Just recently I started a new job.
I say new, I’ve been doing it on a ‘part-time’ basis for two and a half years, but now I’ve been ‘promoted’ to full time Daddy.
My wife, Jess, went back to work this week after taking the last year off on maternity leave and I’ll therefore need to be on hand to take over the parental responsibilities. I’m not scared, you’re scared.
To be honest, I’m not really that worried about it. For starters, they’re my children, and I know them pretty well. It may be stressful looking after two young children every day but who knows them better than Jess and me?
If the pandemic has given me anything positive it’s the chance to be at home and learn their routines, learn what upsets them, learn how to fix that and actually get to know them in general.
I think the biggest concern for me is not actually formally working. I’ve always been in the camp that being a stay-at-home parent is a full time (unpaid) job, but I’ve been so used to being the one who goes off to work, and now I have to be the one to let go as Jess makes her way out to our newly converted office in the garage.
I have to admit that, and Jess would say the same thing, it’s easier when you’re on your own with the children. This week I knew what they would have for lunches, dinners and snacks and I knew what we’d be doing on which days, so I knew to be prepared for them.
For example, on Wednesday we went on a two-hour walk to the woods (with a stop off at the park of course.) I got everything ready, including drinks, snacks and hand gel and I left at 9.30ish so Emi could get her morning nap in too. The thing I miss isn’t having Jess around to help with the kids, it’s her I miss.
For example, I didn’t realise how exhausting looking after both kids on your own is. As soon as I put them down for a nap, I knew there was things I could and should be doing. I’d made a list and knew that was my time to get it done. But by the time I’d sat down, had some lunch and maybe caught something quick on telly (all the time trying to regain my strength) they were waking up again and it was go time.
Also, I got to experience how hard it is to do the simple things. Just nipping to the toilet is a mission; take Emi upstairs, take Rupert upstairs, put Emi in her cot with a toy etc then try to hold the door closed so Rupert can’t come in. Being as young as they are leaving them alone isn’t an option, so I have to either wait or carry out the above mission.
It wasn’t all bad though, far from it. This week marked the first time I’ve taken BOTH children to a class on my own. I took them to Tree Tots, which is something that suits Rupert and Emilia so well. They both love getting out and about and it’s set in the beautiful Howe Park Woods.
Rupert is always drawn to the water area and this week was no different. He was straight to the watering can, pouring water into a saucepan to make me some ‘pasta’ with twigs for spaghetti and leaves for cheese. Delicious! Emi was content to sit and watch, but she loved the instruments and weirdly enough, the magnifying glass.
And of course, another positive, they’re mine and Jess’ babies. I get to spend every day with them and listen to all of the hilarious things they say or do. The hugs, the kisses, the laughs, they’re the things that get you through each day. It’s the clever things Rupert says, or the smile Emi gives you when you do the simplest thing over and over again (fake sneezing.)
The thing I’ve found is that I feel very alone going into this. For Jess she has some lovely friends. She filled her days during both stints of maternity leave with nice walks, meeting up over coffee and play dates. For me, it’s not quite the same – although a couple of our mutual friends have already reached out to arrange play dates.
So, one week down, and it didn’t go too badly, here’s hoping we can keep up the early momentum and I can carry on being the best Daddy I can be for them.