ChangingDad

Making the most of a new life


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An audience with Daddy

It is ChangingDad rant week, where I have been having a bit of a moan about those things that have come to annoy me as a parent. While they are relatively trivial in the grand scheme of things it is also good to share them and get the views of others on them.

So here goes with today’s issue. If I was to say what was the one thing that I have found hard to get used to more than any other since becoming a parent it is the fact that, these days, I frequently have an audience when I am sitting on the toilet. The toilet for me, and I think that this is typical of many men in particular, is a place of sanctuary. It is somewhere that I can spend a few minutes away from the cares of the world and do some thinking or light reading; and more often than not it still is.

There are, however, plenty of times when I am nicely settled into my special place only to be disturbed by a little person wanting information, help or support in a dispute with another little person. Indeed, my sitting down often seems to be some sort of indirect catalyst for the outbreak of strife in the playroom; especially when I am the only adult in the house. I really do not like having to curtail my time in there, and it is often not something that I can especially leave in a hurry. But my sanctuary invaded and the moment broken.

I think that this is probably something that is representative of a wider issue about personal space, something which is markedly reduced with the arrival of children. I lived on my own for many years before Karen and I got together, and even with two in the house there was always plenty of room for personal space. I certainly would not go back to such a life now, but I do occasionally miss the solitude and find my lavatorial escapism to be a good way of mollifying the problem. Which is why it annoys me when it is threatened.

It amuses me that Jake is copying my behaviour and now often takes five or six books into the toilet with him, and can easily spend half an hour in there. It is the only time that he really looks at books on his own so I am not discouraging him. Coincidentally Sam also decided to read a book on the toilet for the first time this week, so it looks like it is a good job that we have more than one toilet in the house.

I like it that the boys want to do this because it is important that we all have a bit of ‘me’ time now and again. After all they do not get much time to themselves either. So perhaps they will come to realise that my toilet time is sacred too: a ritual to be enjoyed alone. Not an audience with Daddy.

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Blinded by the light

 

The last week has seen me thinking about those relatively small things about parenthood that annoy me, none of which I was aware before having children. So now having thought of them I think I need to get them off my chest. When I made a list I aimed to think of ten, but I fell short at seven (so it cannot be all that bad). However, seven is a good number for a short series over a week. So this week is now ‘rant week’ on ChangingDad.

I think what really got me thinking about these niggly issues was the clocks going forward last weekend. An hour less in bed aside, and that was always a small price to pay for light evenings, the arrival of British Summer Time was always my favourite weekend of the year heralding, as it does, a great deal more daylight at the right time of day. But now I am not so sure. It is a lot easier to get children to bed when it is dark, after all darkness equals bedtime, and light can mean anything but. As a result it has been hard to explain to Sam in particular why he should go to bed when it is still light, he somehow thinks it is morning.

I think that the light evenings also remind me that we cannot go out and do things in the light evenings like we used to, and it is certainly too cold to sit out at home in the evening at the moment (and I am not sure it ever was last year). While the thought of getting one of those patio heaters which pump heat anywhere but on the patio does not appeal.

So the clocks changing reminds me of past times and well as present issues; both of which, once again, come back to that recurring theme of having time to ourselves and the ability to do the things that we like (or liked) doing. For me it is probably the most obvious change about becoming a father; that as parents we have finite time but seemingly much more to fit into it. The light evenings meant that we could do more things away from the house. Having children makes that more difficult since the importance of having a bedtime routine cannot be overstated, and so being able to do things then means having babysitters on a regular basis. This is something which I do not think is totally fair on the boys who are clearly more comfortable with having one or both of us in the house when they go to bed.

I understand that some people find the winter months very difficult when there is not much daylight, and on balance I much prefer the summer months. Nevertheless, it is not as clear cut as it used to be and this time of year is definitely one of more mixed emotions than it used to be. That is, for me, one of the consequences of parenthood, and not one that I had particularly anticipated.

I wonder whether this is the same for other parents? Or is it just me?