Are you finding fatherhood to be insanely boring? Maybe it’s the long periods of watching something do nothing. Maybe it’s the drudgery of diaper changing and feeding. Maybe it is the sheer silence—and then the sheer volume—that children can generate.
Either way, if you are wondering if fatherhood is actually boring or if you’re just doing it wrong, then perhaps we can shine some light on that for you. Plus, if we do it right, maybe we can help you become a more engaged dad!
The Beginning: Pregnancy
When you first find out that you are going to be a dad, it’s normal to be excited. The feeling is amazing: butterflies in your stomach, machismo, strutting your stuff—you’ve done it! You’re a modern-day mad scientist, and you’ve helped create life!
Let’s face it, we are basically wired to procreate. Trying—or “practicing”—is the fun part.
Then comes nine months of doctor appointments, nursery work, etc.
Then the baby comes.
The Other Beginning: The First Two Years
If you were just thinking, “woohoo! Finally, it’s time to play catch or have tea with my kid!” then we have some bad news for you: your baby is going to just sit there and do pretty much nothing.
Then, a couple of months in, they smile. Maybe they’ll roll over and crawl. By the end of year one, they can smile, crawl (maybe walk), maybe say a few words, eat, and poop. That’s it.
I found the first two years to be horrendously boring. So, you may be wondering, “is it just me? Are my kids boring? How can I be engaged when I am soooooo bored?”
The answer is no, it’s not just you. Here are some ideas about how to stay engaged:
- Read to your kid, but don’t stick to just their baby books—use your own business, self-help, or science fiction literature. The more words they hear, the better off they are down the line.
- Go for a run or a hike and take them with you. No need to try anything crazy—just keep getting exercise and taking care of yourself. They’re along for the ride. This is your chance to show them what life is all about (before they learn to argue).
- Hide and Seek: they hide, and you try very hard not to find them.
- Make lots of messes. I spent way too much time trying to keep them and our house clean. If you are going to have to clean up, you may as well have fun making messes, too.
The Middle: Three to Six Years
At this point, your kid is finally walking, talking, and past the “terrible twos.” Unfortunately, they still can’t do everything you can. Don’t despair. Focus on dad activities and just include them in it.
Some of my favorite dad activities over the years have included:
- Painting a room. Amazingly, they can help (assuming they are past putting things in their mouth). All you have to do is give them a small paintbrush and let them get to work. Sure, you’ll do 99% of it, but they’re learning.
- I had my kids help me put in a reclaimed wood floor. Sort of. I made them my assistants and had them hand me tools. Close enough. I got work done, and they were happy to “help.”
- Have them help tear things out on a project. Busting up and tearing down drywall? That’s a kid’s job!
- Find an exercise you can do together. Hiking worked well for me. We also often went to a high school track, where they scootered around as my wife and I jogged. It was much better than watching them swing.
- Involve them in chores. We have family clean-up time once per week, during which dad and three kids go room by room. We put on music and have a dance party while we clean the house.
- Geocaching was a great activity to do together. It’s like a hike, hide-and-go-seek, and adventure all wrapped up together.
- Have a few minutes to kill on your way someplace? We played a game where each kid took turns yelling out the direction (left, right, straight) at intersections. We ended up in weird places, but they learned directions and where they were. Plus, we found a great place for noodles.
- Take lots of tours of things. Anytime you can be actively learning, you are engaged. If you can do that with them, then everyone wins.
The Other Middle: Seven to Twelve Years
My kids are in this phase. They’re eight, seven, and seven as I write this. Things are just now getting really good.
This is the phase where staying engaged gets significantly easier. We can talk about life, build stuff, play sports (and beat them), play games (and beat them), and read the same books together.
Whatever you think of, you can do with them. They’ve moved beyond basic skills and developed into more advanced humans!
I will add this section in 5 years (if I remember to). I envision a lot more cheerleading, coaching, and advice.
Essentially, I expect my role in their activities will be relegated more to the sidelines rather than on the field with them, so to speak. I’m sure that’ll be a good thing—I’ll be older and won’t have as much energy to race them anymore.
I must admit though, I’ll be proud—but sad—that I won’t be able to beat them at quite so many games anymore.
Do you have examples of how to be more engaged with your kids as a father? If so, post them here! We love hearing from our readers!