Updated: Apr 30
My name is Jey, I'm the host of the Young Dad Podcast; and if you go back and listen to episode 21: Unstoppable Dad Diet, where we had Coach Matt Noonan on the Podcast, we started to laugh and joke about the well-balanced dad diet, however, after thinking on it for a couple of weeks, looking back at the conversations we have had with Single Dad Reboot Podcast, Brad from Baseball 2gether, Evan the Sturge Weber dad, Erik the Peanut Guy, Michael Soloway, Brig from Baseball 2gether, Jason from Safest Family of the Block Podcast I felt we had a place to start to construct the well-balanced dad diet.
Now, I know what you're thinking. Is this going to be another one of those "ra ra, motivational pieces" I read everywhere that don't relate to me? The simple answer is no. The reason for that answer is that if you're a dad. You're setting out to read each of these pieces and listen to their accompanied podcast/video that goes with them, then obviously, you find a place that you can relate to, and you're curious, "what the heck is the well-balanced dad diet?" It's a 12-part (for now) series of changes, ideas, and challenges for you as a father to find some balance within the day-to-day craziness that is fatherhood.
Now, let's jump into the tool bag. I heard this great metaphor once from my father; my pops said this about money: "a carpenter is nothing without his hammer, a boy(I was 15) is nothing without his education, work ethic, and money." I'll often refer to many of what Pop has said, as Pop is the best and, honestly, one of my best friends. Every man, and every dad, as they enter fatherhood or go through their parenting journey, needs the right tools for the job. You need to know that it's zipper pajamas all day; when you have girls, you need detangler and hair brushes, and when boys get to potty training, you need some cheerios to put in the toilet. Please don't take your kid's cheerios for target practice, gents. The tool bag we will use for this journey of the Well-Balanced dad diet is your heart, mind, spirit/soul, and body, as the diet will impact each in one way or another.
We will start with a tool bag that may be empty and already has some tools you already use. Might you already have an excellent self-care routine for your mental and emotional health? If you do, that's great; if you don't, that's a part of your tool bag that is yet to develop. You could have one, but that's okay if it isn't working right for you. We will do the most important thing, and it will be the FIRST CHALLENGE, meet you where you're at. Forget about the past, stop worrying about the future, and meet yourself where you are mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Next, I am going to give you one more challenge. As a parent, you are busy; as the weather warms up and life gets underway, you are busy. You are constantly running around, stressed, and thinking of the next thing. Trust me, I know. You feel things are out of control when we're running between practices, games, and school and add in multiple kids. Yet, when things feel out of control, you must remember you are still in control of what you can control, and that's all. Control your mind, your reactions, your thoughts, and your actions. You don't let your mind, thoughts, and actions control you.
What are the tools? Well, that will be something we build upon week after week; it wouldn't be a fantastic series if I were to give them all to you now. But I will tell you how I got them. I got them from listening to brilliant people, paying attention to my life experiences, and examining what I have been through. I got some of them, and now I want to give them back to you all to the world to use and simplify the life of being a dad. We must admit there is no magic pill or formula to gain all these tools. They take practice, discipline, consistency, and showing up daily for yourself.
Some of the personal tools that I use I wear on my wrist. Yes, I'm a 28yo man that wears wristbands like a teenager. However, that's okay because my bracelets each have a meaning to me. I also wear two necklaces. The first, it's a girl; I have had this bracelet since 2017 when I found I was going to be a girl dad. I was beyond excited and nervous; this bracelet reminded me of the best thing to ever happen to me. The best things in life are our children; They bring us purpose, joy, pride, happiness, and most importantly, motivation to be my best self for them.
The following reads "out of the darkness" from AFSP.org(Americans for suicide preventions); I got this bracelet at a country fair in Arizona one year. At the time, I was an advocate for suicide prevention. However, it took on another meaning when my young brother died late the same year I got it. Call it a coincidence; God makes no mistakes and knows I would need this. I have looked towards this wristband daily, reminding myself I have come out of the darkness several times. I have overcome a broken home, abuse, bullying, my battles with suicide, and now adding on a divorce and all the things that come with that. I have come out of the darkness; I now am in the light. I am living life, seeing colors, enjoying every moment, and being present. That's what out of the darkness means: seeing life's beauty. If you feel things are dark, it's time to take the small steps to get out of that dark place, not just for yourself, but for those you care more about than yourself.
The following "faith" is a straightforward yet powerful phrase in context. I got this when I was working at Walmart and leading the annual children's miracle network fundraiser, and it serves as a reminder always to have empathy cause we don't know each other's lives. We all struggle differently, and it reminds me to have as much faith as kids in the children's hospital that things will get better. Now, I will always mention mind(mental/emotional), body(physical), and soul(spirit), as each play a vital part in our role/jobs as parents to our little ones. As a dad/parent, you must have all these parts together or know where you want to go. Now, I won't push on your faith, I'll reference it and mention it plenty, but I won't push as I want you; there is no need for you to find the faith that works for you. That could be a purely spiritual belief, a relationship, and a connection with the universe, or a particular faith or sect of the faith that you relate to and believe in, and I support you. As long as it works for you, aligns with your goals for this area of life, and you are getting the most out of it.
The next, "embrace the suck" form TVP(Til Valah Project); I instantly wanted this bracelet the first time I saw it because I was working a crappy job at Lowes, I was processing my divorce still, I was struggling mentally/emotionally and physically to an extent, and things SUCKED! Yes, things have sucked. However, I have gone from believing I have bad days and sucky days and days that suck. To where now, I see things for what they are from moment to moment. The whole day doesn't suck; the whole day isn't ruined by one wrong moment. Read that again, one sucky/bad/down moment of that day. You can't let the suck dictate your day; that's letting things control you, not you controlling what you can control. That's okay; I realized that, okay, I realized that things suck right now, they aren't going to suck forever, and they are going to get better, have some "faith." and let's get "out of the darkness."
I found myself again on the TVP project a few weeks later and found another band, "my story is not over;" the semi-colon is so incredibly powerful in writing. "This small punctuation mark—in grammatical terms—represents a place where a sentence could end but continues. This meaning has been transferred to suicide awareness and prevention as a symbol for battling suicidal thoughts or behavior." As I mentioned earlier, my brother overdosed; I didn't mention that I once struggled with my suicide battle back when I was 17. It was a dark time; I was going through a lot. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for good friends.
Now I have five bracelets; I have four powerful tiny sayings that all build on one another; each gives me a tool to pull out of my mind or heart when needed. Add these to my necklace, my daughter made me, and my cross with the verse Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things." You can do everything you set your mind to, every challenge I offer you through this series, everything you want to do, you can do it. The only thing that is stopping you is you! Get out of your way, and let go of all that negativity, the doubt, and the things you can't control. Let love, faith, hope, self-love, self-belief, and love from others grow and do all those things you know you need to do. You have the answers you are looking for.
I told you the stories; I told you the reason why I wear these. Other than looking, they tell my story. They show some of the tools I have in my bag; they start conversations about important things like mental health, suicide prevention, and faith. The point, each band has a why, my necklace has a why behind it, and everything you will read in this series has a why and a purpose. Much like all we do daily, we should and need a why, purpose, and conviction behind it.
Yes, you can, I can, we can together, with faith, embracing the suck, coming out of the darkness, and remembering our story isn't over, that we can do everything. The ball is in your court now. Are you going to follow along, fill this tool bag, and have more tools to help you in this journey that we call fatherhood? The answer is yes because we will start small and build over the next few weeks.
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