Originally published December 12, 2020
There’s a great scene from “King of the Hill” when Hank wants Bobby to be more productive with his summer. Hank creates a list of chores for Bobby, but as he’s going over the list, he realizes he’s not willing to give up the fun of these activities and keeps the list for himself to complete. We can all relate to Bobby here, or least can hearken back to a time when we could. From years ~13-20 of my life, I had a hard time getting out of bed before 11 a.m., but now as a dad, my body rejects sleeping past 7 a.m. more violently than it would a Taco Bell binge. Thinking back to my teenage years, my chores ranged from mowing the lawn to sweeping and dusting. My parents had to pull all sorts of tricks and mind games to motivate me to do these simple tasks. However, as I’ve become a functional adult and father of two (soon to be three), I’m now in lockstep with Hank and his worldview.
I love being a dad; my kids are a constant source of joy, and it’s the best job I could ask for. **in my best Stephen A. Smith voice** HOWEVER, what comes with being a full-time dad and having a career of my own is a severe lack of independent time (shoutout to Mr. Doback; he gets it). As a dad and responsible adult, I also find great value in being productive. And since I’m a pretty normal person, I enjoy trying to find fun (a relative term in this stage of life) in whatever I’m doing. Those three criteria, time, productivity, and enjoyment all converge to create the power rankings below. These are the top five activities that are demonstrably more enjoyable as a dad or grown man.
*All criteria are scored on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the highest possible score*
5. Making a run to the store
I’m never disappointed if I get to make a run to the grocery store or Home Depot. The introvert in me is always up for this one. It’s not an activity that can be stretched in time all that much, but I know I’ll get some solid podcast time in; I can choose to not blow through a yellow light to buy a few extra minutes to myself, and it’s helping out the family as well.
4. Cleaning the house / doing laundry
I’m a bit of a control freak. Messes bother me; my desk at work is incredibly tidy, and I like to consider myself somewhat of a minimalist. However, my realities at home often clash with this internal wiring of mine, so I find great satisfaction in being able to see tangible and immediate results in picking up the toys, cleaning the floors, or folding and putting away laundry. (15 year-old Blaze would be floored by this enjoyment.)
I’m always excited if I get to run with a meal and really take my time in preparing it. The ego is always stroked (as long as I don’t screw up too badly); the element of control is strong here, and there’s just something very therapeutic about the prep work and supervision of preparing a nice meal. Even if my kids don’t eat it well, because they can be picky monsters, the process is always enjoyable, and the end product is (usually) good. Also, the fun factor is ratcheted up to 5 if grilling on a nice day is part of the equation.
2. Assembling something
This may be a warm take here, as the fun factor can quickly spike depending on the quality of instructions. (Seriously, how hard is it to put WORDS with your crappy pictorial directions, Ikea, Char-Broil, and other enemies of mine?) But overall, I’m always excited to put something together. We recently got our girls bunk beds, and I had to play it cool with my excitement when my wife gave me the green light to assemble them on my own. The productivity factor here is just too strong. Crossing your arms, surveying your handiwork, and making unnecessary comments like “it’s just a solid piece of furniture” are hard to beat. Plus it’s fun to bore your friends and family by later replaying the most difficult steps of the process.
1. Yard Work
There’s a lot of carry over from #2 to #1 here, but there’s just something even more satisfying about the upkeep of a yard. As usual, Hank said it best and better than I ever could, so we’ll close with his wisdom.