The Most Important 15 Seconds Of a Man’s Day
“The most important fifteen seconds of a man’s day is when he walks in the door after work.”
A dad recently made this comment to a member of National Center for Fathering (fathers.com) – a not-for-organisation borne out of Olathe, Kansas in 1990 in response to the social and economic impact of fatherlessness in America – in an article “Home from Work: 15 Seconds”.
It was a piece that stopped the team at The Dad Website in our tracks. It got each of us thinking about what we bring into the house at the end of the working day; what impact our actions in these 15 seconds can have; and, indeed, why 15 seconds, and why are they so important?
The article continues:
“You could argue that some other 15-second period is just as critical – such as when your feet hit the floor in the morning, prayers at dinner, tucking the kids in at night, and so on. But you can certainly see the point. Dads often set the tone in their households. Will the evening be fun? Is the atmosphere one of acceptance and connection, or is there an underlying tension?
Establishing a home environment of mutual love, trust, respect and joy would be a great goal for any dad, and it isn’t easy. Sometimes you come home in the middle of a discipline issue (or, put simply, chaos), so there’s already a lot of tension. Sometimes the first thing you hear about is what went wrong during the day.
“Also, there’s the daily mental adjustment you’re trying to make. Your workplace might leave you with a “perform or else” mind-set and possibly a number of high-stress issues or decisions. At home, you suddenly need to be nurturing, sensitive and interested in everyone else’s day.
Plus, you’re probably just plain tired, and that can make you edgy or impatient with your kids.
It helps to understand these challenges, but we can also prepare for them. Here are a few ideas:
Do regular reality checks when you’re at work.
Keeping some family photos at work, taking breaks during the day, and calling your wife to check in are some great ways to help you keep a healthy perspective.
Take five to decompress.
If you need to, take five minutes to decompress before you leave work, in the car, or right before you walk in the door at home.
Be intentional when it matters.
Be very intentional during those first few moments when you get home. Set aside other agendas. Find each family member and give a high five or a big hug. Think of something affirming to say, or just say, “I missed you today.”
Ideally, you can establish a positive routine where your children look forward to that time. Maybe that could include taking a few minutes and play a game, romp on the carpet or take a short walk.
Intentionally make those 15 seconds affirming and fun, dad, and see what a difference it makes.”