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Challenge: Pandemic Parenting

After a year in quarantine, here's how I rediscovered the joy in my life

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Dad I'd Like To Friend (The DILF Podcast)

I fell into a deep depression a few years back as my wife and I struggled to fulfill my lifelong dream of starting a family. It took five years. Five long years of suffering in silence. And as lucky as I was to finally fulfill that dream, the stress and anxiety I experienced did not simply dissipate once we finally got pregnant. There were five years of struggles, of fights with my wife, of feeling numb and deeply depressed.

It was truly one of the hardest experiences I have ever dealt with, but also one of the most life-altering opportunities to flip the script and begin to appreciate all life has to offer. I believe the formula I created to get myself out of the darkness and back into the light is also what helped me to be an available and positive presence for my family during this global pandemic.

First, I had to ACKNOWLEDGE what I was feeling… to myself. I had to realize that no matter what I was feeling, I was entitled to those feelings. I had to dig deep and attempt to put a label on them.

Second, I had to find a way to COMMUNICATE those feelings with others - be it a therapist or my partner or a friend. Reaching out to others helped me to realize that I was far from alone.

Lastly, I had to find a way to ENGAGE with something or someone… it’s not about the specifics. It’s about becoming actively invested in something outside of your own head.

For me, it was about engaging with my son. After years of struggling to get pregnant and then struggling as a father to feel connected with my newborn son, I made the decision to fight my depression head on by becoming a stay-at-home dad for the first year of my son’s life. With no one else to rely on, I was forced to step up… and the more I did — the more I became actively invested in spending time with my son — the more I felt like myself again. And then quarantine hit. Luckily, this same skill-set worked to keep me afloat.

But that did not mean I was consistently living in joy because life is stressful. And children are stressful. Balancing life and work and kids and the relationship with your partner and your parents and your friends is A LOT. In my opinion, our only chance of gaining perspective and living in any sense of joy is SELF-CARE. For many, that could mean taking the time to work out or sleep in one day a week. The options are actually endless. Everyone has their own unique path. I chose to put my energy into launching a podcast in order to reach out to other parents and see if I was alone in what I was experiencing. An opportunity to build a community that could unite dads and moms through the common experience of being a human while raising little humans... and not forgetting that we ALL have our own needs to tend to as well.

What started as a side-hobby to connect with other parents and lift me out of my funk, has become a top parenting podcast that I am proud to say has helped not only me, but many other parents to acknowledge and communicate their struggles. These are stressful times for parents, no matter our gender. Let’s face it, being a parent is tough enough — amazing, but also often overwhelming, exhausting, and lonely — but add a year-long quarantine into the mix and it’s no wonder anxiety numbers amongst parents have skyrocketed…

The following is the first episode of our second season: REPRIORITIZING SELF. Because taking a moment for yourself does not mean you hate your kids or your partner, it simply means that YOU matter, too!

As we begin to get back to some sense of normalcy, it’s foolish to think we’ll all now take that much-needed time for ourselves that we’ve been putting off for the past year or more. There are some fundamental changes that will need to happen for most of us, and that starts with re-assessing our priorities based on what we’ve learned from the past year. And it all starts with taking the space to acknowledge what we’re feeling. Because whenever I do, and I find the courage from within to vocalize those struggles, I find, more often than not, that I am never alone...

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