’s just that you can’t stop thinking about work or bills or when you’ll get to veg out on the couch and watch that episode of Westworld from three weeks ago.

So how can you fight those urges and be more present with your family? For some advice we turned to Dr. Timothy Dukes. The author of The Present Parent Handbook, a mindfulness guide for parents, Dukes spends his days coaching everyone from world leaders to business executives how to be more present in their daily lives. Here, he offers five simple ways for you to be more present with your family

Choose What You Bring Home

When you walk in the door at night, take a moment to remind yourself that you are not at work anymore. Let go of the day’s distractions, or at the very least, make a conscious decision to put them off until later.

“Choosing the energy we wish to bring into our home is so important before walking in,” says Rose Lawrence, a Psychotherapist and the owner of Mind Balance, INC. “When we do this we have more control over our intentions, our mood and our behaviors. If you want to be more present it is not as easy as just placing your phone in a basket; it involves a thoughtful choice each day, each hour.”

Stick to Your Promises

Give your family your word that you will be present for a certain period of time and stick to it. That means no phone at dinner, no email during a soccer game, no taking calls during a recital. When you’ve made the agreement, follow through. ‘I am free for the afternoon, means I am here,’ says Dukes. “Make agreements with yourself and keep them.”

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Visualize the Dad You Want to Be

Take some time to visualize the type of father you see yourself as. Let that picture take shape in your mind to the point where you can see what that dad looks like and acts like. But be sure to take your lifestyle into account. If you create a larger-than-life image of a superdad that is impossible to live up to, you’re setting yourself up to check out. “Creating unrealistic expectations will guarantee you to check out of the present,” says Lawrence, “because you will want to give up when you don’t meet those expectations, leaving you to be distracted easily by the phone, TV, et cetera.”

Accept That You May Fail Sometimes

No matter how hard you try, something will come up. A crisis will flare up at work, a text will come in that you can’t ignore. It happens. The key is that, when it happens, it’s okay to check out as long as you come back. “When you fail, not a problem,” says Dukes, “just start over and double down on your determination to be on time, focus on your child’s event, listen at the dinner table, meet your family’s expectations.”

Book Some Playtime

One of the simplest ways to forget about the stresses weighing on you is to just have some sill fun with your kids. Play with their action figures. Challenge them to Fortnite. Just have fun with them. “For example, lay on the floor with them to play with their toys and get into a character like they do, or get into the game characters and ask them why they like the game and have them explain that world to you,” says Lawrence. Once you’re in that world with them, you’ll be more engaged and less distracted.