ChangingDad

Making the most of a new life


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Post-holiday blues or the start of something big?

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We have just come back from two weeks’ holiday and it is safe to say that we all had a great time. This was confirmed to me when the boys, and especially Jake, were acting very strangely on the way home. It took some time to find out why this was, but Jake eventually told us that he was sad that our holiday was over.

This made me both happy and sad at the same time. Happy because it showed that he had really enjoyed himself, but sad because it took me back to the great holidays I recall from my own childhood. This is because Jake’s reaction reminded me of my own, perhaps when I was a little older, response of being really upset in the car on the way back and having a little cry to myself when we got home. I had my own pang of sadness this week when I saw the familiar streets, buildings and buses around our home. It suddenly hit me that we were not away any more.

For me, and clearly Jake too, there is something very special about being away from home in an environment that is different from that we experience everyday; it somehow removes us from the stresses and strains of everyday life especially if, as I did (well most of the time), we switch of the data roaming and resist the temptation to go online. It marks a freedom from our normal daily lives.

That is perhaps why coming back home is so hard no matter how good our daily lives might be. Jake and me seem not to be alone in this as the BBC recently reported on the things we like least about coming back off holiday. We find that we somehow want to maintain the holiday spell and not see it disappear into the past.

This is perhaps particularly the case this year when the weather has been so good, and the summer has been more like those that we tend to remember from our own childhood. True I do remember sitting in a static caravan, rain pouring down the windows and playing board games to pass the time. More often, though, I remember days on the beach, swimming in the sea, walks through sunlit woods and bright promenades, melting ice cream and ‘helping’ with the harvest on my Uncle’s farm. I remember the sort of summer we had this year.

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Having time away also allows us to reflect about those things that we do and do not like about our lives. Can we make our daily lives more like those we spent on holiday, or at least carry something over from our break? Do we want to find a new job? Could we be spending more time with our families like we did over the summer? Or does that thought just fill us with dread? Did we not get a break yet really need one?

Whatever the answers to these questions, for me this is a more significant time for change and potential that in the New Year. Our children move on, whether it is to a new class, new school, on to University or into the employment market; and there is a sense of possibility and of making a new start. As parents this may mean some adjustments too, but perhaps it is also time to grasp the nettle and make more significant changes while our batteries are recharged and our resilience is higher.

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As for Jake, one week on he is already planning next year’s holiday by pouring over the map from the theme park we went to this summer, seeing what new vistas a growth spurt will open up; and he is now very excited about going back to school in Year 1. Sam too is looking forward a new year in the top class at nursery. For them change cannot come quickly enough.


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Discovering Sam

In my recent post, A Tale of Two Mondays, I described how I now looked after Sam on a Monday: to varying effect. I hope though that it was obvious from that piece that, however the day turns out, I am really enjoying my time with him. He is now at that stage where he is starting to be able to communicate with us, and is learning new words everyday (brektoid for breakfast being my current favourite). We are also able to see his personality coming through more and more, which is great.

This is particularly pleasing for me because I feel that it has taken me longer to get to know him than was the case with Jake. When we had just Jake I could spend all my spare time with him, but this has just not been possible with Sam because he has always tended to cling more to Karen, while Jake became much more of a Daddy’s boy once Sam came along; Jake saw just what the arrival of Sam meant for him quite quickly. Combine this with a job where I was away a lot and I felt that I hardly got to know Sam for the first 18 months of his life; which made me quite sad sometimes.

However, one of the unexpected positive side effects of taking redundancy at the end of 2011 was that I was able to spend more time with Sam, and especially on the half days when he was not at nursery and Jake was; and latterly on Mondays now Jake has started school. This has very much been a two way process and from seemingly being ‘the other one who seems to live with us but does not have any milk to offer’, he now seems to accept me much more and seems to be very happy to spend time with me.

Since having the boys it has really struck me that developing a reciprocal relationship with children is more of a two way process than I had previously realised. It is obvious that this is the case on one level, but I did not previously understand that if you want to have the trust of children and receive their affection you really have to put the time in with them and develop that relationship.

I see this, particularly with Sam, when we have visitors. If someone spends time with him and really attempts to connect with him they attain ‘doodah’ status. Doodah is what Sam calls anyone who he wants to relate to but does not know their name. If people do not bother with him so much then the ‘doodah’ is withheld.

I feel very lucky that I have the opportunity to see my children grow up in a way that some fathers do not. I am able to be around nearly every day to take Jake to school, and pick him up the majority of evenings; and we can have breakfast and our evening meal together as a family nearly every night. I have time to spend with Sam on Mondays, and with both boys at the weekends (when Karen has to work). I get to develop my relationship with them much more than if I was in a different city every week as was the case before.

I have got to discover more of Jake, and particularly more of Sam this year than I would have otherwise done; and in doing so also found out a lot more about myself. I am very fortunate, and I recommend it.


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Happy Father’s Day!

When I think back to the birth of my first child nearly five years ago it seems that my life has changed so much over that time; sometimes for the better, sometimes in ways that frustrate me, and often it is just different. I love being a Dad and wanted to write this blog to help me to reflect on this change, and share it with others. I wanted to think how it has affected other parts of my life: family, marriage, work, friends, interests, as well as myself as a person. So this blog won’t just be about me, it will also be about the people and places that I have experienced and how they have shaped who and what I am.

I hope that over the coming months you will build up a picture of my life, my experiences and what interests me, but to do that you need to know some basic details. I have been married to Karen since 2006 and we have two boys: Jake (4) and Sam (2). We live in West Yorkshire; although we are shortly going to be moving to South Yorkshire (change!) with Karen’s job. I took redundancy from my job at the end of 2011 (more change!), and am doing a postgraduate course in Executive and Business Coaching. I will no doubt be reflecting on what got me here in future posts, so watch this space.

Since this blog is about my life as a Dad, I thought that it would be very appropriate to launch it on Father’s Day. I very much hope that you will enjoy it, be inspired by it, be entertained by it, and contribute to it through your comments, which will be gratefully received.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!