Thursday 22 June 2017

Dadding like a duck. Calm above the surface, paddling like heck below - a ReadItTorial

Sometimes it seems so easy, this 'dadding' lark. You spend all week working at 'the boring day job' with a few snatched moments of being able to relax in the evenings.

Both of us came to the conclusion that our evening routine is always under pressure. Depending on who is picking Charlotte up from school, you know you've got a few short hours to squeeze in homework, bath, teatime, books and bed - and in the summer that routine gets squeezed even further (as all parents will tell you, it's virtually impossible to get your kids to go to bed when it's still blazingly sunny outside and they can hear other kids out there playing).

After a visit from our Canadian cousin, we heard how they as a family still manage to sit down in the evenings and perhaps play board and card games, have a chat about their day etc and I realised that most weekday nights our routine goes something like this

1) One or the other of us will have got home first other than on days when grandparents have kindly stepped in for school pickup.

2) One or the other of us will have wrestled Charlotte into the shower, coaxed her through her homework and given a vague thought on what to have for dinner.

3) One or the other of us will then try and think of something else to do that hopefully avoids the dreaded modern babysitter of our age (screen time) or one or the other of us staring listlessly at our phones to see what's going on in our social media feeds, email or whatever else (my wife argues this point but she will spend more time in the evenings doing this than I do - possibly because she has more friends :)

We tried to shake things up a bit, determined to have some proper family time that didn't involve us all in different rooms doing our own thing. Sitting down to a game of Carcassonne that descended into racking sobs from Charlotte who was just too tired to cope with the game not going her way.

Parenting is weird. Many will tell you that it's a breeze when - like Dad Duck up there - they may appear serene on the surface but are paddling like crazy under the surface just to keep going.

There has been a huge shift in the way parents divvy up their responsibilities now, and though it's nowhere near a perfect balance things are definitely better than they have ever been, with more dads not just actively taking part in the fun stuff - but realising they've got a responsibility to pitch in (without being asked) and help with all the mundane boring daily stuff too.

Don't be one of those dads who expects a spontaneous round of applause every time you pick up a piece of paper off the floor, or change a nappy. Be one of those dads who does that sort of stuff unprompted - even when you think you've had a bad day.