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Gene Chizik's advice to busy dads: Don't just be there, be present

Gene Chizik wants you to know that not working is great. Four months removed from resigning at North Carolina to actually spend more time with his family, Chizik says he does not regret leaving the game he loves to spend time with the people he loves more.

Sparked by an epiphany he experienced watching families move their children into the dorms at North Carolina while his own twin daughters moved in to their Auburn dorm without him, Chizik decided to leave coaching after the 2016 season, and in the months since he says he has not missed a single one of his son's games and made a point to see his daughters while they go to school across town (the family still lives in Auburn). The 2017 season will not be the first without Chizik, he also sat out the 2013-14 seasons between his firing at Auburn and taking the UNC defensive coordinator job; in that time Chizik took his son to Major League Baseball spring training and an NFL game, while also talking his daughters on a just-the-three-of-us trip to Mexico.

So, yeah, retirement at age 55 is great, and you should do if it you can.

But what about those that can't? Chizik has some advice for us working stiffs, too, in a piece he wrote for USA Today.

Since leaving the game, a lot of dads have asked me for advice. Here is a simple tip: Make the most of your time with your children. Don’t just be there. Be a present father.

If you only have 20 minutes, don’t just turn your phone off. Leave it in your vehicle. If you don’t have much time, make it quality time. Do what they love, not what you love. If your daughter likes to read books, sit on the floor and read books. If your son likes to play Xbox, play Xbox.

I know millions of dads are grinding at work and trying to do the right thing, but they are frustrated. They want to spend more quality time with their children but can’t seem to find it.

One thing I have found is the importance of planning ahead for special time, or what I call “steroid shots.” A steroid shot is a memorable event you do with your children they will remember 20 years later. It could be a day or a weekend. Either way, they become what I refer to as a “memory tattoo.”

Chizik closes the piece with the same thought he had the first time he realized not coaching wouldn't be too bad, after attending a Red Sox game at Fenway in September 2013: no one ever regrets the time they spend with their children.

Read the full piece here.