It’s an undeniable truth: we men enjoy our hobbies, sports, and home improvement projects. Most of us don’t need to find time for ourselves; we have that covered. More often, busy dads in today’s world need encouragement and ideas for how to manage the various forces competing for our time: work responsibilities, household projects, a lawn to mow, and yes, hobbies and sports provide necessary diversions from the pressures we face. Meanwhile, we must make sure those areas of our lives don’t keep us from staying connected to our families. How we manage our time—or let it manage us—will make a big difference in the health of those relationships.

Here are some ideas I’ve used and some I’ve gathered from other dads:

Put First Things First

It’s basic time management: If we fail to prioritize, whatever is most urgent (but not necessarily most important) will get our most energetic and productive time. Often, it takes consistent reminders to make sure our priorities are right: like scheduling kids’ activities and events on our calendars, marking blocks of time in advance for dinner dates, ball games or fishing trips with our children. Many dads schedule monthly or weekly times alone with each child.

What else can you do? I would encourage you to analyze your spending habits, since we know that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It’s a good way to evaluate how well you’re living out your priorities. Also, look into creative work arrangements, like telecommuting or adjusting your schedule to better suit your family’s needs.

Find Activities to Do With Your Kids

I may be stepping on sacred territory here since some dads are virtually addicted to golf, raquetball, or sports on TV, but consider sacrificing one leisure activity for your family—especially while your kids are young. As they get older, you may get to rediscover that old hobby or sport with them at your side. Or, trade one solitary activity for a family activity. Instead of going to the gym, go to the playground. It could be as simple as recruiting them to help with projects around the house or taking them with you to the hardware store or supermarket. We can also learn to enjoy their interests—which can be a great connecting point, especially with daughters.

Reduce Time-Wasting Habits

Think about how you can reduce your time doing everyday activities. Do you waste time on the Internet or spend half an hour reading the paper when a quick survey of headlines will give you just as much information? TV is a classic time-killer. I encourage you to keep a one-week log of how much time the tube is on at your home. I think you’ll be surprised, and it may inspire you to make course corrections back toward the things that are truly important in your life, like actually interacting with your family.

I hear from too many dads who keep fighting through their hectic lifestyle, then wake up one day and their kids have strayed into some destructive behavior, or their marriages are stale. By taking a few proactive steps, we can make sure that doesn’t happen in our homes.

Time Management Check-Up

This series of questions may affirm that you have things pretty well under control. But—for most dads, including myself—it’s more likely that you’ll see some areas that need adjustment:

• Do you set limits on the time demands of your work?  

• Are you getting enough sleep, exercise, and quiet time with God?

• Do you have enough private time for yourself?

• Are you eating a healthy diet and not skipping meals?

• Do you spend enough time with your children?

• Do you feel in control of your time?

• What creative leisure activities are you involved in?

• When was the last time you had a date—a real date—with your wife?


The National Center for Fathering  was founded in 1990 by Dr. Ken Canfield because every child needs a dad they can count on -- someone who loves them, knows them, guides them and helps them achieve their destiny. Visit www.fathers.com  for more articles and resources to assist dads in nearly every fathering situation.