Every dad feels short on time. You have work. You have your marriage or your relationship. You have your kids and soccer practice and lunches to pack and baths to give. You have all those important conversations to have, rules to set down, homework to check, and curfews to enforce. Plus you have your own health and your own interests.
Who has the time, you have probably said to yourself. How can I get it all in?
Well, the answer is simpler than it might seem. First, you have to start cutting out what is nonessential. It’s hard for anyone to sympathize with how busy you are when the Screen Time app on your phone tells a very different story…or when you’ve gotten every dollar out of your monthly Netflix bill. But second, you have to stop with this idea that you are rushed, that it all needs to be squeezed in—because it’s this urgency and franticness that is actually speeding things up. “You see how much time you have,” Gustie Herrigel writes in Zen in The Art of Flower Arrangement, “only when you stop thinking you have none.”
That’s not mystical nonsense. It’s a powerful insight. You see, it’s your desire to “squeeze it all in” that’s filling your to-do list and making you miss opportunities. You won’t need to schedule as much quality time with your kids if you realize that it’s all quality time. Maybe you won’t need to go to the gym as much if you realize that running around the yard is exercise. Maybe you won’t need date night if you can figure out how to actually be present and fun as you guys sit on the couch after the kids have gone to bed. Maybe a whole lot of the things you think you have to do, don’t even matter—that they’re about impressing other people—and when you drop them, you’ll have more space and more freedom.
We have plenty of time, but we waste so much of it. We let so much of it pass without seizing it. If we want to be less busy and be better dads, why don’t we start there?