Every day, when I return home from work, I get out of the car and hear the same thing. My kids excitedly shout, “Daddy’s home!” Then they come running to the front door, jumping up and down. One day, it occurred to me how much I take that moment for granted. There soon will come a day when my kids won’t greet me in that wonderful way. Ever since I realized that, I have tried to soak up every excited greeting.
Recently, I asked myself this question: “What kind of greeting am I giving them? Does it show the same excitement?” I wondered what my greeting communicates to them when I get home from work. Does it show love? Do I look as thrilled to see them as they look to see me, or do I look grumpy and tired? This has changed how I come home. Those first few minutes set the tone for the entire evening. Here are 5 practical tips that make coming home from work an easier transition.
1. Remember that you’ve really been “fathering” all day.Remind yourself throughout the workday that you’re doing this for the ones you love.
One of your primary responsibilities is to provide for your family’s needs. Remind yourself throughout the workday that you’re doing this for the ones you love and the transition when you return home won’t be quite so jarring.
2. Unwind a little before you return home.
Take 10 minutes at your workplace to unwind. Go for a short walk, listen to some music, or envision the best attitude to have when you walk through the front door. Do what it takes to be ready to jump in when you arrive at home.
3. Commit your first few minutes to your family.
If you’re like me, when you get home, you’d probably rather head straight for the couch. But by spending a few minutes interacting with everyone first—including a hug for your wife—you’ll gain the freedom to relax. Greet them with excitement, especially when you’re tired. Get down on your kids’ level to give them hugs and kisses or lift them up. Ask your kids to share the best and worst parts of their day. Do what you can to communicate that you missed them while you were at work.
4. Request time to relax if you need it—or wait to relax until the kids have gone to bed.
Maybe you do need a few minutes to unwind and your wife can keep the kids occupied until you have the energy to give them your full attention. Or maybe she’ll need you to take the kids until dinner is ready. In reality, you only have a couple of hours to spend with them before bed. Make the most of that time.
5. Anticipate discipline issues.
It can be discouraging if just as you return home, you’re bombarded with all the day’s problems. Then your first contact with your child involves discipline. Get into a mindset of expecting it to happen. Be ready for your kids to misbehave and think through how you are going to respond before you get home from work. Don’t dismiss the problem, but work out a routine that works best for everyone involved.
Sound off: What is the first thing you do when you get home?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What was the best part of your day?”