Adapted from a recent online discussion.
New dad wonders how to juggle parenting with football season
Football season!: How much is my child going to hate me as he grows up with me watching three football games in a row on Sundays, and another on Monday nights? (I do chores during breaks, I swear, but I've never had a baby or child to care for during football season before.)
Carolyn: Rookie. Question is, how much is your fellow parent going to hate you?
If you're together, then you need to banish any thought of shifting so much work just so you can amuse yourself. If you're a single parent and think you're going to spend 12 hours on TV and chores with a baby/toddler in the house, well, then you're just really funny. And either way, you need to befriend your DVR, and fix your priorities.
People who acquire new priorities without rethinking their old ones do tend to develop "challenging" relationships with loved ones.
Anonymous: The other question you should consider is how much YOU will be missing by skipping out on that much time with your child. You can't tune your kids out when they're little and expect to magically have a great relationship when they're old enough to appreciate the things you're interested in.
Carolyn: Cue Cat's in the Cradle.
Anonymous 2: My Dad is an avid football watcher, and that was never an issue. He was good about prioritizing and not whining about "missing the game," and I think that helped. If you're going on a family vacation — BE on the vacation, don't make anyone go back to the hotel to watch the game. That will earn you more free passes on other Sundays.
Eventually, it became a bonding thing. I never watch pro sports except with my dad. We talk in between plays and during commercial breaks.
Carolyn: Such a good point — and chance for me to underscore that this situation isn't unusual. Plenty of people keep up a favorite indulgence after kids come, and even make it a family bonding opportunity.
But that comes when the kid is first and the indulgence second. My dad watched football nearly every Sunday as I grew up — but one team, one game. He also never skipped something important in our lives so he could catch the game.
Anonymous 3: Thank you, Carolyn. I feel like my thinking revolves around kid caretaking, and my husband thinks first about what he wants to do and relies on me to fit said kid in.
I don't mean that my world revolves around my child; I still do things I used to, but now I just approach them as, "How can I incorporate my son?" Whereas my husband still schedules all the drunken parties, camping trips, etc., that he used to. But which one of us is always expected to find the babysitter if he wants me along?
Carolyn: "IF he wants me along" (harrumph added)?
Please get some marriage counseling/seminaring (not a word? should be) or parenting classes for Peter Pan and line-drawing lessons for you.