Confessions of a working dad: 24hrs in PJs (by Adrian Dyer)
Now look, I’m not, I repeat, I’m not, lazy (at least I don’t think I am) and this never, ever, happens. Well almost never….
“Daddy….”, “Daddy….”. A faint voice echoes in the distance of my second or third dream. Only it’s not a dream I soon realise and, as it’s my turn to get up, rub my eyes, grab a t-shirt (you never know when and where you’ll bump into the Supernanny) and head into my daughter’s room. Unlike me first thing in the morning, she’s all smiles.
After grabbing her beloved rag doll named “Danna” (her version of Rag Dolly Anna) and “Cloudy”, who’s a soft grey rabbit, we head downstairs. We chill out for a bit, have a drink, and I put on the Saturday morning cartoons.
My son wakes up and starts to plod down the stairs a little like Professor Yaffle from Bagpuss. We all take it easy with a glass of milk and a bit of Peppa and Curious George (a programme that seems to teach my son as much as or more than his previous school!).
Right, breakfast time. “What would you like for breakfast?” I ask. “Pizza” my son energetically replies. “Pizza?!” I reply “You can’t have pizza for…..” My voice trails off as I look down at my plate. I’m busy tucking into the leftovers of last night’s Indian takeaway. Suddenly my argument is destroyed. Still no pizza though and they’ll have to make do with Daddy’s scrambled eggs, baked beans on toast and hash browns. Thinking about it, is that any better than pizza? I feed my daughter but try very hard to resist the temptation to feed my son, who’s 6. But it’s soooo much faster if I do! I’m regularly, and rightly, chastised for doing so….
As it’s the weekend we break one of the house rules of no TV while eating but keep strictly to “no toys at the dinner table” as I want to limit the chances of having to clean up a spilled drink again, plus I want them to actually eat.
Wash dishes, take the rubbish out, tidy up and put a wash on. No wonder there is a new concept in the press this week: Daddy Burn-Out!
Time to wake mum as she’s got to leave at 0930 to get my daughter to her “dancy” class.
With breakfast finished and mum in the shower I find one of those rare moments where I actually feel like I’m doing some good with my kids. I lay out a whole load of flash cards on the living room floor, some bought and some improvised, and we take it in turns to write some sentences to each other, as funny as possible. I’ve done so little educating of my kids and feel very guilty about it, so I am trying hard to make up for it!
So far, so normal for a Saturday. The ladies of the house depart and my son and I have got two hours of man time. Decision time: we could get dressed and go out…nah…not yet. The voice of my son’s sergeant major like headmistress pops into my head. “Don’t cram kids’ days full. These days we are always rushing around trying to do this and that”. Ok, she has a point, and I feel justified for us to take it easy. Besides it’s cold and we don’t have a car.
We do a bit of writing practice. Using flashcards we learn how to draw a few letters correctly. “Round the apple, and down the leaves” etc. We get as far as “p” then the concentration wanes. His not mine! Let’s stop.
Ah yes, I’ve just remembered a book I bought my son recently about the Great Fire of London. I read that to him and he listens very attentively. I follow it up with a few YouTube videos. I don’t think the bit when John Farriner’s maid dies on a burning roof will scar him too much….
He loves his ipad, and I could do with checking what’s going on. We do this for a bit but I’m very aware of how time flies for everyone on these things so I try and run a tight ship and after 30 mins (ish) we put them away.
Time for a bit of table football followed by some improvised pool using plastic animals instead of balls. We score various points depending on which animal we knock over. I am sure this is a maths lesson in disguise and not a lesson in cruelty to animals.
We’re still not dressed as the ladies arrive back home. We have no urgent chores to do outside (for a change) and we have no one to meet so why not.
We get the guitars out. Neither of us have a clue what we’re doing with them yet but we mess around for a bit and I tune them both. I mime Hotel California with my ipad playing the song hidden under my arm but, dissapointingly, no-one is fooled.
Lunch. My wife’s shift.
We spend the rest of the afternoon doing a bit of Lego and Duplo, watching a bit more TV, doing some drawing and painting, playing with the Brio trains and dinosaurs etc.
It’s nice and so rare to actually get the time to sit around and just be with the kids.
We always seem to have to be out and about doing something that we never get the time to stay at home together to enjoy it and play with the things we have in it.
Maybe we should do this more often.
Dinner. My shift.
Bath time. After reading someone else’s blog, I bought some foam letters for bath time to sneak in a bit more education under the radar although my son enjoys making words such as “xyggerujpsjxngs” and makes me read them out loud. Both of them enjoy the den I can make by holding a towel over the bath and letting them play underneath.
A good idea from my wife given there is a real danger of developing cabin fever. Why don’t we throw some clothes on over our PJs and all go out for a wind-down walk in the fresh air. We’ve recently read somewhere that this is a good technique to get the kids off to sleep easily so let’s give it a go. It’s January so we wrap up warm and head out. Quite nice to walk down streets that we never walk down, even though they’re so close to us.
Teeth, bedtime stories, easily to bed and breathe.
Phew. Made it and this time, no one ended up in A&E. There are some things money can’t buy: spending a whole day at home with your kids is priceless.
This is a guest post by Adrian Dyer. Adrian surprised his employers by asking for four months of paternity leave, after which he shocked them by requesting flexible working. He blogs as City Dad, aiming to encourage dads to become familiar with their rights as regards paternity and parental leave as well as flexible working.
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