You can come to be defined by the sum total of your habits. Your habits reflect who you are as a person and what you aspire to achieve. If you go to the gym on a regular basis, you likely place a high value on your health and fitness. If you develop the habit of curling up with a good book every night, you likely enjoy reading. But these habits can change as your circumstances change.
I recently commented on how life is different as a work-at-home dad. Today, I thought I’d expand on that conversation by taking a closer look at the habits that I’ve gained and the habits that I’ve lost since taking on these new responsibilities as a father to my little girl.
Some of these have actually been beneficial. Others, well, maybe not so much.
Gained: More Mindful Home Cooking
If you’ve been following me on Instagram for some length of time, then you’ve likely encountered the #KwansCreativeCatering hashtag. Many of my home-cooked meals consist of opening the fridge, checking out what I have, and throwing it all into the same pan until some semblance of edible food emerges. It could be frozen edamame, leftover kimchi, a couple sticks of imitation crab and a squeeze of sriracha going into an impromptu fried rice.
While I wouldn’t say that the contents of my own meals have changed terribly, I have become much more mindful of the meals that I throw together for my daughter. There is still a good deal of impromptu spontaneity about it, to be sure. I’m just more careful about the kinds of ingredients involved in the meals I prepare for her. Is it tender enough? Is it balanced enough? What am I missing?
Lost: Random Afternoon Walks
Staring at the same computer monitor and sitting in the same chair for hours on end is harmful to both my physical and my mental health. Years ago, I convinced myself that I should go grab some fresh air every chance that I got. This usually consisted of taking a stroll around the neighborhood in the middle of the day.
That doesn’t really happen anymore. Part of it has to do with Addie’s nap schedule, part of it has to do with my laziness of prepping her for a walk, part of it has to do with simply finding the time to get everything done. I also haven’t gone out for a game of tennis in over a year. My fitness, while never particularly good, has taken a turn for the worse. At least I convinced myself to take Addie for her first set of swimming lessons, even though I can’t swim myself.
Gained: Pomodoro Inspired Work Habits
Because of my new work arrangements, it has become more important than ever that I make the most of the time I do get in front of the computer. Earlier this year, I started experimenting with the Pomodoro technique and it has helped with my level of focus. I stay on task for solid 25-minute spurts before taking quick 5-minute breaks. This has also helped with tracking how I spend my time and prioritizing what client work is the most valuable.
Lost: Hours of TV and Movies
Speaking of how I choose to spend my time, I’ll admit that I once wasted quite a few hours indulging in my favorite television shows. We’d also go out and watch a movie on a not-so-infrequent basis, in addition to the movies we’d watch at home. I’d catch as many Canucks games as I could and any given Sunday through the fall and winter meant I was glued to the action in the NFL.
That has all been thrown out the window. Since screen time is not recommended for kids under the age of 2, we don’t watch TV while Adalynn is around. And while she is napping or sleeping, we fear that the sound from the TV will wake her. This is slowly changing and we’ve recently started watching Orange Is the New Black on Netflix, but the TV situation in the Kwan household is quite different today than it was a couple years ago.
Gained: Regular Visits with the Massage Therapist
My posture has always been horrible and my back pain has only progressively gotten worse with each passing year. With the arrival of the little one, that all got kicked into a whole new level. Whereas I had once visited with a registered massage therapist (RMT) every now and then, I now partake in monthly hour-long appointments. Maybe it’s a sign of my age. Maybe it’s wear and tear. Maybe it’s the extra weight. Whatever it might be, my back has never been quite like this.
Lost: Weekly Dot Com Pho Meetups
Back in the early days of Dot Com Pho, we’d get together for lunch every Saturday regardless of how many people said they’d come. Some weeks it might only be three or four of us. Other weeks, we might have over 20 people indulging in Vietnamese noodles while talking about making money on the Internet.
Then, people started getting married, getting day jobs, and having children. The face of Dot Com Pho has changed substantially and we’ve only had a couple of get-togethers in the last year. I hope to resurrect Dot Com Pho back to its former glory, especially now that I have the next generation of DCPer sitting in the high chair.
Everything Changes, Everything Stays the Same
They say that life will never the same after you become a parent. Based on the habits that I’ve lost and gained over the course of these last 16 or so months, I’m inclined to agree. That said, some things do stay the same, even if they are in a slightly altered form. As a full-time freelancer, I still have a flexible work schedule and I still consume copious amounts of coffee. I still visit the library, albeit those visits are now for baby story time, and I still work from home.
What I need to do now is to focus on developing more healthy habits to replace the ones that aren’t so healthy. I need to eat better (and not just focus on ensuring my daughter eats well). I need to partake in more physical activity (and not just complain about my back pain and lack of sleep). And I need to exercise gratitude more often. I think that’s a habit we can all use.