Weekend mornings

I love weekends. Not for the same reasons I used to, you know those casual, hazy booze soaked days of no work, long lay ins, lunches out and buying pretentious baked goods from an independent deli? 

Where I used to turn the alarm off on weekends however, now I set it for 7:15, which doesn’t usually go off as I’m already up. 

It may sound like I’m whining here, but I’m not, stay with me

My wife works incredibly hard bringing the boys up, currently the baby sleeps in hour long spells and as she’s breastfeeding there’s very little I can do. He wakes up, he wants the boob. I’m unintentionally developing some moobs, but even when those bad boys are fully developed, I won’t be producing (much) milk. 

Nowadays, my pleasure comes from being able to get up with the boys on weekends and let my wife have a well deserved lie in, although she still refuses to take a full allocation as she wants to be with us too. 

After working as a self employed guy, dealing with frustrations and not earning much in the process, spending those hours with my boys is the most precious thing. 

Being a parent is great, I know how lucky I am to have what I have and weekend mornings are where I feel it the most. Plus I’m still more than capable of weekend evening wine. I just cut it off at a point where I used to start necking Jäger bombs. 

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Dad chats 

Whether you like it or not, being a Dad invokes change in your life. It’s hard work, but it’s largely a positive experience and a huge, wonderful responsibility.

A lot of people tell you that there’s no way of planning all of this change. Nobody tells you about the actuality of the birth, the sleepless nights and in keeping with positivity, the love that you have for your children. Personally, I found that when the second came along, I was genuinely shocked how I could love another being as much as I loved my first.

That’s all nice and shit, but there’s also situations you never planned for. You meet other Dads. 

You’ve probably gone through the majority of your life with a tight unit of friends, which have gradually been added to along the way through University or work.  You may consider yourself to be a confident, social butterfly who has rid himself of the social anguish you once had as a teenager? All that changes when by default, you have to talk to other Dads.

Such situations typically arise when:

  • Your partner befriends another Mother in a playgroup and you meet on weekends;
  • Your child strikes up a relationship with another child in a park or soft play centre;
  • Your child starts school and all the Mothers are huddled together at drop off/pick up (sounds like Argos) and you’re on the periphery with another ‘floating Dad’;
  • You’re in a children’s birthday party and are cornered into small talk. 

The above is all pretty tongue in cheek and I’ve actually met some pretty like minded people, but not without social anxiety. Which isn’t pleasant. 

So if you’re a Dad who, like me, walks around with a grey cloud above your head while constantly wondering if these new humans like you or not, I’ve devised a checklist of things to avoid: 

  1. Talking politics – asking your new peer about how they voted on Brexit could be a thorny issue. It’s a personal thing and we’re lucky enough to vote how we want. 
  2. Mentioning MILFS or something ridiculously ‘laddy’ – the last thing you want to do is start introducing a laddy persona into the mix, especially if that’s not really you. It’s not becoming to anyone, silence is golden if you think you should go down that road. 
  3. Pretending to share an interest – you’re new buddy talking about his love for classical cars does not warrant you discussing your vague knowledge of Ford XR2’s because you nearly bought one once in ’98. Tell the man “it’s not really my thing”. 
  4. Asking invasive questions about earnings or how they can afford a bigger house than you when they work part time – it’s a difficult one, because you may wonder why he’s just got back from his third holiday this year when you haven’t been on one for two years. But let’s face it, he may drink less than you. He may eat better, may be as efficient as you would like to be on utilities. Either way, you won’t like the response. Steer clear. 
  5. Talking about the ‘good old days’ – no one cares about how much disposable income you used to have, how many drugs you may have taken or the volume of alcohol you once consumed. We’re all in it together and no one thinks you’re a big man. You’re a mere pawn on a big Daddy chess table, trying to do what everyone else is doing – you’re absolute best. 


The only routine, is no routine at all

You don’t have to look very far to find out that parenting is a hard job which doesn’t come with a rule book, and all that shit. Plenty of people are seemingly happy to tell you this, although you could argue that there’s rule books everywhere, they’re just crap and aren’t written about your kids. 

Equally as a parent you’ll never be short of ‘advice’, which often contradicts itself. You may be familiar with such gems as: “You have to to be firm and show them who’s boss, the little manipulative shit (I may have added the little manipulative shit bit in).” Then when spawn decides to throw their dinner on the floor then hit you and you negate to give them cake, the same person says: “Oh you need to pick your battles, you can’t leave them starve. What are you running here? Some sick starvation camp?” 

I think we’re quite adept at listening to this advice, we must be. We’re two kids deep and still on the receiving end of it. Maybe my teeth don’t form a bite anymore not because of my days in sales where I drank four cans of Red Bull a day, but because I’ve been grinding my teeth so much while people compare my children to what they’ve read in some book. Of our two, spawn 1 and spawn 2 are completely different. The monkeys. How could anyone think themselves qualified enough to standardise children? 

I accept advice, however. Largely because I appreciate that people care enough to provide it. I’ve probably unwittingly dished it out myself to some poor new parent I know. What a twat I turned out to be? 

There is however one thing I can’t stomach, that is the subject of the dreaded ‘routine’.

As far as I’m concerned, routine can go fuck itself. My beautiful wife and I are not routine people, we weren’t before we had kids, so why would we inflict it on them now? Our eldest is four, he has no concept of time. When I tell him he has 5 minutes left of Power Rangers before Daddy puts Final Score on, he has no idea if I turn Final Score on within 30 seconds or I stick it on 10 minutes later because I’ve found something funny on social media. Does it really matter if he has his dinner at 5:30 or 5:48? 

I appreciate that my point is probably a little one sided, as an anti-routine guy. Being a parent is hard and perhaps seeking sanctity in ‘the routine’ helps overcome the inevitable hard times that come with having a child. But, if you are a routine person, don’t push it on us non-routine people. 

When our eldest was one, he still wasn’t sleeping. By that point, we’d tried a few things and we couldn’t leave him cry or whatever, then someone said: “He’s craving routine.” 

Craving routine? Craving it? It’s not me and wine or me and human acceptance. 

To clarify my point here, I don’t think you’re a bad parent if you utilise a routine. However, it is not the answer to everything for everyone. Especially not us and especially not our kids. There’s a level of smugness with some people who run their home like a clock in/clock out basis. If that worked for our children, we’d adopt it. If not touching alcohol or smoking crack (just kidding about the alcohol…no the crack, definitely the crack) benefitted them, then we’d do it. 

We can’t leave our baby ‘cry it out’ we have to hold him, he’s only been here 6 months he doesn’t know what the fuck’s going on. Sometimes they don’t have a bath before bedtime, you know what? Nothing that bad happens. If one of us has to work late, occasionally we eat up to an hour later than the night before. No one starved to death and nothing really bad happened. 

Thanks for the advice, always warmly received. But please don’t tell us it’s the answer to our problems.