ChangingDad

Making the most of a new life


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Bedtime hour

After their bath the boys are allowed a ‘bedtime hour’, which is actually 10 – 20 minutes of watching a DVD or clips from Youtube. There is often a bit of opposition to switching the tv or computer off, but this soon disappears when the offer to race upstairs on our backs is made. The boys fairly quickly brush their teeth, but then the real bedtime hour begins. This is the hour that it often takes us to get Sam settled.

Jake is usually asleep within 15 minutes of the light going out but Sam tries everything to stay up longer, and we seem to have tried everything to get him to settle.
It all started when we moved house and Sam went into a ‘big boy’s bed’ rather than the cot he had previously slept in. He seemed to settle quite well at first, but then seemed to get more and more bold in coming downstairs with a big grin on his face.
We have become more and more frustrated by this, and we are losing more and more of what we see as valuable time together once the boys have gone to bed. We rarely go out as a couple at the moment, but we enjoy having a meal together, sitting chatting, or watching one of our favourite TV series (currently Homeland and Downton Abbey); and the two hours from 9.30pm to 11.30pm go by all too quickly (especially if I fall asleep while watching, though not usually while eating or talking)).
We have tried a number of strategies including:
  • We got the travel cot out and told Sam he would have to go in there if he did not settle. This worked until Sam got wise and called our bluff, saying he wanted to go in ‘the baby bed’. Of course, we did not really want him to go in there because, a) it was a backwards step; and b) if he woke up in the night he could not just toddle through but wake the whole house up.
  • I have tried sitting at the top of the stairs, showing him that I was there but not communicating with him. This works to a certain extent but I feel terrible because he just shouts and shouts, and although he finally does then realise that he is not going to get anywhere; it is usually sometime afterwards – still a bedtime hour; and it is not getting better.
We have looked at all sorts of different things but nothing seems to work. It is particularly frustrating because this is the first thing that we feel really stuck on. We have usually found a way through before, but not this time.
I realise that this is probably not a massive issue in the grand scheme of things, but at the moment it feels like one. It is a change that we feel we have not managed very well, and we really miss having more time just for ourselves; and we really feel that Sam needs a longer sleep than he is getting.
So it would be great to hear what others have done to reduce the bedtime hour.
What are your top tips for getting children settled?
Or are we lucky that it is only an hour?
Thank you.
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Father’s Day #1: My Father

Father’s Day was something of a bittersweet occasion for me this year since my own Father passed away in November last year (2011). At the time I posted on my Facebook timeline that he was “the best Father that anyone could have hoped for”. He was always around and very committed to his family and, after my Mother died (in 1988), to my Stepmother and her family. I know that it was something of frustration to him that I spent most of my late twenties and early thirties as a student (for about ten years by the time I’d finished), but his support for me was always steadfast, once saying to me: “Whatever you want to do with your life I will support you”. He did not mean financial support but a moral and loving support which, to me, was priceless. I’m sure that this was not an easy thing for him to say, but it was an extraordinarily liberating thing for me to hear; giving me a real sense of freedom and ultimately helping me take risks which, in the long run, paid off.

Having children of my own has brought me many things, but perhaps the most important has been coming to realise what it means to be a parent, and in turn to appreciate what my parents went through: what they gave up and the extent of that unconditional love that only parents can have. Sadly I was never able to fully appreciate this before my mother died, but it means a lot to me that I was able to say ‘thank you’ to my Father. And I said a quiet thank you to him again this Father’s Day.

I still miss Dad. I miss ringing him up and telling him what the boys have been up to, and sharing a joke on the latest frustration of modern life (he loved stories about administrative ineptitude); and there is rarely a day goes by that I don’t think of him. It was important to me that he was part of this blog since he was so influential in many of the things that I have to say. That is why his memory is enshrined in the picture on the masthead, which is taken from the spot where we scattered his ashes on Derwentwater in the Lake District, Northern England earlier this year.

As you can see it really is a beautiful spot and I hope that it gives him the freedom that he so selflessly gave me.