2happyfathersday[Also featured at UNCOMMEN and The Good Men Project]

My friend Nathaniel Turner at The Raising Supaman Project just asked me, “when is Father’s Day?” then answered his own question: to him, every day feels like Father’s Day. He feels grateful to have his son in his life and he never forgets how great a privilege it is to be a father. We didn’t all grow up with the greatest examples of fatherhood. To me, it’s an honor to do this work and be an involved father. Many of us dads are making it up as we go along.

So should Father’s Day be a celebration of your journey? No matter how old your kids are, you are still on the job. And there is still work to be done. Let’s not sit back and admire a work-in progress. Turn the idea of “honoring Dad” around. Use the day as an opportunity to connect with our kids. Take advantage of your “freebie” day as an excuse to break the routine and do something different. Now that the sun is coming out and Spring is here, Father’s Day is around the corner.

Here are some ways to break the routine and give your kids some “dad time”:

Make something together with your kids

It doesn’t matter where: in the kitchen, in the garage, at the paint-a-pot store, or just on the floor with blocks or crayons. Let your kids imagine it and do your best to follow their lead. You might be surprised at what you can create together. Do your best to hold back your need for it to look perfect, to keep everything clean, or to keep time.

Get outside

Remember that hiking trail that you always hear about but never check out? When’s the last time you got your feet wet in the local creek? Where’s the bike pump? Soccer ball? After breakfast, take the kids on an adventure.

Teach and learn

What is that special dad talent that you have forgotten to share with your kids? Does it involve fishing? Grilling? Tying knots? Your kids would love to learn from you. Even more exciting, ask your kids to teach you something. It can be as simple as the circle routine from preschool, mind-bending as a video game, or as challenging as Instagram.

Join forces

Share your ideas with your buddies and make a Fathers Day plan to bring your families together at the park or pool. Agree up front to call each other out if you just sit back and watch. There’s a special energy when kids come together to play or make something together. Remember to lean in and stay engaged with your kids, not just your buds.

This Father’s Day, try leaning in instead of laying back. Being a father is a privilege. Take full advantage of the time you get to spend with your kids and your family. As my friend Martie Gillin, the founder of SpeakUp!, says, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.”