How taking a step back from fatherhood can mean two steps forward

It's time to be honest with yourself: Do You Need a Break?

 "I'm going to meet a bunch of other dads and find out how to be a better daddy."

My three-year-old looked at me, a little confused, and then went back to brushing his teeth.

He probably had never thought of levels of fatherhood.

There is his dad. And there are dads of other little boys and girls. And there is Mr. Incredible, who while claiming an outrageously confident personal monicker as a superhero is still just an everyday dad for the most part.

These are the dads my kid knows. Oh and Daniel Tiger's dad but let's be honest. That dude is a little shady. "Works in a clock factory"? Sounds like he's running a high stakes gambling ring to me. And not once has he told Daniel that he can't play because daddy needs to take a nap or his eyeballs will fall out of his skull from exhaustion, so it's not even realistic parenting.

So yeah, it's strange for me to tell my little blond boy that I was headed to the Dad 2.0 conference across the country to meet with other dads this week (In San Diego, which is like Pennsylvania but always warm and with an ocean and with healthy people and also not at all)*. The conference is for dad bloggers/marketers like me, but it's also just as much for dads to get together and do a lot of head nodding as one guy after another tells a story about how their kid found a way to fling poop across a store.

(*The whole trip was a Christmas gift from my wife, who is addicted to doing grand gestures that I can never repay her for and are always exactly what I need. She remains the best.)

The timing was great. I've been feeling better overall (you'll want to read this), but I still needed to take a step back from the hustle of parenting and get some perspective and honestly ... just take a breather.

Sometimes you need to get away from your kids to be better for your kids. (tweet this)

Are you being honest with yourself about your mental state as a Dad?

Do you feel like you need to take that step back? Being as candid as I can, and this is considering I just wrote a post about a household of people pooping and throwing up at the same time, for a long time I was not doing a good job at all of asking for help.

Of saying it was too much.

Of admitting I wasn't doing as well as it may have appeared.

Of making it clear when I was at my limit - which is not only reasonable but expected when you have little kids - and then following through to make sure I got what I needed to replenish myself.

Does that sounds familiar? It may be cliche but I think it's also true: Men are much less likely to say they need help. I'm going to guess you haven't, either. Once I started to say I'm not OK, I was on track to get OK. Bottling things up doesn't work. You know that. But you're still doing it.

Take one step today to fix that. It's commendable — seriously, your wife/partner wants you to be happy – to say "I need a break" or "I'm not handling this well." And then make arrangements to get a day off if you're a stay at home dad, or to go talk to a counselor like I did, or to have a long talk about what you're feeling. There's nothing manlier than that.

(Now, this assumes you were involved to begin with. Don't say you need a break if you handle the kids as much as a 1950s sitcom dad.)

I'll let you know what I learn at the dad conference, which is my own step to getting some personal time and reflecting. I think I'll be coming back as a Dad 2.0 in every sense of the phrase.

You let me know what you learned by taking your own step today.


And if you want to talk, send me a message. I'd be glad to hear it.