By Barry Keurulainen
Before our world knew much about COVID-19, 80 percent of dads had expressed the desire to have more time with their families. People should be careful what they wish for! Now, the lines between work and home have become blurred. Whether it’s the cat climbing on the keyboard, or the usage of household vocabulary, interruptions have become commonplace in work video calls.
Yet, as challenging as the pandemic has been, there have been blessings in it all. Sixty-eight percent of men have said they find great satisfaction and joy being at home. Duncan Fisher of The Family Initiative writes, “If dads continue to spend more time with family, it benefits children and women, but really, it benefits men because loving relationships are fulfilling, and that is what life is all about.” Now as restrictions are being lifted, we are entering into a new normal.
Could it be that COVID-19 has created a new dad for a new normal? Can a dad hold on to this? How do we prevent slipping back into pre-COVID-19 habits?
First, be gentle. Go easy on yourself and on others. A friend of mine journaled this thought:
“So many have lost sight of gentleness this year. . . . I am not good at being gentle with myself, but I would not have mentally survived this past year without grace and self-love. Be gentle with yourself today.”
If you regret lost years or what you could have done better this last year, be gentle with yourself. Be as gentle with yourself and your kids as your heavenly Father is with you: “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our form; He is mindful that we are nothing but dust” (Psalm 103:13-14 NASB).
Second, embrace new habits. If you have enjoyed time with your kids at home, then create habits that become a regular part of your day. Daily habits can be small yet carry great power. Renowned pastor and author John Maxwell says, “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
Our daily habits are windows into our soul. It has been said that character is largely a bundle of habits that not only shows our heart, but also shapes it. Healthy habits help us to move forward without always having to ask the same question each day because the decision is already made.
What are the habits and daily routines that you enjoyed in the last year that you want to hold on to? Make the decision now to put it into your daily routine.
Finally, be present. We need to understand the difference between being busy and being hurried. Being busy is an outward reality that occurs when we have many things to do. Hurriedness is an inner reality—it’s when we become so preoccupied with the pressures of life that we are unable to be present with God or anyone else.
God invites the hurried soul to, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 ESV). When we quiet the voices within and spend time in his presence, we find rest and the knowledge that God is in control. When this happens, those we interact with in our day will see the difference because they know that we are truly present when we are with them.
Be gentle. Hold on to healthy habits. Be present. This is what being a new dad might look like in the new normal.
- What are some of the routines and habits that you want to continue in a new normal?
- Listen to “If you want to change the world, start out by making your bed” by Admiral William McRaven. What daily habit would make such a difference in your life?