ChangingDad

Making the most of a new life


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A change is as good as a rest

Well the Easter break is now over and we already seem to have dropped back into our routines again as if it never happened. It was a good break and Jake, in particular, had a much needed rest.

I do not remember school being so tiring when I was a child, but I guess that it must have been; I certainly do not think that I was awake for hours in the evening and I am pretty sure that I was always in bed and asleep well before 8. But it has certainly been clear to me that Jake finds school to be tiring, and was really struggling during the last week of last term as the weeks of learning built up. Even in reception class there is a great emphasis on children improving and developing their reading, writing and maths; and Jake has certainly learned an awful lot since he started in September. But this does take its toll on one so young.

This is not to say that he does not enjoy it, and he was so keen to go back on Monday morning that we were waiting for the gates to open at school. But because he finds it so tiring we are really mindful of how he can spend his time out of school, and try to find a balance between different sorts of activities. So while we do listen to him read, and help him to write and count; we also encourage him to play both inside and outside and we are quite happy to let him watch TV in, what we think, is moderation.

I would go further than that and say that allowing him to watch some TV is important because he clearly does find it relaxing and, provided it is the right sort of TV (BBC Cbeebies and good quality films), we also find that he learns while he watches too; he has certainly improved his vocabulary watching the likes of Ice Age, Madagascar and other films. This does not stop us having the discussion (argument) about him watching more as he always, of course, tries to push the boundaries of how much he can watch especially during the holidays when he has more potential watching time.

This is why we also try to get out and explore the area around us, either by going down to the local playgrounds/ parks, or visiting museums and places of interest. Of all these though the one that I most enjoyed during this break was taking the boys up into the Peak District National Park, which we are very fortunate to live close to. We had a great time exploring the woods, tramping through what was left of the snow (Sam even found a submerged stream and ended up to his waist in snow), and playing pooh sticks.

All in all it was a busy time with lots to do and see, but Jake looked great on it and I hope that he will remember his trips out with the sort of fondness that I do. It is great to get out, and I am looking forward to a summer of exploring new places and introducing the boys to the joys of being outside.

When we got to the car park at Longshaw Estate, where we were visiting, Jake asked me “where’s the playground Daddy?”. I thought for a moment and nearly said “there isn’t one”, then looking round it struck me and said “it’s here Jake, it’s all around you”. I was pleased that I thought to say that, and even more pleased that the boys embraced the concept, and now want to think of more ways to help make it just that for them.

There are plenty more holidays coming up so suggestions gratefully received.


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A tale of two Mondays

For several years now I have had one day per week when I have looked after the boys. This is, firstly, so I can spend more time with them, and, secondly, to help Karen to get some work done (she has a weekday with them, too). Since we have moved house two things have changed, I have moved the day from Friday to Monday, and I now just have Sam for most of the day since Jake has started school. The last two Mondays could not have been more different.

The first Monday was a beautiful sunny day so I decided to take Sam on a long walk exploring the local countryside. It was an amazing day exploring new footpaths and looking at lots of great things on the way. The route that I had chosen followed a river and we had great fun looking at the water, and what was in it. Part of the way followed not one but two train lines, so Sam had a whale of a time looking for trains, shrieking with delight when one went past, something that involved much waving. We encountered a heard of cows, and Sam tried to count them and made mooing noises. We sang endless verses of ‘Wheels on the Bus’, ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm’, and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. Sam spent some time looking at the books we had brought along, and playing with the few toys he had chosen to bring with him.

After a while he fell asleep and I had a quiet coffee beside a lake before heading off again. Once he woke up we went into the city on the tram (something he loves) where he entertained some of the other passengers with his antics. We had lunch in a cafe where he was entertaining me with his cheeky smile, and we then went home on the train; which he waved off at our local station and was very happy to get a wave and a toot back from the driver.

Contrast this with the following Monday. For a start the weather could not have been more different. It was sheeting down with rain and was due to do so all day. Rather than get cabin fever in the house I thought it would be a good idea to drive to one of Sam’s favourite museums. The motorway was terrible with massive amounts of spray coming off the cars and lorries, and it was not long before we began to get warning signs of trouble ahead. So we got off the motorway and tried to get to the museum using back roads. A bit annoying, but Sam fell asleep and all seemed well. Suddenly there was a loud vomiting noise from the back seat followed by a cry and a little voice saying “Daddy. Weetabix.”. At that very moment I joined a traffic jam on a road with high hedges and nowhere to stop with poor Sam in the back continuing to be sick.

When I finally did manage to stop, with the rain still pouring down there was certainly more than Weetabix in Sam’s lap. I managed to get him out of his car seat and plonked him on the ground, forgetting that he had taken his shoes off earlier. So there he was crying away covered in sick from neck to toe standing in a puddle with no shoes on, in what I realised was the car park of a well known baby product warehouse (oh the irony). Not my finest parenting moment, but surely that was as bad as it would get.

It seemed so as I quickly went about changing him and getting him warm and dry so that I could then clean his car seat. It was at that moment that I realised that there were no wipes in the changing bag. After a short period of swearing under my breath (we ALWAYS have wipes in the changing bag) I cleaned things up as much as I could with Sam’s dirty clothes, popped him in Jake’s car seat and headed off for a covered car park where I could get us sorted out more and try to exorcise some of the smell from the inside of the car, the museum trip well and truly abandoned.

While perhaps at the extremes, these were two not untypical days in the life of a parent, and I have certainly found that life has become less predictable since I became a Dad. With children life is rarely dull, and requires me to find new ways of doing things, develop new skills, and makes me more resourceful.

Looking back now, both days were special in their own way, and were certainly memorable. Let’s see what next Monday brings, but I have to get the smell of last Monday out of my nose first.