For five days a week, I don’t get to see much of my kids. I leave for work at 8am and get home at about 6.30pm, meaning breakfast and bedtimes are pretty much the only kid time I get. When the weekends arrive, we have so many things to sort out, tidy and generally get fixed that it is often hard to spend as much time with the kids as I would like. Cue: huge amount of Daddy guilt.
When Mrs. Three Time Daddy was on maternity leave and had to go to work for one of her 'Keep in touch’ days, it proved the perfect opportunity for me to have a day off and spend some QTT with the kids.
However, when the day actually arrived, it dawned on me: I hadn’t done it before since Jasperino was born! Being seven months old, he was still on a pretty rigid schedule, but I had no idea what that was because either I was at work, or I could rely on the Mrs. to tell me. I had to…. do it alone!
This is how my day went.
Taking the kids to school = leave the house, walk half a mile, wave them a cheery goodbye. Sounds fairly easy. I had done a few school runs in my time, but I hadn’t done it since Roo started school, and I certainly hadn’t needed to do it with all three of the kids. Seasoned school runners will know the score – the tumultuous battle to meet matching shoes with feet, to get arms in coat sleeves, to get lunches, homework and water bottles in bags. Don’t even get me started on the brushing of teeth.
Normal people leaving the house: ‘shoes on, got my keys, let’s go!’
Kids leaving the house: ‘let me just go play with my Match Attax first.’
Surprisingly a seven-month-old baby was ready first.
When we finally got out of the house, seven crucial minutes late, I saw that it was raining. I’m obviously a fair weather school runner so decided to take the car. However, as a compromise to my judgmental self, I parked outside the local shop (I had to go there after the school run anyway – see I CAN plan ahead) and we walked the rest of the short distance, hoods up and me holding Jasperino in my arms under an umbrella. I felt like we were the most disheveled, unorganized troop ever witnessed. NJ dropped off first with little more than a sideward glance and a vague wave, Roo dropped off second with a squeeze goodbye and then… peace. Oh and soaking wet feet. Turns out my trainers weren’t as waterproof as I thought. However, the feeling of immense relief that the furious panic was over made everything ok. My first major responsibility of the day was complete. I even got to say hello to a couple of other dads I wouldn’t normally see.
Daddy +1 point
Back home and time for a celebratory cup of tea and a play time with the little guy. He had recently started sitting up and although a little wobbly still, he was having great fun looking at the world from a new point of view. He is always laughing and smiling so it was great to sit with him and pull stupid faces and make silly noises. We then sat on the sofa for his bottle and to get him to have a nap. He has this awkward requirement to either be held or be in the car in order to sleep.
Daddy +1 point
Ok. So despite being held, sleep was seemingly the last thing on Jasperino’s mind. Obviously, daddy was just not comfy enough compared to mummy and no matter how many wriggles and cries, things weren’t going to change. After a brief struggle, reinforcements were called in in the form of a car trip to a nearby retail park.
The car never fails. Asleep before we left our street.
Daddy -1 point
It’s amazing how they always seem to need new pants and socks. All of them. I tried to transfer Jasperino from being asleep in the car seat to being asleep in the buggy. I failed. Rather than dwell on the fact he should be asleep, I whisked him off to H&M and had a mooch. Jasperino didn’t seem particularly impressed. I found pants and socks, baulked at the price of pants and socks and put them back. We left H&M. We went to Gap and bought Daddy some new jeans but no pants and socks. Jasperino didn’t seem impressed.
Feeling guilty, we went to Toys R Us. The plan was simple enough – I had heard they were supposed to be closing down so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to grab some potential closing down bargains. Unfortunately, these did not exist. Unless you like massively expensive Lego sets, superheroes, plastic tack, or spending more money than you would do elsewhere, Toys R Us is probably not the shop for you. It is a real shame as I have so many fond memories of going there as a kid, but it simply isn’t relevant or cheap enough for us anymore. And as if to confirm it, Jasperino still didn’t seem impressed.
Daddy -1 point for not buying anything remotely useful for the kids
Lunch was in a particularly rammed Costa Coffee. It was full of people on laptops, mums with babies and buggies and old couples. After buying my lunch, I found an exposed seat in the middle near the drafty door, located a high chair and cracked open Jasperino’s whizzed up, puréed mush.
It turns out that apple and celery smells virtually the same as potato and leek. I needed apple and celery as he had potato and leek the day before. It turns out that apple and celery also tastes virtually the same as potato and leek. I decided my nose and taste-buds were faulty.
Once I was feeding Jasperino I couldn’t help but think that I could get used to this. My cheese and ham panini arrived and as I looked around the rest of Costa Coffee, I half expected to be congratulated on being such a great dad for taking his son out on such an exciting trip without, yes, WITHOUT his Mum. I can do things like this all by myself. I can be trusted! Shower me with praise! I was sure the chattering mums would notice, but I didn’t even get a nod or a raised eyebrow of approval. Jasperino grinned insanely at an old man, who smiled back, and this proved to be the social interaction highlight of the visit.
Truth be told I felt a little lonely. I chatted to Jasperino of course, but it felt like he was only interested in eating and dribbling and to be honest it felt a little one-sided. What if this was full time, I wondered. Would I naturally find other stay at home dad friends hanging out at Costa Coffee, or other lunch and coffee drinking establishments? I wasn’t convinced. As I finished lunch and cleaned Jasperino up, the rain finally stopped and the sun tentatively broke through the clouds. Jasperino then did an enormous poo.
Daddy +1 point for surviving until lunch, -1 point for unreliable use of senses.
Buying jeans had obviously given me the taste of spending money on me, rather than it all going on bills, Aldi or and kids magazines. I popped into Currys/PC World and eyed up the 49 inch TVs and a new laptop while Jasperino had another nap. I bought neither, but enjoyed the opportunity to consider buying them. Unusually for me, I gave a salesman a blow-by-blow account of why we needed a new TV for our newly decorated living room and how I couldn’t visualize the television on our wall. He didn’t seem impressed.
Daddy -1 point for potentially doing something and then not doing it.
We arrived home, bang on schedule.
Daddy +1 point for being organized
I spent the preceding hour clock watching to make sure I didn’t forget that needed to collect two-thirds of my children from school. It’s not just me that has an impending sense of dread is it? I did, of course, remember and picking them up is a lot less stressful than dropping them off. To top things off, NJ was ‘Star of the Week’ at school. On the walk home we went to the shop to buy a celebratory cake (I don’t need much excuse to buy cake) which turned into a celebratory cake, a packet of sweets x2, a Match Attax packet and a Zombling.
Daddy +5 points for Raising a ‘Star of the Week’
I had no idea how it had reached 4pm. That’s eight hours since mummy went to work. Eight hours! The things I could do in eight hours:
The day had whizzed by so far and it wasn’t over yet. NJ had football training with his new team at 6pm and I didn’t have to worry about rushing home from work early, or risk being delayed by a late train. NJ doesn’t like surprises or being rushed into new environments so already being home and having the chance to take him at our own pace was a huge relief and made the whole evening much more enjoyable.
Daddy +1 point for lasting the day
It really was an awesome, surprisingly relaxed day (after the school drop off anyway) and I loved spending some extra time with the kids while their Mum was at work. Unfortunately, our circumstances mean that I can’t be a real stay-at-home-dad permanently, but the day has certainly given me a taste of what I’m missing. This was, of course, based on my experience of just one day and I’m aware it isn’t easy and the novelty factor may soon wear thin. If any stay-at-home-dads are reading this, I’d be interested to hear your own feelings and experiences – am I just wearing rose-tinted glasses?
ThreeTimeDaddy is Dad of 2 boys and a girl. Voted 'best daddy ever' by one and 'rubbish at reading and football' by another, but the youngest is yet to form a reliable opinion.