Soccer Dad
February 4, 2010 8:04 AM   Subscribe

How do you keep your sense of adventure when you sit in a cubicle and have to pick up the kids at 5 o'clock? I love my wife. I love my kids. I like the fact that my soul-sucking job allows me to use my brain while paying for piano lessons, vacations, and an educational trust. I am not looking to get rid of said wife, kids, or job. What I am looking for is a renewed sense of adventure within my current 'constraints'.

When I was single anything was possibile. I think those possibilities kept me full of vigor. Even if I didn't go through with it, I could still entertain the thought of joining the peace corps, sleeping with the cute barista, or blowing a wad of money on a drum set. Instead, with consistency, I sit in traffic, sleep deprived, worrying about keeping my wife happy, kids safe, and job secure. I wonder if this is leading to a bit of mild depression and an existential crisis. Think of it as a mild case of American Beauty. I can't help to wonder if I was somewhat happier when I was single and had more freedom. I do realize that I am an adult now and stress and responsibility comes with the territory. I accept that. I also realize that things can't be that bad if I have the time to ponder like this.

My question is not about whether I should quit my job, and leave my wife and kids. Absolutely out of the question. My wife is awesome. My career is good. My question is about finding meaning, inspiration, adventure, and joie de vivre as a responsible, pragmatic, ladder climbing soccer dad.

I like my life, but I think I could love it with a different perspective or doing different things. How have you found balance while maxing out your 401k? What hobbies or activities help you feel like a hippie / rockstar again? From the outside looking in, most people would say my life is great. Inside, if I died tomorrow, my last words might be 'Meh!'
posted by kaizen to Religion & Philosophy (39 answers total) 100 users marked this as a favorite
So you're having a midlife crisis, basically? Maybe you should try doing something that gets you out of your head and takes your focus off yourself. Go volunteer, or go outside and exercise until you've exhausted yourself. Challenge yourself to do new things.
posted by runningwithscissors at 8:10 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Welcome to your midlife crisis. We hope you enjoy your ride. Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle, etc.

This has been discussed on the Green in a variety of flavors previously.

This is why middle-aged men buy sports cars and have affairs with their secretaries.

The former is recommended over the latter.
posted by valkyryn at 8:11 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Your kids will not be young forever. In fact, they won't be living in your house forever. Start planning now!

PS. Life has a funny way of throwing things at you. Your adventure will find YOU, probably.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:15 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

You love your job, your wife, and your kids...and you want, what?

Sounds like you have the dream.
posted by dfriedman at 8:15 AM on February 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I am not sure that I can offer you help, but I think that this is one of those inevitable hurdles we have to jump as we age - realizing that all of the marvellous, wonderful possibilities out there in life really aren't things we're going to take advantage of - or even want to take advantage of. Most Americans have rather boring, humdrum jobs. Most of us have rather boring, regular family members. Most of us spend our time doing nonremarkable things with our friends. This is part of what keeps our economy stable and revenues predictable and allows us to have boring, normal retirements - but it comes as a disappointment to kids raised with the idea of infinite and limitless possiblities for living. I think it doesn't help that we're encouraged to continue to fantasize about running off and joining the peace corps or a BDSM club through ads and television - our regular lives can't help but pale a bit in comparison.

What helps me is to remind me that it isn't just me - there's a reason a lot of this stuff is boring and normal. And I also carve out a little time myself for things that allow me to engage in some inspiration and fantasizing - myself, I take martial arts. So, 2-4 times a week, I get to imagine I'm a really tough badass. Is there some activity you could take part in that would be inspiring? Volunteering, possibly? Writing? Going to a new part of town and making harmless googly eyes at the Barista? Figure out what it is you miss most and wish for most. Give yourself a bit of regular time to do something that activates this.
posted by mccn at 8:16 AM on February 4, 2010 [14 favorites]

Maybe there are some ways you can adventure within the constraints of your life. Some ideas: listen to some adventurous audio book in the car, or a mind-expanding podcast. Get a babysitter and schedule a naughty weekend with your wife. Take your family to an interesting hole-in-the wall restaurant with food you've never eaten. Or learn to cook recipes from a country you'd love to go to.
posted by beyond_pink at 8:19 AM on February 4, 2010

I haven't lived your life. But -- is there a way to decrease expectations/structure and increase chaos? That sounds weird. But if you have (I don't know if you do) perfect job, perfect house, children with activities after every school day, high income, etc., maybe you need to think about whether there's a way to lower the bar and relax a little. Fewer lessons and job promotions, more messy house and sleeping in and goofy friends dropping by. Delete is your friend. Well, you can't delete on Metafilter. But you know what I mean.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:22 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

What does your wife have to say when you talk with her about this?
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:22 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

To me this is a very interesting question. This is something that I also sometimes think about. I wonder if you will be satisfied with some little suggestions. First off, I think that you really have to talk to your wife about this and get her on board with making some changes. If you can get her enthusiastic about doing things differently, than you will have a partner in your adventures.

Part of the reason that every day is the same is that you are making little choices that make it the same. They may not even be choices that you are realizing that you are making. If you think about how someone else might live YOUR life, they might go about things completely differently.

If you don't eat breakfast, you can choose to get up earlier and eat breakfast. If you drive the same route to work everyday, there are an infinite number of ways that you can go. Drive a different way every day. If you have the option of taking public transit to work, you can try that one day. If you usually sit at your desk during lunch, you can go out to lunch. By yourself or with some coworkers. If you work near somewhere that you can go during lunch or a break, than you can go there. Maybe a museum, maybe a little coffee shop you have never been to. If you go out every day for lunch, you could bring a book and brown bag it in a break room. You could talk to different people where you work.

When you get home in the evening if you aren't usually the one who makes dinner, you can try making dinner. Or if you always make dinner, you can let your wife make dinner. Or have the kids help make dinner. If it's nice outside, you could make up a picnic and have dinner somewhere outside. You could have dinner in a different place outside every day that it's nice outside. Once in a while you could just grab some junk food and go see a movie during dinner time. You could try doing something different after dinner. Make a pillow fort with the kids. Turn out all the lights and make animal noises. Whatever you can come up with.

There's so many things that you could do differently on weekends that it is difficult to even narrow it down. The point is that in what you are choosing to do, you are also choosing not to do some very interesting things. Small changes in your daily routine can add up to feeling like you are living a completely different life.
posted by jefeweiss at 8:22 AM on February 4, 2010 [18 favorites]

Get a hobby. It doesn't have to be something super time consuming or expensive. It should be something that will take place over a long period of time, something to dream about or plan for while your mind wanders in cubicle world. Besides, when it's something you are really passionate about, your schedule seems to open up somehow. It should be something you can get your kids, or at least wife, interested in.

City Chickens! Great thing to involve your kids in.

Vegetable gardening

Wine making

Gourmet cooking (a sunday feast, or monthly dinner parties?)

Electronics/robotics (again something awesome with kids)
posted by fontophilic at 8:31 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm finding learning to fly airplanes incredibly rewarding. It's challenging both abstractly and practically, it's a little dangerous, it offers some really great travel opportunities, and it's really cool. You can get a pilot's license in 3-6 months, but then there's years of other training you can work on and plenty of flying adventures to have. Main drawback is it's expensive. Cheaper than a convertible or a divorce though!
posted by Nelson at 8:31 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

There are two ways I can see you approaching this: others have already mentioned the first, which is probably what you are after, which is injecting a sense of excitement through a new hobby, learning a language or volunteer opportunity. This assumes that you accept your confines as they are now. These are all great ideas if you think you will be ultimately happy within the confines as they are now.

The second, and in my opinion more exciting option, is to push back on these "confines" or "limits." While I find a lot of the lifestyle design stuff either unrealistic or downright silly, they do have some good lessons for goal setting and not accepting self-imposed limits. You describe your job as "soul-sucking" but that it is also a good career." I understand you don't want advice about your job, but I really think you should look at this conflict more closely. Imagine waking up every morning with a smile on your face because you can't wait to go to work. How differently would you feel then? You may reply, "this is unrealistic", but perhaps that could be your new project to focus on. Ask yourself what it would take to make you happier at work, it is where you spend the majority of your life, you know.
posted by the foreground at 8:34 AM on February 4, 2010

Best answer: There are two "Coming of Age" periods in life. The first as a young adult when the world seems a vast canvas of potential and you realize you are stepping into an unknown future. You are "becoming."

The second "Coming of Age" is this period you are now facing. This time when it seems you can reach out and touch the limits of this world. Your life, for all your decisions good and bad, is shrinking. Becoming small and predictable if not entirely unpleasant. You realize you will not live forever. You realize you will not be a rock star. You have "become" yourself. And now, during this second Coming of Age, you have to figure out what kind of man you will be.

But don't despair. This is when the rubber hits the road. You are powerful. Power is not sleeping with the barista, or walking to the top of a mountain on a guided tour. Power is making sure your children are able to become capable, happy adults. You are their example. You are their anchor.

You are at a critical time in life. There may be rock stars that trade on their swagger as concrete stiffens around their adolescent feet. But true artists keep growing...because in middle age they finally have something to say. They have the power of wisdom and experience, reflection and technique. They are lions. And so are whatever scale you choose.

Write. Reflect. You will leave a legacy, an emotional, intellectual, personal legacy. What is that going to be. What will have been your point? No need to look outside yourself. Your world is getting smaller, but that's ok. It's good. Adventure is nice, but it is not the same thing as experience. You have much of what many people younger than you are hoping to find every time they go out on Friday night. You have a wife you love. You have children that make you happy. You have a job that supports you. Now use that. Be brave.

Decide the man you will be for your children, and for your wife, and set about making that happen. Document. Stand for something and go out into the world and demonstrate it. Your world may be getting smaller, but you have a bigger, more powerful place in it.

Who will you have been?
posted by nickjadlowe at 8:43 AM on February 4, 2010 [90 favorites]

I don't know what your hobbies or interests are.

Do you?

Start planning a vacation around something that interests you: trip to Rome, a weekend seeing some shows in Vegas, a float trip in the Ozarks. Build an elaborate club house for your kids out of salvage wood. Design and build a vegetable garden.

Well, at least those are the things I'm thinking about this year for fun and adventure.

posted by General Tonic at 8:45 AM on February 4, 2010

Best answer: I’m in a similar situation. I have a wife and child, both of whom I love dearly and wouldn’t trade for anything. I have a mediocre job that pays well and provides the family with health care but it’s not exactly eight hours of paradise. I’ve gone through periods where I’ve thought “Is this all there is?” and I sometimes feel I’m in a rut.

The key is to maintain your own identity outside of work and family. Find a hobby that you enjoy, that is all yours, and that you can steal a few hours a week to pursue. It also helps if you and your wife maintain a bit of independence. Allow each other to run off for a weekend once in a while. Go backpacking with your buddies, then come home and tell your family all about it.

A couple of times a year my wife will take my son somewhere for a few days. Whenever this is coming up I always think “Yeah! Time home alone! I can eat fried chicken in front of the TV and watch a Quinton Tarentino movie as loud as I want!” Then I get alone, I eat my fried chicken and watch my movie, and I feel nothing but loneliness. Be thankful for what your do have in life and remember the grass doesn’t look any greener once you actually see it from the other side of the fence.

Also, being a dad can be a total self-esteem booster. I’m like magic to my son. He complained about his swing set squeaking, so Superhero Dad got out the WD-40 and fixed it right up. The kid was amazed! I could climb Everest backwards in my underwear and I wouldn’t feel as proud.

As for what I do to maintain my sense of adventure and sanity, well, pretty much anything I want to do. I’ve recently gotten back into hiking, both summer and winter. That’s hard to find time for, since even a “day trip” might involve an overnight stay the night before, but it gives me something to look forward to when I do have a trip planned.

I also recently built a cigar box guitar, which only took a couple of hours and was amazingly satisfying. I have a long-term goal to build a real guitar (from scratch) so this was a good way to learn about fretting and action and building necks and whatnot. I’ve got plans to build a few more with a goal to work my way up to some real instruments. Tools and materials were minimal.

Life is what you make it. Make it awesome.
posted by bondcliff at 8:55 AM on February 4, 2010 [13 favorites]

This may not be the type of answer you were looking for, but what about reading more, or watching more films. Perhaps things you wouldn't think you'd be interested in, or don't know much about. Adventure Galore.

The Hobbit

Touching the Void

Step into Liquid
posted by HoldFast at 8:55 AM on February 4, 2010

A few observations. You probably aren't less happy than you were when you were a kid - if you were, you would be saying things like "I feel like my life is crushing me but I can't back out on my responsibilities to my family" or "I dream constantly about running away but I know it's impossible" rather than stuff like "My wife is awesome. My career is good." One of the unambiguously sucky aspects of becoming an adult is realizing in a deep-down way most of us can't manage as kids that you really can't have it all. You can't have the first flush and mystery of new romance AND the depth and broad history of a long-established relationship. And the apprehension of the exclusivity of choices will always have a certain sting.

Are you taking advantage of having children? Kids take a major chunk out of your freedom and individuality but one thing I'm finding (as a father of one, five-year-old) is they are super for living vicariously through/with. I imagine it depends a lot on number/age issues, but with my son it is so easy to make an adventure happen, and when I let go and just kind of follow his wonder and keep my role in facilitator/protector mode I have great times. I might have thought about going snow tubing at one of the local parks when I was single but I never got around to that type of thing (and this is a big separate point - big ideas may have kept you "feeling" vigorous but if you never did any of this stuff it was just a big fantasy world). Now I do. Amusement parks (something I never got into) are actually fun. I rediscover great books and movies that meant a lot to me when I was young.

Are you paying attention to the bad trade-offs you're making? You're aware that wife-kids-job is a trade-off for autonomy/freedom, but acknowledge it is a good trade - you value what you have more highly than what you had (else like I say, you would be plagued by fantasies of trading back, even if you felt too responsible to even contemplate doing so). But are you making other trade-offs that don't make sense? Maybe you've become too sedentary, you mention you're sleep deprived - are you getting cheap, easy, but ultimately un-nutritious adventure via the internet too late into the night at the cost of sleep? That's a bad trade-off. Maybe you could find alternatives in the commute, like a car-pool. Have you ever tried? I have to note I'm talking about stuff I'm a total hypocrite about. But it never hurts to restate the obvious.

Is there possibly somewhere you could at least explore going with your working life? I'm feeling pretty cynical and jaded these days with respect to the idea of one's "calling," but much as it hurts at times I hope I never give up on the dream of meaningful work that really gets me out of bed in the morning. If there is something it is worth spending life looking for it is surely that.

Are you carving out personal time for you and your wife? It's so easy to get completely locked into "parental unit" mode and that, I think, contributes to the feeling of limitation. Your wife is more than the mother of your kids and your co-parent.

Spontaneity takes planning when you're a responsible grown-up parent, but it's still possible, and like I said before, I feel like my own possibilities have in some senses expanded, because when I was a kid I was content to daydream and figured things would just happen (because I was so damn special) but now I know that daydreams stay dream: the things that will happen are the things that I make happen. So I actually make things happen, at least sometimes.
posted by nanojath at 9:22 AM on February 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

Are you talking and commiserating with your buddies who are in the same position? I don't mean the "man, marriage sucks" and "my family is a ball and chain," I mean really positive exchanges. That helps a lot of wives and moms understand that they aren't alone, and sort of solidifies and enriches their sense of identity and their experience with family life.
posted by anniecat at 9:38 AM on February 4, 2010

Two thoughts:
1. Oh, yeah.
I remember getting my first full time job, fresh out of college. And how overwhelming the next 40 years looked. I asked my dad, "So, is this what it is? Working 40 hours a week and living for 2 weeks of vacation a year?" "Yeah, basically that's it." He was kind of joking, but kind of not.

2. Choose to do something. There is a passage in one of Tom Stienstra's camping books -or maybe in all of them. It deals with how to make time to get away to do special and exciting and fun things (like camping). You can't just wake up on Saturday morning and deciede to go camping. You have to schedule it. You choose and schedule piano lessons. and organize your life around them. You choose and schedule cub scout meetings, soccer league, whatever, and organize your life around them. You can also choose and schedule a monthly trip to Mexico to build a house. Or an occasional night out. Or an occasional fabulous adventure.
If you want spontaneity, schedule the time for it. Rent out the kids, shut down the house, go to the bus station and buy a random ticket. you just have to make sure you can fly back quickly at the end of the free time.

But more than that, it is important to have something in your soul that you care enough about to make time for. Don't let it wither.
posted by SLC Mom at 9:42 AM on February 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

Start riding a bicycle to work instead of sitting in traffic. Daily adventure! Relieve stress! Improve fitness! Release endorphins! Etc.!

I starting biking to work everyday again a few years ago and it has improved my quality of life significantly. Plus it's just fun.
posted by mikepop at 9:59 AM on February 4, 2010

why don't you adventure with your wife and kids? i remember my dad taking us on lots of little road trips when we were little- they weren't huge vacations to break the bank or anything. we were new to the united states and i grew up in the south, so i've probably seen every state with something interesting in it in driving distance. you'd be crafting a new role as an adventurer- not the cool single dude who joined the peace corps but the cool dad giving his kids a really interesting childhood :)
posted by raw sugar at 10:05 AM on February 4, 2010

Best answer: I can really identify with what you're saying. I am a happily married mother of 3 small kids with a well-paying job, and I am overall happy with this role - but as someone who really lived her teens and 20's to her fullest, the stability of my current life can sometimes feel stifling.

About 6 months ago I was inspired to make my own bucket list - 100 things I want to do before I die. Coming up with the list took me about 2-3 weeks - and my life has literally changed as I've started actively incorporating the list into my life. The trick has been to figure out which of these things I can start NOW.

For example, here are some of the things I've started and/or completed in the last 6 months:
- Celebrate my 40th bday somewhere amazing (booked villa w/10 friends & family for a week!)
- Create a childhood book for each of the kids
- Go on an African safari (started saving $50/mo for it - this one is years away)
- Host a scavenger hunt
- Learn to cook 5 signature dishes without recipes
- Make a Xmas tablecloth
- Make a perfect lemonade
- Make smores over a campfire in the backyard w/the kids
- Pick a favorite charity and donate more every quarter
- Visit all 50 states

Your list will be different, of course, but you see what I mean. Coming up with the goals made me think about specific things I wanted to do or achieve or learn, rather than chasing some feeling of 'adventure' or 'spirit' or 'recklessness'. It has re-energized and focused me in a huge way, and all for the better. I don't actually want to be single or child-free - I just want to do things that I enjoy!

So now, whenever I have some down time I use it productively - sewing a few stitches on the Xmas tablecloth, for example, or planning the next dish I want to try. I actively incorporate my goals into my long-term financial plans, big and small (saving the $ I was going to spend on a meal out and put it towards Russian lessons, for example).

I can't tell you what a difference this has made in my life. I feel like ME again - the crazy, adventurous widdershins I used to be. So what if it's something as simple as making the perfect lemonade - it's something I've wanted to do, and I'm doing it.
posted by widdershins at 10:09 AM on February 4, 2010 [25 favorites]

Your kids can be the adventure, or at least be part of it, esp. while they're young. Take the kids camping. Go on a bike-riding adventure, or a boating vacation. Learn to play piano with them. Join scouts or a similar organization. Hike the Appalachian Trail, one segment at a time. Take the oldest one with you, and help Habitat for Humanity build a house. If you wait till the kids are old enough to do stuff with you, they'll have their own lives and won't be interested. Kids today have very structured, safe, low-adventure lives. Share your love of adventure with them; that would be an amazing gift.
posted by theora55 at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is a very good question. One thing it made me wonder about is what your childhood was like, because that can have such a powerful and sometimes surprising effect on how you regard your present circumstances. I grew up as an only child without a father in the house, except for an untreated manic depressive stepfather for a few years. Otherwise, my life was pretty stable, but I never really had an (idealized) stable father figure growing up. Well, now I am raising three children in an excellent, stable, conventional marriage - but to me, the very things you sort of complain about (or not complain about so much as identify as kinda boring) to me feel very scary and still adventurous, even after a number of years—because they provide constant challenges, i.e., being a good father and husband, that I never saw from the other side growing up and so still feel new to me. (This isn't to say that these things don't feel new or scary to people in different circumstances, necessarily.)

Anyway, I don't know what your childhood was like or if this applies to you, but you asked how other people handle these situations. And in my case, I would say that what can appear on the surface as not much of an adventure may actually feel more like one depending on where you're coming from.
posted by chinston at 10:44 AM on February 4, 2010

Sitting in traffic makes everyone depressed. Because it is a waste of time, time you could spend sleeping or enjoying non-necessary activities.

Move closer to work? Seems like everything in your life is awesome except for your commute.
posted by kathrineg at 11:42 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Please excuse me if I am way off base, but would you be interested in hosting an international student? It can be incredibly enriching for the whole family.
posted by Knowyournuts at 12:09 PM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

The thing that comes to mind here for me is: how much adventure can you cram in on the weekend? Is there a challenge you'd like to take on (marathon running)? Trips you can take?

Yeah, we're all bored M-F, but theoretically you might have two days a week to be less bored.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:47 PM on February 4, 2010

I keep reminding myself that the kids, the lovely wife and the 9-5 job were all things that I really wanted! I still want them, but sometimes all the responsibility and grinding routine makes it seem so stifling and normal and banal. That's life, I guess. Time changes our perspective.

Ride your bike to work. It will change how you perceive your commute, give you some meditative alone-time where you are not cursing other drivers and give you some exercise.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 3:03 PM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Definitely empathize with you. Don't forget to give yourself credit for being a provider and loving your family. Seems like simple enough things, but for many they are not.
posted by greensalsa at 3:11 PM on February 4, 2010

nickjadlowe - wow. Very well said!
posted by carlh at 5:45 PM on February 4, 2010

Start skydiving.
posted by infinityjinx at 6:46 PM on February 4, 2010

When I was in 6th Grade, my Dad picked my brother and I up from school in the middle of the day, telling us we had dentist appointments. We were in Kenmore Square before we realized we were nowhere near our dentist's office, and we were, in fact, going to a Red Sox game. The excitement of going to Fenway (a pretty rare treat for us) combined with the transgressive nature of the thing ("Dad, you lied to our teachers!") made it one of the most fun days of my life.

So what I'm saying is, build your kids and wife into your adventures and fantasies. Can you sleep with the barista? No, but maybe your wife would be interested in playing "Rude Customer and Naughty Barista" some night. Can you join the Peace Corps? No, but your family can do Habitat for Humanity some weekend. My wife and daughter are always talking about the candy shop they are going to open some day -- they even pick out paint swatches and rug samples when I drag them to Home Depot. Are they actually going to open a candy store? Probably not, but it's a fun little fantasy that keeps things interesting. Find some little fantasies for your whole family to enjoy together.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:46 PM on February 4, 2010 [6 favorites]

It's funny, I came here initially to suggest the same thing mikepop did above: bike to work. But I think it needs a harder sell.

Adventure? My job causes me some amount of ennui. But on the way home, I just bombed down a dark road through a canyon at 35 miles per hour; I'm straining to pick out the road ahead at the fringes of my headlight, and infrequent illumination from the odd car passing me at 55. I do not--can not--think of anything save for the immediate surroundings and how I can extract the most speed while keeping myself alive.

Vigor? Every ride is an opportunity for a new personal record. Every stoplight is a sprint. Every day you get a little faster, a little more in shape. I can't take credit, but it's said "It doesn't get any easier. You just get faster." I get to work and I've already done more than most people do in
a week. It really gets you ready for the day. And you get to do it again, at the end of the day!

If you literally have to pick up the kids at 5, there are certainly ways you can structure things to do this (partial commutes, transit, folding bicycles, kids bike too, trail-a-bike or trailer if young, etc.). I take my son to camp and back on the trail-a-bike before and after work. Let me tell you, you feel pretty damn invincible after you've been hauling the extra 80 pounds behind you. And after you negotiate tricky sidewalk sections with that extra weight flopping around behind you at low speeds you feel like you could take on trials riders.

This probably isn't the entirety of what you're looking for, but it's a start, and I urge you to consider it carefully. Both you and I know I'm no superman, and there are plenty of people younger than me who could smoke me, but when I'm out there dodging traffic it's amazingly zenlike amidst the chaos.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 12:03 AM on February 5, 2010

These answers make me think "This is what AskMefi is best at. This is what the whole internets thing is FOR".

Wish I'd asked the question.
posted by muckybob at 12:14 AM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also: you call yourself kaizen. Put up or shut up, then. You want continuous improvement? Fine. Identify what it is you want. What sounds like fun? What huge scary thing do you want to do? Great, now figure out how to do it.

You could take your family overseas for a few weeks. No time or money? Well, you wanted challenge--figure out how you're going to do it. Nothing's impossible given time and creativity. Heck, your examples even don't seem all that difficult. Peace Corps? Figure out a way for the whole family to participate if you'd like. Maybe you'd have to spend less time, be flexible. Heck, you could all just up and move somewhere new. You may not wish to sleep with random cute baristas but roleplaying is a pastime that is quite popular with many couples. The drum set is easiest. If you want to play the drums, start playing the drums. Nobody's stopping you. Nobody's saying you have to ditch your responsibilities. You're grown up now--it's now more difficult to do the things you want to do. But you said you wanted challenge? Part of the challenge is figuring out where you want to go and how you're going to get there. Good luck
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 12:15 AM on February 5, 2010

I'm right behind you, fella. :7) My plan is finding something I love and figuring out the best way to pass it on to my kids.

I am starting out by joining my oldest son in Cub Scouts. It gets us learning things together (some of which I teach him but others we both learn), we go new places and do new things, I can share my experiences with him, and I get to rediscover things I had partially forgotten (camping, camp cooking, knots-tying, etc.). Heck, I am ont the Pack Committee now (as the IT dork, but still).

And I've been sharing my favorite books and stories with his older sister, and helping out with her Girl Scouting where I can.When the younger ones catch up, maybe I will coach a sport they play, or volunteer alongside them (like I did with my paremnts), or something else entirely.

It's not living through them, it's living and sharing with them.

In short: get out of your backwards-looking head and into into your kids' full-speed-ahead lives. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:17 AM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

From Mrs Me. "he calls himself a Soccer Dad? That part of the problem right there."

Kids soccer, or sports in general, can be a HUGE family commitment. Are all of your weekends booked with kids sports?

Get out there and have some adventure!

Take Windershins "bucket list" idea and plan some great weekends with your family away from the soccer field.
As your kids get older (won't be long, trust me) are they going to even remember any of the endless succession of games?
Build some new memories this weekend!
posted by Mr.Me at 10:07 AM on February 5, 2010

Do something creative with your spare time.

And make sure to block off some time at home for *you*, or otherwise, you will burn out, and that will be worse for both the wife and kids.
posted by talldean at 12:38 PM on February 6, 2010

I'm always fascinated by the balance in these answers between keep-living-for-yourself and now-start-to-live-fully-for-your family. Family is enough of a challenge and a reward in itself, but it's one that (within reason) you really have no choice in. Sounds like you need something all your own.

So I'd say set a goal 6, 9, 12 months away, one that's challenging but do-able, something for you to work towards and feel the satisfaction of completion. Something that you can still work into your everyday life. On this day I will do X, or By this day I will have done Y. Hell, do something like this every year.

Run a marathon or an adventure race. Climb a mountain. Build a cabin or a treehouse (for them or you, or both). Learn a foreign language, enough to get by for a week somewhere new. A major writing, art or other creative project. Your first standup gig.

Remember those wise words: When Mama Daddy ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!
posted by gottabefunky at 12:31 PM on February 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

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