A strong, happy, healthy dad is no good if he’s always at the gym

A rough night continued this morning for our 6 year old.  

My alarm went off at 4am, and I headed to the kitchen for my morning green drink. Before hopping on the bike, where I’m writing this now, I stopped on the couch to read an article.

Within minutes Harper was out of bed, crying, and cuddled up next to me. 

If my routine involved going to the gym, heading out for a run, or cycling out and back, it would have been shot…

Call the gym buddies, put it off for another day. Slide back out of the best groove I’ve been in in years. The world stops spinning for a sick child. 

But my routine is simple, at home, and 100% consistent with being an active and involved father for our kids. 

Harpers momentary wakeful lapse left him asking for a blanket as he laid down on the couch. I covered him with the blanket, and walked the 15 feet to the back patio. With the screen open so I could monitor him, I started my morning reading on my morning ride. 

Ten minutes and 75 calories later, Harper was crying again. Hopping off the bike, I was  right there to comfort him. It took 30 seconds. He was calm and slipping back into the sick sleep state. I was there for him. That will be wired into his psyche. Maybe not this moment, but all the moments.

I got another ten minutes in before he started crying again. This time he’s too hot and wants me to take him to his room. I carry him outside for a bit to cool him off, get him to breath deeply through his nose, and let the peaceful morning birds calm him down. 

Back to sleep and back to his bed. I haven’t heard a peep since. (He’s fine, I checked) . My heart rate is still up. I’m making progress in my book. My morning routine is still mostly intact. 

- - - - 

In general, I think our kids need us “there” more for the everyday stuff. 

And therein lies a problem for the committed dad. Our commitment to our children often obscures our commitment to other critical aspects of life.  

We turn fatherhood into an either/or proposition. 
You can workout -or- care for your kid.
You can go for a run -or- you can do school drop offs.

But it’s not. There’s power in parenting with an AND proposition. 
I can pedal hard and stay responsive to my sick son. 
I can fill my mind with positivity and knowledge, crank my heart rate, and still pick up our littlest for a hug and a question.

You can do both. You can be a great, present parent. 
You can be happy and in the best shape of your life. 
And you can absolutely do both at the same time. 

My strategy is this basic, all-manual $250 spin bike. 

It’s not the same as the long ride through the hills, the fast sprint across town, or training with my friends. 

But then again, life with kids is not the same either. 
It’s richer, more complicated, and more important. 
And if you want to enjoy it for the long haul you have find a system and strategies that work just for you. You have to discover what works best for you and your family.

P.S. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a time and place for fitness without the kids… at the gym… away from home. In fact, these types of boundaries, intense workouts, and space for recovery are really important, too. But too much of that can leave your kids wanting.  

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