What’s harder? Rugby or Fatherhood?
England rugby star Courtney Lawes talks to us about the challenges at home and on the pitch. Which is harder? Well, guess...
Courtney Lawes is one of the hardest hitters that the England rugby Lions have seen. And yet, if you think putting his body on the line in such a manner is tough…well, it ain’t nothing compared to the challenges he faces at home! With four children, including twins, he is a man with his hands full at work and home. Most importantly, of course, is that Courtney is showing off the kind of interest and engagement with his family that makes him a far greater role model than any impenetrable tough guy. We managed to grab a quick word with him as part of his work with Dove Men+Care, who’s recent report with Promundo on the State of the World’s Fathers was particularly admired by us here at BOM. Now over to Courtney…
So what is tougher, being a father or being a rugby player?
I think being a father is tougher than being a rugby player in many ways. They’re both tough things to be doing, but fatherhood is more important, so tougher in that sense.
What’s the most challenging part of being a dad?
The most challenging part of being a dad is having patience. You often run out of patience especially when you’re tired, and a child won’t stop screaming. You have to remember there’s always a reason why they’re doing it, and they’re not doing it just to get on your nerves! So you have to stay patient with them and make sure you put them wholeheartedly first – but that’s not as easy as you think!
How do you manage both work and home?
Being a dad, and having 4 now, with the twins, it’s a big difference. The switch between work and home is hard. Not in a bad way, but you just have to work as hard at home now as you do at work. So it’s quite an interesting dynamic. It makes you more appreciate of what you do – we go to work, and work very hard, but we still get to run around and play rugby for a living. Then coming home you have to roll up your sleeves and do some real work!
How much pressure are you under on the pitch and in training?
There is a lot of pressure. I try and enjoy my rugby, but when you get a few niggles that’s when it gets a bit tough. Because you always want to feel good going into games. In terms of training, I feel like the fresher I am the better I can perform. Whereas there are some players who need to train all week, make sure they get everything worked on, and are firing that way, I’m the opposite. I don’t have to train extremely hard to play well, I pick up strategies really easily so I just have to make sure I’m feeling good and fresh.
Has your attitude changed since you’ve had kids?
I always wanted kids young. I saw players with young kids and they brought them to games and I always thought that was amazing. Such a good thing to be able to show your kids when they’re young and hopefully inspire them to become something themselves. So I did have kids young, and I love bringing them to games and at the end of the season we get to take them around the pitch and I think that’s so cool. I love that side of rugby. And we’re in a good position to have children, we earn enough money and we’re at home quite a lot so which is great.
But I think I have always played rugby for the same reason: because I love rugby, I love sport, and I’m a competitive guy. I also like playing on teams with my friends – I’ve always been the kind of man who enjoys playing for the guys around me, to put my body on the line for the lads. And to go out and win something with them and create memories like that.
What are your core beliefs about fatherhood?
Structure is very important to a child. Discipline in the right way, teaching the difference between right and wrong. Trying to set a good work ethic early on, even if it’s a reward system for helping out with jobs so they realise and recognise if they work hard they get nice things, and if they misbehave they don’t.
Is being a parent more difficult in the digital era with the demands of screen time?
It’s hard in that it’s not a good way to bring children up you don’t want them constantly on iPads. We restrict it. Maybe they can have it for an hour a night if they’re good. It’s a bit too easy to just give your kids an iPad and keep them entertained, I think it’s important to get your kids outside and make sure they are creative and adventurous, to stimulate them in that way.
Courtney was speaking on behalf of Dove Men + Care, who are doing brilliant work in supporting more positive images of fathers today.
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